Category Archives: Upper West Side

The Ribbon

The Ribbon is a neighborhood bar and restaurant that serves up an impressive list of chops and roasts. The place is very popular with families, and you’ll see a ton of parents with their kids in there on weekends during the day. In fact I think my table was the only one in the back of the restaurant that didn’t have a child at it (aside from my immature ass, of course).

My wife and I started with cocktails. I enjoyed this Ol’ Thyme Gin, which had pear, thyme infused gin, amaro and lemon.

The Mr. Pimm was light and refreshing, pairing gin with cucumber, lemon, mint syrup and elderflower.

We started the steamed clams and a trio of pate, all of which were excellent. I was just hoping for a little heat with the clams since I saw “peppers” in the ingredient list. Probably just minced bells. The chorizo in there was nice though.

For our mains, we had the two prime ribs on the menu; pork and beef.

The pork was a little bit dry, but the apricot jam was a great way to get the juices flowing.

The 16oz king cut prime rib was great.

Nicely roasted to medium rare. I’m sick of ordering this dish and having it come to me raw and difficult to chew. They do it correctly here. It’s served with a nice jus and a light horseradish cream sauce. At $61 this may seem steep, but there’s no waste on it. Even the jiggly fat bits are edible. 8/10.

On the side we had some sauteed broccolini, which was a nice way to cut the fat.

And for dessert we shared the chocolate chip bread pudding (it comes with a scoop of vanilla ice cream). This had a nice brulee crunch to it on the edges, which made for a good mix of textures.

I definitely recommend this place, and I’ll be going back there to try more shit for sure. Here’s the William, FYI:

THE RIBBON
20 W 72nd St
New York NY, 10023

Pappardella

My wife and I came here to use some of her Blackboard Eats credit. I think we got something like 30% off the bill thanks to her. Anyway, let’s get down to business.

We started with a mixed charcuterie plate. We chose mortadella, finocchiona and bresaola. This was great, but slightly pricey at $21.

Next up was wagyu carpaccio with arugula, shaved parmigiana and pistachios. I loved this. A little squirt of lemon really made this pop.

Next up was the calamari. This was served in a tomato broth of sorts, with raisins. It was too sweet, and the squid itself was really bland and flavorless, despite being nicely cooked and tender. If you go here, skip this one.

For our entrees, we tried a pair of pasta dishes. First was this “pappardelle buttera” dish with peas and sweet and hot sausage. While I didn’t get much kick from the hot sausage, the sauce and all components – including the pasta itself – were perfect. Get this one.

We also tried the tagliatelle spinachi, which was a green spinach pasta served with roasted cherry tomatoes, shrimp and Calabrian chilis. This had no heat – maybe one single chili was in the dish. Like the squid, the shrimp was also bland as well. Weak flavors for such bold ingredients. Pass on this one.

That about does it. We skipped dessert because we were pretty full. Over all this place was mediocre. Some hits, some misses. But I think if you stick with the carpaccio and the pappardelle you’ll be happy.

PAPPARDELLA
316 Columbus Ave
New York, NY 10023

Lincoln Ristorante

Lincoln Ristorante is now part of the Patina Group of restaurants. These guys are awesome, because if you sign up to their newsletter, they send you $50 off for your birthday. You can use the discount pretty much any time within a month of your birthday. So my wife and I decided to check this place out since it was just her birthday the other day. This joint offers a four-course meal for $94, which I thought was pretty awesome, especially considering how great the food is.

I was impressed with the cocktail menu, which sports a prosecco bar and an entire menu of negronis. We tried the caffe negroni, which, later on, was perfect with our desserts. Here’s a pic of it (I kinda made it look like a pussy on purpose):

The meal begins with some complimentary bread sticks and house made focaccia bread with whipped ricotta. This shit is addictive. If you eat a few rows of this stuff (they will bring out more), then you can just get the three course meal for $78.

Then a small dish of smoked trout came out for us, compliments of the chef. This was great.

I started with an escarole salad, and my wife had the octopus. The salad was awesome. I love escarole, and I loved seeing it used raw rather than the usual sautéed or braised. This salad had shaved, truffled sun chokes, sliced apples, radishes and grated cheese. It was delicious, and very large.

The octopus was nice. It came in a spicy tomato ragu with some perfectly cooked beans. I was happy to see more than one tentacle given. As far as portion sizes go, this place is way above average.

For my pasta course, I had conch pasta with octopus and guanciale. This was really nice, and the toasted breadcrumbs gave it a great texture.

My wife had lobster risotto with an arugula pesto. This was herbaceous and fresh, and contained lots of lobster meat. It ate a bit more like a thick soup than a traditional risotto though.

My wife went with the lamb shank for her main course. This was tremendous, and really tender. We couldn’t finish. It had pancetta, roasted chic peas, and other goodies underneath.

I had the venison loin, which was probably one of the best meat dishes I’ve eaten in a while. Certainly the best rendition of venison I’ve ever had.

I highly recommend giving this a try if you can. It was perfectly cooked, perfectly seasoned, and it had none of that typical iron flavor that you normally associate with game meats. It was mild yet full of flavor. I loved it!

Dessert was incredible. My wife had a trio of gelati. Pistachio stracciatella, toasted faro, and prune. The toasted faro (middle) was our favorite of the three, and tasted like the flavor of the cone of an ice cream cone. The prune was like an elevated rum raison, and the pistachio stracciatella was creamy and rich.

I had the creme fraiche coffee cake, which came with anisette gelato, crumble, bitter lemon coulis and ricotta pasticcera. This shit is crack! I fucking loved it.

Then, a pair of tasty marzipan coconut bites came out with the bill.

We can’t wait to go back. I think we will do the three course meal next time, since we were really full after four courses.

LINCOLN RISTORANTE
142 W 65th St
New York, NY 10023

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

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

Cafe Fiorello

My wife and I popped in here before seeing “Darkest Hour” at Lincoln Plaza Cinemas (great flick, and too bad that the theater is closing down in a month due to high rent). The place was jam-packed at 5:45pm, but luckily my wife had a reservation locked in.

Our movie was at 6:35, so we wanted to eat quick. We ordered our drinks and pastas at the same time, and they came out within three minutes.

I had the spaghetti carbonara, which was made the right way with no cream and a runny egg.

Enjoy the yolk porn:

It was made with guanciale (pork jowl) bacon, which added nice salt content to the dish without actually using salt.

My wife had the fettuccine pesto, which had a really nice, fresh flavor to it. Delicious, though a bit garlicky.

Everything was great, but the prices were a bit steep. All in, with tax and tip, for just two drinks and two pasta dishes, we were at $95 and change. That’s pretty steep! The interesting tidbit: This was one of the fastest meals we ever had in NYC. We were in and out within 20 minutes, like a horny teenager at a whore house.

UPDATE! This veal parm a la vodka was incredible. Easily in my top dishes of 2019.

CAFE FIORELLO
1900 Broadway
New York, NY 10023

The Aviary

I took my wife to The Aviary as an early Christmas present. I booked the five course “Cocktails & Canapes” tasting menu dinner about two weeks in advance with a $100 deposit. The cost is $165pp, with an 18% gratuity added at the end (and tax, of course).

That’s crazy expensive, but this is truly a unique drinking and dining experience. I drank and ate things I never would have even thought about. In hindsight, five cocktails was aggressive (but awesome). I think when I go back, I will just order a la carte.

Here is the entire menu, but I will highlight what was selected for us below in the review:

AMUSE

The first thing to come out was an “amuse” drink – a small shot of tastiness that involved lime, rum, and mint.

A few moments later, our first round of cocktails came out with the first course of food.

COURSE ONE

Drinks: Micahlada (left – and yes, that is spelled correctly) and Zombie Panda (right)

Of these two, the Micahlada was my favorite. This is The Aviary’s take on a michelada (beer, spices and tomato juice), made with soy, coriander, Japanese whisky and Evil Twin beer. The Zombie Panda was tart from the lemon, lychee and pisco, and filled with frozen spheres of raspberry juice to sweeten it up.

Food: Pineapple Two Ways

This was a nice way to get the taste buds popping. That brown stuff at the bottom was a mole sauce. I liked it a lot, but my wife wasn’t too taken with it. The black mint garnish was tasty and went well with the watermelon radish and passion fruit.

COURSE TWO

Drinks: How Does Snoop Dog Use Lemongrass (left) and Mimosa (right)

The mimosa was nice because the fruit juice was frozen into ice cubes, so the drink becomes sweeter and more smooth as it sits.

The idea behind the Snoop drink is that Snoop Dogg ends everything with “-izzle” when he talks/raps, so there is a “swizzle” made out of lemongrass, which is used to mix the drink together:

Food: Kampachi Ceviche

This was bright, light and savory, pulling in southeast asian flavors from Thai green curry, heart of palm and coconut. I really enjoyed the briny broth and the coiled peels of red pepper for spice.

COURSE THREE

Drink: Heart of Stone

This was the best drink of the night, and you get about six glasses out of the container. That container is filled with bourbon, tea, Fresno chili, pistachio and peach. As it sits there, the flavors infuse deeply into the bourbon, so each time you refill the glass it tastes a little different. More spices come out, more sweetness too. Amazing.

Food: Pork Belly Curry

This dish was really good, but it could have been excellent with a crunch element. I think the iceberg lettuce discs were supposed to be that element, but they fell short just a bit. Perhaps a fried shrimp chip or crispy egg roll wrapper would do the trick. But the pork belly curry itself? Awesome. The banana and cashew are excellent compliments to the savory.

FROM THE CHEF

Chawanmushi

They’re experimenting with “all times of day” food here at The Aviary, so this is meant to be a breakfast item. It’s velvety smooth, and the smoked abalone within makes you think you’re eating bacon. The pops of flavor from the pickled huckleberries really brighten and balance this seafood porridge custard dish.

COURSE FOUR

Drink: Memphis Half Step

These glasses come to the table upside down on a charred piece of oak cask, filled with smoke. The aroma is awesome. This absinthe and rye cocktail is super smooth with a hint of sweetness.

Food: A5 Miyazaki Wagyu Rib Eye

Clearly my favorite food item of the night. The meat was buttery soft, and the grilled romaine with puffed rice was a great textural pop to go with it.  That yellow sauce is a yuzu mustard. Possibly the greatest mustard ever. 10/10. Wish I had 16 more ounces of this.

COURSE FIVE

Drink: Boom Goes The Dynamite

This was sweet and warm, almost like a port or brandy. It was made with rum, vanilla, violet and rooibos…  and dry ice for the smoke.

Food: Blueberry

Milk chocolate, violet and buttermilk sorbet make this dessert extra decadent. There were some more spheres of raspberry ice on the plate too, rounding out the meal with a call back to the very first cocktail (Zombie Panda). Really nice.

THE OFFICE

After dinner, our waiter Preston took us on a short tour of The Office, the speakeasy behind The Aviary bar staging area (which looks more like a kitchen than a bar).

Here’s what the inside of The Office looks like:

They have a cabinet filled with really old spirits that you can order as well. Super rare.

I will definitely be back to try this place, as well as the Aviary again. So many interesting sounding drinks and food items to try, like the “Science AF,” which looks like a chemistry set, or the “Wake & Bake,” which is a pillow filled with smoke and a drink made with orange, everything bagel, coffee and rye. I snapped a photo of it before they opened the bag filled with smoke:

THE AVIARY
Mandarin Oriental
80 Columbus Circle at 60th Street
New York, NY 10023

Crave Fishbar

My wife and I stopped into Crave Fishbar for their daily oyster happy hour. From 5pm to 7pm (4pm-6pm on weekends) all oyster varieties are just a buck each. We each tried one of each kind (along with some other snacks and drinks):

As strange as it was, our favorites all contained the word “point” in the name.

The calamari was really nice too. A perfectly dusted and fried batter, and really tender squid inside.

But what really blew me away at this place was their red crab cavatelli. The cavatelli is home made, and is torched/crisped up so that some of the edges are actually crunchy and al dente. Here are the before and after mix shots (beautiful colors):

I highly recommend that dish. It’s pricey, but worth it. If the pasta is all you’re after, they also have another cavatelli pasta dish, without the crab.

Overall, this place is great. We will definitely be back.

CRAVE FISHBAR
428 Amsterdam Ave
New York, NY 10024

Le Monde

Le Monde is a French bistro up on 112th and Broadway. They serve up classic French fare in a nice environment.

I went in to try their steak frites, mussels and burger. Here’s how it went down:

This is a shell steak, which is usually used to describe strip loin, though not always. Based on the shape, tenderness and quality of the cut, I’d say this was indeed a strip loin, so I’ll include it with my rankings of strip steaks for category purposes.

The meat quality is pretty good. Not much fat or gristle. Good texture and tenderness, and it even comes with marrow.

No dry aging, but I wasn’t expecting much for a $30 plate with fries and sauces. 7/10.

A post shared by Johnny Prime (@johnnyprimecc) on

My wife had the mussels. These were pretty good, and the broth is great for eating with the table bread or simply a spoon.

I also tried the house burger, which is topped with roasted tomato, gruyere, onion and lettuce. Not pictured are the fries and Bernaise sauce that come with it for just $15.50.

Not too bad at all! Though it was a bit too tall for regular “by-hand” eating.  used a fork and knife, otherwise it would have been all over my beard.

We also tried their house made foie gras terrine.

You can tell this was home made due to the chunks of organ meat within the terrine. It wasn’t as smooth as I had hoped, but my wife liked it very much and she’s more of a traditionalist on this stuff.

For dessert, the chef made us some special custard-filled crepes that were topped with an orange mango glaze.

Overall this was a good meal. I recommend this joint if you’re in the area and looking for a classic but casual French joint.

LE MONDE
2885 Broadway
New York, NY 10025

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