At the conclusion of a short British food tour, my friends and I wandered into Myers of Keswick. This place is a grocery store of sorts, that specializes in British imports of all types. Canned foods, dry foods, soft drinks, candy, etc. But they also have a gorgeous deli case with fresh foods, and they’re known for their meat pies.
First we broke into the steak & ale pie, which was my favorite of the two we tasted on site.
My buddy Nick took me on a little British food tour in the West Village that started off at Dame, a relatively new pop-up style joint that only offers their incredible fish & chips on Fridays and Saturdays. Take a look at this perfection:
They also sell wines and other nice provisions.
But I have to say, these were the best fish & chips I’ve ever had. Really light and crisp outside with nooks and crannies galore in the fried batter. Tender and juicy inside, hot and steamy. Really great quality fresh fish, filleted and cleaned on site – no bagged or frozen bullshit. And absolutely perfect thick, crispy fries… I mean CHIPS.
Make your way over here for this special treat. You won’t be disappointed.
This old school Italian joint is known for having some great parms, whether it’s chicken, veal, eggplant or whatever. Of the three I tried, the veal with vodka sauce, peas and prosciutto took home the win and beat out both the standard chicken and veal varieties.
The meal began with an awesome platter of antipasto (probably the best I’ve had) meatballs, and baked clams oreganata.
We tried three different pasta dishes: cacio e pepe, carbonara, and linguine with clams. Of these, I will throw down with the carbonara every time.
The star of the mains, however, was not the veal parm, but, rather, a special double cut pork chop that was prepared with vinegar cherry peppers. Awesome, and cooked perfectly. The photo doesn’t do it justice.
This is definitely a place you’ll want to go to repeatedly to take advantage of both the great regular menu items as well as the daily specials.
55 E. Houston St
New York, NY 10012
Gupshup is an awesome Indian joint in Union Square that serves up some amazing meat-centric items.
Their pepper beef appetizer is one of the best things I’ve eaten so far this year, and I’ve been on a serious meat binge. Super tender, great spice levels, lots of freshness popping from the greens and pickled radish, all delivered on a light, crisp paratha. I can’t get enough of this dish!
Their spicy double lamb cheeseburger is really great too. There’s a hint of mint chutney for brightness, and a wild special sauce slathered onto the underside of the top brioche bun.
Cooked to a perfect medium rare, and paired with their magic masala shoestring fries, you can’t go wrong!
But the real attention grabber here is their large format roasted leg of lamb.
This is 3.5lbs of juicy, tender, perfectly roasted lamb, accompanied by lamb jus, crispy roasted potatoes, pickled red onion, roasted cipollini onion, roasted garlic and paratha for making tacos.
At just $75 this platter will feed three to four people without breaking the bank. That’s a steal! You just need to give the restaurant a 24-hour advance notice if you want this, since it takes some extra time to prepare it just right. I could eat this every week.
Also worth mentioning; fantastic cocktails here, with Indian flavor profiles worked into the mixology. Really delicious. Pictured below is a gin, chai and cardamom martini, and a bourbon cocktail that was going down WAY too easily.
If you’ve been following along with my meat adventures on Instagram, you might have seen me tag or mention Babylon Village Meat Market in some of my posts since the summer. This market carries some really high quality beef, including rare beef from Japan like snow beef, olive fed wagyu, etc. Marbled to holy hell.
In addition to the rare stuff, they also have plenty of prime, dry-aged steaks, and everything else you might expect to find at a village meat shop, from salami to sandwiches, from porchetta to potato salad to produce to prepared pasta. They’re even launching their own brand of jerky, which is insanely tender and delicious.
Below is a nice unboxing video I made, from when the owner sent me a care package wishing me good luck in the new apartment. I was blown away by his generosity.
I can’t wait to dig into more of this stuff!
BABYLON VILLAGE MEAT MARKET
85 Deer Park Ave
Babylon, NY 11702
Zafi’s Luncheonette is a small, old school counter-service diner on the lower east side.
They do have some regular seating, but the counter is the best way to enjoy an old school diner like this. If indoor dining resumes in NYC, you’ll be able to pop a squat there with spacing between stools.
I had their burger, which was meh at best, but the vanilla milk shake made it all worth while. That thing was absolutely perfect.
I’ll be back here to work my way through some of their more traditional diner menu items, like a gyro, club sandwich, chopped steak, etc. Hopefully they will all be better than the burger.
500 Grand St
New York, NY 10002
Quality Bistro opened back in January, if I recall, right when I started a hellish new job with insane demands on my time. Then, of course, the entire city went into lockdown from Covid-19. Somehow my work-life balance got even worse. I’m only just now finally beginning to break away from the +60 hours/week grip of this gig, to get back out there and review restaurants for you savage bastards.
Anyway, the point of that bullshit preface is really just to say that I’m excited to finally write about a new(ish) joint that I’ve tried, especially one that’s serving some awesome food.
Here’s my quick video run down of those spots, if you haven’t seen it:
First of all, this new place, Quality Bistro, is totally decked out. This is easily the most gorgeously decorated space in the entire Quality Branded suite of restaurants. High ceilings, beautiful booths, decor and tables – really on another level. They spared no expense. So when you go here, make sure you request a table inside. I recommend the booths in the room on the left when you walk in. The bar is sick too (hopefully some day soon we will be allowed to sit at one again).
The menu is decidedly French, which makes sense given the “bistro” restaurant name. But like all their other restaurants, they are aggressively beef-forward. I wouldn’t call them a steakhouse, per se, but they get very close to it. They offered five steak cuts when I was there: a filet mignon, a strip, a bavette, a tomahawk and a “cote de boeuf” rib eye for two. We went with the tomahawk, but let me run through the other stuff we tried.
We started with the escargots and the crab cake. The escargots are probably some of the best I’ve had in the city, rivaling Paul Denamiel’s at Le Rivage. Very close competition! And they’re in the shell too, which I love. Order these, and get a dozen because you save $10 when you jump from a half ($19) to a full dozen ($29).
The crab cake is massive. It’s about the size of an 8oz burger patty, thick too. Super crisp, great sauce. I think this would be amazing as a lunch sandwich with pickled green tomato on a brioche bun or a croissant, with a bit more green on top. Absolutely delicious.
Our mid course was the prime tomahawk. This comes slathered with Rogue Creamery smokey blue cheese – a TON of it!
The smell coming off of this thing was so amazing. It filled the massive dining room with funk.
The cook temp was a perfect medium rare. So juicy, so tender, and so packed with flavor. This is an easy 9/10. I stripped the fucker clean!
We chased that with the corn custard brûlée. I had high hopes for this, but it fell short for two reasons: (1) The inside was less custard and more clumpy scrambled egg. This is usually a turn off for me, but the flavor was really good, so I still devoured it. And (2), a bit heavy on the caramelized sugar on top. Too thick for my liking. The flake salt, however, really made the flavors on this pop. I can see this side being a star with a bit more fine tuning.
*SEE UPDATED REVIEW NOTES BELOW!*
Our third course was the Moroccan fried chicken. They serve a whole bird for two in a beautiful tagine with fresh cilantro, Moroccan pancakes and a trio of dipping sauces (spicy honey, Moroccan cilantro chimichurri and citrus yogurt).
The breading is really nicely spiced, with great middle eastern earthiness and aromas.
Absolutely jerkworthy. I’d get this again in a heartbeat. In fact, I’m glad we ordered big, because we took more than half of it home. I’m about to eat the left overs right now, and I’m psyched!
Last, we had the apple tart sundae with cinnamon ice cream. This was really good, and big enough to share with your date at just $12. The cinnamon ice cream tasted like Cinnamon Toast Crunch, my absolute favorite cereal of all time!
I guess that about does it for now. I plan to go back and try some of the other cuts, particularly the bavette frites, since that’s a little less common on menus. Definitely give this place a shot. Gaetano, Scott and Roger will treat you right. They provide amazing, clean service here, and you’ll feel safely spaced apart and very comfortable. Can’t believe I have to even mention such things right now…
My wife and I went back for round two, and tried a bunch more stuff.
For apps, we tried the taste flame, which is the joint’s take on Detroit style pizza + bread service. This was incredible!
Probably my favorite app here so far though, is this tuna carpaccio. Spicy, fresh, and deliciously refreshing.
These jambon beurre bites are pretty damn tasty as well.
This time, my wife went with the branzino. This was perfectly cooked and very flavorful. It comes with a choice of either salad or fries.
I went with the bavette, and also went with the French fries option.
They developed a great char on the outside…
While maintaining a perfect cook temp on the inside…
This was a solid 8/10. Really nicely executed.
On the side, we gave the corn brûlée another spin, and MAN were we glad that we did. As I expected, with the improvements I outlined above, this dish was a star. Much nicer texture inside (real custard-like), and lighter on the sugar top. PERFECT!
So that’s two steaks down, three to go: filet, strip, and rib eye for two. I’LL BE BACK!
Despana is a little wine shop, gourmet Spanish grocery, and tapas/pintxos bar in Soho, all rolled into one. My wife won a wine tasting here in a silent auction, so last night we went in to give it a shot.
We tried six different wines from Spain that utilized grape varietals that I have never tried before. All were great. I’m not a wine snob by any means, but I do appreciate the good stuff and I know it when I taste it.
Speaking of tasting good shit, the snacks here are delicious.
That lean muscle lomo on the bottom right side of the charcuterie board was amazing. And that sous vide octopus? BUTTER!
In all my years in NYC, I never tried Balthazar until last night. I had heard all the great stories: awesome steaks, awesome fries, awesome bread. Only one of those is true, but there are other things worth noting.
My wife and I stopped in for a quick meal at the bar. We started with some nice stiff cocktails, and a pair of apps: escargots and steak tartare. BIG FRENCH.
The escargots were awesome. We crushed them quickly. The tartare was average to good, but the slices of toasted bread were awesome. In fact, the Balthazar bread is so good that other restaurants use Balthazar bread for their bread service.
For our mains, we had the burger and the steak frites.
The burger was really good. Nice crust, great flavor, ample cheese coverage.
The steak, however…
… was Applebees level trash. It was cooked nicely, but the quality was average at best.
I can make anything look good, but this was a 5/10 or 6/10 at best. At $42 this felt like a rip off, and I think it was either flank or flatiron. Not strip as I was kind of expecting. The fries were very good, but not quite at awesome level. Go across town to Raoul’s if a killer burger and steak frites is what you’re after. Here, I would stick to the bread, the burger, and the snails. And yes, the fries are still worth trying if you haven’t already.