Category Archives: Press Reviews

Pat LaFrieda Meat Counter

I’ve been fixing to get to this spot in The Pennsy for a while, and I finally had the opportunity last weekend. I organized a bunch of Instagram food savages to come in and shoot pics, sample the menu and promote the LaFrieda brand, which I have come to love so much.

First up, the roast beef sandwich:

This baby is served cold cut style, with bleu cheese, horseradish aioli, pickled red onions and watercress on a toasted semolina roll.

It’s very difficult to choose a favorite among so many selections here. It really depends on what mood you’re in.

Next was the black Angus steak sandwich.

That’s sliced filet mignon with melted Monterey Jack cheese, caramelized onions, baby spinach and au jus on a toasted ciabatta roll. Awesome.

Grandpa’s meatball sandwich is pretty tight.

Tomato sauce and fresh mozzarella on a pressed ciabatta roll. Simple and delicious.

This fucker was intensely flavorful.

Slow roasted pork with broccoli rabe and melted provolone on a ciabatta roll. So juicy!

“World’s Greatest Hot Dog” is a bold claim for a menu item to make, but LaFrieda really delivers with this.

This baby is actually two hot dogs with honey mustard, caramelized onions and hot peppers.

As you can see, the dogs are split and grilled, which is a big win for me. I love that preparation.

And finally, the short rib platter.

This is slow roasted and maple glazed, served with greens and a celery root slaw.

For $15 this has to be one of the best buys in NYC for a steak.

This stuff is fork tender too. I was barely able to pick this up without it falling apart – that’s how soft it is!

Do yourself a favor and get this right away. 9/10.

My wife had the genius idea to pop all the items from the soft rib platter onto one of the LaFrieda homemade potato chips.

Pretty incredible! And wash it all down with fresh lemonade or iced tea from the taps.

PAT LAFRIEDA MEAT COUNTER
The Pennsy
2 Penn Plaza
New York, NY 10121

Esperanto

Esperanto is a fun, brightly colored Brazilian and South American food joint on 9th and C.

The open and inviting bar boasts a nice selection of unique cocktails, like the mazcalita, made with mescal, lime juice and ginger (right).

There’s even some hard to find Brazilian beers available, like Xingu and Itaipava.

For just $2 you can get these all served michelada style (with lime and tomato juice, which I love).

The first thing that Chef Cesar brought to the table was this really nice country style bread with their house made dipping oil, which is also available for sale by the bottle.

It’s infused with peppercorn, garlic, fennel, red pepper and herbs. It is absolutely delicious. I’ll definitely be going back to buy a bottle of this delicious potion.

My wife and I started with two apps. First was the fried goat cheese salad with cashew pesto.

This was really awesome. I’m usually not a huge fan of goat cheese, but this was so smooth and creamy inside. It was a great contrast to the crisp outside. And that pesto? Green gold!

This next app is far and away the best preparation of mussels that I’ve ever eaten. They’re roasted in a half shell and baked with garlic, paprika, butter and parmesan cheese.

Similar to escargot, this dish really packed a wallop of flavor, especially when you hit it with some of the fresh lime and cilantro. The parmesan turns into a really nice, crust over the top, adding another textural element of crunch.

It’s funny, too, because I was just explaining escargot to someone the other day who had never eaten them. I described it as being like mussels, but baked with butter, garlic and herbs as opposed to steamed in a pot.

We tried two entrees. First was the moqueca, a traditional South American stew made with coconut milk, ginger, cashews and spices.

We chose shrimp as the main protein, but you can also choose snapper or a mix of snapper and shrimp. This dish reminded us of a Thai or Indian curry dish, but less spicy. However, the “fixins” will set that distinction aside some, as this dish comes with a jar of pickled hot peppers and farofa (cassava meal starch, for thickening the stew is desired). Add one or both to your desired levels of spice and/or thickness.

We also tried the Argentinian style grilled hanger steak.

This comes with homemade guacamole and chimichurri sauce, a side of rice, and a side of stewed black beans.

The steak comes out pre-sliced and cooked to a nice medium rare. When you slather the sauce and guac onto a slice of steak, you’re entering a blissful and exciting meat eating experience. The flavors really pop!

For dessert we tried two items; the homemade coconut flan and the chocolate lava cake. I’m usually not a fan of lava cake, mostly because it is never executed correctly and the middle firms up too much. That wasn’t the case here. The inside was warm and ooey-gooey, and the vanilla ice cream was the perfect way to cool down after each mouth-warming bite.

The coconut flan was awesome! It had a really nice firm, custardy texture. It had threads of fresh coconut mixed into the custard too, to offer an additional pop of coconut flavor with each bite.

This was a great meal, and I look forward to going back. Esperanto has daily happy hour specials, and nightly entertainment like bands and DJs. It’s really a great place. They even have a fresh juice bar off to the side of the restaurant.

Give this place a shot!

ESPERANTO
145 Avenue C
New York, NY 10009

Cantina Rooftop

Cantina rooftop just opened for the season. This fun Mexican joint is located on a glass-enclosed rooftop in Hell’s Kitchen. The spacious dining room is bright, there’s a comfortable lounge section for evenings, and there’s even some outdoor seating as well.

My wife was invited in by the restaurant and was asked to bring some other food people with her to help get the word out about this place. Let me get right down to it.

First off, they have some really tasty cocktails, and good happy hour specials from 5pm-7pm.

Pictured here are the Teporocho (martini glass), which is easily one of the best cocktails I’ve had recently, and the Chingon.

We started with a sampling of their three guacamoles. All three were great, but their Ranchero guac with chili paste was the best.

The huitlacoche and Oaxaca cheese empanadas were fantastic. I highly recommend these when you get here. Each order comes with three empanadas for $10.

Next up was the mixed seafood ceviche. I’m usually not a fan of the red cocktail sauce style ceviches (I usually like just thin liquid citrus and maybe some white wine), but this one really worked. Check out the awesome glass used to serve them:

As far as tacos go, my favorite between the three that we tried were the chorizo tacos, but both the spicy tuna and the pork tacos were also pretty great. Each taco plate comes with three tacos, and the prices range from $10-$14. Not bad at all! I’m happy that this is somewhat close to our apartment. I’ll be hitting these often.

The big star of the evening was the Ajillo shrimp. These were just packed with amazing flavor. Garlic, tequila, chilis and lime juice. This is what you order!

Beautifully plated too.

Last up was the mixed grilled meats platter called the Rooftop Molcajete. Grilled cactus, roasted jalapeno, chorizo, chicken, steak and grilled queso fresco come nicely arranged in a bowl with a side of tortillas for making your own tacos.

We were too stuffed for dessert, but this is a really fun place with excellent service, and I’m looking forward to going back.

CANTINA ROOFTOP
605 W 48th St
New York, NY 10036

Charrua

I came to Charrua with a crew of food influencers to sample some of the menu offerings during their weekend brunch, and take photos for Instagram. Here’s a smattering of what we tried:

Best of the meal goes to the sausages: mild chorizo and blood. The blood sausage was probably the best I’ve ever had.

Empanadas

This chivito (sandwich) was called “El Canadiense.”

It contained filet mignon, bacon, mozzarella, ham, hard-boiled egg, caramelized onion, roasted red peppers, olives, lettuce, tomato and mayo, served with homemade fries. It was good!

The steak was overcooked, but it still had some good flavor despite being gray almost entirely through the center. 5/10.

I also tasted some of the grilled skirt steak on a mixed platter. This was also overcooked, but as badly as the hanger steak. The texture, however, wasn’t quite as nice as the hanger. 4/10.

In short: sausage – excellent; sandwich – good; steak; order it rare.

CHARRUA
131 Essex St
New York, NY 10002

Forbidden Donuts

You know me: I’m not really an ice cream and donuts kind of guy. But DECADENT and SAVORY donuts?!?!!! Now you have my attention!

“Forbidden Donuts” has created a secret menu of seven deadly sinful donuts that will be shared with faithful sinners every Sunday at Bowery Kitchen Supplies in Chelsea Market from 11am to 4pm.

Limited quantities are available, so get there bright and early.

Menu and pricing are below. My favorite is the Smoked Salmon.

Caviar w/ Vodka Jelly $ 18
caviar cream

Smoked Salmon & Roe $8
smoked salmon tarama

Foie Gras & Chocolate Glazed $15
Foie gras mousse

Lobster “Roll” $10

Matcha Green Tea $5
crispy artichokes

Cauliflower Peanut Butter $5
crispy ginger

Kimchi $5
sweet & sour sriracha glazed

FORBIDDEN DONUTS (POP-UP)
Chelsea Market
Bowery Kitchen Supply
75 9th Ave
New York, NY 10011

The Fat Monk

The Fat Monk has one of the most incredibly ambitious and delicious looking menus I’ve ever seen. Just about every item sounds unique and awesome, and I pretty much got to try them all.

Chef Rob McCue, who has been honing his art for 25 years, elevates American comfort food by using only the finest ingredients sourced via his close relationships with local artisans. He achieves the unexpected through molecular gastronomy, a style of cooking that you don’t often associate with American comfort cuisine.

And the unexpected delights are not limited to the food here, either. The cocktails are equally as exciting. Cory Goldstein, founder of Muddling Memories, put together an amazing cocktail menu.

We tried a whole bunch, but the standouts for me were the “Emma Stone’s a Ginger” (bourbon, peach, Lapsang Souchong tea, molasses, ginger beer, cookie “snack back”), “Say a Dirty Word” (barrel aged gin, vodka, house dirty brine, white pepper, chili oil, Boursin cheese stuffed olives), and “Paul Bunyan’s Flask” (rye, pine infused maple, Oloroso sherry, Bergamot bitters, apple wood smoke) cocktails. In fact, that’s the order in which I would recommend drinking them, the Emma to start the meal, the Dirty with your main course, and the Flask – which is a treat to see being served – with dessert.

Their PR person contacted me, and we arranged to bring in a crew of savage meat eating wackos to get down on all the tasty shit and post some pics of their joint on Instagram. So here’s what we had:

STARTERS

Oyster Escargot: Yeah – I know. Making you think a little, right? Oysters served with a parsley and pernod crust. Lovely.

Kale Caesar: Ours was more arugula and mixed greens than kale, which I was actually happy about. Kale is a bit woody for my liking. All that said, I didn’t even eat any salad. I had my sights set on tons of other delicious stuff.

Crispy Duck Wings: Crisp on the outside, super tender and fall-off-the-bone on the inside. Really amazing Thai/Viet flavor combo too from the sweet and tangy fish sauce glaze and scallions.

Double Cut Slab Bacon: This delicious shit tasted like spiral ham, but more bacony, if that makes any sense.

Deviled Eggs: That’s a “chicken-fried” oyster on top. The balance of textures here is what really sets this deviled egg apart from all the rest. It was a nice crisp against a velvety smooth egg.

Dungeness Crab Tater Tots: If these were around when I was a kid, I may have never found French fries. They’re like part carb cake, part tot. Really genius.

Shells & Cheese: Really nicely executed adult mac and cheese right here. Smoked bacon and fontina cheese make it decadent, but it’s not too rich to the point where you don’t want to touch your main courses after.

Scotch Egg: Perfection. Just really nicely done. Crispy outside, perfect slightly yolky egg inside. Again, great texture contrast.

Foie Gras Bratwurst: The ultimate mash-up of cheap eats and decadent eats, this is a bratwurst served in a hot dog style potato bun with foie gras, crispy onions and truffle mustard on top. Why hasn’t anyone thought of this before? Delicious.

ENTREES

Schweinshaxe: Good luck trying to pronounce that shit, but I think it kinda sounds like you’re saying “swine shank” with your hand in your mouth, which makes sense considering what this is. Successfully speaking the name of this item is one thing, but I know you’ll succeed wildly at eating it. It’s a pork shank with a crispy-as-fuck skin on the outside and juicy-as-fuck meat on the inside. It’s served with spaetzle and cabbage.

Not a Ramen: This is an American fusion version of ramen. The broth is a beef bone consomme, and it’s served with a soft duck egg, a hunk of tender short rib, marrow and egg noodles. Obscenely good.

Duck Burger: This is actually quite lean, so if you’re trying to be mindful of fat intake, this might be the way to go for you. It still had a robust duck essence without being overly gamey. It’s topped with melted Emmenthaler cheese and shallot confit, and served with house cut fries.

Monk Burger:  This was my favorite between the two burgers; a house blend patty topped with cheddar, lettuce, tomato, shaved red onion and house pickles, served with smoked ketchup and fries.

Fried Chicken Sandwich: I actually didn’t get to try this, but take a look at that amazing batter on the chicken! The chicken itself is breast meat, but it has been pickle-brined. Very inventive!

Bone In Rib Eye: Here we go! This baby was cooked to a perfect medium rare through both the eye and the cap. It also had a pretty decent char-crust on the outside. It was seasoned nicely with flake salt and pepper, and served with roasted tomatoes, roasted garlic and seared exotic mushrooms (my guess is Hen of the Woods). 8/10.

SIDES

Brussels Sprouts with Bacon: The bacon in this was thick cut style, and the smokey, sweet, meat flavor really permeated into the sprouts. Nice execution.

Seared Exotic Mushrooms: These also came with the steak, and were absolutely delicious. Earthy and savory.

House Cut Fries: The fries are pretty great! Usually I see thick fries like this and I’m immediately turned off. These were perfectly fried to a beautiful golden crisp, however, and nicely seasoned.

Also worth mentioning here is the homemade Irish Soda Bread that comes to the table at the beginning of the meal. Really good stuff.

You see how much shit I tried here?!?!? Well, I actually want to go back and try even more stuff. As I said, the menu is bonkers. Give this place a try. You won’t be disappointed.

THE FAT MONK
949 Columbus Ave
New York, NY 10025

Dominique Bistro

Dominique Bistro is a small French joint in the West Village. I recently had the opportunity to try a pair of steaks there when I was invited in by the restaurant’s PR group.

But let me start at the beginning. I also tried the escargot and the steak tartare appetizers. The escargot was very herby and flavorful. Nice texture and nicely cooked.

The tartare was delicious. It was well seasoned, and the toasted bread, mixed greens and caperberries were great with it.

Okay on to the steak! First, the steak frites. This was a nice 14oz bone-in strip, cooked to a perfect medium rare and well seasoned.

Easily a 9/10. And the fries? Maybe some of my favorite yet.

Next up, the filet mignon.

This 10oz beauty was served on a bed of truffle oil infused mashed potatoes with spinach and gravy.

Also a perfect medium rare inside.

While a sauced steak isn’t generally my thing, this one really worked. It was so juicy and tender. 8/10.

I highly recommend this joint; they know how to handle their meat.

DOMINIQUE BISTRO
14 Christopher St
New York, NY 10014

Greenwich Steakhouse

Greenwich Steakhouse overall score: 89

Greenwich Steakhouse is a newly opened French-inspired steak joint in the West Village. Chef Victor Chavez helped open Smith & Wollensky, and is a 30yr veteran chef from there. He tried retirement, but decided that he wanted to be back in the game. As such, he opened Greenwich Steakhouse.

I recently set up an “influencer event” here to help get some photos and reviews out there. Take a look at all the crazy shit we tried, and enjoy the review below.

Flavor: 8

Cajun Rib Eye: 10/10

I’m starting with the best steak first. This baby was cooked to a perfect medium rare from end to end with an awesome savory crust on the edges.

But the hint of cumin in the Cajun rub really sets this baby off as the best steak in the joint.

The spicy oil at the bottom of the place is reminiscent of the delicious sauce you get with the cumin lamb noodles at Xian Famous Foods, which I love.

When you come here, this is the steak to get. Chef Victor just absolutely nails it.

48oz Porterhouse: 8/10

This is nice and thick, and really goes great with the marrow butter sauce addition.

There was some grey banding since this is such a thick cut of steak, but nothing was dried out.

48oz Tomahawk Rib Eye: 6/10

Unfortunately this was a bit overcooked for our liking. Some parts were dry as a result, but the flavor was still nice.

Choice of Cuts & Quality Available: 9

All the meat here come from Strassburger, a great supplier. Chef Victor dry ages them for three weeks in-house to develop a bit more flavor for his guests. There are several sizes of the four major cuts available.

Portion Size & Plating: 9

Portions here are pretty big. The plating is on the nicer side with steel pans being used as serving vessels.

Price: 10

Since this was a free event, I am giving full points for price here. However, the prices are on par with midtown NYC steakhouses.

Bar: 7

The bar is a short stretch on the first floor with some seats along the window for people watching.

It’s on a nice stretch of Greenwich Ave in the village too, so likely will be a good spot for nightlife.

 

Cocktails are nice, particularly the Great Kills.

Specials and Other Meats: 9

The waiter read us some specials that were not on the menu. We tried one of them, a shredded Brussels sprout salad. I thought it could use some more dressing, but it was tasty.

For alternative meats, they offer a nice variety: veal, chicken and lamb. Perhaps a pork chop would round it out. We tried the lamb and it was incredible. So nicely seasoned and flavorful.

Apps, Sides & Desserts: 8

This is the best thick cut bacon I’ve ever had. It was about a half inch thick, and each order comes with three massive slabs. We cut them each in half since we had a table of six.

The fries are pretty good as well:

The marrow is overkill. If you are eating steaks here, each cut will come with some roasted bone marrow, so no need to go for the app. Here are three delicious boats of bone meat though:

Creamed spinach was also nice:

As well as the hash browns:

For dessert, we went with the ice cream tartufo:

Creme brulee:

And chocolate cake:

All were good, but my favorite was the creme brulee.

Seafood Selection: 10

We tried the seafood tower, which comes with oysters, king crab, shrimp, lobster and lumb crab meat.

The shrimp were massive! For entree items, they offer tuna, halibut, lobster, sole and salmon.  Branzino was on special as well. That’s a serious variety!

Service: 10

The staff here is all top notch. The guys are pure gentlemen and it doesn’t surprise me that Chef Victor would staff his joint with such people. The table breads are served from a basket at the outset.

Ambiance: 9

They’ve done an awesome job with the space here. The main dining room is on the second floor and boasts elegant chairs and a bright space. Very different from other steak joints.

The third floor has a huge table for parties, and holds about 8000 bottles of wine in elegant glass-windowed rooms flanking each side.

GREENWICH STEAKHOUSE
62 Greenwich Ave
New York, NY 10011

Munchery

Munchery is a food delivery service that brings you chef-prepared meals that just need to be heated or sauced prior to eating. They recently hooked me up with a $100 credit for me to test out their service. As such, I placed hefty orders on two different dates to test out their skills. I ordered for dinner both times, but they do offer lunch as well. My total for all of this food came to $95.

Dinner One

My delivery guy showed up on time, he was super nice, and seem to be delivering a ton of other orders. Here’s what we had:

Chirashi: This was really pretty. The rice was pre-seasoned with sesame seeds and other Japanese spices, and the sushi was all good quality and tasted fresh.

Farro, Black Rice & Kale Salad: I really liked the dressing and wanted more! The salad itself was massive. This could easily be an entree for one. Very nice.

Applewood Smoked Whole Chicken: Delicious. Awesomely smokey, juicy and flavorful. I really liked the sauce that came with it too.

Balsamic Marinated Tri-Tip Steak: Tri-tip is a very tricky thing to do right, and probably suffers a bit from a second heating process, but they did a pretty good job on it. The sides of peppers, potatoes and mushrooms were on point.

Dinner Two

Here’s a shot of everything:

Beet-Pickled Eggs on Boston Wedge: Your basic type of wedge salad, only with Boston leaf lettuce instead of Iceberg, and a nice touch of pickled eggs..

French Dip Beef Sandwich: Not too bad at all! It came with pickled red onion, which I love, extra juices for dipping, and a horseradish cream sauce. Very nice.

Misoyaki Glazed Salmon: This was the big winner of the meal. Nicely cooked, really tasty and balanced with both sweet and savory flavor elements. This was my wife’s favorite too.

Roasted Bistro Filet: This steak was more tender than the tri-tip, but it was unfortunately a bit overcooked when it arrived. It wasn’t ruined, but I was nervous to stick it back into the oven for the re-heating process. The blue cheese cream sauce and potatoes were delicious though.

All in, this is a great service. It’s really convenient to just have to pre-heat the oven, which you can do during the delivery time window, and then heat your food. Or in the case of something like the Chirashi or the salads, just dress and eat. It’s a perfect service for a city of tiny, useless kitchens and people who are way too busy to prepare and eat proper meals at home. I definitely recommend it!

Camacho’s

Camacho’s is a new Mexican joint with great cocktails and a fun cantina vibe. Named after the executive chef, it features a variety of classic Mexican favorites, including tacos:

Clockwise from top: shrimp, steak, short rib, cod.

Excellent guac and chips:

Tasty Mexican corn:

A nice, filling taco salad:

Yucca fries:

The “Bad Hombre” drink, a mezcal based margarita-ish concoction that’s served in a smoke-filled glass skull:

Tons of DOTD sugar skulls on the walls:

Crazy dessert shakes:

And even a suggestive neon sign that’s all the rage on Instagram:

They play some fun music too, if this is your thing; a throwback to mid- to late-90’s rap and hip hop. I dug it, and I’ll definitely be back.

Note: I was invited in by the bar’s ownership to take some photos and do some Instagram posts in exchange for a free meal.

CAMACHO’S
118 E 15th St
New York, NY 10003