The newly Michelin-starred Francie in Brooklyn was a mix of both great and “meh” dishes. I’m honestly a bit shocked that they received a star, but one or two items that we tried were truly top notch.
We started with the sourdough bread and lard, the duck mortadella, and a duck sausage that was on special for the night.
The duck sausage was the winner of these, but I must also point out that the lard that came with the bread was killer. They should be selling it by the jar. It had a nice hint of lemon to it that cut the fatness just right.
We also tried the barigoule (braised artichoke, fried chicken, mushrooms, egg yolk). This was really unique and tasty, and I’m glad we tried it.
We tried four pasta dishes. Of these, the rigatoni with green garlic and fennel pollen sausage was the best, followed by the tortelli with suckling pig and cracklings (despite the second being slightly too salty). The cavatelli was good for a more veggie friendly option, but the lobster ravioli was a bit of a let down to several of us.
For the mains, we ordered two entrees for two: the rib steak and the dry aged duck crown.
Both were beautifully cooked and presented.
But the duck was the star of the show. Perfectly crisped skin atop a layer of buttery soft rendered fat, with juicy, succulent, pink duck flesh beneath. Big win.
The steak was just meh. There was something sweet going on that didn’t sit well with me – I believe it was a molasses glaze. I still ate a shitload of it, but for the price point of $175 I would never order it again. It was too small in addition to having a confusing flavor profile, especially with the weird maple hollandaise that it came with. 6/10.
Over all, I highly recommend coming here for the duck apps, the rigatoni and tortelli pasta dishes, and the duck crown. Skip on the rest. For drinks, they do make very nice cocktails, but they’re pricey.
Quality Bistro opened back in January, if I recall, right when I started a hellish new job with insane demands on my time. Then, of course, the entire city went into lockdown from Covid-19. Somehow my work-life balance got even worse. I’m only just now finally beginning to break away from the +60 hours/week grip of this gig, to get back out there and review restaurants for you savage bastards.
Anyway, the point of that bullshit preface is really just to say that I’m excited to finally write about a new(ish) joint that I’ve tried, especially one that’s serving some awesome food.
Here’s my quick video run down of those spots, if you haven’t seen it:
First of all, this new place, Quality Bistro, is totally decked out. This is easily the most gorgeously decorated space in the entire Quality Branded suite of restaurants. High ceilings, beautiful booths, decor and tables – really on another level. They spared no expense. So when you go here, make sure you request a table inside. I recommend the booths in the room on the left when you walk in. The bar is sick too (hopefully some day soon we will be allowed to sit at one again).
The menu is decidedly French, which makes sense given the “bistro” restaurant name. But like all their other restaurants, they are aggressively beef-forward. I wouldn’t call them a steakhouse, per se, but they get very close to it. They offered five steak cuts when I was there: a filet mignon, a strip, a bavette, a tomahawk and a “cote de boeuf” rib eye for two. We went with the tomahawk, but let me run through the other stuff we tried.
We started with the escargots and the crab cake. The escargots are probably some of the best I’ve had in the city, rivaling Paul Denamiel’s at Le Rivage. Very close competition! And they’re in the shell too, which I love. Order these, and get a dozen because you save $10 when you jump from a half ($19) to a full dozen ($29).
The crab cake is massive. It’s about the size of an 8oz burger patty, thick too. Super crisp, great sauce. I think this would be amazing as a lunch sandwich with pickled green tomato on a brioche bun or a croissant, with a bit more green on top. Absolutely delicious.
Our mid course was the prime tomahawk. This comes slathered with Rogue Creamery smokey blue cheese – a TON of it!
The smell coming off of this thing was so amazing. It filled the massive dining room with funk.
The cook temp was a perfect medium rare. So juicy, so tender, and so packed with flavor. This is an easy 9/10. I stripped the fucker clean!
We chased that with the corn custard brûlée. I had high hopes for this, but it fell short for two reasons: (1) The inside was less custard and more clumpy scrambled egg. This is usually a turn off for me, but the flavor was really good, so I still devoured it. And (2), a bit heavy on the caramelized sugar on top. Too thick for my liking. The flake salt, however, really made the flavors on this pop. I can see this side being a star with a bit more fine tuning.
*SEE UPDATED REVIEW NOTES BELOW!*
Our third course was the Moroccan fried chicken. They serve a whole bird for two in a beautiful tagine with fresh cilantro, Moroccan pancakes and a trio of dipping sauces (spicy honey, Moroccan cilantro chimichurri and citrus yogurt).
The breading is really nicely spiced, with great middle eastern earthiness and aromas.
Absolutely jerkworthy. I’d get this again in a heartbeat. In fact, I’m glad we ordered big, because we took more than half of it home. I’m about to eat the left overs right now, and I’m psyched!
Last, we had the apple tart sundae with cinnamon ice cream. This was really good, and big enough to share with your date at just $12. The cinnamon ice cream tasted like Cinnamon Toast Crunch, my absolute favorite cereal of all time!
I guess that about does it for now. I plan to go back and try some of the other cuts, particularly the bavette frites, since that’s a little less common on menus. Definitely give this place a shot. Gaetano, Scott and Roger will treat you right. They provide amazing, clean service here, and you’ll feel safely spaced apart and very comfortable. Can’t believe I have to even mention such things right now…
My wife and I went back for round two, and tried a bunch more stuff.
For apps, we tried the taste flame, which is the joint’s take on Detroit style pizza + bread service. This was incredible!
Probably my favorite app here so far though, is this tuna carpaccio. Spicy, fresh, and deliciously refreshing.
These jambon beurre bites are pretty damn tasty as well.
This time, my wife went with the branzino. This was perfectly cooked and very flavorful. It comes with a choice of either salad or fries.
I went with the bavette, and also went with the French fries option.
They developed a great char on the outside…
While maintaining a perfect cook temp on the inside…
This was a solid 8/10. Really nicely executed.
On the side, we gave the corn brûlée another spin, and MAN were we glad that we did. As I expected, with the improvements I outlined above, this dish was a star. Much nicer texture inside (real custard-like), and lighter on the sugar top. PERFECT!
So that’s two steaks down, three to go: filet, strip, and rib eye for two. I’LL BE BACK!
Strip steak has a mild aged flavor, but a really nice peppercorn crust. Perfectly cooked throughout. 8/10.
Rib eye for two is great – a solid 8/10.
Lemon chicken is a sleeper here. Amazing dish!
Also really loved the glass for the French Bird cocktail. They should sell them!
In all my years in NYC, I never tried Balthazar until last night. I had heard all the great stories: awesome steaks, awesome fries, awesome bread. Only one of those is true, but there are other things worth noting.
My wife and I stopped in for a quick meal at the bar. We started with some nice stiff cocktails, and a pair of apps: escargots and steak tartare. BIG FRENCH.
The escargots were awesome. We crushed them quickly. The tartare was average to good, but the slices of toasted bread were awesome. In fact, the Balthazar bread is so good that other restaurants use Balthazar bread for their bread service.
For our mains, we had the burger and the steak frites.
The burger was really good. Nice crust, great flavor, ample cheese coverage.
The steak, however…
… was Applebees level trash. It was cooked nicely, but the quality was average at best.
I can make anything look good, but this was a 5/10 or 6/10 at best. At $42 this felt like a rip off, and I think it was either flank or flatiron. Not strip as I was kind of expecting. The fries were very good, but not quite at awesome level. Go across town to Raoul’s if a killer burger and steak frites is what you’re after. Here, I would stick to the bread, the burger, and the snails. And yes, the fries are still worth trying if you haven’t already.
I stopped into Pastis yesterday to try the burger. It was fantastic!
I have to be honest – part of me wanted to hate it. I know Pastis was loved by many back in the day, but I always despised the crowd of douchebags who went there. The place was (and is) beautiful. I don’t remember the food so much from back in the day, but this perfect chef’d-up Big Mac will definitely have me going back for more. I’ll try a steak frites too eventually. The fries are amazing, and they give you a lot with the burger.
This french joint just opened about two months ago with a really creative and unique menu. There were about eight starters that I wanted to try, but I ended up settling on three.
Black Garlic, Cynar & Bone Marrow Escargots
Incredible. The flavors, when combined, almost tasted like a really good balsamic. I’ve never really had snails like this before. Delicious.
Whiskey French Toast Foie Gras
This also had a cherry compote on it (on the toast in the background), along with some cocoa nibs and flake salt. So good. Really enjoyed this dish.
These massive head-on prawns were delicious. The spicy black garlic sauce really made them pop.
For the entree, we went with this 50-day dry aged cote de boeuf.
It comes with some tangy bone marrow and crispy fried onions, but what makes this stand out is the additional dry aging that they do in house. They get the meat at 28-days from Pat LaFrieda, but they age it for more time on site. I always find that this makes for a better aged flavor. 9/10.
We paired this with the schmaltz tater tots, which were fucking awesome.
We also had the purple and green asparagus, which was a special for the day. It had caviar and a fried/poached duck egg on top, along with a tangy hollandaise sauce.
For dessert, we took down this nice bread pudding.
This joint doesn’t have a full liquor license yet, but they do offer some creative amari type light cocktails, and a nice wine and beer list. I highly recommend this place. I know I’ll be going back to try the other apps that I wanted, along with some duck, chicken and pasta.
LE PETIT ROOSTER
491 Columbus Ave
New York, NY 10024
My wife and I tried the newly opened Meatpacking District French joint “Coco J’adore” this past weekend.
This place has a really beautiful interior that’s just screaming to be infiltrated by trendy types, insta-models and brunch-drunk socialites.
It will no doubt become a big time scene place with hard to acquire tables, but contrary to what you might assume from my lead-in, it’ll be worth the effort to get in here.
Both the food and drinks are awesome. Over the course of our sweeping menu tasting, we tried four different cocktails.
1) Covent Garden
This refreshing take on a sour was made with gin, aperol, amaro, chamomile peppercorn syrup, egg white and lemon.
Rum, cachasa, passion fruit, demerara, campari and ginger beer.
Rye, ricard, earl grey tea syrup, black cherry and lemon.
This was a favorite. Vodka, cinnamon, green apple juice, lemon and rose powder.
All tended to be on the sweet side, but there were a few others that were more robust in profile as well. I’ll try those next time.
Okay on to the food.
First off, nice table bread with whipped butter.
This fava bean “hummus” with mixed olives and citrus was awesome. I could eat this by the bucketload.
These scallops were perfectly seared and presented in a sauce that was reminiscent of runny egg yolk. Delicious. That;’s a carrot salsa on top.
I loved the escargots. They’re served in-shell in an aromatic bowl of peppercorns. Delicious. These are top tier.
We tried two pasta dishes: the salt cod agnolotti, which was our favorite of the two, and the rabbit gnocchi. The rabbit ate more like a fall or winter dish, while the agnolotti was light, summery and fresh. Both good though.
Next up, the wild salmon with couscous and broccoli rabe. Excellent. Nice crispy skin too. This was my wife’s favorite.
The filet mignon was cooked to a nice medium rare and served on a bed of mashed potatoes with a mix of sautéed wild mushrooms. Very nicely done. 8/10.
For dessert, we had the creme brûlée and the chocolate soufflé with vanilla ice cream. Of these, we preferred the creme brûlée but both were good.
This is a great addition to the neighborhood. Go give it a shot before it gets mobbed!
1 Little West 12th Street
New York, NY 10014
Frenchette has become a very popular place to eat since they scored some critical acclaim from the NY Times. Reservations are difficult to come by, but if you just walk in early and ask for a table by the bar, you should be fine. That’s what my wife and I did over the weekend.
We started with a pair of apps: the terrine and the mortadella.
The mortadella is $9 for about 3 slices of mortadella, placed atop a soft dinner roll and then hit with some shaved parmesan and black truffle on top. This was good, but a bit overpriced (and the truffle wasn’t really that flavorful enough to justify the cost).
The terrine was incredible. Probably one of the better terrines I’ve had. It came with toasted slices of baguette and jars of gherkins and Dijon mustard. A perfect way to start the meal.
They even still give you a bread basket with some nice butter for the table as well. We used that with the terrine as well.
Next up was the 100-day dry aged Masonic Farm rib eye.
That’s a garlic and herb butter you see there on top.
This was pretty good. Lots of really nicely tenderized meat, and tons of edible fat that tasted like meat jelly. The dry aged flavor came through in parts, but not in a wallop. I say this is about 8/10 on my flavor scale. Too pricey though at $135 for what was essentially a steak for one, even though they market this as a steak for two.
We didn’t stop there. We had to try the duck frites.
This was pretty good. While a few bites were sinewy, overall it was a nicely prepared duck breast. I’ve had better, but this is a really affordable and fun version of steak frites from the fowl kingdom.
I had high hopes for this last dish. Artichoke and couscous tagine.
It was bland. But not only that, there were hardly any pieces of artichoke in the dish. In fact, there was only ¾ of one artichoke in it. About eight olives, one or two small carrots, and a few strands of fennel. What a waste. At least I didn’t count on this being a main item.
Overall this was a good meal. I might consider going back for their beef steak frites or au poivre, but I think I’ve pretty much covered everything else that I wanted to try. If that frites doesn’t wow me, then there is no reason for me to come back other than for cocktails at the bar (they make some really nice stuff).
Some of the stuff here is good, but I’m not sure I agree with the NY Times critics who are losing their shit over this place. It’s just above average.
Dining at Bistro Pierre Lapin was probably one of the best French culinary experiences I’ve ever had. Everything I ate was either good or bordering incredible. The meal began with a “slice” of pate, a plate of butter, olives and herb truffle goat cheese, and a basket of small French baguettes that were really hard to stay away from, even though I knew I was about to indulge in a massive and decadent French feast. This may be the best table bread in the city.
Next up was a foie gras mousse, which was silky smooth and one of my favorite bites of the night.
These little guys are pig’s ear pinwheels stuffed with spicy sausage. Really nice.
This head cheese incorporated a boiled egg in the middle. The flavor and texture on this was incredible. This is a must try.
The deviled eggs were great, getting a great pop of texture and flavor from the bacon and pickle additions.
This is a bunch of pig head meat that was deep fried into a delicious patty. Awesome.
This was probably the most unique preparation of escargots I’ve ever seen. They were served with a sunny side up egg, peas, fava beans and a garlic-butter sauce.
The frog’s legs here are the best I’ve ever had, and was one of my favorite dishes of the night. If you have never eaten frog’s legs before, get them here so that you are forever spoiled.
They offer two styles of burger here. The first is a simply grilled burger with foie gras on top, sandwiched between two slices of Texas toast.
They also have an American style burger here as well, with the traditional fixings.
I preferred the American burger over the Texas toast burger, but both were very tasty.
Speaking of toast, this preparation of cognac flambe mushrooms on brioche toast was delicious. I could see this going over really well with the NYC brunch crowd.
These tortelloni are stuffed with rabbit and served with sweet peas in a carbonara sauce (you can see the yolk).
One of the best dishes I tried here was this “Shake N Bake” style breaded pork chop, served with an au poivre sauce. There’s a great story associated with this dish that goes back to when Chef Harold Moore’s mother used to cook pork chops at home. Apparently she used to overcook regular pork chops, but when she followed the instructions on the box for “Shake N Bake,” they came out perfectly every time. So Harold came up with his own breadcrumb mixture here, and the dish is a tribute to his mother’s Shake N Bake dinners at home.
The chicken for two is a great way to go if you’re looking to share:
But I would recommend the leg of lamb if you are going with a group:
This beauty is deboned, stuffed with herbs and spices, rolled back onto the bone, covered with sauce and roasted for hours.
The result is a prime-rib like texture and some dangerously tender and delicious meat. You have to request this a day in advance, and it will feed four to six people with ease.
As for sides. I tried both the clarified butter fries and the truffle fries. Both were excellent, but I think I preferred the truffle fries.
Both the potato gratin and the potato puree were delicious. Between those, I prefer the gratin.
The broccoli was pretty good too. That brown plate at the bottom is actually foie gras stuffing for the roast chicken dish. That stuff is crack.
I will definitely be back here to try more dishes from the entrée menu, and most certainly the artichoke salad. And don’t forget to try one of their tasty and beautiful cocktails. This is their French margarita:
BISTRO PIERRE LAPIN
99 Bank Street
New York, NY 10014
I went to Le Turtle with a group of Instagram food lunatic friends to try some of their iconic dishes. This ended up being one of the best meals I’ve had in a while. Let me get right down to it.
We started with the following:
Dry aged beef carpaccio with Hokkaido uni and pickled ramp bottoms. Just the right amount of surf with your turf. Great pop from the pickled ramps.
Sliced avocado and radish with avocado mousse, mango curd and mixed grains. Beautiful, light, refreshing and satisfying.
Fresh cheese and beets with apricot kernel oil, toasted sunflower seeds and a maple emulsion. This was fucking fantastic. Get it.
Tagliatelle carbonara with guanciale, pecorino and egg yolk emulsion. Really nice take on the classic pasta dish.
Halibut and tomato with brussels sprouts, calabrian chili and arugula. Perfectly cooked, light and flakey.
Fried octopus with crisped rice, ramp chimichurri sauce and togarashi and arbol chili peppers. One of the very best octopus dishes I’ve ever had. It gets braised for hours before a light batter fry. And the ramp chimichurri is incredible.
Sasso Poulet. This is the best whole chicken dish I’ve eaten. The birds are brined for days and then hung, to allow the skin to cook more crispy. The bird comes out on a plate of burning hay for display purposes, filling the dining room with an amazing aroma.
Then it comes back disarticulated and ready to eat. I particularly liked munching on the feet.
This comes with crispy fingerlings, chicken liver mousse and pickled shishito peppers. At $69 this is a steal, and can easily feed two people.
90 day dry aged Pat LaFrieda cote de boeuf. This comes out to the table for viewing uncut like this, before resting:
And then after resting it comes back ready to serve for two (or more) looking like this:
This would be a 10/10 if there was a bit more char and crisp on the outside. It’s a bit more like a roast. But the flavor is perfect. Not too funky that it fucks up your taste buds. Perfectly cooked. And the fat and trim is diced up and fried, which is a brilliant way to reduce waste and make everyone smile with more tasty bits to eat. 9/10. You can pass on using the molasses sauce that comes with it though.
There was also and Japanese yam dish that came out at this time. I wasn’t a big fan, but it was absolutely stunning.
There was also a simple but tasty salad of greens citrus and blue cheese. Good way to cut the richness of the steak.
Dessert was equally as impressive as the savory courses, and they were all unique, which is rare these days.
Hazelnut financier with blood orange creme anglaise and cranberry dust.
Chocolate sorbet with milk crumbs, sea salt and olive oil.
Forbidden rice pudding with vanilla chai ice cream, rye sand and coconut snow.
I highly recommend this place. Go while ramps are still in season though, because this is one place that actually made me respect that produce. Until now I didn’t get the infatuation with ramps. I’ll be back again very soon. In fact, I’m going tomorrow with my wife.
Duck Trio: fried duck confit, breast, crispy skin and foie. More like duck four ways I guess. Blood orange gastrique with cherry puree and candied ginger.
Wagyu NY Strip Steak: black garlic, Korean sea salt, green chili puree and citrus cho ganjang (vinegar soy sauce). 7/10. This was a bit leaner than I expected from wagyu. The flavor was nice, but I’ve had much better prime strips at half the price (this will run you $80).
This steak came with roasted fingerling potatoes:
This place is pretty good. I’m not sure I’d hoof it all the way out to Brooklyn for a second visit, but the tartare, seafood pancake, tteok & cheese and duck dishes were all fantastic.
300 Schermerhorn St
Brooklyn, NY 11217