Category Archives: Restaurant Reviews

Mt Kisco Diner

A college friend of mine, Harry Georgiou, owns and runs the Mt. Kisco Diner, which has been in his family for years. He’s taken a bold initiative while at the helm, renovating the space to look more like a beautiful restaurant than a typical diner.

It has a fully stocked wrap-around bar, a spacious and beautiful dining room, and comfortable seating. There’s even an outdoor garden area if you want to eat outside.

But that’s not where his initiative stops. Harry and his staff have gotten really creative with their extensive menu. They’ve taken the quality and craftsmanship of the food up several notches from what you might expect at even a really great diner.

Let’s look a few examples right off the bat.

The Gastro Burger is a 9oz proprietary blend of always fresh, never frozen beef (ground daily in-house), and topped with smoked gouda, bacon onion jam, grilled apple, and roasted garlic aioli, all on a nice pretzel bun.

And that’s not the only great burger that they offer. There are 15 different burgers on their menu, including non-beef options and classic beef styles like this Big Top Burger (melted American and Swiss, and caramelized onions and mushrooms on a brioche bun).

These things are gourmet quality at diner prices ($12-$15). They all come with a pickle, and either mixed greens or fries.

Speaking of French fries, the menu has an entire “frites bar” that features six different styles of French fry. I went with the Herbed Truffle Fries. These things were absolutely perfect! Amazing crisp on the outside, nice and soft inside. Not too overpowering with the truffle, and just the right amount of salt and seasoning from the parmesan cheese. Also really fucking beautiful!

I also got a taste of my forte: Steak! I was skeptical at first, as I would typically never order a steak at a diner. But this is not a typical diner, and Harry insisted that I try their skirt steak. I’m glad I listened.

Not only was this plating beautiful and unique, but it had some awesome looking grill marks on it to boot.

As you can see it came with crispy fried union strings and sautéed garlic spinach.

The interior was cooked to a perfect medium rare. It’s been a while since I had a great skirt steak. This baby really hit the spot!

It doesn’t end there. Nope. I had to try one more of Harry’s menu upgrades: the Grown-Up Grilled Cheese. There are a few of these, but I went with the “Alpine” grilled cheese.

As you can see it comes with a cup of creamy roasted tomato soup, but in-between the thick, toasty, country white bread is where the sandwich starts kicking some serious ass.

That’s crispy pancetta, gruyere, caramelized onions, baby arugula, and tomato with white balsamic vinaigrette. Amazing!

I also sampled some or the more normal menu items as well, like bruschetta and chicken quesadillas.

The execution is still on point. No one in the bustling kitchen is cutting any corners. Everything is made very nicely.

I mean they even have a baker on site, making all the desserts in-house, fresh. And they’re all really beautiful.

I tried a delicious slice of lemon meringue pie that I brought home with me (not pictured), but while I was at the diner, I was anxious to drink one of Harry’s mega-shakes.

These are very popular with the kids these days. This Chocolate Chip Cookie Shake is made with vanilla ice cream, a chocolate swirl, and chocolate chips. Then it’s topped with a nice thick whipped cream and a mini ice cream cookie sandwich. I swapped my chocolate chips out for Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal.

I’m glad I was somehow able to save room for that tasty and refreshing shake. It was just the right amount of crazy. I know some places are going way over the top with their shakes these days, and I can’t stand it. This was just right.

I really can’t wait to get back up here to try the breakfast selections. You guys should check out their Instagram account to get your juices flowing.

MT KISCO DINER
252 E Main St
Mt Kisco, NY 10549

Seed + Mill

When I was a kid, I used to eat halva like it was my job. It’s probably my absolute favorite sweet thing to eat aside from soft serve vanilla ice cream. Seed + Mill sells halva cakes, but they also have goat’s milk vanilla soft serve ice cream. That’s double whammy for me in the dessert world. So when my buddy Jay from The Dishelin Guide set up a little influencer gig there, I was all over it.

I started with some of that soft serve goat’s milk ice cream in a blue corn tortilla cone, topped with shredded halva and freshly made tahini (they make it right there on site, in front of you). Amazing! This stuff is going to get big. It’s rich and creamy, but not as overbearingly sweet as regular ice cream. The tahini and halva bring in just the right amount of sweetness as a topping.

Next up, the halva cakes. They’re all purely halva – nothing baked or anything like that – but the quality and available flavors are like nothing I’ve ever experienced.

White chocolate and raspberries:

Mixed chocolate:

70% dark chocolate swirl:

And, while I didn’t shoot them, also worth mentioning here are the lemon and white chocolate, peanut butter, pistachio and rose water varieties. I love this place, and can’t wait to go back for more.

SEED + MILL
Chelsea Market
409 W 15th St
New York, NY 10011

Giovanni Rana Pastificio & Cucina

My wife and I stopped in this nice Italian joint for a quick meal. We kept it light here, and shared a meat and cheese board, along with a pasta dish.

Finocchiona, mortadella, cooked prosciutto, taleggio and another kind of cheese that I currently can’t remember. All were great, though I expected the finocchiona to be more like a roasted pork roll as opposed to a salami. Five items for $25.

The pasta was awesome. It was pricey at $36, but there was enough to share. Squid ink linguini with Maryland lump crab.

Before cheese:

After cheese:

This reminded me of Christmas Eve dinner with my family. Mom always made bucatini pasta with blue claw crabs that we caught ourselves at the docks along the Great South Bay. Ours was usually spicy as fuck though. This one did have a slight kick with some jalapeños, so cheers to that. I’d eat this dish every day if I could.

The reason I also have this marked off as a product review is because you can buy their uncooked pasta to go from a counter up front. My wife brought home some squid ink pappardelle once and it was incredible. Really nicely made, not too fishy, and great texture when cooked to al dente. She made it with prawns in a lobster sauce.

GIOVANNI RANA PASTIFICIO & CUCINA
Chelsea Market
75 9th Ave
New York, NY 10011

4 Charles Prime Rib

I agonized a bit over whether I should review 4 Charles Prime Rib within my 10 categories for steakhouses. In the end I decided to review it as a regular restaurant, as I felt the steak selections were so LASER-focused on prime rib that the overall score would be artificially low if plugged into the steakhouse review framework.

But who cares, right? You bastards just want to see the pretty pictures and know whether I think you should eat here.

The short answer: YES! Eat here immediately.

I was here with my wife and two other friends to do a full-cavity search on this restaurant menu’s ass. No gloves. No lube. Raw and dirty. Here’s what we ate:

THE BURGER

We split this as an appetizer, and yeah, I know: We didn’t get it “au cheval” style like in Chicago, with the egg and bacon on top. There were several reasons why we didn’t: (1) Overkill. It would be too fucking tall with thick cut bacon and a fried egg sitting on top of this double cheeseburger. And with the addition of lettuce and tomato? Fuhgettaboutit; (2) One of my friends can’t eat egg yolk; and (3) After I spoke with some friends whose burger opinions I value, it was clear that baconless and eggless was the way to go.

So how was it? Great. It’s crafted in a similar style to Genuine Roadside or Hard Times Sunday, where they serve up classic American doubles. However, at those places you’re paying half the price for something that I felt was just as good, if not better. My opinion: skip the burger. It’s great, but not worth the $20 price tag (fries not included).

THE FRENCH DIP

This isn’t on the menu but it’s often offered as a special for the day, and they pre-cut it for four people (even though we told them they didn’t have to). Thin sliced beef, provolone cheese, great sandwich bread, jus and horseradish sauce.

Verdict: amazing. Get this and split it as your appetizer like we did. You won’t be disappointed. In fact, you’ll probably be as amazed as we were.

THE PORTERHOUSE

DeBragga supplied this porterhouse, which was offered as a special for the day. It was only dry aged for 10 days, but it packed a great earthy flavor while still retaining the character of the beef. It was 32oz and $120, marketed as being “for two.”

How was it? 10/10 – perfection. Well, I mean, the crust could have used a slight bit more char on the outside, but the flavor was so tremendous that it didn’t matter. The quality  was insane, and texture was incredibly tender. Served with a Bernaise sauce.

THE “4 CHARLES CUT” PRIME RIB

This is 24oz of bone-in, slow roasted Anderson beef out of Chicago. It cooks for three hours at 250 and then five hours at 125. The result is an incredibly juicy and tender roast.

That’s horseradish cream sauce there in the picture, and the steak also comes with jus. This is easily in my top three for prime rib here in the city, with a very close Keen’s and Burger & Barrel also in that top three. 10/10.

SIDES

Blue Cheese Creamed Spinach: I thought this would be really potent and harsh, only good for a bite or two to add richness to the prime rib, but it was mild and tasty. While I really enjoyed it, it was not my favorite creamed spinach. I would say that it’s worth a try if you fancy yourself a creamed spinach connoisseur.

French Fries: Solid. Not amazing, but not bad by any stretch. They get the job done, they’re nicely fried, and they’re crisp. Served with a garlic aioli.

Roasted Broccolini: Despite the typo on their menu (brocolinni), these were really nicely done. I love this fucking veggie, so I like to get it every time I see it on a menu. These fuckers prepared it just how I do: Simply seasoned and dressed with olive oil, salt, pepper and garlic; and then roasted until it’s cooked through, developing a little bit of charred texture on the heads.

DESSERT

Lemon Meringue Pie: Really nice thick meringue on top. Super fluffy and lots of flavor. The pie itself was just right: not too tangy and not too rich. I loved it. I’ve always loved a good lemon meringue pie. And look at those peaks! Also the serving size is tremendous – basically a quarter of the entire pie.

Chocolate Cream Pie: The good folks at 4 Charles Prime Rib brought this baby out for us on the house. I was really blown away by this gesture, not to mention how cool everyone was with the four of us taking photos of the food. I like to think that we weren’t too obnoxious, though. In any case, this was really delicious. The bottom was a sort of Oreo crust, and the whipped cream and chocolate sauce just took that rich, flavorful chocolate pie filling to the next level. Great stuff, and I’m usually not huge on chocolate desserts.

The Damage

Boom. You need to eat here. I can’t wait to go back.

4 CHARLES PRIME RIB
4 Charles St
New York, NY 10014

Crave Fishbar

My wife and I stopped into Crave Fishbar for their daily oyster happy hour. From 5pm to 7pm (4pm-6pm on weekends) all oyster varieties are just a buck each. We each tried one of each kind (along with some other snacks and drinks):

As strange as it was, our favorites all contained the word “point” in the name.

The calamari was really nice too. A perfectly dusted and fried batter, and really tender squid inside.

But what really blew me away at this place was their red crab cavatelli. The cavatelli is home made, and is torched/crisped up so that some of the edges are actually crunchy and al dente. Here are the before and after mix shots (beautiful colors):

I highly recommend that dish. It’s pricey, but worth it. If the pasta is all you’re after, they also have another cavatelli pasta dish, without the crab.

Overall, this place is great. We will definitely be back.

CRAVE FISHBAR
428 Amsterdam Ave
New York, NY 10024

Osamil

Osamil serves up a really great brunch on weekends. They open nice and early too, at 10:30, so if you’re like me and think that brunch is really just a big breakfast with booze, then 10:30 is right on the money. We went at 12:30 with another food couple that we’re friends with though, so this became our main meal of the day.

The cocktail menu is really fun here. This pink one had watermelon foam and mescal. Very nice.

I also tried a michelada (beer and bloody mix), which was nice.

And we shared this giant punch bowl.

As for the food, we started with some kimchi deviled eggs, which had a nice spice level to them.

Next up was cold uni bibimbap. Essentially this is rice, kimchi, egg, quinoa, onion, nori, mixed greens and other tasty things, mixed up with some uni (wish there was more).

This asian pear salad with candied walnuts was really nice and refreshing too.

The broth for these mussels is incredibly slurpable. I was eating it by the spoonful throughout the meal. And yes there is bacon in there.

And those fries you see there are some of the best in the city. Might be my new favorite, as a matter of fact. They’re dusted with pimento and finished with truffle oil.

Okay so let’s get to the meat. First, spam. I know, I know… but it really is good.

Next, pork belly, lettuce and tomato sandwich. So good!

But here’s the show stopper: grilled prime hanger steak served atop bacon and kimchi fried rice, with a sunny-side up egg. Amazing.

THAT’s what breakfast should be… Not only is it gorgeous but it tasted great too. The steak could have used a bit more salt and pepper, but that’s only if you were eating it by itself. When combined with the rice, you got all the savory elements from the bacon and kimchi working together with the steak, so it’s all good. 9/10.

OSAMIL
5 W 31st St
New York, NY 10001

Ms. Yoo

I was invited into Ms. Yoo to try their burger and help promote it on Instagram. I brought a couple of food photo people with me as well, so we were able to order a bunch of other stuff in addition to the burger.

Ms Yoo is essentially an American joint, but it incorporates lots of Korean flavors and ingredients into each dish that you really walk away thinking you ate a 100% Korean meal. I guess one could call it “fusion,” but it’s not pretentious and douchey like other “fusion” places can  be.

First up was this bowl of nori popcorn to get things started.

The salted seaweed adds a nice natural savory element to the snack.

Next up was the beef carpaccio. This baby was gorgeous, topped with watercress, edible flowers and a cured egg yolk.

Then we tried some mac and cheese made from rice cakes (tteok).

The rice cakes are the perfect texture and vehicle to drive a great, cheesy comfort food like mac abad cheese. This one was made with gruyere and cheddar, and had a panko crust.

This was absolutely delicious, especially since it had copious amounts of bacon in it. That dipping sauce you see there is made with tomatoes and kimchi.

There are two varieties of chicken wing: spicy gochujang and honey soy sesame. The breading was perfectly crisp. While I typically like spicy wings best, the honey soy sesame was my favorite between the two.

We also had some bone marrow, which came with a bacon kimchi onion jam. Yeah – wild!

There’s also a really unique and flavorful hot dog on the menu here, topped with a dynamite grilled jalapeño pepper.

And that’s homemade Korean pork sausage on a pretzel roll with some Yoo sauce to boot (a spicy mayo, I think). Easily one of my favorite dishes of the night.

Oh yeah and the burger! This beauty is 10oz of beefy goodness topped with American cheese, Yoo sauce, and a kimchi bacon onion jam that will make you mouth water for days after tasting it.

I’m really looking forward to going back and eating that burger again, actually. And part of the reason why is because I want this as an encore for dessert:

These are honey-butter chips, and they’re the closest thing that Ms Yoo has on the menu to a dessert at the moment (there will be a dedicated dessert menu in time). These are just fried root veggie chips, like taro, potato and sweet potato, but they’re dressed in a sweet, yet savory and spicy, honey-butter glaze that’ll blow you away. Absolute must try.

MS YOO
163 Allen St
New York, NY 10002

Wondee Siam II

Thai Town (Hell’s Kitchen) delivers again with Wondee Siam II. I believe there are three of four restaurants with the same name, but I’ve only been to two of them. This one, like the other, is good.

We started with Thai iced tea and Thai iced coffee. Addicting as fuck.

Then we had this really interesting ground shrimp, pork and crab meat thing. It was deep fried in a tofu skin wrapper (contrary to popular belief, I love tofu skin)

My wife had this delicious crispy duck salad dish – clearly the winner of the day.

I had a wide noodle dish with chicken and mixed veggies. Hit the spot.

WONDEE SIAM II
813 9th Ave
New York, NY 10019

Noodle Pudding

I stopped in this joint with some friends for a quick bite to eat. I was excited to see lupini beans on the bar menu. For $5 I thought we were going to get a buttload of them, but we only got a few dozen at most.

We tried another bar snack, olives. These were great, but pricey:

Calamarata pasta. This was nice, but not the biggest portion.

Salmon with escarole. I love escarole. This was a nice dish. At $24 it felt a little small, but I think the portion is definitely right for those who are looking to watch their calories.

They have some strange rules at this place, like no birthday singing unless someone is under 10 or over 90. Also this really strange rule about fresh pork and hot weather?

Maybe it has something to do with the meat sweats.

NOODLE PUDDING
38 Henry St
Brooklyn, NY 11201

Chong Qing Xiao Mian Noodle House

The quest for great noodles never seems to end in NYC, but when a really great new joint lands in your lap, that quest seems to get shoved to the side while you explore everything the new place has to offer.

My wife and I were walking around one Sunday when we stumbled upon a brand new restaurant with a sign out front displaying an impressive and tasty selection of noodle dishes.

Chong Qing Xiao Mian is a mouth full for a westerner with no tonal linguistic skills, so I like the fact that they just call themselves “Noodle House” for short. I snapped that menu photo and made a mental note that we wanted to try it (we had just eaten).

A week later we went back and loved it. I ordered the homemade beef noodles, and I chose the “peel” style noodle, which is thicker and wider than “facet,” which is more like spaghetti.

Most dishes here are soups, not dry noodles. Generally I like dry better, but here the soups are king. The broth is much better than Tasty Hand Pulled Noodles or Xian Famous. It’s earthy, and muddy with rich spices that lend just the right amount of tingly heat to the dishes. Yet it isn’t dotted with thick, coarse, dry flakes of pepper or numbing peppercorns. It’s strained just enough.

The noodle quality is fantastic as well, easily rivaling Xian Famous. The only drawback for me was the protein itself; the beef. The menu said tenderloin, but it was more like oxtail. That’s fine, but there wasn’t a lot of it, and much of it was the gelatinous or tendon style of meat. Not what I expected when ordering tenderloin. A few other minor hits to mention: there is no parsley (as the menu says); it’s all cilantro, and a few other things you’ll want to ask about to make sure you know what you’re getting. I chalk these things up to translation errors. No big deal.

My wife got the duck noodles.

These were great too, but you need to be patient to pick through the chopped duck and work your way around the small bones.

Another cool thing about this place: 9% discount if you pay in cash.

On a second trip, we started with some fried dumplings. These were excellent.

Three noodle dishes went around this time. First was the Mala noodles (facet style), with ground pork:

Next was the vegetarian spicy dry noodles:

And last, the “Streaky Pork,” which is pork belly:

I think the way to go here is with one of these three dishes. The veggie dry noodles were absolutely delicious. Even without a meat element I was satisfied and full. The other two bowls were absolutely amazing, and it would be tough to choose a favorite between them.

I can’t wait to go back for round three of noodles and try some of the other side and app items, like the seasoned egg, duck wing and steamed buns.

I highly recommend that you go here before it gets too well known and overcrowded with lines out the door. It WILL happen.

CHONG QING XIAO MIAN NOODLE HOUSE
796 9th Ave
New York, NY 10019