Category Archives: Press Reviews

Nice Matin

My wife and I were recently invited into Nice Matin to help promote their Provencal menu in their celebration of Bastille Day.

I’ll say this: Nice Matin is the best French joint in the restaurant group’s ownership among other French joints (L,Express, Cafe D’Alsace, and Le Monde).

We tried a few small bites and drinks from that menu, and, of course, the strip steak frites from the regular menu.

First, we started with some Ricard, which was sponsoring the evening’s French kick-off night. Some diners win goodie bags, and you can enter for a chance to win a trip to France.

Tapenade:

Mussels:

Squash Blossom Beignets:

Onion Tart:

All of those were on the special menu, and all were really good. I think the favorites, for me, were the onion tart and the tapenade, but the squash blossoms were really light and tasty and the mussels were really nice.

The steak was a solid 8/10. The meat was super tender, and I really only took points off because the cook was a little bit over what I asked (medium rare).

The fries were perfectly cooked, but the addition of the Provencal herbs (like lavender) was a little bit aggressive.

For dessert we tried a sesame panna cotta and an olive oil cake. Both were really great, both flavor-wise and texture-wise.

Also, really nice bread here. Warm and tasty.

I definitely recommend this joint for anyone looking for some good classic French fare in the neighborhood.

NICE MATIN
201 W 79th St
New York, NY 10024

The Norm at the Brooklyn Museum

The Norm is the restaurant inside the Brooklyn Museum. I was recently invited in to try their burgers and to help promote them on social media.

The space is gorgeous here, and it truly fits with the nice artwork and artifacts on display in the museum.

I browsed the menu while drinking a bloody Mary. This was nice and savory, and had just the right amount of spice to it.

The burgers were delicious. The first one I tried was “The Norman.” Topped with cheddar and bacon, and some house made pickles, lettuce, tomato and onion.

The second one was an interesting Japanese fusion type burger. The patty contained mushrooms as well as beef, and it was glazed with a teriyaki sauce, and topped with caramelized onion,  pickled daikon and carrots.

I also tried the pho flavored ramen. This was an interesting fusion of Vietnamese and Japanese soups. The Sun noodles were perfectly cooked, but the addition of too much fish sauce muddied the flavors that were cooked into the broth with the various cuts of beef.

It definitely smelled like pho though, because of the herbs. The soft boiled egg and flank steak on top were also perfectly cooked, like the noodles.

This ramen was indeed tricky. My wife and I both liked it enough to finish it – even after crushing two burgers with fries – but we were perplexed by the competing flavors within. Not bad by any means, just different.

I think the mushroom burger embodied the same feeling, only we loved that one and the ramen we just liked. I’d definitely go back to try more stuff here. They do a great job, and are definitely thinking outside the box.

THE NORM
at The Brooklyn Museum
200 Eastern Pkwy
Ground Floor, Brooklyn, NY 11238

Outer Limits Hot Sauce

Outer Limits sent me an awesome four pack of their hot sauces to try out: Habanero, Jalapeño Habanero, Jalapeño Lime and Serrano Cilantro.

My favorite is the Habenero sauce. It’s really great for things like tacos or for spicing up pasta dishes. The heat is a nice up-front pop that doesn’t linger or kill your taste buds.

If heat isn’t your thing, then go with the Serrano Cilantro sauce. It delivers a nice, fresh, herby green kick without any of the sweat that you normally get from a hot sauce.

I highly recommend these sauces.

Sunday Sirloin Roast

This past weekend I went all in and made a Sunday roast out of some Strassburger Steaks sirloin that I butchered myself at a butchery class. I had it netted/trussed so that it held its shape during the cooking process (that’s why it has lines on it).

First I rubbed it with some delicious Botticelli extra virgin olive oil. I really love that stuff. It’s the best olive oil I’ve had, and it doesn’t take on a bitter taste like some extra virgin oils do.

Then I seasoned with kosher salt, pepper and garlic powder. After that, I sealed it up in a sous vide bag with a few sprigs of rosemary. I left it in the bath overnight for 12 hours, set to 128 degrees.

After I pulled it from the bath, I poured out any meat juices into a cup for using later.

I let the meat cool own to room temperature before searing it in a pan with some butter and the rosemary. I spooned the excess butter over the top as I cooked it, and ensure that I got a good sear on all sides.

Always let your meat rest before slicing. I rested this roast for about 15 minutes. While you do that, you can pour the meat juice into the melted butter that’s left in the pan and reduce it gently into a brown gravy sauce.

I served with a big salad and some roasted potatoes. But man, oh man. That beef was so delicious.

Oh and speaking of Botticelli Foods, they happened to send me and my wife a nice package of stuff to try out here at home.

I just used the EVOO with my roast, but my wife used almost everything here and baked these awesome little farfalle muffins – a take on my spaghetti pie, but with prosciutto cups, bow tie pasta, roasted red peppers, mozz, eggs, parmesan cheese and spinach. Insanely delicious.

 

Kooq Cutting Boards & Chopping Blocks

Kooq sent me an awesome joined bamboo chopping block to test out with my meats here at the Food Research Lab. Here’s a short unboxing video:

Kooq uses bamboo for their boards. I love bamboo cutting boards, because they’re durable and tough, yet still great for preserving blade integrity and sharpness.

They’re also really easy to maintain and can take a beating without warping or losing solidity. Finally, they’re budget friendly. This big beast will only run you about $70 on Amazon.

I cooked up one of my porterhouse steaks and gave it a nice slicing on the board.

I couldn’t be happier. I highly recommend this brand for all your cutting and chopping needs.

Ichiban Nom Nom

I had the opportunity to head to Chef Joe Conti’s test kitchen prior to the open of his yet-to-be-named Japanese omakase restaurant downtown. The great thing about this meal is that I was able to taste a lot of different cuts of A5 Wagyu beef. The highest marbling score there is. Unreal. Since there were a bunch of courses, I’ll get right down to business.

Torched mackerel with pickled daikon.

Fried river fish, uni and river crab.

Giant shrimp/prawn carabineros. Simply seasoned with salt, but their insides cook into a naturally spicy and fatty butter-like substance that will provide you with wet food dreams for the rest of your life. It coats your tongue like a rich prosciutto almost. For real, this is one of the best things I’ve ever eaten in my whole fucking life. They get to about a third of a pound each in weight, too, so they’re substantial. Favorite part of the meal – even better than the beef!

Wagyu skirt steak (8/10) and pork skirt steak. Amazing. Here, the pork out shined the beef just because it was so unique to see this cut here in the states. I want more of it!

Wagyu sirloin (9/10), tenderloin (10/10) and rib cap (9/10). All amazing, but my favorite, oddly, was the tenderloin. It was so buttery soft and tender that it would be impossible to compare it to anything else that came across out plates.

Here’s the tenderloin up close:

Italian panko Parmesan breadcrumb “gyu katsu,” aka deep fried beef strip loin. Amazing. 8/10.

Eel with shiso.

Cold udon noodles.

Ice cream: chocolate, green tea with chocolate chips, and salted caramel. Still some refining to be done here, but over all a great closer plate.

I can’t wait until this spot officially opens. I think it’ll be in the West 4th Street and 8th Avenue area. Keep an eye out! They’re already booked solid for the first few months after they open.

Grand Temple Curry & Strassburger Steaks

Grand Temple sent me a few packs of their ready made curry to try out here on the blog. I was excited to try something new and different with them.

As you all know, I’m a meat and potatoes guy. The first place my mind went was to mix one of the packets in with some mashed potatoes, and eat it with a steak and some greenery.

I grilled up a nice Strassburger Steaks rib eye that I took home with me from a butchery class. It came out perfect. The beef was prime and had a great flavor to it. Really nice quality, and I recommend buying for home deliver.

Anyway, I sauteed some broccolini to go with the taters and steak.

Success! The otherwise boring and bland mashed potatoes were deliciously spicy. I used the red curry packet for these.

Next, I’ll try the green curry to make a sauce for some gnocchi.

Butcher Bar

Butcher Bar recently opened a location in Manhattan’s lower east side. I went with a small group of Instagram buddies to check it out. Here’s what we had:

Burnt Ends Sandwich: Top notch quality burnt ends, which contain the fat cap of the rib as well as the brisket.

50/50 Sandwich (half pulled pork, half brisket): Really great sandwich here. Throw on some house made sauces and you’re all set. Topped with slaw, onions and pickles.

Brisket Philly Cheese: Probably my favorite of the three sandwiches we tried. I would maybe have liked a bit more cheese but I really loved the combination.

Wings: Brined so that the flavors penetrate deep to the bone. Nice smoke flavor in a great homemade Buffalo style sauce.

Shrimp & Grits: Incredible. A must order when you come here. Nice heat from the smoked habanero on this too.

Chili Mac & Cheese: You’ll get a sense that you’re eating a bowl of chili when you dig into this. Very unique and tasty.

Rib Eye: 6/10. Good cook temp, good flavor all around, but this isn’t steakhouse level beef. It will satisfy when you’re craving, though.

Moonshine Creamsicle: You’d never even know there was booze in this – that’s how seamlessly mixed the moonshine is with the house made cream. Perfect for the summer.

BUTCHER BAR
146 Orchard St
New York, NY 10002

Blue Smoke at the Big Apple BBQ

Union Square Hospitality Group invited me to the Big Apple BBQ Block Party this past weekend to help promote for Blue Smoke, the famous jazz and BBQ joint that they represent for PR purposes.

I had been to Blue Smoke in the past and loved it. The food is great, and the jazz is fun. But I hadn’t been there for a long time, probably since before I started this website.

Anyway, the BBQ Block Party is a sick destination for NYC in the summer. Tons of BBQ joints take over a park and set up smokers and tents, where they serve the hungry masses.

Blue Smoke was doing a big crawfish boil, as well as some brisket burnt ends.

Everything was really great, and I’m psyched to get back down to the actual restaurant for more BBQ selections, and to watch some jazz.

BLUE SMOKE
116 E 27th St
New York, NY 10016

Gin Lane

Gin Lane 1751 sent me a bottle of their London Dry Royal Strength Gin, as well as a pre-mixed negroni, to test out and make some tasty cocktails.

As some of you may know, I’m a huge gin martini fan. I pretty much always have one with steak. I especially like London dry gins, so I was excited to try this brand out.

Naturally, the first thing I went for was a classic dry martini, a little dirty. I barely fill the twist cap with vermouth, and pour that over the ice that’s already been chilling my martini glass as I prep.

By the way, I’ve had that bottle of Martini & Rossi vermouth for about 10 years now. That’s how dry I like my martinis…

Next I pour in some olive juice, and finally, the gin. Shake the fuck out of it and strain into a chilled glass for absolutely crisp, salty perfection. Olives as garnish, of course.

The pre-made negroni instructions are simple: Pour over ice and garnish with an orange peel.

As you can see, I had a lemon on hand, so I mixed it up a bit with that. I also threw in a splash of seltzer to give it some mouth-pop. Nice! Not too bitter, and just the right amount of sweet.

The third cocktail I made was my own. I squeezed out the juice of that one large lemon, added some raw sugar simple syrup, then stirred that together with gin and seltzer in a tall glass with ice. I garnished with a burnt lemon peel and a lemon wedge, and let the ash from the burnt peel fall into the drink to provide some natural bitters. Very refreshing and delicious.

If you’re a fan of gin like me, then I think you’ll dig this stuff. There’s elements of juniper, both sweet and sour citrus, barks, roots, coriander and other spices. But it’s not overpowering, and it stays true to the London dry style without becoming floral. With a strength of 47% alcohol, this packs plenty of wallop for a good cocktail, too, if you aren’t into drinking gin straight up.

Now that I’m cooking more steaks at home these days, I’ll be making lots of martinis and cocktails with this stuff. Go grab a bottle.