Category Archives: Non-Steakhouse Steaks

Via Quadronno

This joint is known for its incredible panini sandwiches and fresh Italian menu selections. I’m gonna get right down to business here, because me and a group of Instagram influencers tried a ton of items.

My favorite sandwich: La Madunina. This has prosciutto, fresh mozz, olive tapenade and tomato. Very simple but incredibly delicious.

Tentazione: prosciutto, smoked mozz, arugula, shrimp and sauce.

Americano: brie, fresh mozz, corn, arugula and tomatoes.

Bip-Bip: bresaola, goat cheese, shrimp, arugula and sauce.

Il Toast: boiled ham and melted fontina cheese.

Lo Spazzino: roast pork, arugula, provolone, red onion and capers.

They also do some open faced toast style brunch sandwiches as well. We tried the smoked salmon and crab meat, fresh mozz and tomato, and asparagus with cheese.

Speaking of asparagus, they also offer it in a salad form with lots of crab meat on top. Wow! That’s a serious portion.

And this veggie salad with tuna was so fresh and tasty.

The mussels were really nice too, served in a light but spicy tomato broth. Nicely executed.

The pesto pasta had a great flavor and was perfectly cooked.

As did the lasagna. I’m usually very hard on lasagne, because my mom made a killer lasagna. This was fantastic. The photo doesn’t do it justice. You need to see the layering.

I also had a steak. Surprise! The meat quality was indeed good (DeBragga), and the peppercorn sauce for the top was delicious. It’s also served on a bed of broccoli rabe, and with a side of roasted fingerling potatoes.

Enough photos of that? I think so. We also had dessert. Several tart pies, a wonderful tiramisu, some gelato and sorbets, and an assortment of Italian cookies.

And we tasted several coffee and hot chocolate selections that had awesome designs in the foam.

And a drink made with Prosecco, raspberry jam and St. Germain.

Definitely give this place a try. There’s also another location about 10 streets down from this one.

VIA QUADRONNO
1228 Madison Ave
New York, NY 10128

Vaucluse

My wife picked up a nice Gilt City deal for this joint that gave us $200 to spend for something like $100. I had heard great things about the burger here, so I figured it was time to check it out now that there was a flash deal at play.

The cocktail menu is pricey at $18, but very nicely crafted.

We shared that burger (the “White Label Burger”) as an app. The patty is an aged beef blend; the cheese is fontina; and it’s topped with a tomato jam and dijonnaise.

They cook it nice and rare, so you don’t lose any of that aged funk to the heat. It’s a potent burger, and part of me still loves a classic roadside American burger better, but this is kinda like having a steak between a bun. Definitely nice.

And like any good French joint, it’s served with frites.

These were pretty good, but not quite on the level of Boucherie, which has now become my benchmark standard, to which all French fries must be compared.

We also tried the calamari stuffed with lobster and rice.

Unfortunately there wasn’t much lobster to this dish. In fact, I couldn’t really find any or taste any in the bites I had. In any case, the tomato sauce was nice, as was the cook on the squid.

My wife had some rabbit, truffle and cheese ravioli for her entree. This was a small portion size for $25, but they at least warned us ahead of time that it would be.

They were excellent. Each raviolo seemed to be partitioned, with one side having the rabbit, and the other side having the cheese.

Of course, I had steak.

This was served with some dressed watercress, but I quickly brushed that bullshit aside. I sliced it up so you could see the perfect cook temp on this prime NY strip steak.

This was actually a steak frites, so it came with more fries and a peppercorn au poivre on the side. Well, I asked for it on the side so I could get this intense shot of foodpourn.

Did you just bust? Because I did.

I ate every bite. It was a great little steak. I didn’t detect any aged flavor, and I assume they would have advertised that if it were the case. Not too bad at $44, but on par with the Jubilee rib eye steak frites that I had just the other day for $40. 8/10.

We shared a lemon tart with basil ice cream for dessert. This was really pretty, and tasted a bit like a key lime pie with the herbaceous basil ice cream on top. We liked this a lot.

Oh and I should mention that this place also brings out an amuse at the beginning, as well as petit fours at the end. I only snapped the amuse, which was a tiny popover style bread with a truffle cream filling. The dessert capper was a chocolate hazelnut bite.

VAUCLUSE
100 E 63rd St
New York, NY 10065

Jubilee

Jubilee is a gorgeously decorated midtown east French restaurant that was founded by Eric Macaire, and is co-owned with Chef Luc Holie and his spouse Ilda. When you step into this joint, you feel like you’ve entered someone’s home, and are dining in their living room. Not only is the decor and atmosphere inviting, but the staff is very warm and friendly as well.

Jubilee is known for offering a variety of fresh steamed mussels in delicious sauces. There’s even a special, separate menu that’s dedicated to just mussels! If you’re like me and you can’t decide between the nine sauces, you can get a trio of mini pots to try. I suggest going with a group of people, that way you can get three trios to share as an app; you’ll be able to try all nine varieties!

My wife and I had the dijonnaise, curry and truffle chicken sauces. All were excellent but we liked the truffle chicken the best. What’s cool about the trio is that they remove all the mussels from their shells, so the juicy bivalves are swimming in pure flavor. And there’s a LOT of them in each cup; don’t be deceived!

A full size order of these will come with shells on, in a pretty metal pot. That’s more traditional. But I think the trio is a better value.

They also have some excellent prix fix offerings, both for lunch and dinner. For example, the dinner prix fix includes two courses and a beer/glass of wine. Not bad at all, considering they don’t cut corners on the selections or portion sizes. I’ll take mussels, a hanger steak with fries and a beer any day for under $30. That’s great!

Speaking of steak and fries, they serve up a pretty great boneless “cote de boeuf” rib eye frites here.

That’s a lot of fries! And they are perfectly golden crisp, to boot, and well seasoned. The steak is about an inch thick and 14oz. It had a great sear on the outside but maintained a perfectly pink medium rare on the inside. 8/10. Better than many midtown steakhouses.

Add the complimentary green peppercorn or bernaise sauce on top and you’re in heaven. Those sauces are great for fry dipping too.

Speaking of dipping, I couldn’t stop myself from dipping the fresh country style table bread into my wife’s platter of escargot that she got for her app. The buttery, garlicky, herby sauce was addicting!

And speaking of the bread, it was served with a smooth, spreadable soft butter. I hate when the butter is hard!

But I can’t forget to tell you about my app: the foie gras terrine. It was so incredibly smooth and flavorful, and so incredibly velvety and decadent. I highly recommend it.

We also sampled the grilled leek salad, which comes topped with a pair of fried quail eggs for good measure. I’m typically not a fan of leek texture – a bit too woody for me – but these took on an almost braised quality, and, as such, were super tender and flavorful.

Not only was the food good here at Jubilee, but it was also beautifully presented and plated. For example, take a look at this sea scallop and orzo dish.

Absolutely stunning, not to mention the perfect sear on those babies. And that sauce you see around the risotto was an earthy truffle and porcini blend that was drinkable.

No French meal would be complete without some house made French desserts. For me, creme brulee is an old standby that never disappoints. Here, it was smooth, rich with flavor, and perfectly caramelized on top.

But, rarely seen on menus is a Paris-Brest. I was excited to see it here. It was so light and airy, yet it still packed a walloping punch of flavor. That might have been my favorite of the desserts. It was really pretty, too.

And finally, warm chocolate cake with ice cream. Pure decadence. It was so soft and chocolately inside. It was kind of hard to pull away from this and eat the other stuff.

Dessert also came with these tiny little soft lemon cookie/cake hybrids. There’s a fancy French name for them, but a big, doofy, arrogant, proud American ogre like me doesn’t know it off hand and is too lazy to go looking for it.

In any case, this place is one of my favorite French restaurants now. They have weekly specials mapped out for the entire month. Right now is coq au vin, and later in the month there’s a beef bourgignon. I may have to go back very soon! I hope you go as well.

JUBILEE
948 1st Avenue
New York, NY 10022

Oro

I was recently invited to Oro by the owners to try out some of the classic and modern Italian fare that they serve at their spacious, beautifully appointed Long Island City restaurant.

Oro means “gold” in Italian, and the food equivalent of gold is just what they’re serving you here, especially when you indulge in some of the highlights that I mention here in this review.

First off, there’s an excellent cocktail menu. I went with a blueberry and bourbon drink that was really nicely executed. My wife went with a selection from their Moscow Mule menu. Also excellent.

The waiter will bring out some fresh house made bread next. It’s toasty warm and served with a dish of EVOO and vinegar.

We started with two nice, fresh and delicate apps: scallop crudo with crispy prosciutto in a grapefruit sauce, and charred octopus. Both were perfect. The scallop crudo was really fresh, light and crisp. I wish we ordered two!

The octopus has a great flavor and still kept a slight firmness without being too soft or too chewy – a sweet spot middle ground. There was a good spice kick to it as well.

We shared the duck bolognese pappardelle pasta (which was good, but just needed a bit more salt):

And the 28oz tomahawk ribeye:

That blob you see is an herb butter, which added a green-tasting freshness to each bite.

The meat itself hails from Snake River Farms, which is not only a purveyor of fine standard meats, but also American Wagyu. The owners of Oro are friends with the people at Snake River, so you know the cuts will be of high quality.

The cut itself was cooked a slight bit over from what I would have preferred, being more towards medium than medium rare.

But no matter. The flavor was still good, and the fat cap was delicious. Not to mention that at a price of $52, you’re saving big money and you’re just one stop into Queens from midtown Manhattan. At a place like Cut downtown, that Snake River Farms steak is going to run you almost $100. Crazy discount here. And this can be shared with a second diner, so even better. 7/10.

The steak selection here is pretty impressive. As soon as next week, as a matter of fact, there will be even more of a “butcher’s block” selection here, which will include a 36oz porterhouse as well as what’s already on the menu (filet, strip, tomahawk, and pork chops).

On the side we had some arancini, or fried rice balls, which were fun and tasty.

We also had the sweet potato creme brulee. I didn’t think I’d like it when we were told about it by the waiter. As such, we didn’t order it. But the waiter brought it out for us to try anyhow. It turned out to be my favorite item of the night!

It was sweet without going overboard, and the brulee crunch and marshmallow topping was just thrilling. I even remarked that if you plop a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top of it, it would make for a perfect dessert. Do yourself a favor and get this when you come here. It is unbelievable.

For our proper desserts, we tried the fig panna cotta and nutella bread pudding with homemade fluff. Both were incredible, but I give the edge to the panna cotta. So silky, smooth and light, but packing a big flavor punch.

ORO
41-17 Crescent St
Long Island City, NY 11101

North End Grill Bistro du Nord

The Union Square Hospitality Group is hosting a pop-up French restaurant called “Bistro du Nord” in the North End Grill space throughout January. This is the group of restaurants headed up by chef Danny Meyer, who recently went “no tip” and “service included” in the menu pricing of all his joints. Even the coat check is included! But the prices… for a tip-included place, they were amazing. I was expecting some inflated numbers, but to me, they all looked like what you’d see at any other restaurant.

I was invited in by the group to sample some of the delicious items that chef Eric Korsh is featuring on this limited run menu (though some items may still be available after the pop-up is finished). He’s the chef there at North End Grill, even when there is no pop-up going on, so you can expect the same level of execution and awesomeness if you happen to miss the pop-up.

So let me get down to it, because we tried a lot of good stuff.

Duck egg en meurette.

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If you’re like me, and have no idea what some French culinary terms mean, then I will explain. “En meurette” basically means that the duck egg is served in a red wine reduction, like a bourguignon or meat gravy type sauce. The egg here was nicely poached and served with mushrooms and black truffles.

Roasted oysters with spinach and bacon.

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I believe some cheese was involved as well. These were beautiful and fantastic.

Escargot with garlic and parsley butter.

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Really nice in the little skillet, and already plucked from the shell, so no work is involved.

Tarte flambe.

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This was essentially a nice, light, airy flatbread – almost like zaatar, but less aggressive with the spice.

French onion soup with bone marrow.

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Beautiful. This one was topped with a piece of toast and melty gruyere, but that bone marrow in the middle was just absolutely awesome.

Now for the entrees.

Steamed trout.

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I was a little skeptical of a steamed fish item, but this was so tasty. I even remarked that it reminded me of something Scandinavian, perhaps because of the presence of dill and a thickened broth sauce.

Crispy skate wing – my apologies for not getting a picture. This fish was so light yet flavorful that it threw me off guard. The crisp on the outside of the fish was so awesome.

Roast chicken.

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Super crispy outside skin and perfect tenderness within. The cabbage wrap was filled with more succulent, tender meat as well as some fois gras and parsley root. Very elegant.

Cassoulet.

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What a refreshing improvement from the last cassoulet my wife and I had at The House. This one had the meat on full display: pork belly and a duck leg. With trotter and white beans in the dish, this was a nice and hearty dish, but it didn’t seem heavy at all.

NY strip steak au poivre.

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I had the kitchen slice this for us so it was easier to share. This was perfectly cooked to medium rare, and the peppery sauce really complimented the prime beef. The chef trimmed off any gristle from the sides, and the quality of the cut was top notch. It was lean but very flavorful, and the texture was incredibly tender. 9/10.

On the side we had some wood grilled fennel, which was really nice and helped us digest. We also had some fries, as they came with the steak. They had a perfect crisp and were nicely seasoned.

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There’s always room for dessert.

Apple and huckleberry galette.

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This was right up my alley. Sweetness with a little bit of tartness, and then warm mixed with cold ice cream. Perfection.

Chocolate souffle.

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Perfect execution on this, and the chocolate was rich and decadent without being overpowering or overly sweet.

Paris-brest.

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I loved this. The one here was apple and hazelnut cream flavored. It was light and airy, soft yet crisp. I could easily inhale a few of these.

I think that about does it. Get your asses down here and try some of this delicious French fare while the pop-up lasts!

NORTH END GRILL
104 North End Ave
New York, NY 10282

Bedford & Co.

My friend Jean invited me to Bedford & Co. for an Instagram infleuncer dinner, since she and a few others were going to be digging into a nice large format rib eye for two (along with other tasty items) and tasting a variety of wines for the restaurant’s “Wine Wednesday” pairings with their somm, Sarah.

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This 28-day dry-aged 40oz bone in rib eye from Master Purveyors is a “for two” steak, which comes with lardo, watercress and roasted garlic for $125. We were five, so we pigged out on other shit too.

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The prices of beef have certainly gone way up lately. I remember when I was chomping on 36-40oz steaks for one at half the price just a few years back. But hey, this one was free! Not gonna complain.

We were able to sneak into the kitchen to watch Chef Justin Neubeck and his team flame this baby up for us.

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But while we were waiting for that to finish cooking and then properly rest, we sparked up some scallops with pumpkin puree, kafir lime and roasted pumpkin seeds.

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This was a really interesting flavor combo, and I really liked it. The round sweetness of the pumpkin contrasted nicely with the acidic pop from the lime.

The entrees rolled out all at once, and the five of us Instagrammers went bonkers taking photos of everything.

The first thing I tried was the Long Island duck breast.

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Garnished with a scallion ginger oil, glazed with honey, and accompanied by a cranberry purée, this was easily one of the better duck breast dishes I’ve had in quite a while.

Berkshire pork chop was next.

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I’m hard to please when it comes to pork chops. My mom used to cook them in a glass covered electric skillet so that they were somehow juicy on the inside but crisp on the outside, and with onions, potatoes and cherry peppers. Very Italian, as I later discovered. With all that said, this was a pretty good version. It had a sour orange glaze and was served with pink winter squash and marinated radicchio.

The main event was that steak, though.

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A cut this thick is difficult to cook properly. Lots of times you’ll end up with some spots that are too rare, while the outside is overcooked. I have to hand it to these guys; they did a pretty solid job with this monster.

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As you might have noticed from the raw shot above, there wasn’t much of a fat cap on this baby, but what scraps were there after trimming was used to make the lardo, which was really nice. Also I feel like the 28-day dry aging was done masterfully (by Master Purveyors, no less). They really packed a ton of funk and earthiness for the minimal end of the aging process. 8/10.

Since this was essentially a carnivore party, we had to try the burger at this place. It has been getting a fair amount of attention on social media lately, and for good reason. Look at it, for fuck’s sake.

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This beauty is topped with bloomsday cheddar, caramelized onion and thick cut braised pork belly. So juicy. Get it when you come here, even if you have to split it with a group of people, like we did.

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And of course the fries are excellent as well, which are cooked with herbs right in the fryer oil.

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We did a pair of sides as well. Brussels with bacon and apple cider, and roasted wild mushrooms. These were dynamite! The roast on those sprouts was fantastic. Great texture and crisp. And the mushrooms were the perfect pairing with the earthy steak.

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Just when you thought we were full, the desserts came out. Chef Canty makes all the stuff in house. We got to try the carrot cake (my favorite of the three – so rich and delicious), cheesecake in a jar, and apple crostada.

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Definitely one of the best carrot cake renditions I’ve had in the city, right up there with Bob’s Steak & Chop House and Ocean Prime.

I definitely recommend this place to anyone who generally likes any of the shit that I got to try. All high quality, deftly executed shit.

BEDFORD & CO.
The Renwick
118 E 40th St
New York, NY 10016

The House

Pulsd was running a flash deal for this joint so my wife picked it up. The deal gave us a bottle of wine, a shared app, two entrees and a shared dessert. Not bad for under $70.

Our app was this nice smoked duck salad. The duck was nicely cooked and the romaine lettuce was dressed just right, and garnished with walnuts, raspberries and persimmon.

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My wife picked the cassoulet for her entree. It sounded great; duck confit, wild boar sausage and lamb. However, the beans seemed to reign supreme. The meat was all shredded rather than left in chunks. It had a good smokey flavor, but the “baked beans” texture left a bit to be desired.

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I went with the Pat LaFrieda black Angus strip, for a $6 up charge.

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That’s a garlic and herb butter on top, and roasted fingerlings in the back. It wasn’t bad, but my first cut revealed a few lines of sinew that were really chewy and discouraging.

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Other cuts were better, as you’ll see below. but overall there was just too much chewy bits for my liking. Strips always have that one side with a hard line of gristle too. This was no exception. Flavor was nice, but it could have used a bit more seasoning and searing. 6/10.

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For dessert we went with a cheese plate that included five different styles. All were good.

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THE HOUSE
121 East 17th Street
New York, NY 10003

El Toro Blanco

I’ll keep this quick and to the point. Me and some old chums from high school came here with our ladies to celebrate the new year. I didn’t take any pics except for one shot of the steak. But pretty much everything we tried was good, from the guacamole to the tacos al pastor, the ceviche to the mole chicken.  Albeit pricey, this joint does serve up good quality.

This rib eye was chili-rubbed and cooked to a nice medium rare. While a bit on the thin side for $48, it offered great flavor and everyone enjoyed it. 8/10.

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Being under the same ownership as Bowery Meat Co. and Burger & Barrel, it should come as no surprise that El Toro Blanco is good. Give it a shot sometime.

EL TORO BLANCO
257 6th Ave
New York, NY 10014

Betony

My wife and I learned that Betony was closing at the end of 2016, so we rushed in to finally give it a shot. It’s been on our list for a while but we never got around to trying it, despite living just a few blocks away.

We did the two course prix fix for $42, but my wife started with this interesting parsnip foam and scotch cocktail. So interesting.

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The tables are adorned with this olive oil crisp stuff that is addictive.

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Then comes the tasty and warm dill bread with a honey yogurt butter, and right around that time the waiter will bring out the amuse, which was a black truffle tea. So aromatic and delicious.

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My wife started with the fluke carpaccio. This was killer. The flavors really popped here due to the Indian lime and cilantro pickling that they worked on it.

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I went with the toasted grains and sprouts with labneh (Lebanese cream cheese / strained yogurt).

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A bit girly for my style, but I really enjoyed it and it was a substantial portion size. Plus I didn’t want to double up on lettuce greens or potato (the other app choices) since I know those were coming in my entree.

My entree was tenderloin, which was sous vide to a perfect medium rare prior to being charcoal crisped on the outside.

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It came with roasted fingerlings, grilled romaine, and a lettuce and tomato puree.

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I honestly wasn’t convinced that this was in fact a tenderloin, but I’ll go with what the menu said. I would have guessed a sirloin, due to the texture and shape, but it was really great nonetheless. Only down side: could have used a little more char on the outside. 8/10.

My wife went with the poached egg cavatelli. This was tossed with crisp crosne, aka “Chinese Artichokes” (and sometimes even “Japanese Artichokes”).

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The dish was more like a soup in terms of consistency once you popped the egg. Not really my speed, but the pasta was perfect, the sauce/broth was really tasty, and the portion size was good.

We skipped dessert because we were stuffed, but I’m sad to see this place close. Too bad we hadn’t come sooner. Pricey, but good.

BETONY
41 W 57th St
New York, NY 10019

The Black Derby

I came here with a group of food influencers for a Woodford Reserve promotional event hosted by Gotham Burger Social Club.

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At first, I thought I was just going to taste some cocktails made with Woodford, but it turned out to be a nice sit-down meal. As a result, I am offering my sincere apologies for these shitty photos that I had to snap with my phone.

The joint is classy inside, and the walls are lined with derby hats as lights. Of course, I wore my derby hat to fit the scene.

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The food here is top notch, and the manager, Nick, is a great guy. In the future he may do some large format “beast feasts” on the menu. I’m really looking forward to that. But let me get down to what we sampled.

Spicy steak tartare. This stuff is good! But the chilies will knock you on your ass if you aren’t equipped to handle the heat like a real man. I loved this dish.

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Crispy calamari. Amazing crunch on these, so perfectly cooked.

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Double cut bacon. Very nice braised texture. Really awesome.

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Loved the side addition of pickles on the plate as well.

Now on to the entrees. We tried their burger, which is nicely customizable in terms of cheeses and toppings. The patty is nice and thick, but the burger doesn’t feel too tall or large. It eats neat too, and the flavors are dynamite.

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Chicken parm with bolognese sauce. Wow! Beef and chicken living in harmony together.

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Nick sources his beef from DeBragga and LaFrieda, so whatever he is offering will be excellent quality. He even offers a culotte on occasion. On this night, there were two different cuts of steak frites offerings. The first of two steak frites: the hanger with chimichurri sauce.

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This baby was cooked so perfectly. Nice and tender inside, pink all the way, with a nice charred crisp on the outside.

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The strip steak frites was deceivingly great. I thought for sure I was going to like the hanger better, but the sauce on this was perfect.

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These pics don’t do it justice, but the cook temp on the strip was proper. It looks like medium but it was really somewhere between medium and medium rare.

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Both of these come in at a strong 8/10, but if you want a 9 or 10 point experience, you should order the hanger steak frites with the au poivre sauce rather than the chimichurri. That combination is fucking incredible.

Dessert is on point too. We tried creme brûlée, apple pie and cookies. No idea how I had room for dessert, but somehow I managed. Probably because this shit was delicious.

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I highly recommend this place. It just opened a few weeks ago or a month or two ago, and the menu changes up from time to time depending on whats good and fresh. The prices are very affordable and the quality is excellent.

THE BLACK DERBY
310 West 4th Street
New York, NY 10014