Category Archives: Other Cuts

Holy Ground

Holy Ground is a new sacred place for me. I like to call it Tribeca’s answer to the West Village’s 4 Charles. Only here, along with a sexy set-up, you get a bit more space and a hell of a lot more smoke.

Now, don’t get all excited; you can’t smoke here. I’m talking about smoked meats. I struggled with how to categorize this joint, but I ultimately decided to call it BBQ rather than a steakhouse or traditional restaurant, because several of the meat proteins are focused on smoking and/or slow and low roasting. Even their grilled steaks are slow roasted first, to allow flavors to penetrate deep into that tender, pink flesh.

You step into this meat sanctuary on the northwest corner of Reade Street, just east of West Broadway. That’s a mouthful, but read it carefully again and let it sink in. The door is pretty nondescript, but you’ll know you’re in the right place when you see this:

A hostess will lead you through a dimly lit, winding corridor and down a set of narrow, carpeted stairs.

At the bottom of the stairs is a landing with a small but really fucking awesome bar parlor.

From there you can take in the vibe of this place, which is 100% my speed. It’s old tile. It’s dark wood. It’s deep reds. A speakeasy.

A few “rooms” are tucked away in nooks and crannies, up two steps here, around the wall there. Here is booth where we sat:

The four of us did some serious fucking damage. Let me get into it.

The cocktail menu is nice, but I had just tried a couple of cocktails (and a burger) earlier that evening at Manhatta, so I went with my usual: a gin martini. They are a bit on the small side, in those dainty, round, old fashioned martini glasses.

On a second trip, we tried both the red head and the odeon. Both were great. the odeon, on the right, is slammable!

The food menu is pretty meat-forward, but they do have some star quality fish and veggie items, which I will get into shortly.

We started with three apps and an entree to begin. I will tell you up front that we ordered nearly half of the menu, and nothing was bad. But the first thing to come out were these tremendous head-on, grilled red prawns.

They were damn delicious; one of my favorite dishes of the night. The heads hold a lot of juice, so when you pop them off, you may want some bread nearby if you aren’t going to slurp it all directly down your gullet like I did.

Next up was a plate of wings. These are smoked and char grilled, so they carry a fuckton of flavor. A great starter or bar snack.

We also grabbed the radicchio salad, which was one of my favorite items of the night. No shit. These veggies were perfect. I managed to get a shot before it was all gone, but my pic doesn’t do the dish justice. I will be returning soon to get it again.

The return shot:

We shared the beef rib as an appetizer. This is an impressive dish.

You’ll notice that sauce and color across several of the BBQ style dishes here. It has a mustard base with a little smokey and hot kick to it. Absolutely delicious. It’s like a cross of Carolina and Cajun style sauces. Very unique, like nothing I’ve ever tasted before.

The beef itself is slow smoked; tender, but still texturally intact. It isn’t some sloppy, soft, boiled, braised bullshit. This is the real deal. 9/10. And we learned that all the meats they use come from Dartagnan foods, which is a very high end purveyor of top notch proteins and gourmet ingredients.

On a second trip, my wife and I had the pork belly appetizer.

This is easily one of the best dishes I’ve had all year. The crackling is crisp, and that fermented chili sauce is killer. They only have a few of these per night, so go early if you want to try it. It is incredible!

Round two was the big show. This is where we crushed it. We couldn’t really narrow down our selections, so we just ordered everything – even the fish. We each had a different favorite too, which was pretty cool, and usually means that everything is great.

First, the wagyu brisket. This is the half-pound portion size for $21.

Again slow roasted and smoked, topped with that same delicious sauce. This is by far the best brisket I’ve ever eaten. 10/10

Next up, the Kurobuta pork shoulder. This is the individual portion size for $32.

This was so juicy. Extremely tender, and again that sauce really pushed it along into greatness. 8/10.

You may be thinking, “Well, shit, why don’t they come up with some more variety in the sauces on these things?”

My answer is this: most people aren’t ordering every major protein on the menu when they come here. Most likely just one person at the table is getting a dish that has the sauce on it. And most BBQ joints have the same sauce on the table for you to slather onto your meat anyway. No one is complaining there about variety, are they? I say it’s fine. The sauce is delicious, and it works with those three BBQ dishes (pork shoulder, beef brisket, beef rib). It might be on the pork ribs too, which we didn’t try on this run.

Our next protein was the king’s cut prime rib with smoked herb jus.

This baby was cooked dead on to medium rare even though it was smoked for hours first. That is a feat in itself, but it still managed to stay juicy and tender. Bravo. 9/10.

Take a look at how thick it is too, and the size of the cap. This easily feeds two people who have normal appetites, possibly three.

Last but not least in the world of meat was the grilled wagyu rib eye. This “Thousand Dollar Steak,” as it’s called on the menu, is 30-days dry aged and served with a demi-glaze and onion puree.

It, too, is smoked before being grilled. This went a little over, but it was no matter because it was still incredibly tender and flavorful. The sauce reminded me of a really concentrated onion gravy like mom used to make. It had a spectacular cap too. 8/10.

But wait… there’s more! Whole branzino.

This was char-grilled to perfection and served with a nice bright tartar sauce and lemon. One of my buddies said it was just like his mom used to make, and he loved it. This was one of my favorites of the night as well.

On a second trip, I tried both the ribs and the chicken. Both were served in a different sauce than the beef items above. They were different from one another, but both were on the sweeter side. I generally dislike sweet in my entrees, but this was mild and just right, not over the top. The chicken had an almost maple flavor to it.

The half order of ribs is enough. There are eight good-sized ribs.

For sides, we tried the broccoli, collared greens and mac and cheese.

The mac was the most superior of the three for me, and it was wildly tasty when we dragged those thick rigatoni pasta tubes through that delicious BBQ sauce.

I’m not sure how we managed, but we tried a few desserts as well.

This was a raspberry cheesecake, and it was served uniquely in a glass, almost upside down, if you will, with the graham cracker crumble as a topping rather than a crust.

A classic ice cream sundae in a mug. Vanilla and chocolate ice cream, toffee sauce, vanilla crumbs and whipped cream.

This is the Black & Blonde:

The base is a bed of toasted meringue, and on top are some toasted hazelnuts, a white chocolate bar and salted caramel.

This is one of my new favorite places to eat. Not only is the environment great, but the food and service are top notch as well. This place is going to start getting packed out, so make your reservations ASAP. I’m going back again very soon, and again and again as often as I can.

HOLY GROUND
112 Reade St
New York, NY 10013

Lawry’s the Prime Rib

Lawry’s The Prime Rib overall score: 92*

I’d never been to a Lawry’s before. I had heard good things, and of course we all know the seasonings from the grocery store.

But I honestly did not expect it to be as awesome as it was. The Chicago location is not only set in the beautiful historic McCormick mansion, but the prime rib is by far one of the best I’ve ever had. I would fly back tomorrow just for a repeat of this meal if I could.

Flavor: 10

We had the Lawry cut, which is $47 and comes with the famous spinning salad, Yorkshire pudding and mashed potatoes.

We shared this, which is why there’s a vertical emergency C-section scar on the meat in this pic (they plated it separately and I re-joined the meat for the photo).

I was blown away by this. It was so tender and juicy, so much flavor, and an incredible cap. I wish they had a location in NYC. They serve it with two types of horseradish: a cream and raw/grated.

Choice of Cuts & Quality Available: 10

You actually have a pretty great selection of cuts here for a place that mainly focuses on just prime rib. next time I’d like to try the rib eye (roasted prime rib which is then grilled and seared) and maybe the English cut prime rib. They’re missing the strip steak and porterhouse, but who cares. I’m not even going to take points away for that, since you have like 19 sizes of prime rib to choose from.

Portion Size & Plating: 10

Portions here are large and you get a great deal of food for the price. Everything is plated nicely, and the table side service for the spinning salad and prime rib cart is truly awesome.

Price: 10

Despite the silly “share charge” of $15, this place is a friggin steal. For $47 we got the steak, potatoes, Yorkshire pudding and a salad.

Bar: 10

Although there is no real street side view or windows to the outside world, the bar and lounge area is breathtaking.

They make a delicious martini with Chopin vodka, where the olives are stuffed with prime rib and horseradish. Awesome.

My wife had one of their signature cocktails with gin and cucumber that was incredibly refreshing on such a hot day.

And they even have a side entrance to the bar room with a speakeasy vibe to it, called Side Door. Their bar menu gives you access to some of the delicious food in Lawry’s, but it is mostly re-thought for snack type dishes and pub food.

Specials and Other Meats: 7

The prime rib is special itself here. No real need for other items to be marketed, and if they were, I didn’t pay attention. They do offer any other entrees aside from beef or fish, and I respect the shit out of that. Take this category’s score with that in mind. In other words, disregard it.

Apps, Sides & Desserts: 8

We only had what came with our prime rib; namely, the spinning salad, the Yorkshire pudding and the mashed potatoes.

The spinning salad is called that because they spin a cold metal bowl which tossing it. Romaine lettuce, sliced beets and a thousand island style dressing. Very classic.

The Yorkshire pudding is essentially a pop-over, and it was delicious.

Dessert selections are nice. At first we didn’t order anything. We were full.

But they brought us out an English trifle on the house for our anniversary, which is what we were leaning towards anyway. It was really nice and light. Great cake and great jam.

Seafood Selection: 7

There’s definitely something here for you fans of the sea. Salmon and lobster tails, to be exact. And some sides or starters like shrimp cocktail, of course.

Service: 10

Nothing like it. When you go here, you’ll feel like you stepped back in time. White glove service, extremely friendly and attentive waitresses, but not overcrowding or annoying. Very knowledgeable too, I might add. Here’s the inside of that prime rib service cart pictured above. Heaven.

 

The bread was basic, but the butter was soft and spreadable.

They paid attention to what we put on our OpenTable reservation, and we were greeted with a ribbon on our table, and treated to a free dessert.

Our waitress knew the Lawry’s Chicago story in and out. The space used to be a private mansion. It is absolutely stunning inside.

Ambiance: 10

This place is beautiful. I mentioned above that it used to be a private mansion (the McCormick family).

I’ve never seen a more elegant dining room.

Nice details in this joint. Check out this stained glass window in the lounge/bar area:

Bottom line, go here! This was my favorite meal in months.

LAWRY’S THE PRIME RIB
100 E Ontario St
Chicago, IL 60611

Gibson’s

Gibson’s overall score: 87

On my first trip to Chicago, I made it a point to hit as many of the old classic steakhouses that I could. Naturally, Gibson’s was my first stop on that list.

Flavor: 7

W.R. Chicago Cut: 8

The WR Chicago Cut is a bone-in wet-aged rib eye. They nailed the medium rare cook temp, and the texture was tender and juicy. It had a great broiled crust as well. The only thing missing was that punch of flavor that I’ve come to love with dry-aging. Otherwise this was a great steak.

Prime Rib: 6

Unfortunately a big portion of this was chewy and not the greatest quality. The cap, however, was incredible. Despite the lighting here, the roast was pretty accurate to medium rare, with some edges coming closer to medium.

Choice of Cuts & Quality Available: 8

Everything here is the proprietary Gibson’s brand of Angus beef, which they farm out of several ranches nearby. Everything is wet-aged, with the exception of the dry-aged tomahawk. They offer all of the basic four cuts in various sizes and preparations, and they are presented nicely by the waiter before you order.

Portion Size & Plating: 9

Portions are pretty good here. The side of broccolini was three huge bunches. The slice of lemon meringue pie was cartoon sized. Plating is fairly basic, but they did a beautiful job with the beef carpaccio.

Price: 9

We had a lot of food for the price here, and it was pretty refreshing to see that some cuts were even under $40.

Bar: 10

This place has a gorgeous, big bar room and lounge beside the main entrance. A perfect place to have a drink. And, of course, they mix a nice Gibson as well.

Specials and Other Meats: 8

The waiter read off a few specials but I didn’t really pay attention, as I was LASER focused on the steaks. Their dry-aged tomahawk is considered a regular special, it seems. Nothing else was offered in the realm of meat cuts. Lamb, pork and chicken are available for alternative proteins.

Apps, Sides & Desserts: 8

One of the cool things about this place is that they give you a soup or house salad with your entree. This is probably common outside of the NYC steakhouse scene, but I thought it was pretty nice. Anyway, the beef carpaccio was our favorite of the accompaniments. It was beautiful and delicious. One of the best I’ve had.

House salad with blue cheese.

Soup of the day – lobster bisque.

Side of spicy roasted broccolini (this was lacking in spice and flavor, and had some unappealing lemon seeds on it).

Massive lemon meringue pie.

Seafood Selection: 9

There were five different seafood entrees on the menu, which makes for a wide variety. They offered salmon, white fish, lobster, bass and halibut.

Service: 9

Our waiter was awesome, knowledgeable and friendly. The bread selection was nice and warm, and the butter was soft.

Ambiance: 10

This place is gorgeous, so no wonder it’s a Chicago icon. There is ample seating indoors and outdoors, lots of elbow room and space, really beautiful and classic fixtures, and  old school decor. I love it.

GIBSON’S
1028 N Rush St
Chicago, IL 60611

Char House

Char House overall score: 74

Char House is a new Chinese style steakhouse on Mott Street in Chinatown. I tried a nice variety of stuff here, so I think I got a good sense of the restaurant’s capabilities. Check it out:

Flavor: 8

Wagyu Sirloin: 8/10

This baby had a nice char on the outside, it was well seasoned and was perfectly cooked to medium rare inside. The cut itself was a little chewy, but for the price this wasn’t too bad.

Porterhouse: 7/10

This lacked a little seasoning, and didn’t have too great of a char. It did pack some nice dry-aged flavor though. Another miss here was that the filet side was overcooked.

Frenched Rib Eye: 8/10

This had a nice sized cap that packed a good amount of dry aged flavor. The steak had a nice char and it was pretty much cooked correctly – perhaps a bit on the rare side.

Choice of Cuts & Quality Available: 9

The beef here comes from DeBragga, so you know you’re getting good quality. Char House does some additional aging in-house as well, and they develop some really nice flavors. As far as cuts go, they offer two large format rib eyes, a single cut rib eye, a strip, a porterhouse, the wagyu sirloin and a filet. That’s an impressive selection for a small steak joint.

Portion Size & Plating: 8

Portions here are pretty good. The large format cuts that I tried clocked in at 36oz each. Each were meaty enough to feed two, although the filet side of the porterhouse was a bit on the small size. Sized and apps were nicely portioned.

Price: 8

The porterhouse and rib eye came out to $114 each (they charge by the ounce), which was a fair price, though a bit high compared to other small mom and pop style steakhouses. One item that stuck out as a bit pricey was the XO shrimp ($14 for three shrimp).

Bar: 3

This joint doesn’t have a bar. They offer some wine and sake selections, and I think some loose beer selections on ice in the front near the host station, but there are no seats at that area (which looks like a bar). I was hoping for some interesting Asian inspired cocktails. Oh well. Maybe in time they will build the bar out.

Specials and Other Meats: 7

I don’t recall our waiter or the host telling us about any specials, but they do offer roast chicken and pork ribs. I was hoping for some duck, being this is a Chinese joint, but no luck.

Apps, Sides & Desserts: 8

Crab Cake

I really enjoyed this. It was reminiscent of the classic Chinese shrimp toast dish, only with crab instead.

XO Shrimp

These were nicely cooked and prepared, but I feel like $14 is too much for just three shrimp.

7 Spice Corn Brulee

This was really tasty. Creamy corn pudding, in a sense, with a great spice profile.

Sweet Soy Glaze Bacon

This was nice as well. Not in my top five, but definitely something I would order again if I came back. It had good sweetness to balance the savory.

Sesame Mashed Potatoes

This was a nice take on mashed potatoes. The toasted sesame flavors definitely bring you into the wheelhouse of Asian flavors.

Skillet Brownie a la Mode

This was a nice dessert. Not too sweet, as the chocolate was nicely balanced with dark bittersweet as well as melty milk chocolate.

Seafood Selection: 8

There’s a whole fish as well as “Lobster Dynamite” on the menu here for entrees. Again I was hoping to see a bit more variety from a Chinatown steak joint, but I bet that whole fish is great. I’d like to try that if I go back.

Service: 7

The service was awkward. It was a Friday night at 7pm, and the restaurant was only half full at best, so I would have expected a bit more “on top of things” service. There seemed to just be one waiter, and the hostess ended up being our server for half of the meal. It also took a while to get the check, but everyone was super friendly and hospitable, and they even threw in some complimentary apps and sides. No bad attitudes or anything like that – very nice people, and everything on the menu was explained to us perfectly.

One thing to note here is the awesome bread basket. It comes with a variety of chips: sweet potato, taro, shrimp and regular potato. I particularly liked the inclusion of the shrimp chips. And the bread was super hot and fresh. Lovely.

Ambiance: 8

They did a great job with the space here. It feels both like a steakhouse and like a downtown Chinese restaurant. The music selection was a chill mix of electronic lounge type music and hip hop, and the lighting wasn’t too dim, but wasn’t too bright either.

CHAR HOUSE
43 Mott St
New York, NY 10013

Hillstone

My wife and I tried this place today on the recommendation of a friend of mine who spoke highly of the prime rib.

I give this a solid 8/10. For $46 you also get two sides with it, and the slab of roasty, beefy goodness is very well portioned.

It had a nice cap, good flavor both on the crust and throughout, and they serve it with a great seasoning salt (tasted like a sweet but spicy old bay salt), horseradish cream sauce, and gravy in a tea kettle.

The item that stole the show for me though was this grilled artichoke appetizer that our really nice and helpful waitress Marissa recommended.

The halves were perfectly seasoned, steamed, grilled, and then hit with some finishing salt. Absolutely awesome.

They serve some good crafted cocktails, and the bar is impressive as well.

Not a bad lunch!

HILLSTONE
153 E 53rd St
New York, NY 10022

Ben & Jacks Steakhouse (44th Street)

Ben & Jacks (44th Street) overall score: 90

I’ve been a big fan of Ben & Jack’s for a few years now, after several delicious visits to the location down in the Flatiron area. They recently re-opened their East 44th Street location, so I went in to give it a try with another food blogger pal of mine. Chef Admir wouldn’t let us order for two. Instead he fed us enough food for five. Check it out below:

Flavor: 8

Porterhouse: 7

This baby was cooked perfectly. It had a great char on one side, and it was cooked to a nice pink throughout.

Cajun Rib Eye: 9

What a great crust on this baby. And I could really taste the dry-aged flavor coming through. The cajun spice treatment didn’t overwhelm it at all.

Prime Rib: 9

This prime rib was definitely roasted to perfection, and since it was dry-aged, the flavor was extra intense and delicious.

As you can see, however, it almost looks as if the meat hit a hot surface to get an additional sear or cook on the cut.

Perhaps it was sliced on a hot surface, or it was a cut that was exposed on one side while roasting. Either way, it was delicious and worthy of your attention.

Choice of Cuts & Quality Available: 9

This place uses Master Purveyors to supply the beef, and Chef Admir dry-aged everything in-house in a custom aging room. Everything is prime, and really friggin’ good. There’s a huge variety of cuts here, running the gamut on all the standard cuts and then some.

Portion Size & Plating: 9

Portions here are good here. The plating is basic yet rustic and elegant on the steak and sides, but with the apps you will get some very beautiful looking platess.

Price: 10

This place charges average to below average prices, which is great given the midtown location and the fact that the steaks are delicious.

Bar: 9

Great big marble bar with lots of light coming in from the nearby wall of windows. They mix a nice martini too. I’d definitely hang out here and chow down on a burger or something before ordering a steak.

Specials and Other Meats: 9

I didn’t poke around too much into the specials and other meats sections of the menu, but there is good representation here. One thing I will mention is their happy hour burger special. For just $13.95 you get an 8oz dry-aged wagyu burger with fries. Awesome.

It just needs a potato bun and a sauce. Then it’s perfect.

Apps, Sides & Desserts: 8

Great creamless creamed spinach, just like at the other location. Really unique mac and cheese, made with shallots and butter in the mix for a bomb of flavorful decadence. Great crispy hash brown potatoes, sliced thin and cooked with onions. Also some really awesome thick cut steakhouse bacon.

Seafood Selection: 10

I didn’t try any here yet, but I know the other location was great, and the same kind of variety in menu items is present here as well, so I’m piggy-backing the 10 score over here.

Service: 10

Top notch. Always. These guys are great and will make you feel like royalty.

Ambiance: 8

This is a brand new restaurant with really nice space and elegance. There’s even an outdoor area in the back for when the nice weather finally gets here.

BEN & JACK’S STEAKHOUSE
219 East 44th Street
New York, NY 10017

Beefsteak at RiverPark

In case you are unaware, a “beefsteak” is an old timey party that involves people who dress in fancy get-ups and eat copious amounts of beef, typically without utensils and with their hands. They date back to NYC in the mid 1800s, pretty much the time period in which I should have existed. Essentially, this is Tux-Con + Carcass Club. I’m all about it.

I was invited to attend and help promote for the most recent beefsteak event at Riverpark, where there have been three such meals to date at the famed Tom Colicchio’s behest. He is credited for reviving the banquet, and I love him for it.

Anyway, my role consisted of taking photos of some dishes and posting them ahead of the big night. Then I was allowed to attend for free with a guest. Here are some of the photos I snapped:

There was even King Cake, leg of lamb, some marrow toast and potatoes au gratin. The food was pretty much the same on the night-of, with the exception of the steak being a proper rib rack roast (I was very happy about that).

And we dressed the part to a T. Check out me and my buddy all topped up.

All of this to say that point of my post is really just to share the above photos and tell you that the chef at Riverpark is excellent, so it is worth going in to eat from the regular menu.

RIVERPARK
450 E 29th St
New York, NY 10016

Oka

NOTE: THIS PLACE IS NOW CLOSED

Some of you might remember my recent review of The Crimson Sparrow, up in Hudson, NY.

That was one of the best meals I had all year in 2017. Well, now the Chef/Owner has a Japanese-inspired small plates izakaya joint over in Murray Hill called Oka, and the meal I just ate there is likely to be one of the best meals I will have this year.

A little bit about Chef John McCarthy, which I have shamelessly jacked from the Oka Website:

John is a former lawyer who left a legal career to attend the French Culinary Institute. After graduating from FCI at the top of his class, he worked for Chef Wylie Dufresne at wd-50 for several years, ultimately becoming Chef Wylie’s research and development cook. John is also a certified sake sommelier, and has spent a considerable amount of time in Asia. He lived in South Korea for three years when he was in high school, and he typically travels to Japan at least once a year to either stagiaire or travel for food and drink research and development. For the past two years, he has partnered with Chef Hiroyoshi Amano to prepare two dinners for Outstanding in the Field at the foot of Mt. Fuji for Fujisan Winery.

Not only does he know his way around sake, but he has also crafted some really nice cocktails and curated an impressive selection of spirits as well.

In addition to the impressive cocktail and spirits menu, there’s also a really great happy hour from 5:30-7:00, during which the listed items are just $5.

I was happy to see one of my favorite Japanese beers on that menu, Orion:

Okay so let me get down to business. My wife and I tried a bunch of stuff here. Everything on the menu looked so good that it was really difficult to decide what NOT to order.

Okay so first, the baguette:

This unassuming dish was a great way to open up the meal. The shio kombu butter with smoked salt was wild and invigorating, and the perfectly grill-toasted Balthazar bread was excellent and fresh.

We actually dragged some of it through our second plate, which was the salmon roe with yeasted sunchoke puree and sunchoke chips.

I’m in love with all things sunchoke, so I jumped at this right away. This dish would make for a perfect light breakfast. It was just the right balance of smooth from the puree, pop from the roe, and crunch from the chips.

Just when you thought a Caesar salad couldn’t get exciting, John McCarthy serves you one that is.

This is Romaine lettuce with smoked Caesar dressing, nori panko, anchovy, crispy baked parmesan chips, and shaved, dried bonito flakes. For those of you who are all about that nice fish flavor in a proper Caesar salad, this is all you. It was bonkers.

Next up, steak tartare.

This was easily one of the best tartare dishes I’ve ever had. It stands out among the competition for its notably unique flavor profile. Chef John brilliantly swaps out some of the more standard tartare ingredients for things like pine nuts, gochujang and shiitake to bring this traditionally French dish into his Asian comfort zone.

This next dish was simple but so delicious. Deep fried maitake mushroom, seasoned with za’atar and served atop a smoked dijon mustard sauce. If for some fucked up reason I ever have to give up meat, I would need to consume a lot more fungus like this to try to fill the void. It was meaty, savory, and satiating.

This is grilled baby squid with charcoal garlic oil, kewpie mayo and micro daikon.

The charcoal garlic oil was really something special here. Very simple cook on the squid, but lots of complexity in the sauce.

These giant grilled head-on prawns were massive!

The simple preparation of soy, ponzu and citrus salt allowed them to really shine for the superb products that they are. Make sure you suck the juices out of their heads!

I really dig rice cakes. This Korean version is like gnocchi, only made with rice flour instead of semolina and egg.

This preparation is kinda like mac and cheese; it’s baked with creamy white cheddar and garlic oil, and then topped with spicy cod roe. It might sound weird, but this and the tartare were my favorite dishes of the night! These were like little pillows of chewy goodness with a touch of crunch on the outside, all in a velvety cheese sauce.

Hamachi collar.

There was so much meat on this baby, and every bit of it was juicy and bursting with flavor. I’m convinced this is the best part of the fish. I loved every bite, and it went well with the soy and yuzu lemon zest seasoning that was on it.

This next beautiful and tasty dish is fried rice with pickled mustard greens and mustard seed. Nothing goes better with fried rice than a sunny side up egg. Bur seriously, how gorgeous is this?

The hits just keep on coming. Buttermilk fried chicken:

All the best, most tender parts here. And that dipping sauce is a chili and black sesame mayo. Really nice.

STEAK!

This was a 30-day dry aged Niman ranch cut, which was grilled up and served with a nice house spice made with dried mushrooms and a bunch of other umami bomb type ingredients. Really flavorful!

And last but not least, dessert:

These are Chinese fried dough crullers with white caramel ice cream on a bed of chocolate coffee crumble. Such a dynamic and interesting combination of flavors.

In fact that’s kind of the theme running through the entire meal. Every bite keeps you guessing, and every dish is not only visually arresting, but amazingly tasty as well.

One final note about this place: I love how casual it is. The food is all stunning and delicious, but there is no pretense or attitude. There’s plenty of space to stretch out between tables, unlike other crowded izakaya spots around the city.

There’s also some great bar seating as well.

I highly recommend this place. Get over there and give it a try.

OKA
439 3rd Ave
New York, NY 10016

Maxwell’s Chophouse

Maxwell’s Chophouse overall score: 88*

NOTE: THIS PLACE IS CLOSED!

I came here with a group of friends to tackle their dry-aged  six-bone standing prime rib roast. Watch this:

If their regular steak selections are anything like that monster, I think this could end up being one of the best steak joints in town. Read on.

Flavor: 9

These guys dry age everything on site, and this roast was aged for two months (61 days). The edges had a great earthy, nutty and mushroomy flavor to them from that aging process.

And as you can see below, the center was cooked perfectly.

Unfortunately, on a second visit, the prime rib wasn’t as good. Still had great flavor, but the texture was a bit off for some reason. 8/10.

I did try their porterhouse as well. This baby was tender all over, and had a nice crust. It was cooked just right at medium rare too. 9/10.

I even tried something very special and unique as well. A 500-day dry aged strip steak.

This was wild. It’s not on the menu, and it was something the chef was doing experimentally. It had a super aged flavor that was almost like meat fuel or butane. I liked trying it, but I’m not sure I would go all in on something like this often. Too aggressive for me.

Choice of Cuts & Quality Available: 8

In addition to the four major steakhouse cuts, they also offer that prime rib as a regular menu item, king or queen cut. Everything is graded at prime and dry-aged on site. I also like the fact that they proudly state that the animals are raised on corn, which helps develop all that tasty marbling.

Portion Size & Plating: 9

Portions are all pretty good here from what I can tell. The sides are big enough to share with two people, for sure.

Price: 8

This place is on par with the steak joints in midtown, but the rack of ribs comes in at $80pp and includes sides. That’s a good deal.

Bar: 10

This place has a great long marble bar with elegant surroundings. I would definitely hang here. They mix up a nice martini too, and have an interesting signature cocktail list.

Specials and Other Meats: 8

There weren’t any specials read to us (we had pre-ordered this monster in advance), but the prime rib rack is pretty damn special itself. As far as other meats go, you basically only have lamb or chicken. I can respect that though: focus on the beef!

Apps, Sides & Desserts: 9

We tried a number of items during this feast. I’ll list them all and discuss.

Bone Marrow: 7/10

This had good flavor but there just wasn’t enough of it. The grilled lemons were a nice touch though, and the bread was delicious.

Bacon: 10/10

This is top notch shit from Nueskes. Easily on par with Angus Club or Tuscany Steakhouse, and very close to a top five bacon app.

Mashed Potatoes: 8/10

I’m rarely impressed with mashed potatoes after growing up eating my mom’s, which were butter- and mozzarella- laden trays of pure heaven. But they were smooth and buttery. Very nice.

Mushrooms & Spinach: 9/10

Both simple and delicious. I would get these again for sure.

Chocolate Cake: 9/10

This thing is enormous and can easily feed a table of four for the $25 price tag. In fact, this fed seven people (though we also shared another dessert as well).

Butterscotch Creme Brûlée: 8/10

Wow. Super rich, very sweet, but really fucking tasty. Share this otherwise you might overload on decadence. Below is a shot of the dessert platter that came out on my second visit, to share among 10 people.

Seafood Selection: 8

There’s salmon, three-pound lobsters and big eye tuna on the seafood entree menu. I like how this and the chops menu are streamlined and slim, but that means fewer options for you picky assholes out there.

Service: 10

Impeccable. Everyone is attentive, really friendly and knowledgable. The bread basket here is quite interesting, and contains cheese baked flatbreads, chocolate and strawberry muffins, olive bread and other stuff. Very nice.

Ambiance: 9

This place is gorgeous inside. The floor space isn’t gigantic, but the ceiling height is. That really gives the joint a grand and spectacular feel.

There’s also a private dining room, which is where we ate:

I will definitely be back to try some seafood and their porterhouse.

MAXWELL’S CHOPHOUSE
1184 Broadway
New York, NY 10001

Dickie Brennan’s Steakhouse

Dickie Brennan’s overall score: 76

My wife and I took a trip to New Orleans for New Year. We had been to the Big Easy once before, and I credit this magical town for sort of kicking me in the balls and setting me on my path towards foodyism. We hit so many great spots on that first trip, it was almost as if we designed the trip around the food.

Anyway, Dickie Brennan’s is always talked about as one of the country’s best steakhouses, so I had to give it a try. And I was thorough. I ate three steaks myself, pretty much, and helped with a fourth. See below:

Flavor: 7

Rib Eye: 8/10

This was the big winner here. It had a great crust, it was cooked to a perfect medium rare, and it was topped (to my surprise) with an awesome spicy Cajun style whipped butter. The only down side was that I didn’t get too much of a dry-aged flavor.

Cajun Strip: 7/10

This is listed as their signature and special cut. It’s a boneless strip that’s cooked with Cajun spices in a cast iron skillet. The strange thing about this particular cut is that it didn’t really bring that much Cajun flavor. I think the rib eye had more because of the butter.

Another strange thing: I don’t think the chef even tried to get a sear on the sides of this cut. It looked like it was cooked the way salmon is usually cooked. You flip once and serve with a hard sear on each side, with nothing seared on the side edges. Fucking bizarre.

I think this is part of the reason why it was undercooked and even cool in certain parts. My buddy ordered this medium rare, but it was served rare.

Prime Rib: 6/10

I had high hopes for the prime rib, but it was a bit of a let down. The meat was well beyond medium rare, dry, and a little bit tight in terms of texture. I did love the horseradish sauce, however, and I was using it for more than just the prime rib.

Porterhouse: 7/10

This was a cut for one (24oz), and I was completely baffled with the way they sliced this thing.

Typically, t-bones and porterhouse steaks are cut in the other direction. This was also overcooked to medium plus as opposed to medium rare. It did have a good flavor, however, and the filet side was very tender.

Choice of Cuts & Quality Available: 6

This joint covers all the basics with some variation in the sizing, and everything is dry aged in house. But my buddies at the other end of the table said their rib eye was super tough, their strip had a massive ribbon of chewy fat running all through it, and they also had temperature issues. I understand that this was a busy weekend for the whole town in the lead up to New Year’s Eve and the Sugar Bowl, but this shouldn’t happen at a high end steakhouse. They need to work on their consistency and control better for quality.

Portion Size & Plating: 8

Portions here are generous, and plating is in the basic steakhouse style: nothing too elegant or pretentious.

Price: 7

While prices here are lower in comparison to the likes of NYC steakhouses, I imagine they come in a bit high for the locals. And given the inconsistent nature of the cooking, it might make people feel they’ve been ripped off if they have the same experience that me and my buddies had. Here’s what our bill looked like:

Bar: 10

The bar here is beautiful, old fashioned and very “old school steakhouse” in nature. I would definitely enjoy drinking here without eating. They also mix up some really nice cocktails, and they make a great martini.

Specials and Other Meats: 7

Chicken, lamb and quail are really the only other alternative meats being offered here, with the exception of a pork belly and scallop dish that seemed interesting. I think a solid pork chop and maybe some veal would round this out to a higher score, assuming they can execute the dishes well.

Apps, Sides & Desserts: 6

We tried a bunch of things and had more variety in the execution than I could have ever imagined. Let me get right to them.

Escargot & Bone Marrow: 10/10

This was fucking exceptional. It was easily one of the best appetizers I’ve ever had. Perfectly cooked escargot swimming in a spicy, buttery marrow sauce… Fuck yeah. It was even garnished with a crispy fried oyster for good measure.

Steak Tartare: 5/10

No dice. Too much vinegar dressing on this, despite the meat being tender and cut with a good amount of capers. The deviled eggs seemed like an afterthought.

Pontalba Potatoes: 2/10

I was excited to try these when reading the menu, as they contained ham, onions and mushrooms. However, there was no textural character or crisp to them, and they tasted pretty bland and mushy. I fucking made this fucking dish better when I was fucking eight years old for fuck’s sake!

As you can see from the range of scores on the apps and sides, consistency is still a problem as you work your way through the whole menu. That’s really a shame.

Seafood Selection: 6

There’s lobster, gulf fish and scallops on the entree menu. Not pushing it too much in the seafood department, which I definitely respect to some degree. But sometimes a mother fucker’s chick wants to shove her face into some fish, and wants more variety. I mean, shrimp didn’t even make a presence aside from an app and a gumbo.

Service: 9

This joint was jam packed busy, and what would likely be a usual 10/10 score here was taken down a notch just because of sheer craziness. Everyone was super nice though, and our waiter even asked to shake my hand when he saw that I had completely eaten all three of the steaks that I ordered. It was pretty funny when I ordered; he goes “Man… What are you doin’?” I told him that steak is my life, and to trust me, which he ultimately did.

Also they brought us multiple loaves of French bread when we asked (their table bread), and they replaced our water glasses with fresh new glasses of ice water every time we got even close to halfway done with a water. It was intense.

Ambiance: 10

This place is massive inside, absolutely gorgeous in the old steakhouse style, and really iconic. I didn’t take enough photos of the interior, unfortunately, but you can definitely see what it looks like online if you poke around a bit.

To sum up: I’m glad we went, but I’m not sure I’d go back with so many other great food options in this glorious town.

DICKIE BRENNAN’S STEAKHOUSE
716 Iberville St
New Orleans, LA 70130