Category Archives: Restaurant Reviews

Imli Urban Indian

I was recently invited into Imli to try out some of the restaurant’s popular menu items and write a review. My wife and I came here early in the dinner service on a Wednesday, and there was already a good amount of people not only sitting for a meal, but also hanging out at the joint’s beautiful bar and in their outdoor enclosed garden space.

We started off with a pair of interesting cocktails: The Kachumber Cooler (Hendricks Gin, St. Germain, lychee juice, cucumber), and the Desi Daaru (Old Monk, Thumbs Up, coriander, chaat, tabasco). Both were really great and unique.

Bhal is brought out to each table before the meal. This is a savory street style snack made from puffed rice, shreds of fried chic pea, onions, spices, tamarind sauce and chutney. This stuff was absolutely addicting!

This becoming known for its cross-over cuisine and tapas style bites, so we tried a bunch of those first. First were the grilled tandoori chicken wings.

These babies rocked! They’re marinated in Indian spices and then cooked until super tender. They had a great char on them from the grill, and the sauces pack both heat and cooling elements.

Next up was the spiced lamb scotch egg.

The egg was perfectly cooked, and the minced lamb around the outside was reminiscent of the grilled skewers of minced lamb that you commonly see at Indian restaurants (seekh kabob). I really liked this dish.

Our next bite was less of a cross-over food item: cauliflower tikki.

This is a variation on the popular aloo tikki. Rather than potatoes and onions, it’s made with cauliflower.

After being amply fed for the snack portion of the meal, we decided to split a chicken tikka pizza for our main course.

This is not only a great idea, but a really tasty one as well. Recently my wife and I ate some naan at an Indian joint near our apartment, and I was commenting how I think naan in general is a perfect vehicle for something like pizza. I was really excited to see it on the menu here.

Speaking of naan, this joint offers a huge variety of naan options, all of which look delicious.

But anyway, the pizza was topped with chicken tikka masala, diced tomato, sliced of bell pepper and minced red onion. Really tasty. Perhaps just a drizzle of a cooling yogurt sauce across the top as a finishing touch would really put this dish over the top.

Last but not least, we tried some Indian cardamom and ginger tea, along with Indian style ice cream (kulfi).

This was flavored with fennel seed, condensed milk and paan/betel nut leaves, and was a really refreshing way to end the meal.

I’m looking forward to coming back here again. Namely, I want to try the coconut and green chili clams, and some of the beef and lamb dishes. They do a really great job here, and I see a bright future for this joint. It’s only been open for two months and it’s already generating a big buzz in the neighborhood.

IMLI URBAN INDIAN FOOD
1136 1st Avenue
New York, NY 10065

Sushi By Bou

The concept of a quick and high quality meal is something in which all NYC denizens are interested. Sushi By Bou executes that concept in spades with its 30 minute omakase.

Some of you might already be familiar with the kiosk location of this joint down in Gansevoort Market. Same idea, but this is a dedicated space in a really fun location beneath the Sanctuary Hotel near Times Square.

There’s only room for about 7-10 people inside, but with fast 12 or 13 piece nigiri offerings, you won’t have to wait very long if they’re already full. Enjoy one of the awesome cocktails while you wait.

There’s some great showmanship too. Chef David is an outgoing guy, funny, and enjoys chatting it up with the diners. And in such a small setting, you may as well get to know the people you’re eating with for the next 30 minutes. The scenery is nice too. I enjoyed watching David torch some of the pieces of nigiri.

Here’s some video of him making the wagyuni (uni on top of seared wagyu):

There’s really no point in me reciting what each piece was and giving a review of them one by one. They were all fantastic. Don’t murder me if I mislabel any of these, but I think I did a pretty good job of identifying them all.

Hamachi

Tuna

Shrimp

Golden Snapper

Scallop

Wagyu

Uni

Salmon

Tuna Belly

Flipjack

Wagyuni

Roe

Eel

My favorites, obviously, involved wagyu, uni and roe, but I was also impressed with the scallop and skipjack pieces as well. I highly recommend checking this place out. You won’t be disappointed

SUSHI BY BOU
The Sanctuary Hotel
132 W 47th St
New York, NY 10036

Grace Street

My and some fools stopped in this place after a night of KBBQ nearby. We tried some mochi, waffles with caramel and ice cream, and “shaved snow.”

Everything was great here, though admittedly a bit pricey. Luckily my buddy paid. Maybe that’s why he’s giving me the finger above.

GRACE STREET
17 W 32nd St
New York, NY 10001

Shabu Tatsu

Shabu Tatsu is a Japanese shabu shabu (hot pot) and yakiniku (grilling) restaurant in the East Village. They offer up a variety of really great thinly sliced meats to sear up on the butter-basted skillet, or dip into their kombu and vegetable broth for a quick cook.

Some friends of mine brought me along on their dinner where they were meant to feature Kirin beer with the food, in hopes to promote Japanese cuisine and tourism with an Instagram contest. Here’s what we had:

YAKINIKU

Their mixed platter of meats for grilling contained beef tongue, liver, short rib, and rib eye, as well as pork.

The beef tongue was probably my favorite. These babies cook up quick since they’re thin, so you just want to get a good sear on them for color and flavor.

We also grilled off some wagyu rib eye. This stuff was so highly marbled and decadent.

SHABU SHABU

For the hot pot portion of the meal, we had some nice thinly sliced beef rib eye and pork loin.

I still prefer Chinese hot pot over this style, because the broth flavors are more robust and powerful. This broth was mainly water with a small kombu leaf in it, and then you load up some veggies in there as well. It’s still really good, just a preference for me.

The best part of the meal, however, was the starter course! We tried three apps: grilled squid, braised pork belly and dumplings.

The pork belly was incredible. It was cooked in a thick citrus sauce and had a great kick from the spicy mustard on top. I highly recommend that dish.

SHABU TATSU
216 E 10th St #St1
New York, NY 10003

Suprema Provisions

This joint has been getting a lot of love on Instagram ever since my buddies from the Gotham Burger Social Club rated The Suprema Burger as their best, awarding it 9.3 out of 10 points.

So what makes this burger so good? Perhaps it’s the iberico jam, the black garlic sauce, or the aged cheddar cheese sauce. Maybe it’s the perfectly cooked patty, or the roasted grape tomatoes on top. Whatever it is, it’s the perfect union of flavors. And, I mean, come on… look at this fucking thing.

Everything about it just works.

My readers know me, though: I always want a crunch element, and that’s the only thing that was missing in my eyes. But this is nearly perfect, and definitely has a spot on my top five list for restaurant burgers.

Interesting quirk: the burger comes with roasted Brussels sprouts rather than French fries. I didn’t see any fries on the menu, but they’re not very popular in Italian cuisine anyway. Perhaps some fried polenta would satisfy the starch pairing/craving for this burger though. In any case, this burger kicks a whole lot of ass.

But the burger isn’t the only thing that kicks ass at Suprema. Check out this menu and see what items cause your undies to bulge.

We tried a bunch of shit when we went, in order to help promote for the restaurant. Cheers to that.

Realistically though, ever since Gotham Burger Social Club posted their review, the restaurant has seen a big influx of customers. They’re doing just great without my pictures. But here we go…

Braised Octopus

This had a great green olive tapenade and more of those delicious roasted grape tomatoes. The octo itself was super tender, crispy, meaty. On the bottom is a pair of black crispy fried polenta squares. Perhaps they’re colored with squid or octo ink, or maybe even the black garlic that we saw in the burger. Either way – tasty.

Crab & Uni Fettuccine

This was my least favorite of the night. But since it was still a good dish, that’s not a knock in the slightest. For my taste, it was a bit fishy (likely from the warm uni) and lacked a bit of salt. The crab was excellent, however, and the pasta was perfectly cooked.

Photo Credit: Mike Puma of Gotham Burger Social Club

Lasagna

Braised pork, bechamel sauce and ricotta are layered into this shit, and everything is baked into individual cast iron dish-pans. The very bottom was a bit watery and didn’t “set” properly, but that’s nothing a few minutes of waiting will cure before diving in. We savaged the fuck out of this very quickly. Excellent dish.

Meatballs

These are pretty great, and I’m a harsh critic when it comes to meatballs. It’s tough to beat mom’s. Firm, but not hard. Tender, but not mushy. Rich with flavor and properly cooked. A little bit of crusty sesame Italian bread to sop up the delicious sauce here, and you Paisans out there are all set.

Roasted Chicken

Most people like me would cringe at the idea of ordering chicken at a restaurant when there is clearly a pork or beef option available, as well as shitloads of salumi. But I, and those like me, would be missing out at Suprema if we ignored the chicken. This shit was fantastic. It’s brined for many hours, so the flavor penetrates deep to the bone. Not only is the flavor good, but the meat is juicy and tender – like Kim Kardashian’s ass cheeks, only less fatty. The skin is rubbed with a spice mix and roasted to a delicious crisp. Even the tit meat is on point, and not even one bite was dry. This fucking dish is mint.

This joint reminds me a lot of the salumeria spots in Italy that I loved so much. I’m sure I will be here a lot in the weeks to come, taking advantage of the delicious Summer cocktails they mix up, and enjoying the open air but shaded tables along 7th avenue in the West Village.

In summary, get the fuck over to this place as quickly as you can. Go. Don’t be an asshole.

SUPREMA PROVISIONS
305 Bleecker St
New York, NY 10014

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 Crimson Sparrow

I first became acquainted with The Crimson Sparrow when I hung out with chef-owner John McCarthy at a mutual friend’s party.

We traded social media info and kept up with each others’ food exploits online. I always thought his dishes looked so beautiful and sounded so delicious, but I wasn’t sure when I’d ever get to try them – John being up in Hudson, NY and me being NYC-based.

Well, it turns out that I was scheduled to go on a farm tour in Ghent, NY the weekend before the 4th of July. Upon checking out the map of where Ghent was, and planning how I was going to get there, I realized I would be passing through Hudson. I decided to make a small weekend trip out of this farm tour, and to bring my wife along.

It was a no-brainer, at that point, that I’d be visiting John at The Crimson Sparrow. We first went in for the tasting menu, late in the evening after we finished up that farm tour in Ghent.

I have to say… Chef John is doing some really amazing things here. He’s clearly inspired by Japanese cuisine; its preparation, its focus, its simplicity, its artistry. And while he does highlight a lot of Japanese ingredients, he’s also drawing inspiration from his local environs in the Hudson valley as well, and even dropping some overt hints of French technique and Korean flavors as well.

John has been all over the globe honing his cuisine. He used to be an attorney, but then ditched that for the culinary arts. He’s French trained, but he spent a significant amount of time in Japan absorbing all he could. He even did a 5-year stint with Wiley DuFresne at WD-50 in NYC before deciding it was time to press out on his own.

The Crimson Sparrow offers an a la carte menu, but the big draw for me was this multi-course tasting menu, priced at just $95.

I was eager to dig in when we arrived, just like how I’m eager to write about the meal now. I hope your mouth doesn’t water too much, because after I finish describing the tasting menu, you’ll have to stay tuned and read on for the incredible restaurant tour and daytime snack bites that I experienced the following day.

Course 1: Maitake Mushroom

This was crispy yet meaty, and had great flavors from the black truffle and lemon. The only thing I was hoping for here was maybe a flake of sea salt as a finishing item – maybe some nori smoke on that salt too.

Course 2: Yukon Potato

This Yukon Gold potato was shredded and fried to a crisp, topped with smoked egg yolk, cheddar and sea salt. This was essentially a creamy, smokey nest of potato chips. Awesome!

Course 3: Cucumber Crab

This dish reminded me of a really fucking delicious version of something like tuna salad, or crab salad, if you will. Really light and refreshing. I found myself wishing this was offered as a lunch sandwich on some nice, lightly toasted white bread with shiso leaf. I could eat that every day.

Course 4: Dashi with Purple Potato

The photo doesn’t do this dish justice. It was gorgeous. Purple potato, dashi broth, bonito flakes, and a nori aoli mix together to form a really refreshing cold soup. There were hints of miso and mustard flavors coming through as well. Nicely executed.

Course 5: Enoki Mushrooms

I love enoki mushrooms. These were treated simply and allowed to shine for what they are; cooked with binchotan (a kind of Japanese charcoal). They were dressed with soy and topped with shredded nori and sesame seeds. Perfect, really juicy, snappy like noodles, but textured and satiating like a meat protein.

Course 6: Soft Shell Crab

I had a bad experience with soft shell crab when I was younger. The crab I had was too far along after molting, and some parts of the shell were no longer soft. They were like shrimp shells, and it grossed me out. But lately I’ve been dabbling more into soft shell crabs, because I know they can be really good. Here at The Crimson Sparrow they are excellent. It’s lightly batter-fried and served with a mizuna corn kimchi sauce. There was a nice citrus and pepper-spice pop to this dish. Extremely soft shell, great fry batter.

Course 7: Abalone with Pine Nuts

This dish isn’t on the regular tasting menu. Chef John brought it out special for us. I’m so grateful that he did, because this fucking thing was one of the best dishes I’ve ever had in my entire life. I don’t say that lightly either.

Chef John first sous vides the abalone with pork belly and dashi. The pine nuts are pressure cooked with liquid from the bacon and abalone sous vide broth. Are you fucking kidding me? Then an abalone liver and squid ink emulsion is put on the bottom of the plate before serving (the black bits in the photo below).

This dish had such a nice buttery, savory, meaty flavor, and the pine nuts were like farro or barley in texture – like an “ancient grain” kind of starch, or beans. Truly amazing.

Course 8: Shrimp Dumplings

The broth/sauce here was killer: lemongrass, ginger and scallop. Really smooth and rich, and the dumplings were perfectly cooked, like excellent seafood ravioli.

Course 9: Hamachi

These slices of Hamachi exhibit simplicity and Chef John’s respect for the protein, while the cabbage, shiso, shiso oil, nori oil and yuzu broth demonstrates complexity of flavor and John’s extremely impressive skills as a chef. This dish represents exactly what he is doing here at The Crimson Sparrow: simplicity and complexity in the right balance.

Course 10: A5 Wagyu Picanha

Picanha is a Brazilian cut of beef, but it’s the same as “top sirloin cap” here in the states, only with the layer of fat left on that we Americans usually trim off.

This dish was not on the regular tasting menu either. The flavor was wild. It’s beef, but it tastes more like foie gras. It’s very rich in flavorful, oily fats. That large layer of fat can still be chewy, even on A5 Wagyu, but at times you can take it down because it gets so soft.

This beef hailed from the Miyazaki prefecture, which is known as one of the best in Japan for producing highly marbled beef. That little pile of magic dust on the side? Kalamata olive salt. So nice.

Course 11: Pork Belly Congee

This was really tasty. Congee is rice porridge. This one was made with porcini mushrooms and chili oil in the mix, aside from the delicious and tender pork belly. This is perfect “pick-me-up” comfort food right here.

Course 12: Aged Strip Loin

Obviously I loved this dish. It was served with ssamjang (Korean black bean sauce), dressed fresh soy beans and endive.

Here’s what the full plate looked like:

Palate Cleanser: Amazake

This amazake is a young sake made with fermented black and white rice and sweetened with ginger. It was creamy, sweet, slightly bubbly, and really delicious.

Dessert: “American Psycho” on a Plate (that’s my name for it)

This beautiful Jackson Pollock / Patrick Bateman mash-up of plating artistry is a sponge cake with blue- rasp- and mul- berries. There were notes of citrus or yuzu, and even avocado cream in the anglaise. Those beautiful red splatters were done with beet sauce.

Okay so that covers the tasting menu. The next day we came back when John was a little less busy to hang out with him a bit. He gave us a cool tour of the restaurant and kitchen.

Here’s the outside:

The bar is outfitted with some cool things that John salvaged from the property when he first purchased it. Part of the property used to be an old Packard auto shop, and another part was a bakery.

The main dining room is gorgeous. It’s outfitted with some antiques that John either found on the property (like the lamps), or items for which he bartered with local antique shop owners to obtain (like the wine cart).

This part of the property was actually a bakery at one point, and this room was the inside of the massive oven. The table was custom made to accommodate the 9 inch floor slope from one end of the room to the other.

A more private room for larger parties is also available to customers.

The kitchen is housed in the space where Packard used to wash and detail their cars. Those windows you see on the right are massive, and there’s a strip of cool bar stool seats where diners can sit and watch all the kitchen action.

John also showed me the Wagyu strip loin that he’s aging in the walk-in. I think this hunk of deliciousness has been going for over 100 days.

John has a rooftop herb garden as well.

That day we also tried some light snacks in the outdoor garden seating area – a gorgeous space.

This is a pork bun. Really nice flavors, and that pork was stewed to perfection.

These soy beans are similar to the beans on the tasting menu that came with the aged beef dish, but served on a giant shrimp chip.

Also, they serve crisp Orion beer for just $5. Great to sip while enjoying a sunny day on the patio.

 

I think that about does it. You guys need to check this place out if you’re ever in the area. I’m dead serious when I tell you that this was the best tasting menu omakase style meal I’ve ever had, and that abalone dish… Holy shit man. Ask for it when you go.

THE CRIMSON SPARROW
746 Warren St
Hudson, NY 12534

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

Wm. Farmer & Sons

I tried some smoked wings and a burger at this joint in Hudson. The wings were pretty good, but had more of a tomato and red pepper sauce on them as opposed to something more traditional like Buffalo sauce.

The burger needed a bun upgrade, but was otherwise pretty great. Standard double patty style with “special sauce” that was reminiscent of Thousand Island dressing.

Beautiful dining space.

And really nice cocktails and homemade sodas.

WM FARMER & SONS
20 S Front St
Hudson, NY 12534

Cafe Le Perche

Breakfast at this bakery-slash-restaurant joint was pretty fantastic.

I had an amazing lobster BLT sandwich that must have had a pound of good lobster claw meat on it.

My wife’s “little breakfast” was just $9 and had a ton of food on the plate.

The only downer was the side order of truffle fries. They were more like roasted potato wedges, not too crisp, and I think they were simply hit with some truffle oil to give it an aroma.

CAFE LE PERCHE
230 Warren St
Hudson, NY 12534