Category Archives: Chelsea

Death Avenue

I’ve been meaning to check out Death Avenue because I was always intrigued by the name. Death Avenue was the notorious nickname given to 10th Avenue due to all of the railway deaths that occurred there in the old days, when trains ran vertically up and down the avenue to service the warehouse and meat packing districts.

In any event, the joint is Greek-inspired, but also had some classic American staples like burgers and BBQ.

The cocktail list is excellent.

I tried the Banana Bourbon, which was light and smooth, and definitely banana-infused. My wife tried the Mastiha Mint (Mastiha is a kind of tree – its sap or extract is used in the drink). It was refreshing like a mojito.

We started with fried pickles. Pretty basic. The dips were interesting: a BBQ cause, tzatziki and some kind of hollandaise-isa sauce. The pickles were tasty, but the batter slipped off too easily.

My wife ordered the 8 Hour Octopus app as her entree. This was pricey at about $26, but it was tasty and somewhat substantial enough to eat as an entree if needed.

I had the Feta Burger. This was stacked way too tall, but overall it was a decent enough burger to satisfy my cravings. The oregano fries that came with it were great.

I’d say this was a great place to have a few drinks and snacks, but I’d skip making a whole meal out of it.

DEATH AVENUE
315 10th Avenue
New York, NY 10001

Bullfrog & Baum Burger Crawl

My wife and I were invited on a really cool burger crawl hosted by one of NYC’s most influential restaurant public relations firms, Bullfrog & Baum. The crawl was to celebrate National Burger Day.

On the crawl, we visited five of the joints they represent and tried nine different burgers over the course of eight hours. We were with a group of about ten people, so we were able to split and share the burgers at each place (nine burgers is a bit much for one person, even if you stretch it over eight hours).

Stop 1: Porter House Bar & Grill

We tried three different burgers here, starting off like champs.

Burger 1: I had eaten the Bar Burger before, and it still holds up as one of the greats. In fact I liked it the best of all nine from the crawl. It’s a simple double patty with American cheese on a potato bun, with jalapenos. The best way.

Burger 2: They just debuted this Pat LaFrieda truffle burger blend and threw it onto a bun with braised short rib, red onion jam, melted Fontina cheese and even more shaved black truffles. Amazing, and probably in my top three for the day.

Burger 3: The Dry Aged burger is a beef lover’s dream. You really get that earthy, dry-aged beef flavor in every bite.

Stop 2: The Vine

The American Burger at The Vine is a great tribute to an old fashioned diner burger, but elevated in quality and flavor. I really enjoyed this one. Maybe one more slice of cheese would take it into top three favorites status.

Stop 3: Boucherie

I’ve had this baby before and reviewed it, so no need rehash too much. Great LaFrieda dry-aged blend. A wallop of intense flavor.

Stop 4: Black Tap SoHo

We tried two here. Only the strong survive!

Burger 1: Black Tap’s American Burger was excellent. So simple and delicious, perfectly cooked. American cheese, lettuce, tomato and mayo (on top in photo below).

Burger 2: The Greg Norman had already impressed me in the past. It was just as wonderful again. You’d think the wagyu beef would be overpowered by the blue cheese, but it just intensified the savory crust on the patty. Lovely. It’s on the bottom in the photo above.

Stop 5: Blue Ribbon Federal Grill

At our final stop, we tried two different burgers. And both were spectacularly crafted.

Burger 1: The Fed is a nice crisp patty topped with stilton cheese, thick cut bacon and pickles. The bun is an onion poppy roll that really works to enhance the flavors. What a great burger!

Burger 2: The Bar Burger here has no cheese, but it’s got an amazing crispy sear on the patty. It’s topped with a creamy whipped herb butter and pickles, and sits on an English muffin. Really simple and incredibly delicious. This one took me by surprise!

Such a crazy day! Not one bad burger in the bunch. In fact, all were pretty damn great. It was tough to choose favorites.

PORTER HOUSE BAR & GRILL
10 Columbus Cir
New York, NY 10019

THE VINE
851 6th Ave
New York, NY 10001

BOUCHERIE
99 7th Ave S
New York, NY 10014

BLACK TAP SOHO
529 Broome St
New York, NY 10013

BLUE RIBBON FEDERAL GRILL
84 William St
New York, NY 10038

Forbidden Donuts

You know me: I’m not really an ice cream and donuts kind of guy. But DECADENT and SAVORY donuts?!?!!! Now you have my attention!

“Forbidden Donuts” has created a secret menu of seven deadly sinful donuts that will be shared with faithful sinners every Sunday at Bowery Kitchen Supplies in Chelsea Market from 11am to 4pm.

Limited quantities are available, so get there bright and early.

Menu and pricing are below. My favorite is the Smoked Salmon.

Caviar w/ Vodka Jelly $ 18
caviar cream

Smoked Salmon & Roe $8
smoked salmon tarama

Foie Gras & Chocolate Glazed $15
Foie gras mousse

Lobster “Roll” $10

Matcha Green Tea $5
crispy artichokes

Cauliflower Peanut Butter $5
crispy ginger

Kimchi $5
sweet & sour sriracha glazed

FORBIDDEN DONUTS (POP-UP)
Chelsea Market
Bowery Kitchen Supply
75 9th Ave
New York, NY 10011

The Ainsworth

My wife paid a little under $50 for a Gilt City flash deal that got us two drinks each, an app to share, two entrees and a side to share at The Ainsworth. Pretty great deal if you ask me.

We started with these crab tacos. These are $21 regular price, so I thought that was a bit high considering that these are small and the plate comes with four pieces. Do these look like they’re worth $5.25 each (before tax and tip)? I don’t think so.

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They were tasty – good crunch on the shell, though I wasn’t sure if the crab meat was actual lump crab or some kind of crab substitute. Either way, I wouldn’t pay that kind of money for them.

For a nominal upcharge ($12), I went with the 20oz bone-in, 28-day dry-aged rib eye.

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This was spectacular. The aged flavor really popped for just a 28-day stint in the aging box. I could taste the nutty and funky qualities with ease. While it was grilled instead of seared, didn’t have much of a spinalis (fat cap), and there was a bit of hard gristle in the meat, the cook temperature was a perfect medium rare and the flavor in the eye was excellent. 8/10.

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As you can see, the steak was topped with some crispy fried shallots. Nice touch!

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At $42, this is a great deal, especially considering that the flavors of this thing can easily rival some of the best steakhouses in town. I guess it was just a bummer that I got a cut with little fat cap and a few bites of gristle.

My wife went with the famous mac and cheese burger.

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That’s a fried mac and cheese patty on the bottom, a cheeseburger patty on top of that, and then mac and cheese on top of the burger.

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While that is all totally unnecessary and probably only done for Instagram fodder, it was indeed a fun item to eat. Here’s a little animated image for you to ogle:

It didn’t taste that special to me, but it sure did make for some handsome photos.

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French fries came with that burger, as if there wasn’t enough to fill you up with the burger itself.

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These could use some work. Some were a little bit un-crisped and heavy, but otherwise decent.

On the side, we shared the asparagus with a fried egg on top. Both the asparagus and the egg were cooked perfectly and had good flavor. Look – it was either this or more fries, so give me a break.

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THE AINSWORTH
122 W 26th St
New York, NY 10001

New York Burger Co.

This place slings a decent fast food style burger, but the bacon was rubbery on both my and my wife’s burgers, and the fries were soggy and dense. Stick to the basics here and you should be fine. Don’t waste money on the extras. And it’s still not on the level with places like Smashburger, Shake Shack or Lucky’s Famous.

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The good thing is that my wife paid about $10 for $30 worth of food and drink here through a flash deal. So all in, this was not too bad.

NEW YORK BURGER CO
678 Ave of the Americas
New York, NY 10010

CoBa

My wife and I went to this Chelsea location with a Groupon deal. While the food doesn’t really look pretty, we both agreed that it was good. We started with lemongrass crusted fried tofu. The texture was similar to a silken tofu style that you might find in a miso soup, but a bit more structured.

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We also had a duck salad. I was hoping the duck would be more crispy. It felt at times that the bits of duck were chewy or overcooked, but the salad was a nice crisp cabbage base that was dressed with a sour fish sauce.

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For me, the star of the meal was this clay pot pork belly stew with potato, tofu and egg. Sometimes these can get too salty, but this was just right. The broth was nice with rice as well.

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Last, we tried a noodle dish that ended up being similar to banh cuon, even though it was called something completely different on the menu. It had grilled pork, bologna style ham, cucumbers, bean sprouts, cilantro and flat, wide noodles. It was dressed in fish sauce. The meats were excellent and the noodles were perfectly cooked:

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COBA
110 9th Ave.
New York, NY 10011

Burgers & Cupcakes

NOTE: This place is now closed.

This joint ran a Groupon special that got you two burgers, an order of tries, and two cupcakes for $15. Not bad.

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I went there with “Chicken Sandwich Sam,” a buddy of mine who insists on getting grilled chicken sandwiches on many occasions when we are going out for cheeseburgers. His looked good, but mine looked better:

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That’s beef, baby. With American cheese, lettuce, tomato, pickle and onion. While the bun was small, the burger packed a good amount of flavor. It was fired up correctly to medium and had a good crisp to the patty edges.

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The fries were natural cut steak fries. Not too doughy or greasy, with a nice crisp given the style (these usually aren’t as crispy for some reason). Course salt was a nice touch:

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For my cupcake, I went with marble cake (chocolate and vanilla) topped with a peanut butter frosting. The cake was dry, but the peanut butter frosting was nice, even if it was only just a smear of Jiffy. Not even close to Cake Dealer quality, but the place makes for an interesting concept.

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BURGERS & CUPCAKES
458 9th Ave
New York, NY 10018

Amorino

My wife and I were invited to another awesome Tabelog event – this time at a new gelato parlor on 18th & 8th called Amorino.

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This place is known for its beautifully crafted cones that look like flowers, and their unique flavors like pistachio and biscotti.

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If you see this fellow, be nice! He’s the owner, Federico:

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Our task was to rate a bunch of flavors on a scale of 1-5 using this nifty score card:

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The flavors came around in little sample cups like this:

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And we were permitted to ask for pretty much anything else that we wanted to try. Check out this wild mix:

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My favorites were pistachio, yogurt and biscotti.

At the end of the tasting, there was a little blind taste test going on:

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I got 3 out of 4 correct, with my one mistake being a tech-fault. I wanted to write raspberry but since it wasn’t passed around as a sample earlier, I just didn’t think it existed. So I wrote strawberry instead. Lesson: Always trust your taste buds! I was right, but I was wrong. Oh well.

Afterward, they passed around some of their awesome gelato-filled macarons:

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These were really good! I definitely recommend hitting this place for a tasty and unique treat.

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AMORINO
162 8th Ave.
New York, NY 10011

Gallow Green

My wife scored a nice Urban Daddy deal for brunch at Gallow Green that saved us a bunch of money and also gave us a carafe of mimosa. The brunch is all-you-can-eat, and includes music by their house band “The Heathens.”

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I won’t say much other than the music was awesome, and the food was even better. They even sang songs about the bread pudding.

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The fried chicken with black pepper honey was fucking outstanding. Close runners up were the salmon and caperberries, the bread pudding, and the cinnamon rolls.

The setting is great too, on the rooftop of the “McKittrick Hotel,” home to the spooky Sleep No More interactive play (Get tickets. It is amazing).

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UPDATE 9/1/17 – CLUB CAR SURF & TURF

“Club Car” is Gallow Green’s surf and turf pop-up. My wife scored a Gilt City deal for a discount on the meal, which was great, because not only did it get us snacks, apps, entrees, and desserts, but it also got us two cocktails per person – all for about $120.

Cocktails:

Skillet bread and crudite:

Apps, chilled lobster corn soup, and endive with tomato salad:

Each person gets a 10oz cut of 30-day dry aged rib eye with their choice of seafood. My wife chose razor clams:

I chose… well… not seafood. I went with the oxtail and bone marrow, because beef.

Lemon chiffon cake and chocolate cake.

A seriously great meal. I was surprised at how much dry-aged flavor was packed into the steak at just 10oz and 30 days. The crust could have used a bit more char on it, but I was happy with the overall flavor and texture. 8/10.

GALLOW GREEN
542 W. 27th St.
New York, NY 10001

Empire Diner

NOTE: THIS JOINT IS NOW  UNDER NEW OWNERSHIP

Chef Amanda Freitag’s upscale diner (which I like to refer to as a “finer”) really delivers some solid menu items. My wife and I popped in for lunch when it was crowded and took a comfortable seat at the large, old fashioned art-deco inspired bar area.

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We started with some cocktails. I had a jalapeño bloody Mary, and my wife had a riff on the Pimm’s Cup cocktail. Both were masterfully mixed. Look at the size of the basil floating in my wife’s drink! It was a mutant leaf.

empire diner drinks

Our meal came out a bit backwards, as the pop tarts arrived first, and we sort of assumed they were more of a dessert item. I guess they are there for the brunch menu. They were filled with apricot jam and had a nice, light texture to the strudel-style dough pocket. Very nice, and actually kind of filling for only $6 a pair.

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I had the burger. This is a top contender. It comes garnished with red onion, cheddar cheese, pickles and a Big Mac style special sauce. Really tasty, and the gooey cheese is enough to solve any problems in the event your patty comes out cooked too much. At first, I thought mine was a little beyond medium, but it was fine once I got into the center a bit more. The bun is brioche style, but it isn’t flaky or weak. I prefer a potato bun, but this was fine.

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empire diner burger cut

This is a great buy at $13, because you get the salt and pepper fries in a pretty good portion size on the side as well. And let me just say: these fries were fucking amazing.

empire diner fries

My wife ordered the fish and chips. The portion size was pretty large, although her plate came with less fries than my burger plate. The fish was a large single piece that was enveloped in a really nice batter. My wife referred to it as “fish Wellington.” The fish itself was a cod; nice and flaky, and perfectly cooked.

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