Category Archives: Midtown West

Quality Bistro

Quality Bistro opened back in January, if I recall, right when I started a hellish new job with insane demands on my time. Then, of course, the entire city went into lockdown from Covid-19. Somehow my work-life balance got even worse. I’m only just now finally beginning to break away from the +60 hours/week grip of this gig, to get back out there and review restaurants for you savage bastards.

Anyway, the point of that bullshit preface is really just to say that I’m excited to finally write about a new(ish) joint that I’ve tried, especially one that’s serving some awesome food.

Quality Bistro is the newest restaurant in the Quality Branded restaurant group. You know them from my previous posts about Quality Italian, Quality Meats, Quality Eats, Maloney & Porcelli (rest in peace) and Smith & Wollensky.

Here’s my quick video run down of those spots, if you haven’t seen it:

First of all, this new place, Quality Bistro, is totally decked out. This is easily the most gorgeously decorated space in the entire Quality Branded suite of restaurants. High ceilings, beautiful booths, decor and tables – really on another level. They spared no expense. So when you go here, make sure you request a table inside. I recommend the booths in the room on the left when you walk in. The bar is sick too (hopefully some day soon we will be allowed to sit at one again).

The menu is decidedly French, which makes sense given the “bistro” restaurant name. But like all their other restaurants, they are aggressively beef-forward. I wouldn’t call them a steakhouse, per se, but they get very close to it. They offered five steak cuts when I was there: a filet mignon, a strip, a bavette, a tomahawk and a “cote de boeuf” rib eye for two. We went with the tomahawk, but let me run through the other stuff we tried.

We started with the escargots and the crab cake. The escargots are probably some of the best I’ve had in the city, rivaling Paul Denamiel’s at Le Rivage. Very close competition! And they’re in the shell too, which I love. Order these, and get a dozen because you save $10 when you jump from a half ($19) to a full dozen ($29).

The crab cake is massive. It’s about the size of an 8oz burger patty, thick too. Super crisp, great sauce. I think this would be amazing as a lunch sandwich with pickled green tomato on a brioche bun or a croissant, with a bit more green on top. Absolutely delicious.

Our mid course was the prime tomahawk. This comes slathered with Rogue Creamery smokey blue cheese – a TON of it!

The smell coming off of this thing was so amazing. It filled the massive dining room with funk.

The cook temp was a perfect medium rare. So juicy, so tender, and so packed with flavor. This is an easy 9/10. I stripped the fucker clean!

We chased that with the corn custard brûlée. I had high hopes for this, but it fell short for two reasons: (1) The inside was less custard and more clumpy scrambled egg. This is usually a turn off for me, but the flavor was really good, so I still devoured it. And (2), a bit heavy on the caramelized sugar on top. Too thick for my liking. The flake salt, however, really made the flavors on this pop. I can see this side being a star with a bit more fine tuning.

Our third course was the Moroccan fried chicken. They serve a whole bird for two in a beautiful tagine with fresh cilantro, Moroccan pancakes and a trio of dipping sauces (spicy honey, Moroccan cilantro chimichurri and citrus yogurt).

The breading is really nicely spiced, with great middle eastern earthiness and aromas.

Absolutely jerkworthy. I’d get this again in a heartbeat. In fact, I’m glad we ordered big, because we took more than half of it home. I’m about to eat the left overs right now, and I’m psyched!

Last, we had the apple tart sundae with cinnamon ice cream. This was really good, and big enough to share with your date at just $12. The cinnamon ice cream tasted like Cinnamon Toast Crunch, my absolute favorite cereal of all time!

I guess that about does it for now. I plan to go back and try some of the other cuts, particularly the bavette frites, since that’s a little less common on menus. Definitely give this place a shot. Gaetano, Scott and Roger will treat you right. They provide amazing, clean service here, and you’ll feel safely spaced apart and very comfortable. Can’t believe I have to even mention such things right now…

QUALITY BISTRO
120 W 55th St
New York, NY 10019

Just Pho

After reading some positive reviews of this Northern style Vietnamese pho restaurant, my wife and I rushed in to try it just as soon as we had some free time.

Contrary to the name of the restaurant, they DO serve more than just pho. They also serve some spring rolls. We tried pork and crab. Both were great. Light, crispy, not too greasy, and big on flavor.

They also serve fresh coconut juice.

We ordered two different bowls of soup; combination beef, and chicken with an added poached egg. Both size medium.

My favorite of the two was the beef.

It had a nice deep beefy flavor from their 15-hour broth making process, and it was chock full of rare, thinly-sliced eye round and brisket.

The noodles were cooked perfectly and had a nice snap and bite to them – unlike so many joints downtown that overcook them into a mush that falls apart as soon as you grasp them with your chopsticks.

While the beef was my favorite, I can see myself getting this velvety, eggy chicken pho on cold winter days. Check out this video as the egg yolk gets mixed in:

 

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I highly recommend this spot. Go give it a shot.

JUST PHO
252 W 31st St
New York, NY 10001

The Playboy Club

NOTE: THIS JOINT IS CLOSED

The Playboy club in NYC actually serves up some decent grub. The joint is not what you’d think, either. It’s not a strip club or some raunchy spot. It’s more like a classy version of Hooters with a night club in back. Hostesses near the front wear bunny outfits, similar to what you might see as a “sexy Halloween” outfit on the streets of NYC. But the restaurant part of the space is pretty much devoid of that kind of eye candy. I assume they hawk for bottle service in the club and show/stage space in back.

In any case, we came here to check out the food. We started with four apps: tuna tacos, wagyu sushi, crispy fried rock shrimp and beef tartare. Of these, the wagyu sushi was probably my favorite.

For a mid-course we shared the lamb chops with pesto (a little overcooked, but delicious) and the dry aged burger with aged cheddar, black garlic aioli and bacon onion jam (topped with a slider).

We were dipping our fries into that pesto from the lamb. It was awesome.

Last up, a 34oz dry aged rib eye with spicy citrus broccoli and more fries. This was actually a delicious 8/10, and it came with a bunch of nice sauces – my favorite of which was a sweet yet savory soy garlic sauce.

We had this with sides of garlic string beans and a towering phallus of onion rings.

Safe to say we were all pleasantly surprised by the food here. I’d probably go again.

THE PLAYBOY CLUB
512 West 42nd St
New York, NY 10036

Momofuku Noodle Bar

Once again David Chang pretty much disappoints. I understand and respect that he did a lot to expose certain aspects of Asian cuisine to folks here in NYC (and beyond), but I just don’t get why so many people are riding his dick so hard. The food just isn’t that good. Maybe it’s because he, himself, is not actually cooking? Not sure. But he gets doted on like crazy from places like Eater and the NY Times.

This man is supposed to be the wizard of fried chicken. Everyone says it. But two out of three times that I’ve tried his fried chicken, the experience was highly problematic. Fuku + was great. Ma Peche was half raw and half burnt. And this time at Noodle Bar the skin and batter wasn’t crisp enough – not by a long shot.

The bird was small but I don’t mind that. I actually prefer it, as the ratio of meat to skin and batter is usually better on a smaller bird. Also this bird had great flavor within the meat. But when there is little to no texture on the outside, it’s overall a let down.

Another let down was the “pork ramen.” When I associate David Chang with pork ramen I’m thinking of a rich, thick, fatty and almost milky tonkotsu broth. Not the case here. This was thin and lacked character. The slab of pork belly was nice enough, as were the noodles and the bamboo shoot. But the broth was weak. Even with a raw egg yolk mixed in, it was thin and watery. Maybe I’m just missing the point of this dish.

On the positive side of things, the creamy lemon and pepper lobster noodle dish was excellent. It sports lots of juicy and flavorful claw meat throughout, wide and perfectly cooked snappy noodles, and a hearty citrus and pepper zing.

The rice cakes were a bit soft but very tasty. When eaten with the corn you got the texture that was needed.

One thing I will say is that the prawn dish looked incredible. We were wishing we ordered that instead of the chicken every time we saw an order come up (we sat at the kitchen bar area). For $23 the dish comes with five huge baby lobster sized head-on prawns. Lightly batter fried and then dressed up for the big ball.

That about does it. I probably won’t come back here unless my wife and I are jonesing for that lemon-pepper lobster dish and those prawns.

MOMOFUKU NOODLE BAR
10 Columbus Circle
New York, NY 10019

Hudson Yards Grill

This week I tried out Hudson Yards Grill in my endeavor to eat at all the new joints in the mall over there. Here’s how it went down:

Fried Oysters

These were great. Super crispy outside, like you’d find on good fried chicken. Tender, perfectly cooked inside. Almost like they were just steamed open. Get them.

Burger

Great dry aged flavor without being overly aggressive. I ordered medium rare but it came out somewhere between medium and medium well. I didn’t mind much, since it tasted so good. But that should be noted. Great fries too.

Strip Steak: 7/10

I almost gave it an 8. But not quite. It had good flavor and was seasoned nicely,but the grilling process left it in dire need of a crust. Also it was just not a very impressive cut to begin with. I was hoping for something thicker and with a bone. The potato that came with it was medium rare – meaning it still needed to be cooked more.

Rib Eye: 6/10

This just didn’t have the character or flavor that the strip had. It was a little bland despite being seasoned well. Same lack of crust issue as the strip. It felt like this could’ve been an Applebees steak to be honest. In addition, it was accompanies by eight pathetic string beans, a nice tube of bone marrow and a horseradish cream sauce that would be better suited for a roasted prime rib as opposed to a grilled rib eye.

Coconut Cake

Fail. This was dry, heavy, and overly sweet. I had high hopes for this but it was a let down.

Drinks

Great white mezcal negroni, strawberry gin fizz and lavender margarita.

Summary

I’d definitely do drinks here again, along with a burger at the bar. Skip the mains and focus on the apps if you’re sitting for a bigger meal though. The steakhouse prices for the cuts of beef here just aren’t worth it.

HUDSON YARDS GRILL
Hudson Yards
4th Floor
New York, NY 10001

Taladwat

The folks behind Pure Thai Cook House and Feast have collaborated to create one of Thai Town’s newest joints, Taladwat.

My food buddy from Instagram, @NYCFoodFOMO, organized a few of us to go try some of their noteworthy dishes. Here’s how it went down:

I don’t remember the names of any of these dishes, but I can do a good job explaining them. The first one is a scallion omelette. This was great.

This roasted calamari was a favorite among all of us I think.

The coconut curry chicken was a little sweet for my liking, but the meat was delicious.

On the opposite end, this savory and spicy larb style ground chicken dish was awesome. My favorite of the night.

We had two types of pork. This was a pork belly in curry.

And this was stir fried with string beans. I liked this better.

This ground shrimp and shrimp paste “sausage” patty in a banana leaf was delicious. You can see the herbs mixed into it. Lots of flavor.

This braised ginger short rib dish was really tender. Definitely a go to for you meat lovers.

Soak up that sauce with this nice rice.

Then move on to dessert: pumpkin custard on sticky rice and mango sticky rice.

This place is worth trying when the sister joint Pure is jam-packed (it often is). I still prefer Pure to this, and perhaps Chai Thai and Noodies as well (for this part of town, anyway).

TALADWAT
714 9th Ave
New York, NY 10019

Cardoncello diVino

My wife and I discovered Cardoncello diVino this week and so far we are loving it.

First off, they have great cocktails like the smoked negroni and grande stella (tequila, mezcal, elderflower).

The table bread is a good variety of quality breads and breadsticks, served with a zucchini puree.

To start, we had a side of Cardoncello mushrooms, salmon carpaccio and sardines.

The salmon was a slight favorite over the mushrooms, but not by much. All were very good.

The pasta dishes really shine here. This paccheri with veal ragu was absolutely perfect. Cooked to a nice al dente texture and impeccably seasoned.

This crab and lemongrass tortelli dish had a fresh pea sauce that was awesome.

For one of our mains, we had shrimp with quinoa in a sambuca sauce. It may sound weird, but I assure you it was great. Only thing I’d change is to maybe swap the quinoa for something heartier like a farro risotto, made with that sauce.

The wagyu beef cheek was braised to fork tender deliciousness. It’s very easy to mow through this dish very fast.

For dessert, we had a lemon and coconut budino (rice pudding) with raspberry jelly on top, and a goat cheese and barley tart that was a teetering balance between savory and sweet.

I’m psyched to go back and try more pasta dishes, as well as take on their extra virgin olive oil tasting.

CARDONCELLO DIVINO
43 West 27th St
New York, NY 10001

Queensyard

From the makers of Bluebird London NYC (which now has a new chef, so I need to go back) comes Queensyard. This Hudson Yards joint serves up comfort food in a fancy setting with awesome views of the “Vessel” structure.

They have an impressive gin and tonic list, along with some other nice cocktails.

On this quick visit, I tried four items:

1) Fried Chicken Sandwich

This beauty was really tasty. It had a great crunch and the meat was juicy and flavorful. Nice pickles on top as well. I liked it a lot. But I would love it even more with a spicier sauce.

2) Dry Aged Burger

Make sure you add the cheese and crispy bacon when you order. This baby is delicious, and almost tastes like an elevated but refined Big Mac.

3) Mac & Cheese

This definitely eats more like a nice pasta dish than what comes to mind when someone says “mac & cheese.” The addition of shaved aged cheese and mushrooms really makes this an earthy dish worth ordering again.

4) Sticky Toffee Pudding

This spiced and sauced bread pudding came with a spiced ginger ice cream and “Rocky Road” crumble. It is definitely interesting and different, and at some points leans on the savory side.

I’ll definitely be back here for another, larger meal. I’d like to try some steaks!

QUEENSYARD
20 Hudson Yards
4th Floor
New York, NY 10001

Belcampo

By now most of you who keep up with this blog or my Instagram account have seen some shit about Belcampo Meat Camp. Well, they have a restaurant in Hudson Yards and I finally got to try it out. Here’s how it breaks down:

Lamb “Bone Broth”

This stuff is spectacular. It almost tastes like an au jus or a gravy. Such deep, rich flavors with no gamey shit happening. This is also perfect for dipping bread, roast beef sandwiches, or whatever.

Eye Round Carpaccio

This is incredible. Probably my favorite carpaccio at the moment. It’s just so tender and flavorful. Hit it with some extra virgin olive oil and you’re all set.

Beef Tartare

This raw application is another winner. Excellent flavors, really great. If you prefer tartare to carpaccio, then get this.

Belcampo Burger

This was my favorite of the three burgers we tried. It has a slight aged flavor to it, but the cheese coverage, toppings and bun were all great to boot. In the pic above, it’s in front.

Lamb Burger

In the pic above, the lamb burger is in back. The move here is to take an occasional bite of this after dunking it into the lamb broth. Really tasty.

The Century Burger

This 100-day dry aged burger really brings the funk. It’s thick and meaty, and unabashed in it’s protein-forwardness.

Double Fast Burger

This is my favorite of all the burgers, and it is the most humble of them all. Two dry-aged patties, American cheese, and thinly sliced pickle on a potato bun. Absolutely awesome.

Rib Eyes

We tried both the boneless and cowboy rib eye steaks. Both were great, perfectly cooked, and came with aged funk to them. 8/10.

The “Porkerhouse”

The pork porterhouse was my favorite chop of the night. So tender, so juicy, and such a great fresh flavor to it. I can eat this regularly. I remember being very impressed with this at Meat Camp too.

Lamb Chops

These were awesome. Really nice rich red meat flavor with no game whatsoever. Perfectly cooked to medium rare.

Cookies & Cake

Wow. I didn’t except such deliciousness from such simplicity. The huge, warm, ooey-gooey chocolate chip cookies were my favorite of the two, but that chocolate cake was rich and moist.

Cocktails

I should also mention the great cocktails here. The duck fat washed rye drink called Midnight Cruiser was killer, with orange oil and bitters.

But the barrel rested Copalli rum cocktail called Out Past Curfew stole the show. Rum, bourbon, sherry, creme de cacao, cocoa nib vermouth and toasted pecan bitters.

Definitely give this place a shot. Everything was delicious and I can’t wait to go back.

BELCAMPO
500 West 33rd St
4th Floor
New York, NY 10001

La Lena

I went to La Leña in Hudson Yards’ “Little Spain” specifically to try a cut of steak from an 8-10yr old Holstein dairy cow from Mindful Meats in California.

This “Vaca Vieja” style steak is common in Spain and other parts of Europe, so I was psyched to try it. The beef was very lean, and also dry-aged, making it ripe for a quick cook. However, the restaurant spent nearly an hour cooking it in their fantastic open flame style kitchen. They ruined it.

We ordered medium rare but it came out to us somewhere between medium and medium well.

Ultimately it was a very uneven fire, with some parts in the center being properly medium rare, but with way too much thick grey-banding on the exterior.

Amateurish, and likely fired by a cook who was unfamiliar with open flame cooking. The result was a grainy textured eating experience. Not much in the way of flavor either. I had hoped for more uniqueness, having heard that dairy cows can develop great marbling with robust flavors when they get up there in age. 5/10.

At $120 for 24oz this was a complete rip off. Not only that, but when we informed the waiter of the improper cook, he simply said thanks and that he would let the chef know. No offer of a new steak. No money off the bill. Not even a free dessert or drink.

If you must go here, stick to the pork until these guys learn how to cook a steak. My wife said the pork tasting menu was good. Also,  nice gin and tonic:

LA LEÑA
10 Hudson Yards
New York NY, 10001