Category Archives: Press Reviews

Hill Country BBQ

It’s been a while since I went to Hill Country BBQ, home of my favorite BBQ links in NYC. They’re having a killer Superbowl menu this year, and to get all of this it’ll only cost you $65.

The “pre-game” consists of mini jalapeno cheese corn bread, as well as “Texas Trash” snack mix.

The kick off to the first quarter will feature chili nachos.

In the second quarter, you’ve got these amazing smoked wings with their house made ranch.

During half time and the third quarter, you’ll stuff your face with a platter featuring all of Hill Country’s BBQ meats (brisket, ribs, pulled pork, links, and smoked turkey).

That even comes with collared greens, mac & cheese, baked beans, and of course some white bread (Texas style).

For the fourth quarter, DESSERT! Banana pudding and mini pies.

I really hope you all can get there for this. They’ll also have their regular menu available if you need more food!

But if you can get there before this coming Sunday, you’ll also be able to get their Smoke Stack sandwich, in celebration of MEAT WEEK! This is basically a sandwich that features all of their BBQ!

HILL COUNTRY BBQ MARKET
30 W 26th St
New York, NY 10010

Shanzu Knives Coupon Code

I just got this awesome chef’s knife in the mail the other day. Check out this quick unboxing video:

If you like what you see HERE on their website, you can get 15% off your order with code JOHNNY15.

I’m a big fan of that GYO series 8″ chef’s knife. It’s got 67 layers of gorgeous “shark tooth” patterned Damascus steel!

Watch the sharpness test on this potato:

Outstanding!

Handcraft Burgers & Brew

A buddy of mine helped open this joint over by Bryant Park, so I had to go check it out. The food here is excellent! Check out how perfect this burger looks:

That’s a handsome fella. And it was as delicious as it looks. Certified Angus Beef smash patties, shredded lettuce, sharp American cheese, and tomato on a brioche bun. The crust on those patties was perfect!

The chicken sandwich was great as well. Great spice to it.

As a tribute to Rutt’s Hut over in NJ, they also offer this ripper hot dog. It really hit the spot with a crispy snap.

And to top it off, the fries and tots were both golden and crunchy.

I highly recommend this place. The food is better than most other joints out there slinging smash patties now.

HANDCRAFT BURGERS & BREW
110 West 40th Street
New York, NY 10018

Amigo

Amigo is a casual but high quality tapas joint that’s owned and operated by Chef Ruben Rodriguez from Nai Tapas Bar (one of the best Spanish joints around).

My buddy Mike, my wife and I tried almost the entire menu, so I’ll just get right into it. But this was easily one of the best meals I’ve had this year.

First up: cocktails. The espresso martini and wasabi infused scotch cocktails were awesome.

Octopus and shrimp ceviche:

45-day dry aged rib eye steak tartare – this was one of the top bites of the night.

Shrimp tacos:

Bacalao – fried cod tacos. These were also a top bite of the night.

Mango salad:

Eggplant:

Braised pork cheek. This was insane. So tender:

Watch how easily it gets pulled apart (about 17 seconds into the slide show):

This savory corn pudding was delicious:

Pork belly taco:

The oxtail tacos de birria were another top bite.

I drank that entire cup of dipping broth.

The lime ice cream granita was off the charts – another top item:

And these chocolate filled churros were perfectly paired with that espresso martini I mentioned earlier.

I can’t wait to go here again. So damn good!

AMIGO
29 2nd Ave
New York, NY 10003

Hortus

My wife and I had a great meat at Hortus. We started with some of their wine and beer cocktails. This beauty was made with plum wine:

Then we dove into the apps. First, a chilled seafood plate with lobster tail, shrimp, oysters and tuna tartare.

Next up, crispy octopus and fried lobster claws with uni and caviar. HOLY SHIT THESE WERE GOOD!

For entrees, we had truffle rice with uni and ikura/roe, and short rib. Both excellent, but I surprisingly favored the rice dish.

On the side, some roasted fall veggies. These had a sweet and tangy glaze on these.

Dessert was green tea tiramisu and rice pudding. The tiramisu was the winner for us.

Great meal! I’d definitely come back here, and look forward to doing so soon.

HORTUS
271 5th Avenue
New York, NY 10016

Esora Omakase

I was recently invited to try a new Wagyu and tempura Omakase restaurant connected to J-Spec in the East Village, called Esora.

This was one of the most incredible Omakase experiences I’ve had. We started with a trio of appetizers: wagyu tartare + uni, scallop + caviar, and tofu.

All were excellent, but the wagyu tartare and uni was possibly the best bite of the night!

Next up was sashimi. More wagyu strip, as well as sea bream and blue fin tuna.

Wagyu sushi? YUP! We got a taste of both Hida and Ozaki strip here. Torched (Ozaki), and raw (Hida).

The tempura portion of the meal was so much fun, and the bites seemed to just keep coming!

Prawn heads (and bodies):

Okra:

Magochi fish:

Maitake mushroom!

Tenderloin wrapped in shiso leaf. Awesome!

Corn:

Scallop:

Squash blossom and Japanese pumpkin:

Sea Eel:

And finally, sweet potato:

We washed that down with a really tasty seafood and mushroom soup, served in a nice tea kettle with citrus (dobinmushi).

Next, we had STEAK! Wagyu strip from Hida:

…and from the Ozaki family brand:

Check this out!

I liked the Ozaki a bit better:

There was also sea bream rice with ikura:

And finally, dessert: earl grey tea panna cotta, roasted green tea, and peach compote.

I highly recommend this place. Make sure to call ahead at least 24hrs before booking. There are only seven seats at the bar with the chef, and there are a limited number of seatings each day.

ESORA OMAKASE
239 E 5th St
New York, NY 10003

Syosaku Knives

Check it out – I did a sharpness test with this beautiful sujihiki knife that I got from Syosaku:

Awesome! Grape tomatoes weigh almost nothing, so that blade is sharp as hell!!!

I whipped it out at a cookout last week and it was a hit. Check out the prep and also the final slicing here, with some tenderloin tail tacos:

These knives are great! If you think you want to buy one, follow THIS LINK.

Bronson’s Burgers

There’s a new burger joint in Nolita and it’s pretty great!

They’re serving Golden Packing beef burgers with cheddar, pickles and caramelized onions on a delicious house baked bun.

The chicken sandwiches are made from fried thighs, so they’re extra tender and juicy!

Great crisp on them too. They also have excellent fries and onion rings.

As well as some interesting “cheeseburger hash browns.”

Don’t skip on their shakes and homemade lemonades too. We had both basil and blueberry mint. They were incredibly refreshing on a hot summer day.

BRONSON’S BURGERS
250 Mulberry St,
New York NY 10012

PJ Bernstein

I stopped here for lunch and was really pleased with the meal. Started with a fried knish and wasn’t disappointed. Hot and crisp, super velvety interior.

The Butcher’s Special sandwich, with tongue, corned beef and pastrami, was a big win. Half a pound of meat!

The Rueben sandwich is served open face style, and was equally delightful.

Topped that off with some fries and pirogies. The fries were perfect. As for the dumplings, I preferred the meat ones over the potato.

Then washed it all down with some chicken soup. DELICIOUS!

This place is great. I definitely recommend.

PJ BERNSTEIN
1215 3rd Ave
New York, NY 10021

Life Rooftop

Life Rooftop took over the space formerly known as the Viceroy at the top of Le Meridien hotel, near Central Park. The views are spectacular.

The cocktails are excellent.

And the food, which is more along the bites and small portions angle, is really delicious. The seafood tower is impressive. It comes with lobster, king crab, langoustines, shrimp, clams, oysters, caviar, tuna tartare and hamachi crudo.

The lobster roll is pretty packed full of meat too.

The stars of the meal for me, though, were the deviled eggs with caviar, and the wagyu tartare.

Their dessert sundae and churros were really great too. I’d definitely eat here again.

LIFE ROOFTOP
24 W 57th St
29th Floor
New York, NY 10019