Category Archives: Non-Steakhouse Steaks

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

The Saratoga

This nicely appointed San Francisco eatery serves up some pretty fun grub.

We tried a bunch of stuff, so let me get right down to business.

Toga Tots

These brick-like tots were stacked, Jenga style. They had an awesomely crisp outside and a soft, mashed potato-esque inside. Topped with cheddar, chorizo and cilantro. Perfect.

Seven Spice Chicken Slider

These were pretty good. I really liked the Alabama white sauce and dill pickles.

Cubano Frank

This wonderful mashup between a Cuban sandwich and a hot dog was my favorite dish of the meal. Slow roasted pork, swiss cheese and spiced relish.

The Saratoga Burger

This baby was served with taleggio cheese and slaw on an onion bun. Pretty good! But after coming off of a Causwell’s burger high, we weren’t blown away.

Dry-Aged Flannery Beef NY Steak

For years I’ve heard great things about Flannery Beef. I had high hopes. This was really tough. I think they served us a hanger steak too – not a NY strip (I even asked and they confirmed NY strip). No way. I know beef texture and this was more like hanger and not remotely like striploin. The sauce was good but the beef was difficult to eat. 4/10.

Tomato Braised Tuscan Kale

Not my cup of tea here. Probably should have ordered the mushrooms or spring peas instead. This tasted like heartburn in each bite.

Ho Hos

These were fun! Definitely tasted just like a classic ho ho, but much better and elevated. Winner.

Chartreuse

The staff was awesome here. The owner saw that we were all taking pics for Instagram so he gave us a round of yellow and green chartreuse on the house. We barely touched them, however, since none of us particularly liked either of them. Bitter, and tasted like cough medicine. I realize this spirit is an acquired taste though, and I respect that this joint has one of the largest collections of chartreuse available in the world. Pretty cool. Just not my taste.

Their cocktails, however, are delicious. Here’s a shot of the Vieux Carre, which was delicious:

THE SARATOGA
1000 Larkin Street
San Francisco, CA 94109

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 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

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

Madame Vo BBQ

The talented couple behind Madame Vo recently opened this joint as a way to introduce NYC to Vietnamese BBQ, which, from what I understand, is very popular in central Vietnam.

Be aware: this is not the same as American BBQ, which we all know is characterized by slow and low smoker cooking. This involves a high-heat metal mesh grill and various cuts of meat. Fast and hot, no smokers.

Also: this isn’t Korean or Japanese BBQ. While they use a similar cooking method with the grill, the flavors, preparations and beef items are obviously entirely different.

What’s really unique about Madame Vo BBQ, and what I feel sets Vietnamese BBQ apart from other grilled meat establishments, is that the traditional “Beef 7 Ways” or “Bò 7 Món” feast in Vietnamese culture really lends itself perfectly to this style of cooking.

So what is “Beef 7 Ways?” Sounds like a dream come true, right? It is. It’s also really not that difficult to figure out from its name.

“Beef 7 Ways” in Vietnamese cuisine is generally a large format family style meal where various cuts of beef are served, obviously, in seven different ways. Almost always this will involve some thin sliced beef that’s grilled or dipped in a hotpot broth. There will also almost assuredly be a spiced ground/minced beef application, often wrapped in a betel leaf. And surely there will be a finishing dish of some form of starch with beef. But all throughout, there are “summer roll” rice wrappers on the table – along with various veggies, herbs and even fruits – for you to wrap up with the beef as you eat your way through all seven courses.

Madame Vo has done a great job of elevating that traditional “Bò 7 Món” concept, refining it, and presenting it to New Yorkers in the familiar grill table format. Here’s how they present their version of “Beef 7 Ways:”

1st Way: Eye Round Carpaccio

This was great. I’ve always thought that eye round would be perfect for a carpaccio application. This Viet style carpaccio was so delicious. Great pops from the herbs, spices and sauce.

2nd Way: Meatballs

These are technically not beef; they’re pork. But delicious nonetheless, and still part of the seven.

3rd & 4th Ways: Ground Beef Wrapped in Betel Leaf & Thin-Sliced Short Rib with Onion

These are both grilled, and the betel leaf rolls were my favorite of the seven courses. They have a great fresh green kick to them from the grilled leaf.

5th Way: Five-Spice Beef Tongue

This was awesome. They’re cooked through and make for the perfect filling in those rice wraps with veggies and herbs.

6th Way: Dry Aged Strip Steak with Marrow Butter

That marrow butter was absolute crack. Here’s a little video of it getting smeared on.

7th Way: Oxtail Congee

I really liked this. It was a close pick for my favorite of the meal.

Madame Vo BBQ offers this “Beef 7 Ways” for just $59/pp. I think that’s a great deal considering the quality of the beef, the amount you get, and of course the deliciousness of the whole experience.

We didn’t stop there, though. We also had some amazing seafood apps (not included with the “Beef 7 Ways”).

Giant Oyster with Uni Mayo

These things were huge, and that uni mayo was really addictive.

Maine Uni with Special Fish Sauce Beurre Blanc

Beautiful, sweet and delicious.

Grilled Prawns

These were nice and big. Tasty heads too!

BBQ Quail

The tamarind sauce on this really made it unique.

Short Rib & Marrow Spring Rolls

Loved these. I could eat a dozen easily.

And because I’m like a wild animal, I wanted more beef. We shared the Pat LaFrieda dry-aged tomahawk rib eye. At $95 for about 40oz, this is a steal.

Really beautifully presented too.

I highly recommend this place. Go with a group so you can try lots of stuff. Trust me – you won’t be disappointed!

MADAME VO BBQ
104 2nd Ave
New York, NY 10003

Tambour Bistro & Wine Bar

Tambour Bistro and Wine Bar is a cool spot that serves up some great Mediterranean style eats in Brooklyn. They have a great deal going on: for $120 you get an appetizer, a dry-aged porterhouse steak from Romeo Brothers (Bensonhurst meat shop), a side and a dessert.

My wife and I came in to try this stuff out. Here’s what we had.

First, some nice wines. I had a Rioja and my wife had a white that I can’t pronounce.

The mussels here are incredible. Make sure you ask for a spoon to slurp up the sauce at the bottom of the bowl. There’s white wine, roasted chili peppers and herbs in that crack sauce.

This arugula salad was simple and refreshing, with kalamata olives, feta cheese, pickled shallots, English cukes and marinated baby tomatoes.

Next up was the main event: a 70-day dry-aged porterhouse, served Florentine style, with charred lemons and rosemary.

This thing was a real beauty. Perfectly cooked with that great brown Maillard crust on it.

There was a lot of earthy funk on this from the aging process, so wiping an occasional bite across the charred lemon was a great way to cut the fat and funk with a pop of brightness.

We finished every bite. I highly recommend this steak. 9/10.

On the side we had the asparagus with crumbled parmesan cheese. That’s an Italian chimichurri sauce in the back. Basil, oregano, lemon, etc. Great with the steak actually.

For dessert, we had this perfectly executed creme brûlée.

This baby was big, creamy and flavorful.

I will definitely be back here to try their bacon as well as some other cuts of steak. I suggest you give it a shot too, especially if you live in the area.

TAMBOUR BISTRO & WINE BAR
652 5th Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11215