Category Archives: Full Points for Flavor

The Aviary

I took my wife to The Aviary as an early Christmas present. I booked the five course “Cocktails & Canapes” tasting menu dinner about two weeks in advance with a $100 deposit. The cost is $165pp, with an 18% gratuity added at the end (and tax, of course).

That’s crazy expensive, but this is truly a unique drinking and dining experience. I drank and ate things I never would have even thought about. In hindsight, five cocktails was aggressive (but awesome). I think when I go back, I will just order a la carte.

Here is the entire menu, but I will highlight what was selected for us below in the review:

AMUSE

The first thing to come out was an “amuse” drink – a small shot of tastiness that involved lime, rum, and mint.

A few moments later, our first round of cocktails came out with the first course of food.

COURSE ONE

Drinks: Micahlada (left – and yes, that is spelled correctly) and Zombie Panda (right)

Of these two, the Micahlada was my favorite. This is The Aviary’s take on a michelada (beer, spices and tomato juice), made with soy, coriander, Japanese whisky and Evil Twin beer. The Zombie Panda was tart from the lemon, lychee and pisco, and filled with frozen spheres of raspberry juice to sweeten it up.

Food: Pineapple Two Ways

This was a nice way to get the taste buds popping. That brown stuff at the bottom was a mole sauce. I liked it a lot, but my wife wasn’t too taken with it. The black mint garnish was tasty and went well with the watermelon radish and passion fruit.

COURSE TWO

Drinks: How Does Snoop Dog Use Lemongrass (left) and Mimosa (right)

The mimosa was nice because the fruit juice was frozen into ice cubes, so the drink becomes sweeter and more smooth as it sits.

The idea behind the Snoop drink is that Snoop Dogg ends everything with “-izzle” when he talks/raps, so there is a “swizzle” made out of lemongrass, which is used to mix the drink together:

Food: Kampachi Ceviche

This was bright, light and savory, pulling in southeast asian flavors from Thai green curry, heart of palm and coconut. I really enjoyed the briny broth and the coiled peels of red pepper for spice.

COURSE THREE

Drink: Heart of Stone

This was the best drink of the night, and you get about six glasses out of the container. That container is filled with bourbon, tea, Fresno chili, pistachio and peach. As it sits there, the flavors infuse deeply into the bourbon, so each time you refill the glass it tastes a little different. More spices come out, more sweetness too. Amazing.

Food: Pork Belly Curry

This dish was really good, but it could have been excellent with a crunch element. I think the iceberg lettuce discs were supposed to be that element, but they fell short just a bit. Perhaps a fried shrimp chip or crispy egg roll wrapper would do the trick. But the pork belly curry itself? Awesome. The banana and cashew are excellent compliments to the savory.

FROM THE CHEF

Chawanmushi

They’re experimenting with “all times of day” food here at The Aviary, so this is meant to be a breakfast item. It’s velvety smooth, and the smoked abalone within makes you think you’re eating bacon. The pops of flavor from the pickled huckleberries really brighten and balance this seafood porridge custard dish.

COURSE FOUR

Drink: Memphis Half Step

These glasses come to the table upside down on a charred piece of oak cask, filled with smoke. The aroma is awesome. This absinthe and rye cocktail is super smooth with a hint of sweetness.

Food: A5 Miyazaki Wagyu Rib Eye

Clearly my favorite food item of the night. The meat was buttery soft, and the grilled romaine with puffed rice was a great textural pop to go with it.  That yellow sauce is a yuzu mustard. Possibly the greatest mustard ever. 10/10. Wish I had 16 more ounces of this.

COURSE FIVE

Drink: Boom Goes The Dynamite

This was sweet and warm, almost like a port or brandy. It was made with rum, vanilla, violet and rooibos…  and dry ice for the smoke.

Food: Blueberry

Milk chocolate, violet and buttermilk sorbet make this dessert extra decadent. There were some more spheres of raspberry ice on the plate too, rounding out the meal with a call back to the very first cocktail (Zombie Panda). Really nice.

THE OFFICE

After dinner, our waiter Preston took us on a short tour of The Office, the speakeasy behind The Aviary bar staging area (which looks more like a kitchen than a bar).

Here’s what the inside of The Office looks like:

They have a cabinet filled with really old spirits that you can order as well. Super rare.

I will definitely be back to try this place, as well as the Aviary again. So many interesting sounding drinks and food items to try, like the “Science AF,” which looks like a chemistry set, or the “Wake & Bake,” which is a pillow filled with smoke and a drink made with orange, everything bagel, coffee and rye. I snapped a photo of it before they opened the bag filled with smoke:

THE AVIARY
Mandarin Oriental
80 Columbus Circle at 60th Street
New York, NY 10023

Salt + Charcoal

Salt + Charcoal overall score: 87

A food Instagram buddy of mine, @NYCFoodFOMO, set up an “influencer” dinner here, so I was able to try a bunch of stuff. I was really impressed with the meats. It was difficult to fit this review into my standard 10-category format, as some sections just didn’t pan out like they would for a larger steakhouse. With that in mind, you should focus more on the flavor category, as well as the specific notes I made about other food items. Base your decision to go here on the substance and “meat” of the review, as opposed to the total number. I really loved every single item that I ate here, and I will definitely be back again. Anyway, check it out:

Flavor: 9

Porterhouse: 8/10. This baby is dry aged for 50 days, so it eats really soft with with a nice outer crust texture for contrast.

The aged flavor was on the milder side, but I really enjoyed it.

Both the tenderloin side and strip side were perfectly cooked and tender.

Miyazaki Sirloin: 10/10. Look at this gorgeous slab of beef.

I mean, it’s rare that you find beef that’s really from Japan, so this is a special situation. They cook and serve this very simply – almost like a sushi dish – with ginger and wasabi.

It packs a lot of flavor, and is incredibly tender. A really nice treat.

Choice of Cuts & Quality Available: 7

You don’t have the biggest selection here (porterhouse, strip, off-menu filet, and wagyu sirloin), but the sirloin is highly marbled Miyazaki; the filet is topped with tons of uni; and the other two cuts are dry aged for 50 days. They are in serious need of a rib eye, however.

Portion Size & Plating: 9

Portions are fairly normal here for the pricing, but the plating is gorgeous. Dishes are served in a Japanese aesthetic.

Price: 10

I can’t take away any points since this was a comped meal, and all I had to do was leave a tip. The prices can get steep, however, which surprised me for a steakhouse outside of midtown Manhattan. That’s the price you pay for high quality beef, though, and the Miyazaki is actually pretty fair compared to other places I’ve seen it.

Bar: 6

There’s not much of a bar scene to speak of, but the cocktails are certainly well crafted. I had a spin on an Old Fashioned, and I loved it.

Specials and Other Meats: 9

They offer an off-menu filet mignon that’s topped with tons of uni. I didn’t try it, but I’ve heard mixed reviews. I did, however, try their lamb and duck. Both were excellent, and some of the best I’ve ever had. No shame in taking a break from beef to indulge in these two dishes. Hell, they even work as shared apps if you want.

Apps, Sides & Desserts: 10

We tried a delicious trio of apps. First was the wagyu and uni roll. This is similar to the item served over at Takashi, with the accompanying shiso leaf and nori paper.

Next up was the uni shooter with poached egg, salmon roe and truffle oil. Delicious, smooth and decadent. I could slam a dozen of these no problem.

Last but not least, the crab cakes. These were generously meaty with a nice lightly breaded crust. Lovely.

Worth noting here: two of the dishes came with these amazing potato cake sides made of dozens of thinly sliced potato. It was buttery, salty and delicious.

Seafood Selection: 9

There’s a healthy amount of seafood on the menu here, as this joint also serves up some killer sushi. We tried a few rolls and loved them all. No pics though.

Service: 10

The service here is outstanding. Everyone is attentive, yet respectful of your space and privacy.

Ambiance: 8

Beautiful rustic wood tones make for a very cozy, warm and inviting atmosphere. I really liked the open view into the kitchen on the main dining floor. While the restaurant is long and narrow, they make good use of the space. And like a traditional steakhouse, there is a private dining room available downstairs, which is where we ate.

SALT + CHARCOAL
171 Grand St
Brooklyn, NY 11249

4 Charles Prime Rib

I agonized a bit over whether I should review 4 Charles Prime Rib within my 10 categories for steakhouses. In the end I decided to review it as a regular restaurant, as I felt the steak selections were so LASER-focused on prime rib that the overall score would be artificially low if plugged into the steakhouse review framework.

But who cares, right? You bastards just want to see the pretty pictures and know whether I think you should eat here.

The short answer: YES! Eat here immediately.

I was here with my wife and two other friends to do a full-cavity search on this restaurant menu’s ass. No gloves. No lube. Raw and dirty. Here’s what we ate:

THE BURGER

We split this as an appetizer, and yeah, I know: We didn’t get it “au cheval” style like in Chicago, with the egg and bacon on top. There were several reasons why we didn’t: (1) Overkill. It would be too fucking tall with thick cut bacon and a fried egg sitting on top of this double cheeseburger. And with the addition of lettuce and tomato? Fuhgettaboutit; (2) One of my friends can’t eat egg yolk; and (3) After I spoke with some friends whose burger opinions I value, it was clear that baconless and eggless was the way to go.

So how was it? Great. It’s crafted in a similar style to Genuine Roadside or Hard Times Sunday, where they serve up classic American doubles. However, at those places you’re paying half the price for something that I felt was just as good, if not better. My opinion: skip the burger. It’s great, but not worth the $20 price tag (fries not included).

THE FRENCH DIP

This isn’t on the menu but it’s often offered as a special for the day, and they pre-cut it for four people (even though we told them they didn’t have to). Thin sliced beef, provolone cheese, great sandwich bread, jus and horseradish sauce.

Verdict: amazing. Get this and split it as your appetizer like we did. You won’t be disappointed. In fact, you’ll probably be as amazed as we were.

THE PORTERHOUSE

DeBragga supplied this porterhouse, which was offered as a special for the day. It was only dry aged for 10 days, but it packed a great earthy flavor while still retaining the character of the beef. It was 32oz and $120, marketed as being “for two.”

How was it? 10/10 – perfection. Well, I mean, the crust could have used a slight bit more char on the outside, but the flavor was so tremendous that it didn’t matter. The quality  was insane, and texture was incredibly tender. Served with a Bernaise sauce.

THE “4 CHARLES CUT” PRIME RIB

This is 24oz of bone-in, slow roasted Anderson beef out of Chicago. It cooks for three hours at 250 and then five hours at 125. The result is an incredibly juicy and tender roast.

That’s horseradish cream sauce there in the picture, and the steak also comes with jus. This is easily in my top three for prime rib here in the city, with a very close Keen’s and Burger & Barrel also in that top three. 10/10.

SIDES

Blue Cheese Creamed Spinach: I thought this would be really potent and harsh, only good for a bite or two to add richness to the prime rib, but it was mild and tasty. While I really enjoyed it, it was not my favorite creamed spinach. I would say that it’s worth a try if you fancy yourself a creamed spinach connoisseur.

French Fries: Solid. Not amazing, but not bad by any stretch. They get the job done, they’re nicely fried, and they’re crisp. Served with a garlic aioli.

Roasted Broccolini: Despite the typo on their menu (brocolinni), these were really nicely done. I love this fucking veggie, so I like to get it every time I see it on a menu. These fuckers prepared it just how I do: Simply seasoned and dressed with olive oil, salt, pepper and garlic; and then roasted until it’s cooked through, developing a little bit of charred texture on the heads.

DESSERT

Lemon Meringue Pie: Really nice thick meringue on top. Super fluffy and lots of flavor. The pie itself was just right: not too tangy and not too rich. I loved it. I’ve always loved a good lemon meringue pie. And look at those peaks! Also the serving size is tremendous – basically a quarter of the entire pie.

Chocolate Cream Pie: The good folks at 4 Charles Prime Rib brought this baby out for us on the house. I was really blown away by this gesture, not to mention how cool everyone was with the four of us taking photos of the food. I like to think that we weren’t too obnoxious, though. In any case, this was really delicious. The bottom was a sort of Oreo crust, and the whipped cream and chocolate sauce just took that rich, flavorful chocolate pie filling to the next level. Great stuff, and I’m usually not huge on chocolate desserts.

The Damage

Boom. You need to eat here. I can’t wait to go back.

4 CHARLES PRIME RIB
4 Charles St
New York, NY 10014

Ichiban Nom Nom

I had the opportunity to head to Chef Joe Conti’s test kitchen prior to the open of his yet-to-be-named Japanese omakase restaurant downtown. The great thing about this meal is that I was able to taste a lot of different cuts of A5 Wagyu beef. The highest marbling score there is. Unreal. Since there were a bunch of courses, I’ll get right down to business.

Torched mackerel with pickled daikon.

Fried river fish, uni and river crab.

Giant shrimp/prawn carabineros. Simply seasoned with salt, but their insides cook into a naturally spicy and fatty butter-like substance that will provide you with wet food dreams for the rest of your life. It coats your tongue like a rich prosciutto almost. For real, this is one of the best things I’ve ever eaten in my whole fucking life. They get to about a third of a pound each in weight, too, so they’re substantial. Favorite part of the meal – even better than the beef!

Wagyu skirt steak (8/10) and pork skirt steak. Amazing. Here, the pork out shined the beef just because it was so unique to see this cut here in the states. I want more of it!

Wagyu sirloin (9/10), tenderloin (10/10) and rib cap (9/10). All amazing, but my favorite, oddly, was the tenderloin. It was so buttery soft and tender that it would be impossible to compare it to anything else that came across our plates.

Here’s the tenderloin up close:

Italian panko Parmesan breadcrumb “gyu katsu,” aka deep fried beef strip loin. Amazing. 8/10.

Eel with shiso.

Cold udon noodles.

Ice cream: chocolate, green tea with chocolate chips, and salted caramel. Still some refining to be done here, but over all a great closer plate.

I can’t wait until this spot officially opens. I think it’ll be in the West 4th Street and 8th Avenue area. Keep an eye out! They’re already booked solid for the first few months after they open.

UPDATE: 1/15/18

Chef Joe’s place is called Shuraku, located in the west village. They opened to great success, and I finally got around to bringing my wife there to try the great food. The meal was excellent, and my wife loved her birthday dinner. Here’s what we had:

During the course of the meal we tried three different sakes. The one pictured with the bottle was my favorite, aged for 17 years in barrels. It had a mild smooth scotch flavor to it.

Course 1: tofu.

Course 2: A5 wagyu beef sushi.

Course 3: oyster and king crab.

Course 4: yakitori

Course 5: fish cake with dashi

Course 6: beef and seafood grill.

Course 7: udon with roe.

Course 8: yuzu cheesecake and strawberry yogurt ice cream, with green tea.

SHURAKU JAPANESE GRILL
47 8th Ave
New York, NY 10014

The Grill

My wife took me to The Grill for a birthday dinner. I had no idea this place existed, but apparently it’s the former location of the Four Seasons.

excellent table breads and cocktails

Famed Torrisi restaurateurs opened this joint and stuck to an old fashioned theme with things like a wheeled cart for prime rib and a “meat press” for squeezing the juices out of various bits of fowl in order to create a nice sauce reduction for their pasta app.

The crab cake exhibits some of that classic technique as well, with thin sliced scalloped potatoes forming a crust on top of the $36 lump crab cake appetizer.

A nice refreshing endive and apple salad cut the fat of our steak entree perfectly.

But for $220, this 50-day, dry-aged Creekstone Farms 40oz steak for two was way overpriced.

It really should have been half that price, but I will say that, despite the wallet raping, this was a pretty good steak. It had a great seared crust, and was cooked to a nice medium rare throughout. 8/10.

Dessert was a fun throwback as well, with this fruit cake style rum raisin ice cream.

Everything here is delicious, but at over $500 all-in for this meal (we had four drinks total), you really need to be ready for a gorging.

UPDATE 1/5/18

I came back in with some friends to try more shit. The steak tartare was incredible. I didn’t think I’d be into it because it contains anchovies, but I really loved it.

The foie gras was incredibly creamy, smooth and delicious. You could order a bunch of these and eat them for your entree if you’re daring enough. The crazy thing is that a friend I was with was unimpressed with this, since he said the foie in his home country of Israel is way better. I can’t even fathom that. This was so good.

We shared the honey mustard duck entree as an appetizer as well. This was easily the best duck I’ve ever had. The mustard has a spicy kick to it, but the honey rounds it out. The skin is perfectly crisp, and the breast was incredibly tender.

One of the guys I was with had the bone-in strip steak. He ordered it medium, but it still had great flavor and texture. The crust was similar to the porterhouse I had on my first visit. At a much more friendly price point of $74, I think this comes in with the same score at 8/10, even though I did enjoy the porterhouse better.

The prime rib, on the other hand, might just be the best piece of meat I’ve ever eaten in my life. This is a 10/10. It gets sliced from a wheeled cart table side, and then topped with jus and freshly shaved horseradish. It is served with spicy mustard and horseradish cream sauce. Insane. Well worth the $62, and it wasn’t as small as I thought it would be.

They even give you the bone with all the attached meat still there. This is the best part of the meal.

On the side we had a broccoli pot pie thing, as well as some fries that were similar to JG Melon (but way better).

For dessert we shared a slice of grasshopper ice cream cake, which is chocolate and mint. Despite not being a big fan of mint ice cream, or the combination of mint and chocolate, I did like it.

Afterwards we were chatting with the manager and he ended up giving us a quick tour of the kitchen. It was immaculate back there.

THE GRILL
99 E 52nd St
New York, NY 10022

Bevy

Bevy is the new restaurant that took the place of The Back Room at One57. My wife took me here for an early birthday dinner. I was excited to hit this joint, because they have rib eye fat cap steak on the menu (deckle, aka spinalis dorsi), as well as a bison rib eye. We tried both.

We started with the rib eye cap steak as a shared appetizer. The portion size is 8oz, so this was perfect to share as an app.

This was perfectly cooked, super tender and amazingly flavorful. At $48 it’s a bit pricey, but totally worth it given the quality. 10/10.

Both the rib eye cap and the bison rib eye hail from Fossil Farms. I’ve encountered these guys at food shows in the past, and the quality is superb. I hope to work with them in the future and feature some more of their proteins here on the website. Especially the exotics.

Anyway, we ate the rib eye cap steak with some crispy lemon oyster mushrooms, which they sent to us on the house!

This is a reprise of a dish that used to be on the Back Room menu, which I really liked. It’s just as good as I remember. It’s also really damn beautiful.

Several menu items were carried over, actually. I was glad to see that many of the good ones remained.

But now for the big guns. The 40oz, 28-day dry-aged bison rib eye. It’s actually two chops on the bone.

It comes with a vinaigrette dressed frisee salad and asparagus. But the plating is gorgeous. We actually fanned it out a little so you can more easily see the perfectly pink interior.

Bison is slightly gamy, but unless you’re looking for it, you probably wouldn’t notice a flavor difference between bison and beef.

It’s typically more lean than beef, and sometimes has a more iron-metallic flavor profile than beef. Very good. 8/10.

We ate this baby with sides of paprika dusted steak fries and trumpet mushrooms. Both were great. I was impressed with the crisp on the fries. So good! I usually dislike the massive quarter-of-a-potato style steak fries, but I’d get these again and again, every time I eat here.

The trumpets were good, but I did enjoy the oyster mushrooms more. These were served with minted labneh, which added a nice fresh pop of flavor.

Dessert was great as well. We ordered one, but they gave us two. Great service! In fact, Amanda was a wonderful waitress. She knew her stuff and had great recommendations.

First was this apple pie with a sugar cookie crust. So awesome! That’s vanilla ice cream up front, covered with a nice caramel sauce.

The other dessert was cheesecake with lemon pudding and espresso ice cream. Really tough to choose a best between these two.

I definitely recommend this place. If you happen to carry the “Founders Card,” you get 20% off when you use it to pay.

BEVY
153 W. 57th Street, 3rd Floor
New York, NY 10019

Antique Bar & Bakery

Antique Bar & Bakery is a new joint in Hoboken. I know what you’re thinking: Fuck Jersey! But for real, everything at this place is absolutely amazing. And I can’t in good conscience fuck with Jerz: I’m from Long Island, and everyone knows that LI, NJ and Staten Island are all retarded cousins from the same demented family.

Anyway, when you walk in, you feel like you’ve entered someone’s home. It has an old school feel to it. There are a few nice nooks for seating, and a great bar with really nicely fashioned cocktails.

In the back room, you’re basically IN the kitchen, which is really fun to experience. The skylight overhead illuminates the room with a nice, pleasing natural light.

The back wall boasts an insane coal oven that cranks up to over 1000 degrees, and then to the left of that, there’s a cooler area (about 500 degrees).

On the side wall is all your normal kitchen gadgetry like a gas oven, burners, sinks, expediting station, etc.

Okay but enough about that – let me get to the food. Chef Paul Gerard is doing amazing things here. Everything has a sense of familiarity, but also a sense of “newness.” He’s accumulated aspects of Soul Food, Cajun/Creole, Italian, American and French cuisines and balled them up into a delicious, enveloping and immersive experience: especially when you sit in the back near the kitchen (a must-do if you’re anything like me).

We started with a snack of blistered shishito peppers and pickled watermelon. The peppers go into the hot coal oven and finish up really quickly – like within a minute. It’s pretty neat because you can feel the capsaicin in the air once they get cranking. If you sit close like we did, you may sneeze or cough a bit. That’s how IN the kitchen you are. So cool. It makes you feel like you’re part of the staff.

Raw Fennel Salad with Burnt Orange Marmalade: All the burnt items are done right in their crazy oven. They add a great natural bitterness to the food (and cocktails), which cuts the fat and sweetness of any complimentary ingredients. This salad was awesome: crisp, fresh and satisfying.

Hot Oil Shrimp: Incredible dish. Really nice heat from the peppers, and the shrimp retain a lot of shell flavor from being blasted in the oven. Perfectly cooked.

Rice Balls: I mean, these guys even managed to make rice balls interesting, new and fun. The outside is really crisp and the inside is soft and gooey from the provolone fondue. You need to try them.

Fresh Mozzarella: This shit is made to order, right there at the prep counter. You can watch the guy stretch and pull until its ready. It’s topped with some cracked pepper and a few cherry tomatoes. Eat this quickly while it’s still warm, otherwise it can firm up a bit and lose its softness.

Burger: The only slight I will make about this entire meal is that the burger was a bit overcooked for our liking. But the flavor was off the hinges, even though our burger was medium-well. It gets some dry aged fat (carved right off the steaks), some chuck and some flank in the grind – made in house, obviously.

It’s topped with shredded cheese, spicy fries and pickled chili peppers. Despite the shape of the burger being spherical, it really was formed well: Loosely packed and not overworked; hollowed out top bun so it isn’t too tall and unwieldy. This burger has real potential to be one of the best around. I need to come back and try it again, and make sure the temp is pink through the center. Don’t shy away from ordering it just because mine was a bit over.

Whole Octopus: This is a special menu item, which you can order as a half or whole portion. The octopus is treated in a similar way as the shrimp, but it is tossed in an olive puttanesca sauce that really blew me away. It was cooked very nicely too: snappy to the tooth, but not chewy. Great char flavor from the oven.

Whole Fish: This was black bass, and it was really damn delicious. When you cook seafood hot and fast, you retain all that great juiciness in the flesh, so that nothing ever dries out. That’s what happens with the fish here. You can’t go wrong.

Fish Photo Credit: @NYCFoodFOMO

Whole Chicken: Absurdly delicious, and I’m not even really a chicken man. This is plenty big to feed the table.

Dirty Rib Eye: I was amazed. I watched as Chef Paul went through the entire process, and I even got some good video.

First, he broke down a 28-day dry aged rack of ribs that the restaurant got from DeBragga Meats. Antique Bar & Bakery has its own shelf in the DeBragga dry-aging room.

The steaks are allowed to come up to room temperature so that they cook better.

Once they’re ready, they’re coated with coarse salt, slapped on a cast iron skillet, and then popped into that ripping-hot coal oven for about five minutes. This hell-fire licks every square inch of surface area on the meat, giving it a great outer crust.

The steak is then pulled out of the crazy oven, placed onto a bed of herbs, hit with some drawn butter, and then finished in the other oven until the center comes up to the proper temperature.

Finally, it rests for a while before being sliced and plated – sometimes up to 20 minutes. While resting, it gets brushed with more herbs, so you really get that great herb flavor with each bite.

Alright here’s the video. I made you suffer through reading all of that first before linking it, because I’m a dick.

The herbs really make it. In fact, they have herbs drying and hanging all over the back room. It was pretty cool, and reminded me of my dad’s garage, which always seems to be decorated with dangling peppers and herbs from his garden.

Needless to say, this steak is an easy 10/10 for flavor. It’s really unbelievable. I suggest you get out there immediately to try it.

Hard Herb Hanger: Perfectly cooked, great crisp on the outside, and wonderful flavors from the herb roasting process in the ovens. This is a great option for those who aren’t willing to go big with the rib eye but still want to eat beef. Just $23? Awesome. 8/10. We actually had this come out alongside our desserts and we still devoured it instantly. Haha!

All entrees can be consumed with a variety of available sauces. We tried them all, but I really liked the herb puree and puttanesca the best. As for the steaks? No sauce needed. There’s so much flavor on those babies already.

Okay let me address some of the fantastic sides we tried.

Charred Kale with Pickled Chilis: Really nice acidic punch. This is similar to something like collared greens in Soul Food cuisine, only with a new twist.

Blackened Beets with Goat Cheese and Walnuts: Awesome. This is my new favorite beet dish. And if you’re one of those weird bastards that doesn’t eat meat, then this is the way to go for you. Very satisfying, satiating and fulfilling.

Fava Beans: Holy shit! Traditional French styling here with butter and shallots, and finished with mint, but so great. I kept going back for more of these green delights. Probably because they’re served with Spring Brook Farm Reading Raclette, a raw cow’s milk cheese.

Fingerling Potatoes: As I said above, Chef Paul is making things in a new way here. These babies are roasted with dried, aged, shaved Bottarga fish flakes (similar to what you might see being used to make dashi broth, but more specific). It might not sound that appetizing, but it adds such an amazing earthy flavor to the potatoes. Trust me. And with a topping of cheese and that awesome crisp from the hot oven, this side is not to be skipped.

Now on to the desserts. We tried a few, and all of them were excellent, just like every-fucking-thing else in this meal.

Lady Ashton’s Dirty Chocolate Cake: Served family style in a large cast iron skillet, this is one of the best chocolate cakes I’ve ever eaten. I’m not huge on chocolate either, but I loved this.

Frozen Cannoli: This is essentially a cannoli in sundae form. Incredibly tasty, and equally beautiful.

Dandy’s Decadent Cookie (with sweet milk ice cream): This baby is baked to order, and it is a massive, soft, delicious cookie with ice cream on top. This is my kind of dessert.

Burnt Lemon & Marshmallow Pie: I have a weakness for this type of stuff. It was a great twist on lemon meringue pie.

TCB Sundae: This is based on the Elvis sandwich. Burnt banana bread, caramelized banana, peanut butter ice cream, candied slab bacon, milk chocolate covered potato chips, and all of it draped in gold! Just like Elvis would want it baby! Chef Paul rocks harder than Elvis, if you ask me.

Holy shit. Is that everything? I’m dying to go back here. Get your ass out to Hoboken ASAP. You will thank me.

ANTIQUE BAR & BAKERY
122 Willow Ave
Hoboken, NJ 07030

Greenwich Steakhouse

Greenwich Steakhouse overall score: 89

Greenwich Steakhouse is a newly opened French-inspired steak joint in the West Village. Chef Victor Chavez helped open Smith & Wollensky, and is a 30yr veteran chef from there. He tried retirement, but decided that he wanted to be back in the game. As such, he opened Greenwich Steakhouse.

I recently set up an “influencer event” here to help get some photos and reviews out there. Take a look at all the crazy shit we tried, and enjoy the review below.

Flavor: 8

Cajun Rib Eye: 10/10

I’m starting with the best steak first. This baby was cooked to a perfect medium rare from end to end with an awesome savory crust on the edges.

But the hint of cumin in the Cajun rub really sets this baby off as the best steak in the joint.

The spicy oil at the bottom of the place is reminiscent of the delicious sauce you get with the cumin lamb noodles at Xian Famous Foods, which I love.

When you come here, this is the steak to get. Chef Victor just absolutely nails it.

48oz Porterhouse: 8/10

This is nice and thick, and really goes great with the marrow butter sauce addition.

There was some grey banding since this is such a thick cut of steak, but nothing was dried out.

48oz Tomahawk Rib Eye: 6/10

Unfortunately this was a bit overcooked for our liking. Some parts were dry as a result, but the flavor was still nice.

Choice of Cuts & Quality Available: 9

All the meat here come from Strassburger, a great supplier. Chef Victor dry ages them for three weeks in-house to develop a bit more flavor for his guests. There are several sizes of the four major cuts available.

Portion Size & Plating: 9

Portions here are pretty big. The plating is on the nicer side with steel pans being used as serving vessels.

Price: 10

Since this was a free event, I am giving full points for price here. However, the prices are on par with midtown NYC steakhouses.

Bar: 7

The bar is a short stretch on the first floor with some seats along the window for people watching.

It’s on a nice stretch of Greenwich Ave in the village too, so likely will be a good spot for nightlife.

 

Cocktails are nice, particularly the Great Kills.

Specials and Other Meats: 9

The waiter read us some specials that were not on the menu. We tried one of them, a shredded Brussels sprout salad. I thought it could use some more dressing, but it was tasty.

For alternative meats, they offer a nice variety: veal, chicken and lamb. Perhaps a pork chop would round it out. We tried the lamb and it was incredible. So nicely seasoned and flavorful.

Apps, Sides & Desserts: 8

This is the best thick cut bacon I’ve ever had. It was about a half inch thick, and each order comes with three massive slabs. We cut them each in half since we had a table of six.

The fries are pretty good as well:

The marrow is overkill. If you are eating steaks here, each cut will come with some roasted bone marrow, so no need to go for the app. Here are three delicious boats of bone meat though:

Creamed spinach was also nice:

As well as the hash browns:

For dessert, we went with the ice cream tartufo:

Creme brulee:

And chocolate cake:

All were good, but my favorite was the creme brulee.

Seafood Selection: 10

We tried the seafood tower, which comes with oysters, king crab, shrimp, lobster and lumb crab meat.

The shrimp were massive! For entree items, they offer tuna, halibut, lobster, sole and salmon.  Branzino was on special as well. That’s a serious variety!

Service: 10

The staff here is all top notch. The guys are pure gentlemen and it doesn’t surprise me that Chef Victor would staff his joint with such people. The table breads are served from a basket at the outset.

Ambiance: 9

They’ve done an awesome job with the space here. The main dining room is on the second floor and boasts elegant chairs and a bright space. Very different from other steak joints.

The third floor has a huge table for parties, and holds about 8000 bottles of wine in elegant glass-windowed rooms flanking each side.

GREENWICH STEAKHOUSE
62 Greenwich Ave
New York, NY 10011

Pig Bleecker

This joint offers some of the most unique and delicious dishes I’ve come across in a while. I went with a group of food Instagrammers to help the restaurant get some pics out to the masses, so we were able to sample a lot of stuff.

First off, the cocktails are really creative.

If you like apertif type drinks, try the Greyfriar or the Donna Reed. I generally shy away from them due to the bitter element, but these were extremely tasty and have me re-thinking the entire class. My favorites, though: Old Smokey, I’m on Fire and Deacon Blues.

Take a look at the food menu.

Everything looks/sounds good because everything IS good. I’m serious. Every item we tried was not only good but often times outstanding. I seriously think this is my new favorite restaurant.

Okay on to the goods. I apologize in advance for some of the pics that I didn’t bother editing. I was primarily concerned with getting just a few to look great for Instagram, in particular the steak, burger and fried chicken dishes.

These little corn bread wafers are a nice change from standard table bread in a basket.

SNACKS

The Pecan Candied Bacon is served in a mason jar. They reminded me of the stuff my wife makes, only without the spicy element.

The Deviled Steak & Eggs is essentially a deviled egg with steak tartare under the whipped yolk. Excellent bites.

STARTERS

If there’s only one thing Chef Matt Abdoo should have as his legacy, it’s his ability to make incredible sauces. These BBQ Chicken Lollipops feature one of those amazing sauces. They are fantastic.

Grandma Val’s Meatballs are really great. Again, that sauce is killer.

This next dish of fried cod cheeks was not on the menu, but they might have been one of my favorite dishes of the night. I could easily eat bucket-loads of these. Nice light and puffy batter, simply garnished with pickled peppers and scallions. Awesome.

I’m usually not a fan of cooked oysters, but the Grilled Oysters here definitely changed my mind.

MAINS

Brisket Ravioli with black truffle butter? Yup. They even shaved a bunch on top, table-side.

Beautiful.

We shared the Bleecker Burger, which is probably now one of my new favorites. It’s in the style of a Big Mac; double patty, special sauce (yeah – it’s an incredible sauce). Nearly flawless in execution. As a friend pointed out, it just needs an element of crisp, whether from the patty or a leaf of iceberg. The house pickles are perfect.

The Linguine Cacio e Pepe and Lasagne dishes were both nicely executed as well, but I didn’t get a shot of either, unfortunately.

FOR THE TABLE

Let me start with the amazing Smoked & Fried Chicken. This is a whole chicken, and it’s expertly breaded and perfectly fried.

I enjoyed this more than Ando and Ma Peche, which seem to be the top of the pack for many fried chicken aficionados.

Again, the sauces that come with this are amazing.

But the waffles with whipped sweet and salted butter were the real show stoppers. I’ve never had a waffle that tasted so good.

The chicken comes with cheesy grits, which are fantastic.

Here comes the big daddy: the Tomahawk Chop with Smoked Beef Rib. Essentially, steak and brisket.

This is an aged Pat Lafrieda cut that has been lightly smoked before being properly finished off as a steak. It’s served with smoked cap and brisket, and another amazing steak sauce.

This steak tastes like a delicious hybrid between BBQ and traditional steakhouse fare.

It’s smokey and sweet, but also earthy and savory. It really blew me away. 10/10.

SIDES

The Mac & Cheese is really tasty, and topped with a cheese powder that will take you back to your childhood.

These Hand Cut French Fries are more like flattened and squashed baked potatoes. Very good, and not the same as the shoestring style fries that come with the burger.

The Utica Greens are made with escarole, which I love to see on menus. This really popped from the smokey bacon and cherry peppers.

Finally, we tried the Anson Mills Grits, which I also liked very much.

DESSERT

Mason Jar Oreo Cheesecake. Velvety and delicious.

Mango Sorbet with Yogurt Chips & Fresh Mango. So bright and flavorful.

Karen’s Key Lime Pie. Perfect rendition of this classic.

Brownie Hot Fudge Sundae with Virginia Peanuts. Decadent.

Buckeye Milkshake (like a peanut butter and chocolate ice cream shake). This is something special. Not only is it gorgeous, but it is filling, yummy and satisfying.

They were all awesome, and overall this was an amazing meal. I can’t wait to go back and try their 155 Steak, a Teres Major/Shoulder Tender cut, so keep an eye out for updates.

UPDATE 4/18/17 – 155 STEAK

This shoulder tender is awesome.

It has all the softness you’d expect from a filet mignon, but the flavor character of a rib eye.

Although it was cooked more like medium than medium rare, it still packed a lot of oomph. It was slightly sweet yet savory, had a good crust on the outside, and was super tender and juicy inside. At just $28, this is a steal. 8/10.

PIG BLEECKER
155 Bleecker St
New York, NY 10012

Hida Beef

Hida is a region in Japan, located in the northern part of Gifu prefecture on Honshu island. That’s west of Tokyo, but not quite as far as Kyoto or Osaka. While I’ve never been there, I can tell it’s a place that I’d definitely want to visit.

Hida is known for it’s outstanding beef (Hida-gyu), which is derived from a black-haired Japanese breed of cattle. Laws are such that, to quality as the Hida brand, the cattle has to have been raised in Gifu prefecture for at least 14 months. The beef is characterized by intense, beautiful, web-like marbling with a buttery, smooth texture that melts in your mouth. The flavor is both rich and delicate at the same time. It can be likened to the top percentiles of wagyu beef, rivaling kobe and matsusaka in quality, with marbling grades of A/B 3, 4, and 5.

I was invited to a Hida beef tasting event at EN Japanese Brasserie, one of the seven restaurants in the area that will be serving Hida beef on their menus. The other six are Brushstroke, Hakubai, Hasaki, Sakagura, Shabu-Tatsu and the Members Dining Room at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. This is the first time that Hida beef is available here in the States, so if you’re a meat aficionado like me, you should definitely hit one of these places and give it a try. This stuff is expensive though, so make an occasion out of it.

I tried the beef in four different preparations: (1) sliced raw, nigiri sushi style, and then kissed with the scorching flame of a blowtorch; (2) seared edges, a tatami trio, with three different kinds of salt; (3) “Hoba-miso” style, stone grilled with miso sauce; and (4) chopped raw, tartare or ceviche style, with citrus and uni. Despite all the marbling, the meat doesn’t come off tasting very fatty, like some highly marbled cuts do. It didn’t leave a coating of waxy or fatty residue on my palate like certain cured salamis with high fat content. And it didn’t cause the flavors of whatever I ate next to change or taste different due to that fat, which is sometimes the case with aged beef and cured salami. In short, it was really a very pleasing experience.

I’ll start with my favorite preparations: (2) and (3). The tataki trio was essentially three slices of Hida beef (strip loin), each dressed with a different salt element: yuzu soy sauce, sea salt and a special red salt that had hints of spice to it. All three were great, but I think I liked the classic sea salt topper the best.

dsc09020

dsc09025

The hot stone grilled preparation, Hoba-miso, was the only one in which the beef was cooked through. This dish is local to Hida. The sliced beef is placed on Hoba (a big Magnolia leaf) with miso and scallions, which then sits directly on the surface of the hot stone. As you can see, the before and after photos of this method indicate that this beef can be thoroughly enjoyed fully cooked if you’re one of those puss-bags who is afraid to eat raw or under-cooked meat.

dsc08935

dsc08937

dsc08939

dsc08983

dsc08971

dsc08977

Fully cooking the beef did not take anything away from the meat. You still get that buttery smooth texture and melt-in-your-mouth flavor characteristics. In fact, the leaf and miso bring nice flavor accents to the beef that compliment it well. This, too, was a strip loin cut of beef, and it was presented to eat on grilled sticky rice patties.

dsc08942

dsc08976

dsc08978

Here’s the chef, Abe Hiroki, who was grilling these delicious morsels to absolute beef-paradise perfection:

dsc08985

dsc08970

The torched nigiri style reminded me slightly of spam musubi, for the sole reason that it was a warm meat item served atop sushi rice. Here, you can get a real, unadulterated taste of the beef in all its marbled glory. It truly is spectacular.

I’ve been eating aged beef for so long that something this pure and clean really blew me away. This was strip loin as well.

dsc08987

dsc08944

dsc08999

dsc08932

dsc08996

This was the sushi master behind these perfect pieces of nigiri:

dsc08988-sepia

Finally, this tartare or ceviche style came dressed with a citrus yuzu sauce and was topped with uni (raw sea urchin). Absolutely stunning and decadent. The reason I am interchanging tartare with ceviche is that, typically, ceviche involves fish and citrus, while tartare features meat and egg yolk. Since this dish had elements of both but not all, I figured I’d split the baby. Tarviche? Why not. Also strip loin.

dsc09016

dsc09007

The event also showcased some nice sake selections with flavors ranging from dry to sweet, traditional to aromatic and fruity.

dsc09003

dsc09005

dsc09006

In fact, the event began with a “breaking the mirror” ceremony on the casks of sake, as well as a sake toast.

dsc08968

dsc08962

dsc08963

The governor of Gifu was even in attendance, introducing the beef, the region and the customs to the audience.

dsc08956

The restaurant itself is beautiful, and I look forward to coming back to try some more of this amazing beef. Every preparation was 10/10 for flavor, and I highly recommend it.

EN JAPANESE BRASSERIE
435 Hudson St
New York, NY 10014