Category Archives: Press Reviews

Perdinci Meats

I discovered Perdinci Meats at a food show in the Javitz center. I contacted their representative because I was really blown away by the quality of their meats, especially the dried, cured pork loin, or lonza. They sent me a variety pack of sample meats, including salami, guanciale (pork cheek), pork belly, that delicious lonza, and some softer spreadables like nduja and finocchiola.

These babies were tucked away in my fridge for quite a while, and I was happy to see that they held up just fine and didn’t spoil with proper storage.

The lonza is still my favorite, but all of the other products are excellent. I highly recommend this stuff.

Domenica Fiore Olive Oil

Domenica Fiore reached out to me to try their olive oil. I can always use an extra bottle of olive oil around the food lab, so I jumped at the opportunity. Here’s what they sent to me:

We used it for some sautéed broccolini and mixed it into a truffle sauce to eat with some black truffle stringozzi pasta. The result was awesome.

My wife really nailed it with that dish, and we were both very happy with the quality of the oil.

Allen Brothers Steaks

Allen Brothers sent me a nice package of steaks to try out here at the Food Lab.

That’s their Exclusive Prime 16-Pack, which will run you about $230. It contains four of each for a total of 16 items: (1) 6oz prime burgers; (2) jumbo steak dogs; (3) 5oz boneless rib eyes; and (4) 6oz filets mignon.

They also offer some massive, real deal steakhouse style cuts like these from their Instagram ads:

From what I understand they even supply some of these to well-known steakhouses and restaurants here in the city, so they’re not just home delivery.

Anyway let’s get down to business. You want to know if this shit is good! Okay so here we go – a review of each of the four items in the box.

The Rib Eye

While these are small at 5oz, they pack a nice amount of flavor from the intense prime-grade marbling. The best part is that you don’t have to mess around with any fancy cooking techniques to really nail them. Just sear in a hot pan with some butter or olive oil, maybe some garlic and herbs too for good measure.

The Filet Mignon

Same deal here. Small at 6oz, but really simple to cook and tons of great lean beefy flavor.

The Steak Dogs

Wow. These are amazing. When I first learned about Allen Brothers while hearing their radio ads, I immediately looked them up online and the first thing that jumped out to me were the images of these massive, juicy hot dogs. I wanted them so badly. Well here they are in all their glory, and I’m so glad I got to try them.

I decided to split griddle them, and add some pickles, jowl bacon, and jalapeños. Unbelievable!

The Burgers

At 6oz these are the perfect size for a really nice single patty burger.

I griddled with pepper.

Flipped and added three slices of American cheese.

Topped with jowl bacon and griddled jowl fat onions.

Assembled with pickled and jalapeños. Amazing

I really loved the burgers and dogs the most. I will be getting more of these babies for sure.

Commander’s Palace

What can really be said about Commander’s Palace that hasn’t already been said? The sprawling seven dining room Garden District mansion is an American institution of culinary tradition, a birthing place of great chefs, and a damn good place to eat in New Orleans, if not one of the best.

Despite what you might think, however, I do actually have a few negative things to say, but I’ll save those for the end. For now, let’s get down to the meal.

The waiters brought out a sample of the shrimp and tasso henican appetizer. That’s wild Louisiana white shrimp, tasso ham, pickled okra, sweet onions, five pepper jelly and Crystal hot sauce beurre blanc. Certainly one of the best bites of the meal.

I started with a red fish cake. This was essentially a crab cake made with local fish rather than crab meat. It had a nice exterior crust, a good spicy sauce, and a soft, tender inside.

For my main course I had the pecan crusted gulf fish, which is one of the house specialties. This was executed perfectly. The fish tasted like a cross between halibut and catfish.

My wife ordered what I considered to be the star of the meal: dry aged duck breast. This thing packed great flavor, and the fat beneath the crispy skin rendered out perfectly, allowing for a really juicy cut of duck tit.

Now for one of the negatives: the lamb shank was dry as fuck. It did look gorgeous though, and despite the dryness, it still tasted good.

We tried a vast array of desserts, like pecan pie, a massive sundae and a strawberries and cream shortcake.

All were good, but the best of the desserts was their special bread pudding souffle, which one must order with their apps and entrees so that it can be made in time.

While it might look like the pull-out scene of an adult cream pie video on YouPorn, I promise you it tasted better. Wait… I have no experience there, so I can’t really make a fair comparison. In any case it was damn delicious, and the amount of work that goes into this dish (as well as many other dishes) is staggering. It’s no wonder chefs not only learn technique here but are made to excel at them.

This place is awesome. They even sent out a round of shots for us. I forget what was in them, but it was a milky substance that had booze in it.

And speaking of alcohol, you should check out their bar if you get the chance. You will walk through the immaculate kitchen and the chef’s table to get to it, and you can have some of their awesome signature cocktails beside the patio garden.

But here comes the other bad thing: my buddy noticed a small roach on the bar while we were waiting for our other party members to arrive. I’m not sure how that’s possible given the insanely clean kitchen and dining spaces. My only guess is that it came in from outside in the patio area to escape the ungodly cold weather that NOLA was experiencing that weekend. We told the bartender and she was mortified.

Don’t let the two negatives I mentioned stop you from going here though. Every cook has a bad day (dry lamb) and there’s only so much you can do to prevent a bug from getting into an establishment.

COMMANDER’S PALACE
1403 Washington Ave
New Orleans, LA 70130

Galatoire’s

Of the seven cuts of steak I tried in New Orleans, the rib eye from Galatoire’s was the best.

It may not look like much from that shot, but it had a massive rib cap on it, and it was cooked perfectly from end to end with a great crust.

There was a little bit of bleed out, but it still remained extremely juicy. 9/10

Okay not that I got that out of the way, let’s talk about the rest of this kickass meal.

Excellent cocktails here, some signature, and many classic ones that are famous for the Big Easy.

This crab appetizer didn’t look like much either, and from the menu description it sounded like it would have been more than dressed lump crab on top of iceberg lettuce and garnished with tomato. Nonetheless it was delicious.

I tried a few versions of gumbo on my trip to New Orleans, but this one was the best. It was rich and thick, not overly salty, and had perfectly cooked duck and andouille within.

The Oysters Rockefeller were amazing. So much of that delicious “creamless” style creamed spinach. Pro-tip: if you’re going here to mimic a steakhouse meal experience, order this and skip out on getting the oysters app and creamed spinach side separately. This baby fulfills both very well.

The creamed spinach was kind of redundant at that point, but still really fucking tasty:

The Potatoes Au Gratin were excellent as well:

As were these Brabant Potatoes – very crisp:

The broccoli, on the other hand, completely phoned in. Lame. Simply steamed and flavored with some salt or butter.

But let me tell you, this Shrimp Étouffée was outstanding:

The shrimp were perfectly cooked. The sauce was incredible: smooth, perfectly velvety and nicely seasoned.

My wife ordered that, and I think the ultimate meal here would be to get the gumbo to start, the steak and etouffe to share as entrees with a side of Oysters Rockefeller, and you can finish up with this bread pudding for dessert:

That’s the perfect Louisiana meal.

GALATOIRE’S
209 Bourbon St
New Orleans, LA 70130

Tudor City Steakhouse

Tudor City Steakhouse overall score: 87

My wife and I came here to shoot photos for Instagram and try out some of the tasty cuts of beef they have on the menu. Here’s what we thought:

Flavor: 8

Rib Eye: 9/10

This baby packed the most flavor and tenderness. They nailed the cook temperature as well, and it had a great crust on the edges.

We left nothing behind. This came out with a truffle butter “sauce” that was really decadent and flavorful. More like drawn butter than a sauce, but either way it was not needed due to the greatness of the beef. Their standard steak sauce is like a very good cocktail sauce (tomato- and horseradish- based).

Porterhouse: 7/10

This baby came out at a solid medium as opposed to medium rare, but it still had great flavor and a really kickass crust.

I think this steak would have tied or even perhaps overtaken the rib eye had it been cooked properly.

We ordered the cherry peppers and onions “sauce” for this, but it turned out to be regular bell peppers, and not much of a sauce (more like a side item). Skippable.

Choice of Cuts & Quality Available: 8

You’ve got all the basic steakhouse cuts here, plus a few budget steaks. Nothing too complicated. All steaks are dry aged in house, and USDA prime grade.

Portion Size & Plating: 10

Portions are large, and especially bountiful given the price point. Our ceviche appetizer was pretty big considering some of the dainty portions we’ve been seeing lately for nearly anything that isn’t an entree.

Price: 10

We had a comped meal, so I can’t give less than a ten for that. However, the prices here are considerably less (by $5 to $10 per steak) than most midtown rival steak joints. Our bill would have come to about $250, which I thought was fair for two drinks, an appetizer, a rib eye, a porterhouse for two, a side, two desserts and two coffees. In fact I’d say that’s a steal.

Bar: 7

The bar here is small, but it greets you warmly as you enter the joint. The bartender mixes a good martini and there’s a healthy selection of nice, affordably priced wines.

Specials and Other Meats: 7

There were no specials read to us, but, then again, I didn’t ask since I knew what I wanted before I even entered the joint. They do offer veal, lamb and chicken by way of alternative-meats.

Apps, Sides & Desserts: 8

Ceviche

This Peruvian mixed seafood ceviche had a nice squid ink and citrus base that really made it stand out from other ceviche dishes I’ve had in the past. It contained shrimp, mussels, fish and scallops.

Truffle Creamed Corn

Sorry, no pic. This was tasty, and had a nice bread crumb crust, but it was light on truffle flavor compared to the butter sauce mentioned above, and the cheese baked into it was a bit grainy at times.

Banana Cream Pie

This was great. Smooth, creamy, not too sweet, and just the right amount. I really liked this.

Chocolate Cremeaux

This dessert, on the other hand, didn’t quite deliver. The chocolate was a bit too dense overall, and I was expecting something more creamy and mousse-like. To their defense, I do not really know what a “cremeaux” is.

Seafood Selection: 10

There’s sushi, sole, salmon, tuna, sea bass, shrimp and trout on the seafood entree menu here. That’s pretty impressive! From the ceviche that I tried, I would say that these guys know their way around fish. Perhaps ordering a seafood entree to share as an appetizer is a good move.

Service: 10

The service here is fantastic. The waiters are attentive but not in your face all the time. The food is paced out properly and no one is waiting around or rushed.

Bread is pretty standard; sliced baguette or Italian bread style, with regular butter.

Ambiance: 9

The space here is beautiful, and the dining room has a few nooks and crannies where you can achieve a more private feel if needed.

The entrance on Tudor City Place is very quaint and welcoming, and it feels like you’re stepping into someone’s apartment building.

TUDOR CITY STEAKHOUSE
45 Tudor City Pl
New York, NY 10017

Salt + Charcoal

Salt + Charcoal overall score: 87

A food Instagram buddy of mine, @NYCFoodFOMO, set up an “influencer” dinner here, so I was able to try a bunch of stuff. I was really impressed with the meats. It was difficult to fit this review into my standard 10-category format, as some sections just didn’t pan out like they would for a larger steakhouse. With that in mind, you should focus more on the flavor category, as well as the specific notes I made about other food items. Base your decision to go here on the substance and “meat” of the review, as opposed to the total number. I really loved every single item that I ate here, and I will definitely be back again. Anyway, check it out:

Flavor: 9

Porterhouse: 8/10. This baby is dry aged for 50 days, so it eats really soft with with a nice outer crust texture for contrast.

The aged flavor was on the milder side, but I really enjoyed it.

Both the tenderloin side and strip side were perfectly cooked and tender.

Miyazaki Sirloin: 10/10. Look at this gorgeous slab of beef.

I mean, it’s rare that you find beef that’s really from Japan, so this is a special situation. They cook and serve this very simply – almost like a sushi dish – with ginger and wasabi.

It packs a lot of flavor, and is incredibly tender. A really nice treat.

Choice of Cuts & Quality Available: 7

You don’t have the biggest selection here (porterhouse, strip, off-menu filet, and wagyu sirloin), but the sirloin is highly marbled Miyazaki; the filet is topped with tons of uni; and the other two cuts are dry aged for 50 days. They are in serious need of a rib eye, however.

Portion Size & Plating: 9

Portions are fairly normal here for the pricing, but the plating is gorgeous. Dishes are served in a Japanese aesthetic.

Price: 10

I can’t take away any points since this was a comped meal, and all I had to do was leave a tip. The prices can get steep, however, which surprised me for a steakhouse outside of midtown Manhattan. That’s the price you pay for high quality beef, though, and the Miyazaki is actually pretty fair compared to other places I’ve seen it.

Bar: 6

There’s not much of a bar scene to speak of, but the cocktails are certainly well crafted. I had a spin on an Old Fashioned, and I loved it.

Specials and Other Meats: 9

They offer an off-menu filet mignon that’s topped with tons of uni. I didn’t try it, but I’ve heard mixed reviews. I did, however, try their lamb and duck. Both were excellent, and some of the best I’ve ever had. No shame in taking a break from beef to indulge in these two dishes. Hell, they even work as shared apps if you want.

Apps, Sides & Desserts: 10

We tried a delicious trio of apps. First was the wagyu and uni roll. This is similar to the item served over at Takashi, with the accompanying shiso leaf and nori paper.

Next up was the uni shooter with poached egg, salmon roe and truffle oil. Delicious, smooth and decadent. I could slam a dozen of these no problem.

Last but not least, the crab cakes. These were generously meaty with a nice lightly breaded crust. Lovely.

Worth noting here: two of the dishes came with these amazing potato cake sides made of dozens of thinly sliced potato. It was buttery, salty and delicious.

Seafood Selection: 9

There’s a healthy amount of seafood on the menu here, as this joint also serves up some killer sushi. We tried a few rolls and loved them all. No pics though.

Service: 10

The service here is outstanding. Everyone is attentive, yet respectful of your space and privacy.

Ambiance: 8

Beautiful rustic wood tones make for a very cozy, warm and inviting atmosphere. I really liked the open view into the kitchen on the main dining floor. While the restaurant is long and narrow, they make good use of the space. And like a traditional steakhouse, there is a private dining room available downstairs, which is where we ate.

SALT + CHARCOAL
171 Grand St
Brooklyn, NY 11249

Chimichurri Grill (East)

I was invited to Chimichurri Grill East by the restaurant’s PR specialist to try a special five course tasting menu (with wine pairings and dessert), and to write a review. Let me get right to it!

The restaurant is an elegant, modern and fine dining Argentinian steak house. This is somewhat of a rarity here in the city, as most Argentinian places that I know are more on the pub atmosphere end, and don’t serve actual Argentinian proteins. Argentinian beef is something that people clamor for, so it’s good to know that this place serves the real deal.

Moreover, Chef Carlos Darquea uses family recipes to create the dishes he loves and grew up with. Everything is authentic and from the heart.

His wife Alicia is the wine director, and together they own a sister restaurant, called Chimichurri Grill West (a theater district mainstay for nearly 20 years), which serves the exact same menu but in a different atmosphere.

Here’s what we had:

Course 1: Sweetbreads (Heart)

This was really nice. These veal heart sweetbreads are sliced and grilled, served with a red pepper, parsley and garlic sauce, and featured on a slice of crispy purple potato. Very pretty and delicious. This was similar to something like foie gras.

Note: this is a smaller portion than what is served if you order from the menu.

Course 2: Beef Tongue Stew

I really loved this warm, hearty and delicious dish. It was reminiscent of homemade beef barley soup. The tongue was diced into small cubes and braised to tender perfection.

Note: this is a smaller portion than what is served if you order from the menu.

Course 3: Grilled Romaine Salad

The feta, buttermilk and dill dressing makes for a nice creamy compliment with the grilled greens. And the crispy bacon lardon is just perfect.

Note: this is a smaller portion than what is served if you order from the menu.

We had a scoop of homemade passion fruit sorbet to cleanse the palate. Very nice!

Course 4: Pasta with Seafood

This house made pasta is served with a chardonnay and basil sauce that gets added to a roux and the various seafood juices that Chef Carlos extracts from the seafood used to make the dish; clams, calamari, prawns, mussels and halibut.

Note: this is a smaller portion than what is served if you order from the menu.

Course 5: Grass Fed Argentinian Rib Eye

This was great. It’s wet aged for 32 days as it travels from Argentina to the US. Chef Carlos finishes this Black Angus steak directly on wood charcoal to develop a great crust on the outside of the meat. It’s even plated with some charcoal, and when you pop the rosemary on top, it smokes and gives off a great aroma.

It was cooked to a perfect medium rare. It had a huge outer cap and a lean eye, likely due to the grass fed nature of the beef.

You’re in for a really nice bite when you combine the caramelized vidalia onions and sauces that come to the table with this dish.

The steak (which was a full sized portion, FYI) also came with French fries. These were perfectly crisp and deliciously seasoned.

Dessert: Dulce de Leche Creme Brulee

Wow. What a great dessert! So flavorful, smooth and unexpected. A great Latin twist on the classic French custard.

That about covers it! I really can’t wait to go back and try some more cuts of steak. The menu here is new/fresh, exciting, and completely outside the box.

They even have nice happy hour specials from 4-8pm, and a great express lunch menu for all you midtown power lunchers. Get on it!

UPDATE: 12/22/17

On a subsequent visit, I tried a few more delectable items.

La Suprema Burger

Veal sweet breads and caramelized onions on top of a 6oz grass finished filet patty. Very nice. The sweetbreads almost act like a cheese, adding that creaminess and fat content to the lean beef.

Clams with Chorizo

Perfection. Just order these and you’ll thank me later.

Bife Con Fritas

Strip steak, perfectly cooked, with those delicious fries. Can’t go wrong with this bad boy. I liked this better than the rib eye, and at just $42 for 12oz, you’re saving some cash in the process.

Special Off Menu Bone-In Rib Eye

Similar to the boneless cut I tried during the multi-course tasting, this lean rib eye backed a great flavor with a robust char from the on-coals cooking process.

CHIMICHURRI GRILL EAST
133 E 61st St
New York, NY 10065

Banza Pasta

I recently tried Banza pasta. Banza is made from chickpeas (aka garbanzo beans), so each serving is packed with protein and fiber.

My wife used some leftover turkey from Thanksgiving to make a nice, simple, healthy and tasty dish. She diced up the turkey, added sautéed garlic spinach, and topped it with some turkey skin that she crisped up in our new air fryer (product review to come).

It was a great meal. I even added a little bit of gravy to my second bowl. But the pasta was great. You’d never know this wasn’t normal pasta. Great texture and flavor, and with the added bonus of being high in fiber and protein.

Guan Fu Szechuan

I recently had the pleasure of dining with a bunch of food friends at this new Szechuan joint in Flushing called Guan Fu. They do an incredible job of showcasing the different kinds of spice that the cuisine is known for (numbing as well as heat), while also developing intense, robust flavors that you can actually taste. Contrast with many other Szechuan joints in NYC that just blow your mouth out with heat and numbness, leaving you unable to actually enjoy the food.

That’s not to say that the food here isn’t spicy. It sure as heck is! But the balance is so well done that it’s quite impressive. But let me get down to business, because we tried 17 different dishes here. There is a lot to discuss…

The first four dishes were cold preparations.

1. Thinly Sliced Pork Liver

This was nice. No mealy texture or gamey flavor. Good heat from the red chilis. Excellent citrus-flavored sauce.

2. Sweet Fried Pork Ribs

These were awesome. Great crispy texture, super tender, and with just a little bit of heat to gently contrast the sweet.

3. Razor Clams

These were served with Mexican green peppers (likely a poblano or hatch variety) as well as some red Thai chili peppers. Great preparation, and the clams were perfectly cooked.

4. Bean Jelly

This was one of my favorite dishes of the night. The bean jelly was reminiscent of a snappy, thick noodle. This was served with chili oil, peanuts, sesame seeds and scallions.

Okay now onto the warm food.

5. “Water Fish” Tilapia

This was both numbing and heat spicy. The fish was served in an over-seasoned broth so as to get all the flavors into the flesh of the Tilapia. In fact, the sauce/broth isn’t meant to be eaten, as is the case with many of the dishes we were served.

6. Dry Pot Frog

This was another favorite of the night. The frog was so tender on the inside and crispy on the outside. It was served with crisp, fried potatoes and lotus root in the mix too. That textural contrast really blew me away. Just be careful of the tiny bones in the frog meat!

7. Sliced Beef With Pickled Cherry Peppers

This was a really fun dish. The peppers were pickled, but the beef and cucumber cooked in the sauce were both fresh (meaning not pickled). Really nice.

8. Hot Pot

In addition to cabbage and mushrooms, this also contained slices of lamb meat and beef meatballs. Awesome flavors going on here when you mixed it all together, and a little bit of numbness from those famous Szechuan peppercorns.

9. Sweet & Crispy Corn

This was a nice way to knock back any heat that might be lingering in your mouth. These little nuggets were a perfect snack. Juicy inside, bursting with kernel corn flavor, but crispy and batter-fried on the outside.

10. Kung Pao Chicken

This is a famous dish, but done right and as close to authentic as you’re going to get. Lots of heat, really tender meat, and a great contrast of flavors and textures in the stir fry mix.

11. Ma Po Tofu

This is another famously spicy dish from the Szechuan region. The sauce here is a blast of heat and numbing spice, meant to be eaten with rice. I skipped the rice, though, and was just spooning the sauce into my mouth, gulp after gulp. It was great!

12. “Fishy Pork”

There is no actual fish in this dish, but it is made with the intent of giving the diner the essence or flavors of fish. The actual protein here is shredded pork, and it is delicious.

13. Hand Ripped Cabbage With Pork Belly

Bacon makes everything better, especially cabbage. This was a really nice way to get a veggie into the mix other than incorporating peppers and onions into a stir fry.

14. Double Pepper Chicken

Wow. Just when you thought Kung Pao was a kick in the balls, you discover double pepper chicken. The two peppers are green chilis (jalapeños) and red chilis (Thai chilis). But the sneaky spice here is the numbing Szechuan peppercorns that are also worked into the dish. Excellent.

15. Shrimp

These head-on giant shrimp were excellent. They even serve small shrimp where you can eat the shell as well.

16. Green Beans

I love how the veggie comes out last. These were simple and delicious though. A welcome addition to the meal.

17. Fried Sesame Cakes

I’ve had these babies before and I love them. These were filled with a squash mash or paste of some kind. I generally like the red bean or mung bean pastes better (they’re a little sweeter).

That about does it. I really want to come back here and try more stuff, or even just put down full portions of my favorite dishes from this trip, like the bean jelly and dry pot frog. Get your ass out here and try this stuff ASAP!

GUAN FU SZECHUAN
39-16 Prince St
G01
Flushing, NY 11354