Category Archives: Downtown

Carne Mare

Carne Mare overall score: 90*

Carne Mare is a great Italian steakhouse down in the seaport. My wife and I went with another couple this past weekend, and we really dove in!

Flavor: 10

We had both the prime rib and the 45-day dry aged porterhouse for two. If I had to pick a favorite between the two, it would be the prime rib.

It was “porchetta spice” rubbed on the outside, and cooked to a perfectly tender and juicy medium rare inside. It floated in a shallow pool of veal jus. Amazing. This baby now ranks in my top 5 for sure.

The porterhouse was nicely cooked and served on a metal platter with bone marrow, herbs, a light watercress salad, and blistered cherry tomatoes. Great aged flavor, and even cook temp all over.

Choice of Cuts & Quality Available: 10

I wanted to take a point here because they ran out of the duck that we wanted to try, and also because the prime rib is very limited. By 8pm on a Friday, there were only two pieces left. Go early! However, I decided to restore the point, since I wanted to try the veal over the duck anyway, and that’s what we ended up having.

Portion Size & Plating: 10

The prime rib was 16oz, and the porterhouse was 45oz. Both are robust. Other portion sizes were healthy as well, especially for the carpaccio apps, which I find are typically small.

Price: 7

This joint is definitely pricey. At $66 for the prime rib and $185 for the porterhouse, you are well over the average for NYC pricing. However, the quality is top notch, so I didn’t feel too burned over it. In hindsight, I probably wouldn’t order the porterhouse again since it comes out to $92.50 per person. That’s high!

Bar: 10

The bar here is beautiful, as is the entryway into the bar room.

With views of the water, this is almost unbeatable. They have a great selection of cocktails and booze, and I definitely enjoyed the martinis they mixed for me.

Specials and Other Meats: 7

There were no real specials read to us, but I didn’t expect much from a steakhouse with such an extensive menu. We did try the veal milanese. This was good, but it could have been better. It was breaded and fried whole, without being pounded flat like a traditional milanese dish.

Because of that, it had a bit too much chew. I also expected a mix of greens to be on there as well, which is common with a milanese.

Apps, Sides & Desserts: 10

What an awesome set of apps and desserts. First off, the octopus and veal carpaccio apps were probably the best apps I’ve had in a long time. Please make sure you get them.

On the side, we had a roasted and smoked beet (which was actually a veggie entree item), mushrooms and roasted carrots. All of them were great, but when you go, you should focus on the mushrooms (marsala style with porcini cream).

The baked spumoni is an absolute show stopper with layers of chocolate, vanilla, cherry and lemon inside. Save room for dessert!

Seafood Selection: 6

All of the seafood we tried was great, and the selection was nice as well. The main letdown of the meal was the spicy lobster spaghetti. I just sorta fit it into this category though, so don’t let this be an indication of their other seafood entrees.

It was cooked nicely, but the portion of pasta was on the small side (lobster was large though). Also, there was no real spice to it. Meh. Good pasta, but not enough of it and not spicy as advertised.

Service: 10

Our waiter was amazing, as were the hostesses, bartenders and managers. Our first table had a leak from the ceiling overhead (it had just started to pour, thunder and lightning). They swiftly moved us to a table that had an even better view, and they graciously gave us a bottle of wine that was worth nearly $200. We were blown away.

Also worth noting: they serve amazing table bread here, in the style of pull-apart bread. They will just keep bringing it out if you ask.

Ambiance: 10

This place is really nicely appointed. I can’t wait to go back and experience a meal in the bar room. High ceilings, good music, not too loud and not too quiet.

CARNE MARE
89 South St
Pier 17
New York, NY 10038

Brooklyn Chophouse

Brooklyn Chophouse overall score: 81

From the crew that brought you Jade Sixty comes Brooklyn Chophouse, located in FiDi (not Brooklyn) and executing a very similar, if not the same, menu as Jade Sixty (Asian starters and entrees, fusion items, and good old American style chops).

Flavor: 6

We had the dry-aged (50-60 days) porterhouse for two.

This had minor dry aged flavor along the edges of some pieces. It was slightly overcooked from medium rare in some parts, but none of that stopped me from devouring it – and the temperature issue is somewhat expected with such a thick cut (2″ at least). The crust was excellent, as you can see.

Choice of Cuts & Quality Available: 8

You have a nice range of steakhouse selections here, all dry-aged and prime from Pat LaFrieda’s operation.

Portion Size & Plating: 8

Portions are on par with steakhouse country in midtown and other places downtown. There are some bargains to look out for, which I will get into below.

Price: 8

We had a comped meal here in exchange for posting pics on Instagram, but the pricing is fair for what you are getting. Think of this place like any other steakhouse, but with some nice Asian items to boot. Speaking of, the $55 Peking Duck is a great deal (more on that below).

Bar: 9

I really loved the bar and lounge area here. They’re also mixing up some great cocktails, like the smoked boulevardier:

The Brooklyn old fashioned is killer too:

Specials and Other Meats: 9

There are lots of other items in terms of specials and other meats. But the main non-beef dish to look for here is the Peking duck. Here is a video of the slicing and presentation:

Make sure you take the remainder of that 7lb duck carcass home and make soup with it. One of the best Peking duck dishes I’ve had, ever. Awesome deal for just $55.

Apps, Sides & Desserts: 7

We tried a bunch of stuff here. Let me get right down to it.

Bacon – nice sweet maple flavor to it.

Pastrami dumplings – these are fun and delicious.

French onion soup dumplings – the skin was a bit too thick on these, and the filling was overly cheesy in some, and overly oniony in others. I think they can benefit from a more even distribution into each sack.

Bacon cheeseburger shumai – absolutely awesome. Get these! I can easily put down three orders of these without batting an eye.

Chocolate cake – dry and we weren’t fans of the frosting.  A bit greasy, like they used shortening rather than buttercream.

The apple wontons were fun though. Mine didn’t have too much apple inside, but I just filled them with the vanilla ice cream instead.

Seafood Selection: 8

There’s a lot of great seafood on the menu, as you might expect from an Asian themed place. I didn’t try any but my next visit will be to try the salt and pepper lobster dish.

Service: 9

Really friendly and knowledgeable staff, timely with everything.

Ambiance: 9

They nailed the ambiance here. It has a great vibe inside, especially the lounge and bar area. The elevated main dining room and private dining spaces are elegant but not stuffy.

BROOKLYN CHOPHOUSE
150 Nassau St
New York, NY 10038

Manhatta

There’s another French onion soup burger in the game, from Manhatta.

It’s very tasty but it definitely requires a fork and knife, as it sits in a puddle of soup and has some stewed onions and onion rings on the top bun. In any event, it’s one hell of a swanky place in which to get messy. Lots of fun. Check out the view!

I’ll be back in here for a proper dinner soon enough. Until then, this will be a short review.

MANHATTA
28 Liberty Street, 60th Fl
New York NY 10005

Harry’s

Harry’s overall score:  86

I came in to Harry’s for lunch on a weekend with my wife and parents. Here’s how it went down:

Flavor: 8

I went with the standard bone-in rib eye.

It comes out pre-sliced, so don’t give me shit. It was pretty good. I’ve had better, and I’ve certainly had worse. 8/10. I think it just needed a better crust, a bit more seasoning and more punch of dry-aged flavor.

My mom hit the boneless cajun rib eye.

She wen’t to work on this before I had a chance to shoot it. But I did try it, and it was unique. Unlike the other cajun rib eyes in town, there was no hint of cumin on this. But it did taste like pepper and other earthy spices. Pretty good. 8/10.

My dad had the filet mignon.

He crushed it before I had a chance to try it, but he said he liked it.

I liked the bone-in strip steak as well, which had a nice aged flavor.

The Kobe burger is likely not made with real Kobe beef, but I’ll bite. Actually my wife bit, and I had half.

It was cooked nicely, and all the toppings were good (pickles and caramelized onions), however, the bun fell apart in my hands on the first bite. I had to fork and knife the rest. Here’s a shot of the beauty before the bun went to shit.

It comes with fries. These were pretty good, but could have used a bit more crisp:

Second trip – porterhouse – also an 8/10.

Choice of Cuts & Quality Available: 9

I was here for brunch on a weekend, and the menu was still ample in terms of steak cuts. I was impressed with the variety.

Speaking of variety, the pasta dishes here are great as well.

Portion Size & Plating: 8

Portions are large and plating is a step above the average nondescript steakhouse style. I liked the metal cooking plates on which the rib eyes were served.

Price: 8

Here’s a look at our William:

There are some pricey items but some great bargains as well.

Bar: 10

This is one of the most beautiful and inviting bars I’ve ever seen.

I almost wish I lived or worked downtown just so I could have an excuse to come here more often.

There’s even some great lounge seating off the bar in a semi-secluded room. Lovely. Also, the cocktails were insanely good.

Pictured here is the Old Mr. Johnson, which is easily in my top five for “Old Fashioned” or “Manhattan”-like cocktail renderings. And you’ve gotta love that H that they branded into the perfectly clear ice cube. It’s not a mold – it’s a hot brand.

Specials and Other Meats: 8

There were some specials read to us, though I don’t remember what they were. But the fact that they were not on a strict “brunch menu selections only” policy on the weekend is a good sign. My wife got the lamb curry, which was surprisingly really good, and a very unique dish to be on a steakhouse menu.

Apps, Sides & Desserts: 8

We had a few things from this category. First, the tempura onion rings.

These didn’t strike me as having a typical tempura batter texture. They were a bit heavy in terms of the fry, and the onions inside were thick (but cooked through at least). The unique thing about these is that they almost tasted like curry or turmeric.

Awesome baked clams Genovese and Jonah crab cake. Get these.

I already mentioned the fries above in the flavor section for the burger, so I won’t re-discuss them here. What I will discuss, however, is the insane house smoked Canadian bacon appetizer.

Yeah. That’s an entire pork chop that they like to call a side of bacon at Harry’s, for just $18. Get it. As your entree. It was the best item of the meal! That’s apple sauce on the side.

Awesome steak tartare.

We had some desserts as well. In particular, I liked the lemon meringue pie the best.

Not as good as some places, but up there for sure.

Pass on the carrot cake. I’m an easy to please customer when it comes to this crack, but there was an odd “gelee” glaze on top that gave it a weird texture, and the icing was vanilla rather than cream cheese.

The warm skillet cookie was a bit too sweet, so get this only if you plan to share it.

Seafood Selection: 8

I didn’t even bother to fucking look. Maybe next time I’ll hit some shellfish from the dinner menu. Actually, I guess the shrimp in the squid ink linguini scampi pasta dish counts. There was a shitload of them in the bowl, and they were cooked perfectly. Pictured here is only a half of the order (my wife and I shared, and they plated it into two bowls – doing this makes for a great appetizer portion).

Service: 9

Our waiter was good, but he had a shift change or a break right in the middle of our service. The new waiter had to kind of figure out what the fuck was happening, and I felt bad for him. Overall, great service though. My cocktail glass had a big chip on the rim, which was crazy sharp. I was surprised they didn’t catch it on the way out to me, but they fixed me a new drink quickly when I told them. Table bread was warm and nice as well.

Ambiance: 10

Simply amazing decor here. Truly gorgeous from top to bottom.

I actually wish I had taken more photos of the decor. They really did a great job with the space.

HARRY’S
1 Hanover Square
New York, NY 10004

Warren 77

This joint puts up some solid pub food. I came in with a group of food bloggers to help them promote their Stanley Cup game night specials (the joint is owned by an ex-NY Ranger). Anyway, here’s what we had:

Wings

These are breaded and served lollipop style. I liked them, despite generally having less of a preference for breaded wings.

Nachos

Stacked high with tons of toppings. Really good.

Boneless Chicken Wings

For the vagina in your group who doesn’t want any bones. Still good though – and also breaded.

Fried Pickles

A little too salty for me, but I liked the texture and sauce.

Philly Cheesesteak

I loved that this was on a hot dog potato bun. They said they usually serve it on different bread but ran out. I say stick with the hot dog bun. It was great. Low budget and tasty.

Double Cheeseburger

This was nice and basic too, but well executed. For $11 this is a great deal (fries were $3 extra, shoestring style, and  very nicely cooked). Their “77 Sauce” is like a Big Mac sauce. Dig it.

WARREN 77
77 Warren St
New York, NY 10007

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

Cut

Cut overall score: 80

Wolfgang Puck just opened up a new location of his steakhouse “Cut” in downtown Manhattan. Of course I had to check it out. A buddy and I came here with our ladies to get down on some steak.

Flavor: 8
We were able to sample three different cuts: rib eye, sirloin and tenderloin. All three hailed from Creekstone Farms, and all three were bone-in.

The rib eye here is a solid 8/10. It felt a bit small for 20oz, but as you can see it had a great outer crust.

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Inside was perfectly cooked. Check out the cut:

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Where it fell short, for me, was the cap. There wasn’t much to it, unfortunately. The eye was delicious though, and I think it was the most flavorful cut of the night. I didn’t get pics of the other two.

I’m giving the tenderloin a 9/10. It had that same great sear and same great cook temp. The flavor was excellent for a tenderloin, too.

The sirloin was not marketed as a NY strip or strip loin, so I am considering it to be an “other cut” for categorization purposes. In all likelihood, it was probably a strip, but one can never be certain without actually doing the butchering oneself. This was an 8/10. Again, same great crisp and cook, and the flavor was nice for a lean cut, though I did prefer the rib eye and tenderloin over the sirloin.

As for the sauces, well, each steak comes with a free sauce on the side. There are about six to eight to choose from. We tried a bunch: house steak sauce, bernaise, creamy horseradish, and yuzu. While I prefer my steak naked, the best of the lot was the horseradish. Their house steak sauce was a bit aggressive on the tarragon (I think that’s what it was in there – not rosemary).

Choice of Cuts & Quality Available: 10
This place is truly amazing in terms of available cuts and quality. A quick scan of their menu reveals that they not only offer all of the main steakhouse cuts in various sizes, but you can also choose by farm. They offer stuff from Kansas (Creekstone), Illinois (corn-finished), Ithaca New York (grass-finished), and Snake River (American Wagyu). On top of that, they feature legit Miyazaki beef from Japan as well. You can even order a tasting that will give you 4oz from various farms, that way you can actually taste the difference between them. Currently, they only do this with the sirloin – not the rib eye. Honestly I don’t think any other steakhouse has this extensive of a selection.

As if the cuts of beef for steaks aren’t enough variety, they also feature wagyu beef short rib and wagyu beef sashimi. Amazing.

Oh, and they bring the shit out to show you, too.

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Portion Size & Plating: 7
Portions could be a bit larger here for the pricing. I understand the cost of high-end beef, but at $88 for 9oz of American wagyu rib eye, you are getting ripped off. If that’s what I am going for, I will happily just head the fuck over to Del Frisco’s to get 23oz more wagyu beef for an additional $7 (32oz, $95). And that fucker is a clear 10/10 score on flavor – one of the best steaks I’ve ever eaten.

Price: 5
See my rant on portion size above for some weight here as well. But in addition to that issue, I felt that some of the items were way overpriced for what we were getting. In particular, the marrow app, the tortolloni, and the mac and cheese.

cut bill

Bar: 8
The bar is pretty cool, and there are some great cocktails and booze selections available. However the prices are a bit too high (a non-alcoholic “mocktail” was fucking $14), and I was hoping for a more street side experience. The bar is just off the lobby of the apartment building / hotel with no view of the downtown streets, so the vibe is slightly off a bit.

cut bar

cut drink

cut potions

Specials and Other Meats: 9
There are no off-menu specials, with the exception of an addition that was not yet printed – another offering of steak. But there’s chicken, pork and lamb for alternative meat selections, if for some reason you are avoiding all the tasty beef on the menu. The app selections also feature veal tongue, suckling pig, and bone marrow flan. Really interesting.

Apps, Sides & Desserts: 9
We tried a bunch of stuff. Let’s get right down to business.

The mac and cheese was really tasty, but insanely overpriced at $16. Apologies for not getting a photo of it.

The suckling pig and pork belly was excellent. Not as salty as I was expecting, but really nicely plated. Also overpriced at $25 for six cubes that were the size of large Las Vegas gambling dice.

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Bone marrow flan was very nice, but overpriced and small in size. It was similar to the creme brûlée from Beatrice Inn, only savory.

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Broccolini was fantastic. I highly recommend this item. Topped with shaved cheese and adorned with roasted tomatoes, one cannot possibly go wrong.

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Tortolloni was overpriced for seven small dumplings. They were nice and mild though, which is exactly what my wife wanted.

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Doughnuts dessert came with about six doughnut holes, all the same flavor (granulated sugar coated). Some of the purees that came with it weren’t that good (sweet potato), but the ice cream was nice.

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Seafood Selection: 8
There’s lobster, “loup de mer” (branzino), cod and sole on the seafood menu here. Scallop preparations, hamachi, a crab and lobster cocktail and a tuna tartare can be found on the app menu. Not too shabby, though I didn’t notice any oysters or clams.

Service: 9
One thing worth noting here is that you can add a variety of nice items to your order (for a fee, of course). But you can add a fried egg, white truffles, blue cheese, mushrooms, garlic, bone marrow, etc. to the steaks you order.

Bread is on point. The table receives a basket of mini pop-overs (we got a second basket) and five different style dinner rolls/breads to choose from with a nice whipped butter. All are delicious. My advice is to fill up on bread and share a really good, high end steak.

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Ambiance: 7
This place suffers from a bit of an identity crisis. There are two huge panels on one wall that show a kind of cheese-bag conversation between a chef and a woman. We surmised that this had something to do with how Wolfgang Puck met his wife, and it turned out we were right (our waitress overheard us talking and confirmed it when we asked).

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The dining room was vast and dark; a bit too sexy for my liking. And the random neon lighting at the bar felt a bit too “Miami Vice.”

CUT
The Four Seasons Hotel
99 Church St or 27 Barclay St
New York, NY 10007

North End Grill Bistro du Nord

The Union Square Hospitality Group is hosting a pop-up French restaurant called “Bistro du Nord” in the North End Grill space throughout January. This is the group of restaurants headed up by chef Danny Meyer, who recently went “no tip” and “service included” in the menu pricing of all his joints. Even the coat check is included! But the prices… for a tip-included place, they were amazing. I was expecting some inflated numbers, but to me, they all looked like what you’d see at any other restaurant.

I was invited in by the group to sample some of the delicious items that chef Eric Korsh is featuring on this limited run menu (though some items may still be available after the pop-up is finished). He’s the chef there at North End Grill, even when there is no pop-up going on, so you can expect the same level of execution and awesomeness if you happen to miss the pop-up.

So let me get down to it, because we tried a lot of good stuff.

Duck egg en meurette.

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If you’re like me, and have no idea what some French culinary terms mean, then I will explain. “En meurette” basically means that the duck egg is served in a red wine reduction, like a bourguignon or meat gravy type sauce. The egg here was nicely poached and served with mushrooms and black truffles.

Roasted oysters with spinach and bacon.

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I believe some cheese was involved as well. These were beautiful and fantastic.

Escargot with garlic and parsley butter.

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Really nice in the little skillet, and already plucked from the shell, so no work is involved.

Tarte flambe.

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This was essentially a nice, light, airy flatbread – almost like zaatar, but less aggressive with the spice.

French onion soup with bone marrow.

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Beautiful. This one was topped with a piece of toast and melty gruyere, but that bone marrow in the middle was just absolutely awesome.

Now for the entrees.

Steamed trout.

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I was a little skeptical of a steamed fish item, but this was so tasty. I even remarked that it reminded me of something Scandinavian, perhaps because of the presence of dill and a thickened broth sauce.

Crispy skate wing – my apologies for not getting a picture. This fish was so light yet flavorful that it threw me off guard. The crisp on the outside of the fish was so awesome.

Roast chicken.

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Super crispy outside skin and perfect tenderness within. The cabbage wrap was filled with more succulent, tender meat as well as some fois gras and parsley root. Very elegant.

Cassoulet.

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What a refreshing improvement from the last cassoulet my wife and I had at The House. This one had the meat on full display: pork belly and a duck leg. With trotter and white beans in the dish, this was a nice and hearty dish, but it didn’t seem heavy at all.

NY strip steak au poivre.

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I had the kitchen slice this for us so it was easier to share. This was perfectly cooked to medium rare, and the peppery sauce really complimented the prime beef. The chef trimmed off any gristle from the sides, and the quality of the cut was top notch. It was lean but very flavorful, and the texture was incredibly tender. 9/10.

On the side we had some wood grilled fennel, which was really nice and helped us digest. We also had some fries, as they came with the steak. They had a perfect crisp and were nicely seasoned.

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There’s always room for dessert.

Apple and huckleberry galette.

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This was right up my alley. Sweetness with a little bit of tartness, and then warm mixed with cold ice cream. Perfection.

Chocolate souffle.

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Perfect execution on this, and the chocolate was rich and decadent without being overpowering or overly sweet.

Paris-brest.

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I loved this. The one here was apple and hazelnut cream flavored. It was light and airy, soft yet crisp. I could easily inhale a few of these.

I think that about does it. Get your asses down here and try some of this delicious French fare while the pop-up lasts!

NORTH END GRILL
104 North End Ave
New York, NY 10282

Northern Tiger

This stand at Hudson Eats slings some decent dumplings and noodles.

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My wife, a friend and I came here after a crazy chocolate event at ICE to get something a little savory to balance the palate.

We tried an order of their special kung pao chicken dumplings.

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These were chock full of good quality chicken, but they were a bit over-sauced and dense. Good flavors though.

The next dumplings we tried were some pan seared pork and chive fuckers.

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These were much better. They had great texture and contained the right balance of juices and meat inside. Very nice.

Finally, we tried an order of sour and spicy chicken noodles.

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This contained two types of noodles: spaghetti-like clear “glass noodles,” and wide, flat noodles.

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I think they could have used a hit of spice to them, but the chicken meat was high quality and the flavors worked. This place is worth a shot if you’re in the area, especially for the pan seared pork dumps.

NORTHERN TIGER
At Hudson Eats
225 Liberty St
New York, NY 10281

Malt House (FiDi)

You may recall my recent review of Malt House in the West Village. Well, the other day I was invited to the downtown location for another press review. I have to say, as Chef Armando (formerly of STK and Five Napkin Burger) has become more comfortable in his role as Executive Chef, he has really elevated the level of food.

At the time of the West Village review, he was relatively new at Malt House. The food was good, but it had a different feel than the food I tried at the FiDi location. While both restaurants do share a similar menu, Armando brings a bit more of his personal touch to the FiDi menu. Here, Armando is more clearly elevating standard pub food to quality restaurant dining. Take my favorite dish of the evening, for instance: the artichoke and crab dip with crispy fried plantains.

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Every pub, Friday’s and Applebee’s offers something like this with tortilla chips. But Armando has removed the grossly oily and heavy texture that is so common with these dips – often laden with insanely salty cheeses and prickly, woody bits from the wrong part of the artichoke – and replaced it with a velvety smooth, light and extremely satisfying indulgence that is topped with succulent, high quality crab meat. The plantains – as opposed to tortilla chips – come with a thicker crisp as well, and they add a higher quality, more complimentary crunch element to balance with the creamy dip.

If my yammering about artichoke dip doesn’t quite convince you that this place is more than just pub food, just take a look at this gorgeous pan roasted chicken dish.

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Do you expect to see this at a bar? Of course not. That’s why I’m making a point of saying that this is real restaurant dining. That chicken dish comes with mashed potatoes, sauteed kale, mushrooms and au jus, by the way.

And as you might expect from a burger at a fine dining joint, plain old ground beef simply won’t cut the mustard. This location features wagyu beef in the grind. But that’s not where it ends. It also boasts hickory smoked bacon, a pesto aioli and Bibb lettuce on a brioche bun, with your choice of cheese, of course. But the kicker is something so simple that it’s brilliant: a slice of oven roasted tomato that just melts right into the burger to become a natural ketchup when you bite down on it. Amazing.

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Armando is also keeping things a bit more seasonal and market fresh at the FiDi location, swapping out the mahi in the fish tacos with whatever is good at the market each day, like mako or swordfish.

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If those types of fish don’t float your boat, maybe the blackened salmon sandwich will. This was good enough to make me think twice about beef for a brief moment.

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Cajun salmon with grilled onions, cucumber, avocado and sriracha aioli? Yes please. That was a great tasting sandwich!

However, my favorite thing between two buns, aside from The Cake Dealer’s thong, was the slow braised short rib slider.

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After braising, these babies are pan seared and topped with house made spicy and sweet pickles, shallots and rosemary caramelized onions. Oh my God, those onions… And those pickles… So good, and such a complex bite of food. There are lots of well-balanced flavors popping in these. I highly recommend. They’re technically apps, but I guess if you order enough of them you can call it a meal.

Speaking of appetizers, by the way, a pair of other notable mentions were the buttermilk bites and avocado bacon deviled eggs. The eggs come cleverly plated in an egg carton with six pieces per order. Very generous! And these devilish morsels tasted heavenly. The egg is mixed with the avocado to make a very creamy filling, and the sriracha and serrano peppers on top bring that slight bit of heat that you want from deviled eggs.

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The buttermilk bites, if sold in bulk, would probably be the cause of my death. I can easily see myself eating these until I pop. There’s nothing too complicated about them; they’re just southern style fried chicken morsels.

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But the buttermilk fry batter is spectacular, and the meat is tender and juicy inside. Perfect execution! What really brings these home for me, though, is the cilantro jalapeno aioli. It’s cool and refreshing, while at the same time bringing a kick of spice to your taste buds.

I also got to sample both the sweet potato and regular fries. Both were good, but I actually preferred the sweet potato fries for some reason. They ended up being seasoned better, they held a better crisp, and they actually tasted savory rather than sweet. This was a nice change, because I typically don’t like sweet potato fries.

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Malt House actually has a pastry chef now, so dessert is on point. I sampled four items: chocolate mousse, beignets with chocolate sauce, banana and chocolate filled crepes and cheesecake. All were nicely executed, simple and delicious.

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Now that I’ve gotten the food out of the way, let me talk a bit about the drinks and decor at this place. Aside from something like 200 whiskies and 40 draft beers, they also offer a nice cocktail menu and an extensive list of bottled and canned beers as well.

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In addition, this joint is hugely spacious, with a main bar and dining floor, a nice mezzanine overlooking the main floor, a private party room off the mezzanine and a massive basement called “The Armory,” which features a wrap-around bar and tons of additional seating. I love the proud patriotism on display down there. There are tons of old US flags and such (to be fair, some might be British colonial flags as well – I’m not sure). This place also boasts some other nice historic and architectural touches, like a preserved 125yr old, all-original skylight in the private room and several actual Carnegie Steel Company beams in the main bar and dining room.

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The interior pics aren’t mine, by the way. They were provided to me by the restaurant. But you get the sense of how enormous and gorgeous this place is. Go check it out for yourself one of these days. You won’t be disappointed.

MALT HOUSE
9 Maiden Ln
New York, NY 10038