Category Archives: Midtown West

Il Tinello

Il Tinello is an old school NYC Italian joint that’s been open for nearly 40 years. My wife and I finally got around to trying it last night. Here’s what we had:

My wife started with some fresh bluepoints, and I had this delicious seafood salad made with scallops, calamari and shrimp.

Next, we had a trio of pastas as a mid-course sampler dish. Penne with pesto, beef and ricotta ravioli, and pappardelle with a truffle and mushroom cream sauce. All were delicious, but I liked the pappardelle the best.

For my main course, I had this gorgeous boneless veal parm.

This was really nice. The sauce and cheese were top notch quality, and the veal beneath was super tender.

My wife had the veal chop, which was a nice, thick rib chop.

It was a perfect light pink inside, cooked just right.

For dessert, we had the fruit tart and the creme brûlée. Both were well executed and tasty. They pleased The Cake Dealer, so that’s always a good sign.

This place is a gem. It’s cozy and fancy inside, really classy. And the service is some of the best I’ve ever experienced. The staff are professionals, not some young hipster chumps who wait tables on the side while they try to get their crowd-funded artisanal kombucha brand up and running in Williamsburg.

IL TINELLO
16 W 56th St
New York, NY 10019

Le Bernardin

I took my wife to Le Berdardin for her birthday this year.

First, let me say that they make some great cocktails here. We tried four altogether. They averaged around $20 each.

The bread service here is spectacular. Almost as good as my favorite spot for pre-dinner bread, Marea.

The amuse of raw seafood preparations was probably my favorite part of the meal, and it wasn’t even one of the seven tasting menu courses.

And this kampachi crudo with dried olives was amazing. So flavorful yet so simple.

The crab cake of peekytoe and dungeoness with lobster shell broth was really nice. This place knows what they’re doing around seafood.

The halibut with dashi and radish was nice…

But the Faroe Islands salmon with mushroom and black truffle sauce stole the show in terms of fish filet dishes here.

Our next entree was a surf and turf of wahu (Hawaiian white tuna) and wagyu. The portion was very small, but I didn’t mind so much at course five.

We had a ton of desserts here. First was the coconut sorbet with coconut meringue.

Then a chocolate gelato and chocolate cake thing with gold leaf and meringue sticks.

Then a complimentary chocolate mousse cake thing for my wife’s birthday, of course with more gold leaf.

And then petit fours.

Honestly, I would have preferred more amuse crudos from the start of the meal over this sweet shit. But everything was nice nonetheless.

The bill was big, but luckily I had a $150 gift certificate to use from a very generous friend of mine.

I probably wouldn’t go back, but I would definitely recommend this place for someone who is looking for an impressive night out with their spouse.

LE BERNARDIN
155 W 51st St
New York, NY 10019

Bang Bar

I finally had the chance to run over to David Chang’s “Bang Bar” in the morning before work to try their highly acclaimed breakfast crepes. I grabbed one of each: the smoked salmon and the mortadella with cheese.

The salmon one was nice, light, and refreshing with just the right amount of cream and acid to balance out each bite. The mortadella sandwich was delicious, but really salty.

I think when it gets roasted on the vertical spit (like shawarma), that heat intensifies the salinity. Not to mention that they probably season it on the spit too, which is just overkill. The cheese coverage, however, was “underkill.” There was just one slice of melted cheese on the surface of the crepe, so it didn’t really get in between all the chunks of mortadella. Oh well.

The doughnut was dense and pillowy, like a cream cake or something based in rice flour, perhaps. Just too bready, though it was moist and soft.

I wouldn’t go out of my way to make it here for breakfast again, but I’m glad I got to try this stuff anyway.

BANG BAR
10 Columbus Cir.
Third Floor, Unit 301
New York, NY 10019

Legacy Records & Ada’s Place

Legacy Records is the restaurant, and Ada’s place is the bar/lounge upstairs. Both places are serving up some awesome food, connected by the same kitchen staff and crew.

While at first glance you might think that prices are high for the portion size, once must remember that these are “no tipping” establishments, where the tip is already worked into the pricing.

LEGACY RECORDS

I started at the main bar with a brandy old fashioned. This was delicious and beautiful. The ice game is on point here.

Later on I tried the “Fig Fix,” which was somewhere between a mint julep and a berry bramble type of drink. Very nice, but I prefer the stronger shit.

We started with three different crudos. Each crudo comes with four pieces, unless otherwise prepared (like the fluke, which is a tartare). They’re all around the $20-$25 range. First, and my favorite, was the hamachi with cilantro citrus cream and puffed rice.

This red snapper was “veddy tasty.” Do not choose what Hiro-san offers in the mystery box over this. If you haven’t seen Weird Al’s masterpiece film, UHF, then you missed that reference completely. Do yourself a favor and go watch it. Now. Before finishing the rest of the review. You’ll thank me later.

Third, the scallop. These were small. I wish there was more to them, because they were delicious; bright, acidic, creamy, smooth… everything you want in a crudo. And beautifully presented.

After the crudos, we transitioned to some smaller plates. First was the octopus.

This was executed nicely, and consisted of about 1.5 tentacles worth of meat.

This next dish was a special entree listed at $40, but we split it as a shared app. Pigeon with parsnips and some other shit.

The meat was roasted rare to medium rare, and was pretty much in the realm of duck in taste. The waiter said it was deboned, but I think they were really just referring to the thigh, breast and rib sections, as the wings and lower legs were not deboned.

Then we switched over to the pasta dishes. My first, and favorite, was the pesto cavatelli with sausage and mint. Incredible.

This torchio pasta was perfectly cooked and came with clams.

The spaghetti with uni and red pepper was great too, and the sauce reminded me of peri peri sauce from Portugal.

At this point we also tried some of their house made bread and butter. I didn’t shoot it, but both bread and butter varieties were good. However, at $8, I’m not sure I would order it. Fortunately for us, they brought it out on the house since we had a lot of delicious sauce to soak up from the pasta dishes.

We tried two entrees. First was the dry aged rib eye.

This was perfectly cooked and absolutely delicious, though it lacked that dry-aged flavor punch. It was only aged for 14 days, so that may be why. It ate more like a filet than a rib eye, which was a nice surprise in terms of texture. However, at $48, it was a bit on the small side (maybe 8-10oz max). The Brussels were too acidic/citrus flavored for my liking, but the meat really was almost perfect. I think it was just the eye, or longissimus dorsi, and not the cap though, which was a little bit of a bummer. Overall this was still an 8/10, so I was happy.

Next up, duck for two.

We were four people, so we only had one slice of duck each. I could probably eat all of this myself as a main if I wanted, but it really is a good portion size for two. If you get this with a date, you’ll basically each get two of these, which I think is fair for the $98 price tag including tip:

I should note that this is one of the best duck dishes I’ve ever had, right up there with Little Frog, The Grill and Ferris. I already have this listed as a contender for the best dishes of 2019.

We skipped dessert downstairs, but went up to try some of the items on the bar menu upstairs at Ada’s Place.

ADA’S PLACE

First, the duck and honey sandwich.

This is basically a slightly oversized slider, but the flavor is immense. The duck comes from the leg meat of the duck that we ate downstairs (which was only breast), and it is paired with kimchi and a delicious spicy red pepper sauce, which is balanced deftly by the addition of honey. Another contender for best dishes of 2019. Awesome.

This burger was great too. It’s described as a crudo burger, so expect it to come out rare.

This, too, is dressed with a spicy red pepper sauce, but the fresh mozzarella cheese cuts it beautifully with a nice, mild creaminess. We split one “slider plus” sized burger among four of us, so I need to get back in here and try this all by myself.

Finally, the Tuscan fried chicken.

This is a steal at $24 for a bowl of beautifully batter-fried and spiced thigh and breast meat. I could eat buckets of this. I also really liked the combo of red pepper, lemon and rosemary.

In short, I highly recommend this place. Everything we tried above was great – no bad dishes. While the price tag may feel steep for some items, you need to remember that you’re getting superior quality in every dish, and you have that tip already included. Go give it a shot. I know I’ll be back. Maybe even tonight.

LEGACY RECORDS & ADA’S PLACE
517 West 38th St
New York, NY 10018

Tim Ho Wan

Michelin star winning dim sum joint Tim Ho Wan opened up a second NYC location in Hell’s Kitchen last week, and my wife and I gave it a shot for her sister’s birthday. I found the experience to be pretty standard, to be honest. They’re known for their pork buns, which are very good by all objective measures, but not really my thing. Too sweet. Here’s a photo dump of all the stuff we had. My favorites were the fried milk sticks (dessert) and the rice roll wraps.

TIM HO WAN
610 9th Ave
New York, NY 10036

Pomona

This spot took over the space that was formerly Beautique. Chef and partner Michael Vignola, who used to be the head chef for the Strip House restaurants, has created an amazing menu here. My buddy and I tried a lot of stuff, so I’ll get right to it.

Foie Gras Sliders:

Incredibly tender and decadent, cut nicely with some acid from the apple slaw.

Mackerel & Potato Tartare:

The hazelnut, creme fraiche and jalapeno sauce really made this pop. This was so delicious.

Nduja Baked Little Neck Clams:

This is a perfect marriage of the classic seafood and pork flavor combo, with a slight boost of heat from the nduja. Great starter!

Truffled Chicken Dogs:

Probably one of the best upscale riffs on a hot dog that you’ll have. I didn’t get much truffle flavor and there was no brioche bun as the menu suggested, but the texture and porcini mustard were nice.

Duck Burger:

Jurgielewicz farms duck burger patty made of ground breast, confit of leg, foie, and fresh duck liver all seasoned with l’orange spices. Seared and rested in a rich duck jus. Duck skin mayo, grapefruit jam and killer fries. This place is no joke!

Seared Miyazaki A5 Wagyu:

AMAZING! This was dry-aged for 20 days and also cooked in dry-aged beef fat. This is some of the best beef I’ve ever had. 10/10.

Duo of Deviled Rib Eye:

This unique duo packs a powerful smoky and dry-aged punch! It features smoked deckle (bottom) and grilled eye (top), each rubbed with chili, herbs and spices, and served with black garlic bone marrow. This should be on your “must try” list! Chef Michael really nailed this. 10/10.

Creamed Escarole:

I love the use of escarole here in place of spinach. Escarole is such an under-appreciated green. This is a good “creamed spinach” dish for your steak entree. I think more butter and a bit less cream/cheese would make this pop a little more. Or perhaps I’d just like to see a sauteed version with some cannellini beans in the mix to remind me of growing up in an Italian household.

Ripped Sunchokes:

I love sunchokes/Jerusalem artichokes. They’re like an awesome cross between a potato and an artichoke. These were smashed and fried, and then seasoned with shredded pecorino cheese and rosemary. Great side dish.

Goose Fat Tater Tots:

These are so crisp and flavorful. This should be your go-to potato dish here. Awesome.

Chocolate Mousse:

This has a nice texture to it, almost like cheesecake but light and fluffy. Great espresso ice cream to go with it too.

I highly recommend this place. Everything here was very good to outstanding. I can’t wait to try more of the menu and supplement this review over time.

POMONA
8 West 58th St
New York, NY 10019

Patavini

Patavini is a shop that’s dedicated entirely to gnocchi. My wife and I stopped in to try some and we were blown away.

My favorites were the mortadella and pistachio stuffed, and the tomato and mozzarella stuffed. You can buy this stuff to go by the pound (or by the quarter pound, as little or as much as you want), or you can have them cook them for you and dress them up with their house made sauces, which are all pretty good.

They even have sweet/dessert flavored gnocchi, and a sweet sauce so you can have pasta for dessert. We tried both the tira misu and the cannoli flavors. Give this place a shot!

PATAVINI
1794 Broadway
New York, NY 10019

Pure Thai Cookhouse

Pure Thai Cookhouse is probably the best Thai restaurant in what I like to refer to as “Thai Town;” the stretch of Thai restaurants from the 40s through the 50s in Hell’s Kitchen.

The place is always jam packed with waits for tables at lunch and dinner time, and we even had to wait 10 minutes to get seated at the odd 2pm time frame (they don’t take reservations). That said, if you decide to come here, be prepared to wait. Also be prepared to sit at a small table, likely on a small stool, and way too close to other diners, as if you were actually eating street food in Thailand. Usually a seating situation like that pisses me off, but I didn’t mind so much at this place.

We started with these crab and chicken dumplings that were on special for $10. They were really nice.

Next up was the Ratchaburi crab and pork dry noodles.

This dish was excellent. The pork itself was so tender and juicy. We were both expecting something dry and tough. The crab was a good portion of quality meat, and the sauce was a delicate balance of sweet and spicy.

I ordered the turmeric beef as my main dish. This came with rice, and it was very tender and flavorful. It looks mega spicy, but it was more like a medium.

My wife ordered the jungle curry, which didn’t seem like a curry dish at all. Our expectation was a saucy dish with a bowl of rice on the side. This came out more like a fried rice dish. Not saucy, but it had really great flavors. We liked this better than the beef.

I definitely recommend this place. Just be ready for a wait and some small seats!

PURE THAI COOKHOUSE
766 9th Ave #2
New York, NY 10019

Bluebird London NYC

This joint just opened so I came in to check it out. They are an import from London, as the name suggests, and they are doing some really nice stuff.

First up, they have some great cocktails. Their Vesper martini, Bluebird race car cocktails (their namesake) and Thai Paloma were standout.

They do a beautiful gin & tonic too. I had several of these on the night of their grand opening party:

I tried three apps: The smoked salmon, the gin cured salmon, and the steak tartare.

Smoked Salmon: Very good quality salmon, nice and light – I can see this being a big favorite at brunch time with some toast and a mimosa.

Gin Cured Salmon: Truly inspired. Delicious. The gin really alters the flavor and texture (in a very good way). Served with pickled veggies and some mustard seeds.

Steak Tartare: Awesome. I actually found myself taking some of the cream from the smoked salmon dish and mixing it in with a bite of steak tartare here and there. It was a delicious combo!

Burger: This was so good. I loved the “Big Mac” style sauce on it. Everything really came together nicely. I am generally a big proponent of potato buns, but this brioche held up nicely since it was fresh.

Beef Wellington: The best version I’ve ever had. This is one of my top dishes of 2018 for sure. Perfect in every way. I’ve never had Beef Wellington so big, bold and beautifully executed. There are actually two more slices of this not pictured. I pulled them off the plate so you could see the cook temp better. Serves two for $85 – one of the best deals you will find for this level of cuisine. 10/10.

Sticky Toffee Pudding w/Pepper Ice Cream: Very unique. I really liked the contrast of flavors between the ice cream and the pudding. I think this would round out nicely with some citrus zest or perhaps a wedge/supreme of grapefruit or clementine. Really fun!

I will definitely be back here for sure. There are a few other steaks I’d like to try, and the space is just so beautiful that it makes you want to keep coming back for more. Look out soon for their brunch and afternoon tea services as well.

UPDATED THOUGHTS

After coming in here for breakfast, and then a special menu Christmas dinner, I don’t think I can recommend this place anymore. That first experience up above was great, and two of the dishes I ate made my “Best of 2018” on Instagram. But those two meals afterwards were just bland and flavorless. Sad, but I don’t think I’ll be going back.

BLUEBIRD LONDON NYC
10 Columbus Circle
Third floor
New York, NY 10019

Little Tong Noodle Shop

My wife and I stopped in here last week for dinner now that they are open later. I was dying to try this “Shank JB Melt.”

It’s tender beef shank, cucumber, and Beecher’s cheese curds (melty and crisp) on a flaky pancake “crepe.” Kind of like an Asian take on a Philly cheesesteak. Look at how crisp yet melty that cheese is:

This was amazing. I highly recommend this for all you midtown east folks. Perfect lunch item.

We also tried the Mala Dan Dan Mixian noodles. This is a non-soup noodle dish that has a nice spicy and tingly flavor profile to it, with ground pork, peppercorn oil, pickled celery, mustard seeds, pickled mustard greens and peanuts. We also added a tea egg for $2 and it was well worth it.

For dessert we had the rose crystal jelly with black rock syrup, basil seeds, sesame and peanuts. A really light and refreshing way to end the meal.

I definitely recommend this place to everyone, especially those who like noodles. They have nice sandwich items at the midtown location that really shine too.

LITTLE TONG NOODLE SHOP
235 E 53rd St
New York, NY 10022