Category Archives: Midtown West

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

West Side Steakhouse

West Side Steakhouse overall score: 79

A few weeks back some friends and I were discussing steakhouses, and one friend randomly mentioned this spot – a spot which I have been meaning to try for years now, but never got around to it. Same for him – always wanted to try, but never did. None of us had particularly high expectations going into this, as it’s a small spot with bargain-friendly pricing in a traditionally bargain-friendly area. My buddy and I were both shocked that we both actually wanted to try it, so a few of us got our schedules in order and made it happen, almost purely for research purposes. Here’s what went down:

Flavor: 8

We had the rib eye and the porterhouse for two. Both could have benefitted from some seasoning, but overall everything was cooked perfectly to medium rare and tender all over. They definitely cook with butter, which you can smell and taste, but it isn’t overpowering like some places. The steaks were also well-rested before they were served, with little to no bleed out.

We also tried their burger. I forgot to dress it up with the lettuce and tomato that comes on the side, but this 10oz beefy patty was cooked perfectly to medium rare and the bun help up nicely to both the cheddar and the burger juices. Like the steaks, it just needed salt.

Choice of Cuts & Quality Available: 8

All the major cuts are well represented here, and the beef is Certified Angus Beef, from Performance Foodservice. There was no dry-aged flavor coming through, so, if I had to guess, they are doing wet aging.

Portion Size & Plating: 9

Portions here are pretty big. The porterhouse clocks in at 45oz, the boneless strip and filet mignon are 12oz, and the rib eye is 16oz. They even offer a smaller t-bone (20oz) and a petite filet (8oz), which comes with three jumbo shrimp. Plating is pretty basic. Nothing too fancy. White plate, watercress garnish.

Price: 9

The prices here are awesome. That giant porterhouse for two is just $79. The rib eye is $40. We ordered so much shit and felt like we got away with murder. For what you get here, this place is a great deal.

Bar: 6

The cozy five-seat, elbow-shaped bar may be small, but it sees a lot of action. It’s stocked with a really great rum and scotch selection. Upon seeing the nice rums they had, I decided to order a rum old fashioned for my first cocktail. I was not disappointed.

They mix a nice martini to boot. I noticed that several people ate their dinner at the bar, either solo or with their companions, throughout the evening.

Specials and Other Meats: 9

There’s pork, duck, chicken and lamb. No veal, but this is a great spread for a small spot. I almost never see good pork at steak joints these days, so I had to try some. We went with the braised pork shank as a mid-course, and it was cooked perfectly tender. The risotto was a little soupy, and tasted like chicken stock a bit, but I would definitely order that again in a heartbeat.

In addition to the pork shank they also offer a rack of ribs and center cut chops. I asked about specials but only recalled that the soup of the day was a split pea with bacon.

Apps, Sides & Desserts: 7

We had the fries, the sautéed mushrooms and the creamed spinach as far as sides are concerned. All were pretty good, with the creamed spinach being the standout of the three. The fries needed salt (like the burger and steaks), but they had a great crisp on the outside.

For dessert, we had the cheesecake, which was rich and creamy. They don’t make the desserts in house, but I don’t mind if the stuff they serve is tasty.

See the seafood section below for notes on the app that we tried.

Seafood Selection: 7

There’s bass, salmon and rainbow trout on the entree menu here, as well as shrimp, scallops, calamari, crab cakes and mussels on the app side. We tried the bacon wrapped scallops app and they were pretty good. I was shocked that the bacon was crisp all the way around – no rubbery spots – and the scallop was still cooked properly. They just had the flavor of something that was pre-made and frozen.

Service: 9

Our waiter was great. I don’t think he was used to seeing such heavy orders from a small group of three, so we kind of shocked him. He was great though, knew his meat and made good recommendations.

Bread here is a basket of basic dinner rolls with pre-packaged butter. The rolls are served nice and warm.

Ambiance: 7

A steakhouse with outdoor seating in NYC is a hard thing to come by. This place has it.

The interior is basic for the type of structure that it’s in – just a stretch of seating along one side of the room, with the bar and kitchen entry doors on the other.I’m glad I finally came here. Now I know I can go back when I want a good bargain with a nice mom and pop neighborhood feel. It reminded me a lot of Murtha’s back home, only better.

WEST SIDE STEAKHOUSE
597 10th Ave
New York, NY 10036

TAK Room

My wife took me to Thomas Keller’s new Hudson Yards eatery, TAK Room, for my birthday. This meal was pretty awesome, so let me get right down to business.

Cocktails

This place has a great selection of classics, spins on classics, and new style cocktails. I went with the “Old Hat” old fashioned. I liked it, but both my wife and I liked her order better (Waldorf Vieux Carre)

We both remarked that the cocktail pricing wasn’t too rapey. And it’s worth noting here that the bar and lounge area is seriously impressive. The bar is backed by windows, offering an impressive view. There’s plenty of lounge style seating near the bar, where you can drink, snack and enjoy the live music on the stage.

Table Bread & Crudite

This was a nice touch; the crudite was cold and fresh, and that butter extruder thing is becoming insta-famous. There are two varieties of delicious house made breadsticks as well.

Green Garlic Agnolotti, Razor Clams, Gremolata

Strong opener, and an easy contender for my best pasta dishes of 2019. It almost had an oreganata flavor to it, with a great balance of textures.

Beef Tartare

This had some freshly shaved horseradish on top of the raw egg yolk, and was really nicely executed.

Prime Rib Cart Service

Take a look at this video of the prime rib service cart:

That’s Snake River Farms domestic wagyu cross, highly marbled and riddled with intense flavor.

This is easily one of the best prime rib orders I’ve ever had. At $110, I would bark about it being too expensive, but it really was worth every forkful. 10/10.

Short Rib Beef Wellington

Check this out:

A beautiful specimen. The short rib was snappy, but super tender.

The puff pastry was perfectly cooked from end to end. Perfect execution.

The only thing I disliked about it was the perigourdine sauce. It had a bitter and almost burnt flavor to it. Luckily that was poured on the side rather than on top of the dish. 9/10.

Champagne Cake, Strawberry Creamsicle Ice Cream

This was a pretty tasty special for dessert (not on the menu), and they generously gave us a couple of glasses of rose champagne to go with it, on the house. Here’s the dessert menu:

Box of Caramel Corn

This comes with your dessert, for the table. Jumbo size pops, very few kernels. Highly addictive.

Views, Decor & Service

Last but not least, one can’t really do a proper review of a joint like TAK Room without speaking about the views, decor and service.

The outer rim of the gorgeous dining room overlooks “The Vessel,” the new scalable art structure in Hudson Yards.

The decor is like a cross between 60’s mod and 20’s art deco. It’s truly beautiful. The service matches the spectacular views and decor, with an impeccably neat, attentive and genuinely nice wait staff. We even saw the likes of Thomas Keller himself, doing one of the prime rib cart services, with Geoffrey Zakarian watching from afar:

One of the managers gave us a quick kitchen tour too, which was really interesting to see. The place is immaculately clean, and they showcase their selection of premium meats in a glass cabinet near the kitchen entrance. Listen carefully for specials, as they were offering cote de boeuf rib eyes at varying sizes.

In summary, this was one of the best meals I’ve had this year, and I look forward to going back to try more beef and even their roast chicken for two. We just need to save up a little bit, because this place is pricey. All in, this meal was $467 with tax and tip. Woof. Here’s a look at some of the pricing:

TAK ROOM
20 Hudson Yards
5th Floor
New York, NY 10001

Kow Cattle Company & Nobu 57

I’ve been holding off on talking about Kow Cattle Company for a bit, hoping to visit the farm and facilities out in Iowa first, but I’ve been privileged to eat so much of it in the past year that I just couldn’t hold back anymore – especially after the beef binge I just had with their product at Nobu 57.

Kow Cattle Company is a small producer of highly marbled, domestically raised wagyu full blood and purebred animals in Iowa. They’re consistently raising cattle that grade out at super high prime, with BMS scores of 8 or higher.

They made a big splash in the NYC meat scene and made some great connections both in the restaurant world and in the influencer world.

Some noteworthy folks who are featuring their product fairly regularly: BLT Steak, Delmonico’s, The Grill, The James Beard House, The Gotham Burger Social Club, Bistrot Leo, Boucherie, and, of course Nobu 57 (and more as well).

 

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Supply isn’t always high at Kow, so if you see some on a menu, grab it while you can.

My first run-in with this delicious stuff was at Bistrot Leo. I tried a burger, some tenderloin tartare, filet skewers and a tomahawk rib eye that night. As you might imagine, the shit was delicious.

 

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One of the owners of the company, Jon Urbana, who has since become a good friend of mine, sent me home with a beautiful strip steak to cook up:

Later, I banged out a tomahawk at home as well. Absolutely stunning.

The high quality, and more importantly the consistency of that quality, is pretty much untouched by any domestic producer of wagyu beef here in the states. I’d love to get some of it into my shop, but they’re currently only shipping direct from their site. Believe me, a LOT of distributors are trying to get their paws on this stuff right now. I’m not alone.

In any case, seeing that Nobu 57 is one of Kow’s purveyors here in NYC, Jon brought me there to try some of the new lot of striploin that they have.

What occurred was nothing less than a Kow Cattle Company strip loin omakase for the ages.

COURSE 1

This preparation is thinly sliced, torched and sauced with ponzu and some sesame, rare to raw. Simple and delicious.

COURSE 2

Beef nigiri sushi. This had a quick sear on the edges, rare to raw.

COURSE 3

Tataki. One of my favorites. Thin sliced after being seared on the edges, rare to raw, and then lightly dressed and garnished with some ginger and shiso.

COURSE 4

This was my favorite. This was seared on the edges as well, rare to raw, but sliced a bit thicker and garnished with a black garlic sauce and some micro sprouts. Incredible.

COURSE 5

This was similar to sukiyaki, a saucy stew with onions and greens. Really tasty, and it demonstrates that even when cooked through, this stuff is tender and savory.

COURSE 6

Classic steakhouse fare here: seared and sliced, rare to medium rare, served with a garlic miso butter on a bed of grilled asparagus. Perfection.

COURSE 7

Foie gras and wagyu beef potsticker dumplings. So decadent, and they ate almost like soup dumplings with that burst of liquified foie and wagyu renderings.

I think that covers it. When you go to Nobu 57, you’ll find Kow on the “washu” side of the menu. Ask about some of the preparations you saw here, because they’re not always on the menu. If you know about them, they may accomodate you if they have the ability. Some stuff is limited availablility, so go early and go often.

NOBU 57
40 West 57th Street
New York, NY 10019

Rainbow Room Macallan Dinner Pairing

My wife and I went to the Rainbow Room/Bar Sixty Five as guests of our friend who was hosting a special Macallan scotch cocktail pairing dinner.

The meal started with this “Breakfast for Dinner” cocktail that had some bubbles, blueberry and, of course, Macallan scotch. The garnish was actually blueberries and pancakes. Kinda cool.

This was paired with the two appetizers that my wife and I shared, scallops and peekytoe crab toast.

Next up was this vanilla, ginger beer and scotch cocktail that was garnished with a fresh sprig of rosemary. This tasted like cream soda.

Naturally, this paired nicely with the burger and steak entrees.

The hanger was great. 9/10. Super tender and flavorful despite being grass finished.

The burger was a monster. It was unwieldy to eat as a whole, so I pretty much ate each component separately.

To start off the dessert items, we had this really special drink called The Sixth Borough:

This delicious smoked cocktail is made with rare cask Macallan, 50-60 year old amaro and bitters, charcoal and rosemary. It’s stir-chilled with an ice sphere and then dropped into an ornate gold filigree glass from a chandelier platform that’s a replica of the iconic Rainbow Room. What a special treat!

That paired nicely with the Baked Alaska that I had. My wife had the cheesecake with apple sorbet. I obviously had a taste, and it was delicious as well.

RAINBOW ROOM / BAR SIXTY FIVE
30 Rockefeller Plaza
65th Floor
New York, NY 10112

The Modern

My wife and I came here for our 10th wedding anniversary.

We did the six course chef’s tasting menu. But first we started with some nice cocktails.

We did the groundskeeper and the terracotta navy. Here’s what’s in them:

The first thing to come out was this interesting tartlet amuse that had some sort of cheese and mushrooms inside a tiny pie crust.

The bread service consisted of a nice rosemary focaccia and small buns of pretzel bread.

The first of the six courses was their egg on egg on egg. Custard, yolk and caviar with a toasted brioche stick. Really delicious and easily a top dish for the year.

Next was this snapper crudo/tartare preparation.

Another top dish for the year goes to this foie gras tart with strawberries. Both white/green strawberries (tart) and red (sweet). A perfect dish in every way, with some meringue and tart strawberry salsa on top. Really nicely balanced between savory and sweet.

Next up was the first of the main proteins; the sea bass with mushroom in minestrone broth. Really light and flavorful, and it came with a pasta made from noodle-ized celtuse root.

This five-spiced, dry-aged Long Island duck was the winner for the mains though. Beautifully tender with lots of flavorful punch from the Thai basil puree and leaves.

Along with our complimentary anniversary cupcake (pictured above), they brought us a dessert amuse of mango fruit leather and ice cream, made to look like dim sum.

And finally, our dessert was this nice pistachio cake with lemon ice cream, white chocolate, balsamic reduction and some crumble.

We really enjoyed this meal. It was hefty in price, but we truly loved every dish. Also this is a no-tipping restaurant. Here’s the William:

THE MODERN
9 W 53rd St
New York, NY 10019

Boston Market Rotisserie Prime Rib

This is NOT a belated April Fools joke. I actually went to Boston Market to try their “21 days aged” rotisserie prime rib. The anticipation was building ever since I saw an ad for it in my neighborhood.

I live sorta close to one.

At $16.99 with two sides and cornbread, how bad can it be? The answer: not fucking bad at all! First of all, in a weird way, it was kinda beautiful. I ordered it just like what I saw in the picture, with string beans and mashed potatoes.

I was expecting something revolting, but what I got was really nicely crusted on the edges, with great peppery and savory flavors. The meat itself was good quality, and cooked pretty nicely for a chain fast food joint. I would definitely get this again, especially since it’s a third of the price of many expensive steak joints that just don’t get this dish right. So many places serve a chewy, undercooked, inferior product (despite using superior meats). 7/10. Well played, Boston Market. You have my respect, and my repeat business. Mainly because you gave me a BOGO coupon with my receipt, making a great deal even better.

Somehow, though, I suspect that this might be a hit and miss kind of item across all other locations. I guess we’ll see. Here’s where I got it:

BOSTON MARKET
885 10th Ave
New York, NY 10019

Vintner Wine Market

My wife and I strolled by this cool spot on Sunday and popped in for a beer and a sandwich. Vintner Wine Market sports hundreds of cool and unique beer selections in their fridges, as well as wines (by the glass and bottle). But what really got my attention was the roast beef sandwich.

This baby comes with horseradish cheddar, mayo and red onion. Simple and delicious. And the baguette was nice and fresh.

Good sized sandwich. We will be back here for sure.

VINTNER WINE MARKET
677 9th Ave
New York, NY 10036

Dell’ Anima

This spot just opened up in the Gotham West Market food hall, and is formerly of west village fame. My wife and I tried a pair of cocktails and a pair of pasta entrees. All were great. Here’s the breakdown:

Roasted Orange Negroni:

Tastes just how it sounds. Really great cocktail with prosecco, campari and roasted orange.

Blame it on the Aperol:

Aperol, gin, lemonade and soda. Perfectly refreshing.

Speck Carbonara:

Perfectly cooked tagliatelle with freshly shaved cheese and a gorgeous egg yolk, spiced up and naturally salted by the generous amount of speck in the dish.

Oyster Mushroom Pappardelle:

This was the winner. Amazing texture in the wheat pasta, nice pop from the Aleppo peppers, and great earthy flavors from the garlic and mushrooms.

We will definitely be back to try the other pasta dishes for sure, and likely for the apps and main meats as well.

DELL’ ANIMA
Gotham West Market
600 11th Avenue
New York, NY 10036

Robert’s Steakhouse

Robert’s Steakhouse overall score: 84

YES! This is the steakhouse inside the gentlemen’s club called “The Executive Club,” formerly of Penthouse fame. For many years I had heard – all bullshitting aside – that this really was a great steak joint. Adam Perry Lang is rumored to have designed and built the aging room that’s there on site. So how did it fare under my intense scrutiny? Very well, actually. See below:

Flavor: 9

I tried both the porterhouse for two and rib eye for two. The porterhouse was a 9/10, and is probably in the running for one of the best porterhouses I’ve had for 2019.

The rib eye, 8/10.

Both had great aged flavor and were cooked almost perfectly, but the porterhouse just came out on top in terms of that aged goodness. Also, I felt like the rib eye was a bit small as being marketed “for two.”

Choice of Cuts & Quality Available: 10

I’ve heard that the beef here is from Master Purveyors in the Bronx, though they did not confirm. Those guys have been very consistent in terms of quality, from my experience. The dry-aging is done on site here in a proprietary aging room, but they did not reveal how long they age the meat. No matter, though, because that flavor was definitely present and pleasant. Next time I go, I’d like to do a tour of the aging room. Prime quality all the way here, and the basics are all covered in terms of the cuts.

Portion Size & Plating: 8

Portions are fair. As noted above I thought the rib eye for two was a little small, but otherwise they were fine. The plating is upgraded a bit from the standard basic steakhouse style, with some flare for the apps and sides.

Price: 8

My meal was free, as this was a press event, but the prices were pretty fair for steakhouse fare. I was expecting a heavy uncharge being in a strip club, but that was not the case at all. There may be some price holding as, from what I understand, this joint may be a members only kind of place. I have to check up on that though. Don’t hold me to it…

Bar: 7

I was only privy to the bar upstairs by the Robert’s dining area, which was a small seven or eight foot stretch without any actual bar stool seating. Mainly this seemed like a place to either stand and drink while waiting to be accosted by a dancer, or just a staging place where the bartenders can mix up drinks to later be distribute via waitresses to the various tables. In any case, they did mix a good martini, and if eye candy is what you’re after at a bar, then what better place is there to be than a strip club?

Specials and Other Meats: 8

There weren’t any specials that I was aware of, but then again this was a press meal with a somewhat set menu. As far as other meats go, they offer veal, chicken and lamb. One thing I did enjoy, oddly enough, was the rigatoni pasta with fresh ricotta and tomato sauce. Not sure if that’s a special or just another type of entree, but it was tasty and had a good level of spice to it.

Apps, Sides & Desserts: 8

We tried a bunch of items, some of which I didn’t shoot (like the creamed spinach, mac and cheese and mashed potatoes). First was the hamachi crudo. I liked this.

Next up, tuna tartare with quail egg. This was delicious as well.

The shrimp salad was bland and somewhat flavorless. Pass on this one.

However, the shrimp cocktail was incredible. These gigantic shrimp were meaty, perfectly cooked and robust with that great shellfish flavor. Get this.

The crab cake fell into the world of averages. Not bad, not great. It was crispy on the outside and meaty on the inside, however, which are two big and important characteristics of a crab cake.

We skipped dessert since we were full, so I can’t comment on that.

Seafood Selection: 8

There’s a bunch on the menu here (tuna, salmon, sea bass, lobster), and from what I tried of it in the appetizers section, I think they would do a good job with mains.

Service: 10

The service here is great. All of the staff is very attentive and they explained the menu and beef cuts correctly, even to the extent that they discussed the dry-aging processes. The chef is also really great and visited with us throughout the meal. He bounces back and forth between the NYC location and Atlantic City, however, so I hope he leaves the kitchen in trusted hands when he isn’t around.

Ambiance: 8

While the “surroundings” are indeed pleasing to any heterosexual male, the “restaurant” itself isn’t quite separated from the club other than the fact that it’s upstairs. There are still girls walking around looking to cash in with dances, and I suppose if you wanted you could see the main stage and pole from anywhere up there. That’s not a complaint – just an observation that this place is different than a standard steakhouse or restaurant due to the nature of it being literally inside and not separated from the strip club.

ROBERT’S STEAKHOUSE
The Executive Club
603 w. 45th Street
New York, NY 10036