Category Archives: Non-Steakhouse Steaks

Red Hook Tavern

Red Hook Tavern is the recently opened endeavor of famed BBQ pit master Billy Durney, of Hometown BBQ. After mastering regional BBQ, he decided to take on the iconic old school NYC tavern style joint – typically featuring dimly lit wood grain interiors, a great selection of beer, wine and cocktails, a champion burger and a beefy chop or two. Think Minetta Tavern, Chumley’s or even McSorley’s. The outside even kinda pays tribute to Minetta Tavern. Similar font, coloring and shades drawn:

So did Durney achieve that iconic goal? In short, yes. There are some BIG hits here, but there are also some misses as well. Let me get into it so you know what to get and what to avoid.

We shared four starters among four people. We ordered the corn and nduja salad with radicchio cups, the wedge salad with bacon, the chicken liver pate, and the charcuterie board.

The corn and nduja was good, but it wasn’t as spicy as I had expected. In addition, the radicchio cups added a little too much bitterness into the dish. Maybe swapping out for some Bibb would be better.

The big hit for me among the starters was the wedge salad. It comes with a nicely cooked slab of Nueske’s bacon, and a surprisingly fresh pop of dill throughout. This is definitely big enough to share, so get this and share with another.

The charcuterie board was delicious, featuring lomo (my favorite – dry cured pork loin), salami and venison salami, along with a nice fresh slaw to cut the fat. I just wish there was more of everything.

The chicken liver pate was smooth, creamy and delicious. I could have easily crushed this by myself, which is what I recommend that you do. The only issue with that was that the toast was very dry and brittle. That bread needs an upgrade.

We shared four different entrees. We did the pan roasted half chicken, the 45-day dry aged strip steak, the grilled head-on spot prawns and, of course, the burger (we did two of those).

The prawns were overcooked, unfortunately, and that delicious chili, lemon and garlic sauce didn’t really get into the flesh, rendering them kind of bland unless you really dragged them through the sauce. The heads were delicious though. They come three to an order, but the waiter Ryan was awesome and asked if we wanted four pieces so that we could all get one. That’s the kind of service people will remember. Bravo, Ryan.

The Pat LaFrieda steak was very tender, nicely cooked, and had a great crust on it.

The addition of that finishing salt was essential, because it was otherwise just kind of bland in flavor. It didn’t have much punch or character to it, and certainly not much dry-aged flavor. 7/10.

One good thing about the steak is that for $49 it also comes with creamed spinach. I really liked this spinach. Finely chopped, not too creamy.

The chicken was better than both of the above entree items. It came with mashed potatoes and gravy, which was a nice touch, for just $28. The meat was juicy and tender, and the skin was crisp and well-seasoned. Get this!

But the star of the meal was this incredible burger.

Look at how perfectly cooked it is inside:

It comes with three perfectly crisped and seasoned potato wedges, and a half-sour pickle spear.

If you’re not into onions, you can remove yours from the bottom (the burger comes out sitting on top of an onion core slice). I generally don’t love raw onion on my burger, but this onion is somewhat steamed and softened, that way you don’t get that insane vaporous bite that destroys your mouth for two days. It also catches any juices that come out of the burger, making it a perfect flavor sponge that protects the bottom bun from sogging up.

It may look simple and pedestrian, but the bun is brought in fresh from a special bakery; the patty is a great mix of lean and fatty beef cuts that sport a really nice dry-aged flavor; the cheese is perfectly melted down the sides of the burger to create a lovely drape of full coverage – you never want for that melty American goodness; and the maillard sear on the outside even has a nice crunch to it for some texture. What a masterpiece. This might be a new favorite, especially at $22. While I generally prefer fries, the wedges were definitely good. I kinda wanted a couple more though.

The prices here aren’t too bad either.

I highly recommend this place. It’s tough to get a reservation, but if you get there early (or late, for that matter) you can probably score a seat at the bar pretty quickly.

RED HOOK TAVERN
329 Van Brunt St
Brooklyn, NY 11231

Rezdora

As soon as you walk into Rezdora you’re hit with the sharp, pungent odor of fresh garlic. Another thing you might be hit with is a plate, as waiters scurry to serve the handsome stretch of bar and tightly packed tables in the front of the restaurant. The small and crowded space would normally have pissed me off, but my wife and I managed to get seated across from each other in a corner spot in back with a circular table that was slightly larger than the almost microscopic rectangular tables for two nearby.

I had heard about and seen great things from this place. The chef, Stefano Secchi, had trained under Massimo Bottura, at the Michelin three-star “Osteria Francescana” in Modena; a place that has been crowned the best restaurant in the world a few times, if I recall correctly. Needless to say, I was not let down.

We started with some nice aperitif style cocktails and a few bites of an amuse that consisted of toasted bread with fresh ricotta and a nice Modenese balsamic. We opted to skip the appetizer menu completely. Instead, we shared three pasta dishes and two entrees.

The first pasta was a garganelli-like macccheroni with duck ragu. This was absolutely delicious. Just the right amount of salt, al dente pasta, and a really hearty sauce with properly cooked duck meat well-dispersed throughout.

Next up was my favorite dish of the night, and probably the best pasta I’ve had all year if not in all of my life. “Apertivo in Reggio-Emelia:” Doppio tortelli filled with prosciutto, parmigiano and “erbazzone” greens. These pasta pouches were pleasantly packed with prosciutto. I could eat these by the bucketload. I strongly suggest getting your ass in here ASAP to try these, because from what I understand, this particular pasta item will change with the seasons, whereas some of the others will remain the same if not similar.

The third pasta was the spaghettoni with clams. Spaghettoni is just longer/fatter version of spaghetti. The clams in this were more like cockles (in the oyster family, from what I understand) as opposed to the Little Neck variety. At first we were concerned that there would only be three clams in this dish, based on the shell count, but the sauce was riddled with these little fuckers, sans shells. This pasta was cooked extra al dente. From what I was told, this is the only pasta that isn’t made in house. I’m not sure why that is. In any case, it was our least favorite of the three pasta dishes we tried. But don’t take that to mean it was bad in any way. This was still better than most other Italian joints that sling this dish.

For the first of our mains we shared the braised rabbit leg, which came with rabbit sausage and sweetbreads, as well as a parsnip puree and some roasted baby zucchini. The leg was deliciously tender, falling apart and peeling away from the bone with just the slightest pull of a fork. The sausage was light, yet robustly flavored with spices and herbs. Almost porky but without the grease. The sweetbreads were creamy and crispy at the same time. A beautiful contrast. I highly recommend this dish.

Our next main was the “steak for two.” They offered 60-day bone-in Pat LaFrieda rib eyes in two sizes: 28oz or 32oz. Now, I know what you’re saying: “That’s for two?” Yeah – I agree. That’s small for two. They’re charging $99 for the smaller size as well, which is borderline crazy. However, I was really happy to see that it came with two sides (we chose zucchini and sautéed greens), and was prepared in such a uniquely Modenese way that I felt transported.

Okay so what makes it uniquely “Modenese?” On the bone there is a “Modenese Pesto,” which consists of pork lard, rosemary and spices. It was like sausage butter. Adding a smear of that on a bite of steak here and there made for a real treat. But the meat itself was rubbed with dried mushroom before cooking to give it a uniquely earthy crust. I also detected a hint of finishing balsamic on there as well, as I understand it is common in Modena to eat cooked steak with balsamic (I usually just use it on cold or raw meat salad type dishes). The only spots that had any real dry-aged flavor (a definitively different taste than the mushroomy crust) was along the bone, where less of the pellicle must have been trimmed away during butchery. In any case, that balsamic cut the fat nicely, and the mushroomy crust offered a very unique “steaking” experience on a perfectly cooked and tender cut of beef. 9/10.

This place is a must try for anyone who enjoys good Italian, especially pasta dishes. If you’re adventurous, get the rabbit as well. Now that Summer is over, that is a perfect dish for the Fall. Good luck getting a table though! From what I understand it’s pretty hard. We lucked out and someone gave us theirs (even though my wife had already gone once a few months ago).

REZDORA
27 E 20th St
New York, NY 10003

Wayla

After seeing some pics that my buddy posted on Instagram from this place, I had to give it a try.

My wife and I started with a bunch of appetizers. We tried a trio of meaty Thai dips that came with an assortment of veggies, some pork meatballs wrapped in fried noodles, and a pork jowl salad. Everything was great here, but from those three, if I had to choose, the pork jowls were my favorite. We destroyed all of it though.

Next up was the crab fried rice.

Wow. They dropped about $25 worth of steakhouse quality lump crab meat right on top of this delicious and light-yet-flavorful fried rice. Awesome. This is a must if you are looking for a “starch.”

Then we had the Thai style fried chicken.

I was blown away by this. The flavors, the crispy skin, the juicy-ness.. It was all just working. Get this! It was my favorite dish of the night.

And of course I had to try the strip steak with tamarind sauce.

This came out on a hot skillet and the aroma was nuts.

For $34 this is a steal of a value, and it was tender as hell – cooked perfectly to medium rare. I must admit, I was expecting a shitty experience here. I was dead wrong. Later I learned that this meat is from Strassburger, so it should have been no surprise that it was tender and delicious. 8/10.

For dessert we had a nice fruit plate and a big scoop of coconut pandan ice cream.

Great way to end a great meal. I definitely recommend this place. Go give it a shot!

WAYLA
100 Forsyth St
New York NY 10002

Le Petit Rooster

This french joint just opened about two months ago with a really creative and unique menu. There were about eight starters that I wanted to try, but I ended up settling on three.

Black Garlic, Cynar & Bone Marrow Escargots

Incredible. The flavors, when combined, almost tasted like a really good balsamic. I’ve never really had snails like this before. Delicious.

Whiskey French Toast Foie Gras

This also had a cherry compote on it (on the toast in the background), along with some cocoa nibs and flake salt. So good. Really enjoyed this dish.

Prawn Escabeche

These massive head-on prawns were delicious. The spicy black garlic sauce really made them pop.

For the entree, we went with this 50-day dry aged cote de boeuf.

It comes with some tangy bone marrow and crispy fried onions, but what makes this stand out is the additional dry aging that they do in house. They get the meat at 28-days from Pat LaFrieda, but they age it for more time on site. I always find that this makes for a better aged flavor. 9/10.

We paired this with the schmaltz tater tots, which were fucking awesome.

We also had the purple and green asparagus, which was a special for the day. It had caviar and a fried/poached duck egg on top, along with a tangy hollandaise sauce.

For dessert, we took down this nice bread pudding.

This joint doesn’t have a full liquor license yet, but they do offer some creative amari type light cocktails, and a nice wine and beer list. I highly recommend this place. I know I’ll be going back to try the other apps that I wanted, along with some duck, chicken and pasta.

LE PETIT ROOSTER
491 Columbus Ave
New York, NY 10024

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

Cliff’s Rendezvous

I used to hit this place way back, about 20 years ago or more. It’s out in Riverhead, Long Island.

This place is known for their special marinade, which they apply to both their steaks and burgers upon request. I always liked the flavor they got with it – definitely some soy and worcestershire happening. The sugars in it make for a really charred crust.

And a delicious puddle of juices at the bottom.

I really like it. For $15 (lunch portion, about 12-14oz), you can’t go wrong. What would be a 7/10 gets bumped to an 8/10 due to the value here.

The patty melt is a pass, however. Unless you switch it up from Swiss to something like American. The cheese was just too overboard.

I loved the 5-olive martini though.

Next time you’re out this way, give Cliff’s a shot.

CLIFF’S RENDEZVOUS
313 E Main St
Riverhead, NY 11901

Belcampo

By now most of you who keep up with this blog or my Instagram account have seen some shit about Belcampo Meat Camp. Well, they have a restaurant in Hudson Yards and I finally got to try it out. Here’s how it breaks down:

Lamb “Bone Broth”

This stuff is spectacular. It almost tastes like an au jus or a gravy. Such deep, rich flavors with no gamey shit happening. This is also perfect for dipping bread, roast beef sandwiches, or whatever.

Eye Round Carpaccio

This is incredible. Probably my favorite carpaccio at the moment. It’s just so tender and flavorful. Hit it with some extra virgin olive oil and you’re all set.

Beef Tartare

This raw application is another winner. Excellent flavors, really great. If you prefer tartare to carpaccio, then get this.

Belcampo Burger

This was my favorite of the three burgers we tried. It has a slight aged flavor to it, but the cheese coverage, toppings and bun were all great to boot. In the pic above, it’s in front.

Lamb Burger

In the pic above, the lamb burger is in back. The move here is to take an occasional bite of this after dunking it into the lamb broth. Really tasty.

The Century Burger

This 100-day dry aged burger really brings the funk. It’s thick and meaty, and unabashed in it’s protein-forwardness.

Double Fast Burger

This is my favorite of all the burgers, and it is the most humble of them all. Two dry-aged patties, American cheese, and thinly sliced pickle on a potato bun. Absolutely awesome.

Rib Eyes

We tried both the boneless and cowboy rib eye steaks. Both were great, perfectly cooked, and came with aged funk to them. 8/10.

The “Porkerhouse”

The pork porterhouse was my favorite chop of the night. So tender, so juicy, and such a great fresh flavor to it. I can eat this regularly. I remember being very impressed with this at Meat Camp too.

Lamb Chops

These were awesome. Really nice rich red meat flavor with no game whatsoever. Perfectly cooked to medium rare.

Cookies & Cake

Wow. I didn’t except such deliciousness from such simplicity. The huge, warm, ooey-gooey chocolate chip cookies were my favorite of the two, but that chocolate cake was rich and moist.

Cocktails

I should also mention the great cocktails here. The duck fat washed rye drink called Midnight Cruiser was killer, with orange oil and bitters.

But the barrel rested Copalli rum cocktail called Out Past Curfew stole the show. Rum, bourbon, sherry, creme de cacao, cocoa nib vermouth and toasted pecan bitters.

Definitely give this place a shot. Everything was delicious and I can’t wait to go back.

BELCAMPO
500 West 33rd St
4th Floor
New York, NY 10001

Ardyn

I finally got a chance to check out Ardyn, the restaurant that former Charlie Palmer Steakhouse chef Ryan Lory opened in the west village.

The space is beautiful, with a rustic, woodland feel to the dining room.

There’s also a beautiful bar with great cocktails and $1 happy hour oysters from 5-7pm (along with drink specials).

We started with a couple of raw fish dishes. Hamachi tartare and fluke crudo.

Both were awesome and pretty, but if I had to choose one to go back to repeatedly, it would be the hamachi.

Chef Ryan is becoming known for his gorgeous plating – very aesthetic. He also became known for his 50/50 burger at Charlie Palmer. It’s 50% smoked bacon and 50% brisket, with some dry-aged wagyu trim and fat in there to take it over the top.

The only down side here was the thickness of the pickled tomato slice. Half the thickness would be perfect, but that acidy pop did do a great job of cutting the buttery fatness of the rich and well-seasoned burger.

Make sure you don’t neglect the fries here with your burger. They’re amazing and possibly some of the best I’ve ever had.

All the sides were nice, in fact, from the shishitos to the carrots to the greens.

The pastas here are also excellent. We tried two: ramp garganelli with morels, and squid ink cavatelli with uni cream.

It was tough to choose a favorite between the two perfectly cooked and plated pastas, so I suggest getting both if you have room.

But the mains really shined.

First, this absolutely stunning duo of duck containing crispy sliced breast and a house made sausage.

The breast was nice but the sausage stole the show – like when Lex Steele stars in a porno flick with some ugly broad that has gross fake tits.

Of course we had to try the 45-day dry-aged Snake River Farms domestic wagyu rib eye.

This thing was incredible. It had a sexy, deep brown maillard crust on the surface and a rare cook beneath. You can still see the flecks of marbling in the flesh! It could have been cooked slightly longer, but the beef was so high quality that you could eat it like this even without the fat fully rendering out. 9/10.

Dessert was equally stunning. This choclate layer cake with pistachio ice cream was really rich and moist, like Paris Hilton in 2003.

This custard was light yet very satisfying.

And this asian style grapefruit/pomelo dessert was just the right kind of acidy and citrusy way to end the meal with a cleansed palate.

I definitely recommend this place. And if you want a seat close to the action, head to the back and pop your ass onto one of the stools that faces into the kitchen. Be warned though – it’s warm back there!

ARDYN
33 W 8th St
New York, NY 10011

Coco J’adore

My wife and I tried the newly opened Meatpacking District French joint “Coco J’adore” this past weekend.

This place has a really beautiful interior that’s just screaming to be infiltrated by trendy types, insta-models and brunch-drunk socialites.

It will no doubt become a big time scene place with hard to acquire tables, but contrary to what you might assume from my lead-in, it’ll be worth the effort to get in here.

Both the food and drinks are awesome. Over the course of our sweeping menu tasting, we tried four different cocktails.

1) Covent Garden

This refreshing take on a sour was made with gin, aperol, amaro, chamomile peppercorn syrup, egg white and lemon.

2) Gustavia

Rum, cachasa, passion fruit, demerara, campari and ginger beer.

3) Madison

Rye, ricard, earl grey tea syrup, black cherry and lemon.

4) Nevsky

This was a favorite. Vodka, cinnamon, green apple juice, lemon and rose powder.

All tended to be on the sweet side, but there were a few others that were more robust in profile as well. I’ll try those next time.

Okay on to the food.

First off, nice table bread with whipped butter.

This fava bean “hummus” with mixed olives and citrus was awesome. I could eat this by the bucketload.

These scallops were perfectly seared and presented in a sauce that was reminiscent of runny egg yolk. Delicious. That;’s a carrot salsa on top.

I loved the escargots. They’re served in-shell in an aromatic bowl of peppercorns. Delicious. These are top tier.

We tried two pasta dishes: the salt cod agnolotti, which was our favorite of the two, and the rabbit gnocchi. The rabbit ate more like a fall or winter dish, while the agnolotti was light, summery and fresh. Both good though.

Next up, the wild salmon with couscous and broccoli rabe. Excellent. Nice crispy skin too. This was my wife’s favorite.

The filet mignon was cooked to a nice medium rare and served on a bed of mashed potatoes with a mix of sautéed wild mushrooms. Very nicely done. 8/10.

For dessert, we had the creme brûlée and the chocolate soufflé with vanilla ice cream. Of these, we preferred the creme brûlée but both were good.

This is a great addition to the neighborhood. Go give it a shot before it gets mobbed!

COCO J’ADORE
1 Little West 12th Street
New York, NY 10014

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