Category Archives: Restaurant Reviews

The Consulate

My wife and I popped in here for brunch and the place was PACKED!

We had a quick, meaty meal.

“The Hangover Burger” is a thick 8oz patty that’s topped with caramelized bourbon onions, blue cheese, pickles and a fried egg.

They cooked this fucker just right.

We also tried their grilled hanger steak and eggs dish, which came with a chimichurri sauce, a mixed greens salad and some roasted potatoes.

Not bad! I’d come back to try some of their dinner menu selections, and I’d probably try one or two of the sweeter brunch items (like the cast iron blueberry pancakes or the French toast).

THE CONSULATE
519 Columbus Ave
New York, NY 10024

The Dip

Apparently, the folks behind the incredible steak sandwich at 4 Charles Prime Rib have ventured out into the world of fast casual cuisine, opening up a sandwich shop on St Marks called The Dip.

The anchor of the small but focused menu is their French Dip sandwich, which is what I tried when I went.

Sandwiched between toasty garlic bread is a good sized portion of good quality shaved beef, melted gruyere, and diced cherry peppers. The horseradish cream sauce and jus come on the side. This will run you $16.50, before tax.

 

This was a killer sandwich; one of my best bites of the year. The dip and the sauce were both full of robust flavor to the point where you just want to keep on dipping.

The sandwich itself would be great on it’s own too though. You don’t really need the dip or the sauce if you don’t want them. The bread is fresh and flakey. The meat is textured yet tender. The cheese is melty but not molten. The peppers provide both spice and sweet. It’s perfect. And no, there’s not as much meat as the version at 4 Charles, but it’s also half the price here at The Dip.

There’s a bunch of other tasty sounding shit on the menu too, like fried chicken sandwiches, grilled cheeses and some limited-run specials. Eventually I’ll try them all. In particular, the Chicago hot dog looked great.

THE DIP
58 St Marks Pl A
New York, NY 10003

Kaikagetsu

I recently experienced a really delicious tasting menu at Kaikagetsu in the lower east side that featured some rare and delicious Hida beef from Japan. Not too many places are serving this stuff. Here’s how it went down:

We started with a small plate of assorted bites, each of which was more delicious than the last. Bluefin tuna marinated in ponzu sauce with chopped yam; minced chicken matsukaze with sesame seeds; cooked yam jelly with spicy soy; Brussels sprouts with salmon roe; and baked chestnuts.

This was paired with a really nice cloudy and bubbly cold sake.

Next up was a sashimi course that had some really awesome bluefin tuna, Kanpachi amberjack and Yagara cornetfish.

This was paired with another really nice sake, seen here:

Our third course was a mushroom, seafood and chicken soup served in a tea pot.

This next course was delicious. Super fresh and creamy uni served atop a tempura fried sheet of nori, with a fried taro potato ball.

Now for the beef, which was paired with a whisky and soda lowball.

First was a hot stone preparation of thinly sliced Hida beef shank, with onions, scallions and mushrooms.

This was great. It came with ponzu sauce, which wasn’t really needed, and a really unique smoked charcoal/ash salt. Killer.

Next up was a trio of beef sushi: one with caviar, one with orange, and one on a nori wrapper that was topped with uni.

Mine were all awesome, but a few other people at my table had some chewy beef. I guess they got some not-so-tender pieces of shank.

Finally, there was an array of individual bite-sized desserts (we each got five) along with some delicious, peppery herbal tea.

What a meal! I would definitely go back, especially because that Hida beef is so special. Give it a shot. They also have a really nice bar with unique spirits.

KAIKAGETSU
162 Orchard Street
New York, NY 10002

Green Garden Village

I recently went to Green Garden Village with a group of 12 people for a massive “Friendsgiving” dinner. This was a big meal so I’ll get right down to what we tried.

1) Whole Suckling Pig

This needs to be ordered in advance, so make sure you call ahead. It was delicious. They serve the crispy skin with the meat still attached in about 15 bao buns, and then a platter is filled of the rest of the pork.

I’d say if you just ordered this with a veggie and a noodle or rice dish, you’d be good for 4 or 5 people.

2) Grouper Three Ways

These were all light but really flavorful:

A) We had the fish filleted and steamed with scallions and ginger near the end of dinner.

B) The head and bones were used to make a milky-white fish broth that was served at the beginning of dinner (I didn’t take a photo of it).

C) This plate of grouper and cabbage is what was used in the soup (aside from the fish head and bones), along with tofu and Chinese mustard greens. They just strained it and served it on the side with the soup.

3) Alaskan King Crab Three Ways

These massive crabs are pricey, but they will serve it a few ways for you if you so choose:

A) Steamed w/ Garlic Over Ho Fun:

This was my favorite preparation. The ho fun noodles were awesome, and the garlic was just the right kind.of flavor to really make you appreciate the sweetness of the crab.

B) Fried Crab w/ Salted Duck Yolks:

Not sure why the shells get battered and fried, but I’ve certainly seen this before. The salted duck yolk was nice though.

C) Crab Brain Fried Rice:

This rice was delicious. Anything that isn’t large crab meat gets fried up and mixed into it.

4) Stir-Fried Fresh Eel

I’m not a huge fan of eel but this was nice.

5) House Special Stir Fry (mixed seafood with sugar snap peas)

This dish contained a lot of interesting stuff in it.

6) Mixed Mushrooms w/ Japanese Tofu

Whatever Japanese tofu is, I love it. Crispy outside and creamy custard-like interior. Awesome mix of mushrooms too. Wow. I liked the fucking tofu dish.

7) Peking Pork Chops

I wasn’t crazy about this one. Not the best chops, dogged up breading and the sauce was too sweet.

8) Sauteed Snow Pea Sprouts

Mandatory greens. These could’ve used a bit more pan heat and some more garlic flavor (no photo).

9) Crispy Garlic Chicken (half order)

This was delicious. I also appreciated that it wasn’t hacked into shitty, difficult-to-eat, bone-in bits and pieces, as often happens with Chinese poultry preparations.

10) Rack of Lamb (double order)

These were deliciously spicy, super tender and perfectly cooked inside. I was very happy with these.

Definitely give this place a shot. I think I like this a little place better than Wu’s Wonton King [link].

GREEN GARDEN VILLAGE
216 Grand Street
New York, NY 10013

Just Pho

After reading some positive reviews of this Northern style Vietnamese pho restaurant, my wife and I rushed in to try it just as soon as we had some free time.

Contrary to the name of the restaurant, they DO serve more than just pho. They also serve some spring rolls. We tried pork and crab. Both were great. Light, crispy, not too greasy, and big on flavor.

They also serve fresh coconut juice.

We ordered two different bowls of soup; combination beef, and chicken with an added poached egg. Both size medium.

My favorite of the two was the beef.

It had a nice deep beefy flavor from their 15-hour broth making process, and it was chock full of rare, thinly-sliced eye round and brisket.

The noodles were cooked perfectly and had a nice snap and bite to them – unlike so many joints downtown that overcook them into a mush that falls apart as soon as you grasp them with your chopsticks.

While the beef was my favorite, I can see myself getting this velvety, eggy chicken pho on cold winter days. Check out this video as the egg yolk gets mixed in:

 

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I highly recommend this spot. Go give it a shot.

JUST PHO
252 W 31st St
New York, NY 10001

The Stand

Wyoming Whiskey teamed up with pitmaster Tyson Ho (from Arrogant Swine in Brooklyn) for a killer meal at The Stand near Union Square.

To get the juices flowing, we sipped on the Wyoming Whiskey bourbon as well as a cocktail made with Delirium Tremens and the whiskey. Very nice.

We started with a delicious Brazilian style elk tartare that was paired with a herbaceous frozen cocktail called a batida that featured the whiskey.

Then we moved on to a Filipino style BBQ quail with a smoked old fashioned. This course was awesome.

The smoked leg of venison was nice, tender and thinly sliced, served with Bengali spices and a fat washed whiskey sour.

Next up was nori wrapped rib eye and BBQ sweetbreads. An odd combo for sure, but the sweetbreads were my favorite bites of the meal. This was paired with a nori and mushroom infused Manhattan.

Dessert was a nice blackberry and vanilla ice cream pie/crumble with a swig of the single barrel.

I really dug this meal. Most of this is not available on the regular menu at the Stand, but based on tasting chef Harold Villarosa’s cooking alongside Ho’s cooking, I would go back for sure.

THE STAND
116 East 16th St
New York, NY 10003

The Playboy Club

NOTE: THIS JOINT IS CLOSED

The Playboy club in NYC actually serves up some decent grub. The joint is not what you’d think, either. It’s not a strip club or some raunchy spot. It’s more like a classy version of Hooters with a night club in back. Hostesses near the front wear bunny outfits, similar to what you might see as a “sexy Halloween” outfit on the streets of NYC. But the restaurant part of the space is pretty much devoid of that kind of eye candy. I assume they hawk for bottle service in the club and show/stage space in back.

In any case, we came here to check out the food. We started with four apps: tuna tacos, wagyu sushi, crispy fried rock shrimp and beef tartare. Of these, the wagyu sushi was probably my favorite.

For a mid-course we shared the lamb chops with pesto (a little overcooked, but delicious) and the dry aged burger with aged cheddar, black garlic aioli and bacon onion jam (topped with a slider).

We were dipping our fries into that pesto from the lamb. It was awesome.

Last up, a 34oz dry aged rib eye with spicy citrus broccoli and more fries. This was actually a delicious 8/10, and it came with a bunch of nice sauces – my favorite of which was a sweet yet savory soy garlic sauce.

We had this with sides of garlic string beans and a towering phallus of onion rings.

Safe to say we were all pleasantly surprised by the food here. I’d probably go again.

THE PLAYBOY CLUB
512 West 42nd St
New York, NY 10036

Carbone

The moment you step inside Carbone you are instantly transported.

The dimly lit but lively dining room is both an homage to your Italian grandmother’s house as well as the restaurant where Michael shoots Sollozzo and McCluskey in The Godfather.

The place is immediately familiar and cozy. You may even recognize furniture and light fixtures if you grew up around Italian-Americans.

The music is all the great crooner hits from your favorite mob movies like Goodfellas, with some doo-wop classics from Bronx Tale mixed in. Not too loud, not too soft. And the food is some of the best red sauce Italian-American cuisine I’ve ever had.

The sharply dressed, deep burgundy tuxedo-clad servers will first bring to the table a basket of tomato focaccia, garlic bread and sliced Italian bread.

There’s also a plate of pickled cauliflower to snack on, some locally made finocchiona salami, and of course a nice hunk of parmigiano reggiano cheese.

We started with the truffle emulsion Piedmontese beef carpaccio, which is served with some peppery arugula, walnuts, chives, coarse salt, sliced mushrooms and a generous drizzle of some killer olive oil. This was hands down the best carpaccio dish I’ve ever had.

Their baked clams are pretty great as well. My favorite of the three styles is that center one, topped with pesto and uni. Absolutely awesome.

We tried three pasta dishes, because we are savage animals. The first was the spicy rigatoni vodka, which they describe as being “part of the DNA” of Carbone.

This was perfect. Perfectly spicy sauce, perfectly cooked pasta. Easily one of the best pasta dishes I’ve had this year. This is a must order pasta dish when you dine here. Even if you split it as an appetizer or something. Get that Carbone DNA in your mouth!

Next was the orecchiette with beans and cabbage.

This seasonal pasta was mildly reminiscent of the “pasta e fagiole” that I ate growing up, only with the escarole swapped out for cabbage, and with a less porridge-like texture. This you can eat with a fork on a plate, unlike what I grew up eating, which required a bowl and a spoon. Either way, delicious.

Finally, the tortellini with meaty ragu.

I’m generally not a huge fan of tortellini, but that’s probably because I’m used to the frozen or vac-sealed grocery store products that I usually eat cold (and dense) in a salad with olives, peppers and cheese. These bundles of joy were stellar. The stuffing inside was almost creamy, without any grainy or lumpy ricotta texture. And the sauce was going down my throat by the spoonful. Loved these. Absolutely beautiful plating as well.

We had a short break after the pasta and took down a trio of beautiful meatballs.

These off-menu delights are nice and tender, and packed with flavor. Rustically formed, you can sometimes get a chunk of melty cheese or a piece of soft, roasted garlic in the occasional lucky bite. These were great. Don’t be alarmed, either; they will be served pink in the middle.

For the entrees, we had both the veal parm and the pork chop with peppers. The veal was pounded out flat, and fried to a golden crisp with seasoned breadcrumbs. The bright sauce and melted cheese (both mozz and ricotta, with some grated parm on top) were topped with crispy basil leaves to bring home that nice herbaceous pop.

What a dish! They even serve it with the breaded and fried rib bone alongside the cutlet. And if you take some to go in a doggy bag, they’ll send you home with a sesame seed bun to make a sandwich out of the leftovers.

The pork with peppers reminded me of when my mom used to cook pork chops with cherry peppers and sliced potatoes as a kid. Nothing beats the taste of nostalgia, but this was a pretty close runner up. Those red peppers and onions on the side were delicious.

We were so stuffed that we had to skip dessert, despite the selections looking fantastic. I really wanted a slice of the lemon cheesecake.

But the captain, Jared, brought over some snacks for us after he saw how infatuated we were with all the little details in the restaurant that reminded us of growing up with Italian grandparents.

The rainbow cookies with espresso (and a splash of Sambuca!)…

The Jordanian candy-coated almonds (just like those old Italian wedding favors in the mesh bag)…

The simplicity of cotton candy grapes and walnuts (reminded me of Christmas Eve)…

And, of course, the Italian cookies and pastries from an old tin box…

It’s no wonder this place has a Michelin star and has become a tough reservation to score. I generally don’t like hyped up joints, but here it is well-deserved. We even saw Adam Sandler there. This place is worth your time and money. Go, as soon as you can! And if you’ve already been, then go back.

CARBONE
181 Thompson St
New York, NY 10012

Momofuku Noodle Bar

Once again David Chang pretty much disappoints. I understand and respect that he did a lot to expose certain aspects of Asian cuisine to folks here in NYC (and beyond), but I just don’t get why so many people are riding his dick so hard. The food just isn’t that good. Maybe it’s because he, himself, is not actually cooking? Not sure. But he gets doted on like crazy from places like Eater and the NY Times.

This man is supposed to be the wizard of fried chicken. Everyone says it. But two out of three times that I’ve tried his fried chicken, the experience was highly problematic. Fuku + was great. Ma Peche was half raw and half burnt. And this time at Noodle Bar the skin and batter wasn’t crisp enough – not by a long shot.

The bird was small but I don’t mind that. I actually prefer it, as the ratio of meat to skin and batter is usually better on a smaller bird. Also this bird had great flavor within the meat. But when there is little to no texture on the outside, it’s overall a let down.

Another let down was the “pork ramen.” When I associate David Chang with pork ramen I’m thinking of a rich, thick, fatty and almost milky tonkotsu broth. Not the case here. This was thin and lacked character. The slab of pork belly was nice enough, as were the noodles and the bamboo shoot. But the broth was weak. Even with a raw egg yolk mixed in, it was thin and watery. Maybe I’m just missing the point of this dish.

On the positive side of things, the creamy lemon and pepper lobster noodle dish was excellent. It sports lots of juicy and flavorful claw meat throughout, wide and perfectly cooked snappy noodles, and a hearty citrus and pepper zing.

The rice cakes were a bit soft but very tasty. When eaten with the corn you got the texture that was needed.

One thing I will say is that the prawn dish looked incredible. We were wishing we ordered that instead of the chicken every time we saw an order come up (we sat at the kitchen bar area). For $23 the dish comes with five huge baby lobster sized head-on prawns. Lightly batter fried and then dressed up for the big ball.

That about does it. I probably won’t come back here unless my wife and I are jonesing for that lemon-pepper lobster dish and those prawns.

MOMOFUKU NOODLE BAR
10 Columbus Circle
New York, NY 10019

Pastis

I stopped into Pastis yesterday to try the burger. It was fantastic!

I have to be honest – part of me wanted to hate it. I know Pastis was loved by many back in the day, but I always despised the crowd of douchebags who went there. The place was (and is) beautiful. I don’t remember the food so much from back in the day, but this perfect chef’d-up Big Mac will definitely have me going back for more. I’ll try a steak frites too eventually. The fries are amazing, and they give you a lot with the burger.

PASTIS
52 Gansevoort Street
New York NY 10014