Category Archives: Midtown West

Life Rooftop

Life Rooftop took over the space formerly known as the Viceroy at the top of Le Meridien hotel, near Central Park. The views are spectacular.

The cocktails are excellent.

And the food, which is more along the bites and small portions angle, is really delicious. The seafood tower is impressive. It comes with lobster, king crab, langoustines, shrimp, clams, oysters, caviar, tuna tartare and hamachi crudo.

The lobster roll is pretty packed full of meat too.

The stars of the meal for me, though, were the deviled eggs with caviar, and the wagyu tartare.

Their dessert sundae and churros were really great too. I’d definitely eat here again.

LIFE ROOFTOP
24 W 57th St
29th Floor
New York, NY 10019

Primal Cut Grille

The menu here at Primal Cut Grille (Inside the Sapphire 39th Street strip club) is largely the same as the menu at Primal Cut (inside the Sapphire 60th Street strip club). This review is just a photo dump of the items we had there, with reference back to the original review of the 60th Street location (which is now undergoing renovations). Also check out this cool video of their baller’s steak, the Golden Tomahawk:

Dolly Varden

Dolly Varden is a new cocktail bar and restaurant in the theater district that takes its name from an old trolley car that used to run throughout Manhattan and terminate in the area. Their outdoor seating even takes the form of the old railcar, which is pretty cool.

The indoor space is gorgeous. This place used to be one of the House of Brews locations (same ownership here; the other House of Brews is still open). They really did a great job on the remodel.

This joint was initially intended to be a cocktail bar, which is why you see such amazing drinks on the menu, like this Wooden Nickel, a mixologized version of an Old Fashioned, garnished with an ice rose.

I tried four cocktails and they were all dangerously delicious and slammable.

But once the pandemic hit and threw their bar plans into the wind, they pivoted, bringing on Chef Sean to cultivate a cheffed up bar menu that will keep people coming back for more.

We tried four of the apps on the menu:

Saigon Wings

Fish sauce brined, lightly breaded and perfectly crisped wings topped with pickled chilis and micro cilantro. Delicious.

Cornmeal Crusted Calamari

Lime sriracha aioli, mango salsa and queso fresco adorn these crispy delights. Similar toppings as the wings.

Back Ribs

Killer! Black bean sauce and sambal give this an Asian kick, and the crushed peanuts on top really bring it all together for a dynamic flavor profile.

Mussels

This was just a sample size portion that Sean wanted us to try, so expect more when you order. There’s bacon, kimchi and gochujang in the broth. These were really great! I wish we had thought to order the full size.

Next up was the burger.

The DV Railcar Burger is topped with tomato confit, melted white cheddar and marrow glazed onions. While that might sound like a heavy burger, it actually ate very light! Absolutely delicious.

Our other main was the Trees Major steak, which is my favorite cut of beef. It has all the flavor of chuck but with all the tenderness of filet mignon.

It’s very rare to see this cut featured on menus, but I think it makes for the perfect bistro steak, as it’s affordable, tender and delicious. Great for a steak frites dish. Here, it was topped with chimichurri and served with some lightly dressed greens. An easy 9/10.

On the side, we also had this fried maitake mushroom. This thing was awesome, especially when swiped with some of that saffron aioli.

I will definitely be back here to try more of Chef Sean’s delicious creations. I hope you can make it over there too, and help bring the theater district back from the brink of extinction!

DOLLY VARDEN
302 W 51st St
New York, NY 10019

NY Pizza Suprema

NY Pizza Suprema is one of midtown Manhattan’s best pizza joints.

Patrons will grab slices and scarf them down at the counter before hitting MSG, just across the avenue, for a game, concert, or whatever. Well, they used to, before public events were put on lockdown. I stopped in after a wonderful visit to the DMV, and ate my slice while walking to the subway.

This is a great slice. Thin, crisp and flavorful. A great representation of the classic NYC style. At $4, though, it’s a hefty price for a slice. It is, however, extremely convenient to Penn Station, so if you’re in the area and in need of a great slice, this is the place to go.

NY PIZZA SUPREMA
413 8th Ave
New York, NY 10001

La Grande Boucherie

Boucherie just keeps the hits coming! Even in the face of a global pandemic, these guys opened up shop in spectacular fashion. While the menu is similar to their village locations, this joint offers Chef Dom’s incredible prime rib.

Nice and thick – 9/10!

We also took down their pork and veal chops, both of which were stunning and delicious – 10/10.

What really stands out to me about this place is the decor. The joint is situated on 6 1/2 Avenue between 53rd and 54th Streets in midtown. The restaurant spans the entire length of the atrium, with high glass ceilings overhead.

It’s a beautiful place to eat, and much of it is technically outdoors. The Christmas season is very special here, with their massive tree in place.

The floors are heated, so you’ll actually feel warm even when sitting outside.

Like their other locations, they still have a nice meat/charcuterie area, stocked with legs of prosciutto and even dry aged steaks.

All of their classics are well represented, like escargots and absinthe cocktails.

We especially liked their seafood apps like the shellfish tower (the raw bar here is incredible – almost as big as their regular bar), the smoked salmon, and the whipped cod and potatoes.

And the broiled lobster? INSANE!

Since everything is pretty much the same aside from the prime rib and a few other menu items, I’ve decided to piggyback this review off of my reviews of their other locations in the West Village and Union Square. Definitely get over here ASAP and give it a shot.

Overall Score: 95

LA GRANDE BOUCHERIE
145 W 53rd St
New York, NY 10019

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.

*SEE UPDATED REVIEW NOTES BELOW!*

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

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

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

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

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

UPDATE 10/24/2020

My wife and I went back for round two, and tried a bunch more stuff.

For apps, we tried the taste flame, which is the joint’s take on Detroit style pizza + bread service. This was incredible!

Probably my favorite app here so far though, is this tuna carpaccio. Spicy, fresh, and deliciously refreshing.

These jambon beurre bites are pretty damn tasty as well.

This time, my wife went with the branzino. This was perfectly cooked and very flavorful. It comes with a choice of either salad or fries.

I went with the bavette, and also went with the French fries option.

They developed a great char on the outside…

While maintaining a perfect cook temp on the inside…

This was a solid 8/10. Really nicely executed.

On the side, we gave the corn brûlée another spin, and MAN were we glad that we did. As I expected, with the improvements I outlined above, this dish was a star. Much nicer texture inside (real custard-like), and lighter on the sugar top. PERFECT!

So that’s two steaks down, three to go: filet, strip, and rib eye for two. I’LL BE BACK!

UPDATE 7/16/21

Strip steak has a mild aged flavor, but a really nice peppercorn crust. Perfectly cooked throughout. 8/10.

Rib eye for two is great – a solid 8/10.

Lemon chicken is a sleeper here. Amazing dish!

Also really loved the glass for the French Bird cocktail. They should sell them!

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