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.
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.
142 W 65th St
New York, NY 10023
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
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.
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
New York, NY 10019
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
80 Columbus Circle at 60th Street
New York, NY 10023
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.
428 Amsterdam Ave
New York, NY 10024
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.
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
851 6th Ave
New York, NY 10001
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
TESSA is a modern Mediterranean tavern on the upper west side that blends southern French and Italian cuisines. Their opening in April 2014 was the culmination of a years-long journey by first-time restaurateur, Larry Bellone, and long-time restaurateur, Will Tracy. The joint is named after Larry’s daughter. Will has been involved in the restaurant business for over 30 years.
Executive Chef Eric Cope has been at the helm since the beginning. Before his position here, Eric worked for the Rancho Bernardo Inn in his hometown of San Diego. The Pastry Chef is Yarisis Jacobo, and the Sous Chef is Ray Martinez.
The industrial and rustic interior design is absolutely stunning, and you can see the immaculate kitchen through the massive windows downstairs if you use the spotless-clean bathrooms.
The bar is really beautiful too, and the cocktail list is inventive. I tried three drinks (Kilt & Dagger, 349 and UWS Manhattan), and they were all delicious.
But let me get to the food, because that’s what you really care about the most, right? We started with three apps.
This was nice and fresh. It had a middle-eastern flavor profile, especially when eaten with the soft naan-like scallion pita bread with which it was served. The pomegranate, cucumber, pearl onion, black sesame and saffron aioli really worked well together.
This a la plancha style octopus was crispy on the outside and tender on the inside. It was really nice! It’s served with marble potato salad, fried capers, black garlic puree and aged balsamic. This was my favorite of the apps.
These “drunken” Hollander mussels were beautiful. The broth boasts tequila, tomato, garlic, kafir lime leaf, dried guajillo and cilantro. Super aromatic and tasty.
Next up we tried a duo of appetizer-sized pasta dishes (half of what you’d get for a full order). I must say, the app sizes were generous!
This was really good, and was offered as a special for the night. Duck sausage and duck confit lent a great savory component to the dish, complementing the fresh greenery of peas and fried basil.
Lobster Rye Trumpet
This beautiful rye pasta dish was topped with a generous amount of lobster for an appetizer portion. This was the better pasta of the two, for me. It was tossed with chanterelle mushrooms, celery root, chorizo, buerre blanc and chives.
We shared two entrees.
Long Island Duck
First, and actually my favorite between the two, was the duck. The breast was rendered perfectly, leaving just a layer of crisp skin above the tender, expertly cooked meat. This was served with a spiced honey sauce, a few crispy duck confit ravioli, baby carrots, cipollini onions and tarragon. The sweet and savory contrast to this dish was so amazing. I’d go back for this in a heart beat.
Cote de Boeuf
This beauty is pre-sliced and 32oz on the bone. Take a closer look at the meat though.
A little closer…
There you go! It’s a 45 day dry-aged DeBragga rib eye that carries a great earthy and funky flavor. The crust on this thing was excellent, and perfectly seasoned. It comes with roasted garlic, crispy fried shallots and roasted bone marrow. 8/10.
This was a great steak, but I was really torn between ordering this or the other two beef options that were on the menu: a hanger steak frites and a 45-day dry aged strip steak. Next time.
We also tried the fries and shaved Brussels on the side. Both were great, but I only snapped the fries.
In the background, you can also see some grilled romaine lettuce which came with the steak (along with a nice reduction-style steak sauce, and the sun dried tomato chimichurri that usually accompanies the steak frites).
To finish off the meal, we tried two desserts.
I’m usually not a fan of ordering doughnuts at a restaurant. I always end up liking doughnuts from specialty shops better. But these ones were incredible. It was tough to choose a favorite between the two styles (vanilla cream vs glazed). Both were incredible, and came with a hazelnut anglaise dipping sauce.
Coconut Cheesecake Sundae
Yes, you read that right. It’s coconut sorbet with malted vanilla sauce, diced mango and macadamia crunch. Really inventive, refreshing and exotic.
Is that everything? I think it is. But I want more. I highly recommend this place. The quality of the food and attentiveness of service is top notch. You won’t be disappointed.