Category Archives: Restaurant Reviews

Kissaki

I took my wife to Kissaki for her birthday since she likes omakase restaurants. This place did a great job. We went with their 13-course tasting menu, swapping out sashimi for nigiri on the sushi pieces, and we also shared a sake pairing (four generous pours that progressed through the meal).

My favorite items were the Santa Barbara uni, the thin sliced squid, the Japanese barracuda, and the Spanish mackerel.

I’m no omakase expert, but this place seemed to deliver very good quality at a great starting price point of $120 (for the nigiri – add $60 for the sashimi).

My only gripe: they should offer a combo of both nigiri and sashimi, since some of the nigiri sushi looked really interesting with wild toppings and flavors, while the sashimi pieces were more traditional and plain. A mixed piece menu would be a great way to get a taste of both modern and traditional.

KISSAKI BOWERY
319 Bowery
New York, NY 10003

Kaiseki Room by Yamada

This new Kaiseki tasting is available on 53rd Street at 6 1/2 Avenue, just across from La Grande Boucherie. It’s a small stretch of bar with two seatings each night, at 5pm and 8pm, for $300 each (more for sake the pairing). I took my wife here for a Christmas present/date night and we both loved it. Here’s everything we had:

Olive fed wagyu tartare with caviar:

Uni truffle and foie dashi:

Assorted sashimi:

Hand roll sushi (our favorite bite):

Here are some of the mushrooms coming up in the next courses:

Lobster and crab miso bisque:

This plate had five cold glasses that featured octopus, abalone, and other raw fish preparations:

Eel and tilefish:

Duck and winter mushrooms:

Rice with crab, roe and squid:

Bean ice cream and granita:

Freshly whipped matcha:

This is definitely worth splurging on for a special occasion. I’m interested to see how the hyper-seasonal menu will change throughout the year.

KAISEKI ROOM BY YAMADA
145 W 53rd St
New York, NY 10019

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

Jack & Charlie’s

Jack & Charlie’s just opened on Greenwich Avenue near 8th Avenue.

The place is absolutely stunning inside. The color scheme is mid century greens with dark wood paneled walls and floors. The odd shape of the building space makes for cozy and interesting nook-like seating in some corners. This was my favorite table in the joint:

Here’s the main bar:

Incredibly gorgeous art deco vibe there. There’s also an oyster bar in back, beside a wood fired brick pizza oven. Love those subway tiles:

Speaking of bars, the cocktails here are really nice. This first one is called “Needs a Name.” Basically a sort of coffee old fashioned, I suppose? Super unique, really tasty. The other is a martini called “Slightly Promiscuous,” with a goat cheese stuffed olive.

Anyway, lets get to the food, because it was amazing.

We started with three items: First, the Littleneck Clams Casino.

These were so good. Only down side: we wanted bread to soak up all that delicious lemony, buttery sauce.

Next, Shepherd’s Pie Croquettes, from under the “Bar Bites” part of the menu.

Note here that the bar does offer secret menu items that aren’t available at the table, such as French Dip sandwiches. However, the full dinner menu is available at both bars.

Anyway these were perfectly crisp outside, super soft and flavorful inside. And also not too insanely hot to eat right away. The kitchen is on point, and knows what they’re doing in terms of food temps so that diners don’t destroy the inside of their mouths.

Lastly, the steak tartare:

By far one of the best, most flavorful I’ve had in a long time. It’s made from hand cut tenderloin, and it’s dressed and spiced just right.

For our mid course, we had a salad and a pasta. The chopped veggie salad was surprisingly delicious. It had all the usual stuff which you can see, as well as radicchio, artichokes and hearts of palm. Some of my favorite things for salads.

The strozzapreti pasta with rabbit was killer! It had a really nice flavor that reminded me of the pasta e fagioli (aka “pasta fazool”) that I ate as a kid. The green in there is arugula.

I can’t wait to go back and try their other pasta dishes. All of them looked and sounded amazing.

For the mains, I had to try the two items that Chef Ed Cotton makes from what we supply them at Golden Packing. Each week, we send them ground duck and prime grade export ribs (whole racks of rib eye). Here’s what Ed does with the ground duck:

That’s a bone-in duck meatloaf!

I’ve never really eaten meatloaf, unless you consider Italian meatballs to be some kind of cousin to meatloaf. I was blown away by this. So flavorful, and the glaze on that thing was incredible. Make sure you get this when you come here.

With the export ribs, Ed makes slow roasted, pastrami rubbed prime rib.

This is only available on Friday’s and Saturday’s, first come first served, and while supplies last. I asked for a chuck side cut, and Chef Ed obliged!

Huge cap on that (spinalis). And the meat was probably the most tender that I’ve ever had for prime rib, even in the more densely structured eye/center muscle (longissimus). It comes with au jus, horseradish cream, warm popovers and a spice rubbed rib bone.

The meat on that is so delicious!

On the side, the hen of the woods mushrooms were out of the park! Meaty, earthy, and full of flavor. I had no interest in the traditional creamed spinach when I saw these babies on the menu.

For dessert, banana pudding!

This, with that scoop of ice cream on top, was just heaven. What a way to end a meal!

I can’t wait to go back here and try more stuff. There’s also a tomahawk rib chop and a strip steak on the menu, which are fired in the brick pizza oven at 750F! Gotta be good…

JACK & CHARLIE’S
118 Greenwich Ave
New York, NY 10011

Les Enfants de Boheme

I popped into this little French joint for Brunch last weekend. I tried the steak burger and really enjoyed it. it was topped with melted brie, thin sliced tomato and cucumbers, and tartar sauce, of all things. It really worked nicely. And the fries were BONKERS. I’d definitely eat this burger again.

LES ENFANTS DE BOHEME
177 Henry St
New York, NY 10002

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

Bacaro

I’m officially hooked on this place. A while back, my wife and I stopped in for a drink and an app – the fritto misto. We were already sort of full, but that pplate of mixed fried items like calamari, olives, lemon rinds, shrimp, and artichoke really made us want to go back.

Last night we finally did! We tried two more apps, meatballs and fried zucchini blossoms. Both were incredible. In fact, the meatballs are some of the best I’ve had outside of family.

The fried zucchini blossoms are stuffed with velvery smooth ricotta and served with an anchovy pesto oil. I liked swiping them in the meatball sauce though.

The pasta entrees are pretty large servings! Check out this massive bowl of gnocchi with peas and mushrooms.

The cavatelli with duck meat ragu was a massive serving too.

They had to be half a pound each. We couldn’t finish! I’ll definitely be back here to try more pastas, and perhaps one or two of the fish items from their entree menu.

BACARO
136 Division St
New York, NY 10002

Little Rebel

I came here with my wife and another couple to try out some of the menu items, as this place just recently opened about a month ago.

We tried two flavors of wings: maple waffle, and everything bagel. My favorite was the everything bagel. They even came with little blobs of creamed cheese.

The popcorn shrimp was addictive. I could easily eat 3 bowls

Massive chicken sandwich, topped with excellent quality thick cut bacon.

Both regular and truffle fries are great as well. And the burger was executed perfectly.

The pork belly was a bit too sweet from the candied orange on top, but otherwise it was very nicely cooked and tender.

They also have some really creative coctails.

Definitely give this place a shot. For bar food, this place has an elegant setting and some really high quality menu items.

LITTLE REBEL
219 2nd Ave
New York, NY 10003

Baker & Co.

My wife and I came here with another couple for a double date. We started with the pizzette that was on special, which involved squash, figs and balsamic:

Excellent. The fried calamari was great too, and, in fact, was mixed with fried shrimp and artichoke as well.

Speaking of artichokes, this fried artichoke salad was probably the low key winner of the starters.

For my main, I had the paccheri with lamb ragu and fava beans. Delicious!

My wife’s duck with black truffle and mushrooms entree was the winner, however. I wish I took a pic.

Dessert: Vanilla panna cotta. Perfection.

I would definitely go back here for another meal. They have a dry aged burger on the menu – maybe I’ll try that!

BAKER & CO.
259 Bleecker St
New York, NY 10014