Category Archives: Restaurant Reviews

Coco J’adore

My wife and I tried the newly opened Meatpacking District French joint “Coco J’adore” this past weekend.

This place has a really beautiful interior that’s just screaming to be infiltrated by trendy types, insta-models and brunch-drunk socialites.

It will no doubt become a big time scene place with hard to acquire tables, but contrary to what you might assume from my lead-in, it’ll be worth the effort to get in here.

Both the food and drinks are awesome. Over the course of our sweeping menu tasting, we tried four different cocktails.

1) Covent Garden

This refreshing take on a sour was made with gin, aperol, amaro, chamomile peppercorn syrup, egg white and lemon.

2) Gustavia

Rum, cachasa, passion fruit, demerara, campari and ginger beer.

3) Madison

Rye, ricard, earl grey tea syrup, black cherry and lemon.

4) Nevsky

This was a favorite. Vodka, cinnamon, green apple juice, lemon and rose powder.

All tended to be on the sweet side, but there were a few others that were more robust in profile as well. I’ll try those next time.

Okay on to the food.

First off, nice table bread with whipped butter.

This fava bean “hummus” with mixed olives and citrus was awesome. I could eat this by the bucketload.

These scallops were perfectly seared and presented in a sauce that was reminiscent of runny egg yolk. Delicious. That;’s a carrot salsa on top.

I loved the escargots. They’re served in-shell in an aromatic bowl of peppercorns. Delicious. These are top tier.

We tried two pasta dishes: the salt cod agnolotti, which was our favorite of the two, and the rabbit gnocchi. The rabbit ate more like a fall or winter dish, while the agnolotti was light, summery and fresh. Both good though.

Next up, the wild salmon with couscous and broccoli rabe. Excellent. Nice crispy skin too. This was my wife’s favorite.

The filet mignon was cooked to a nice medium rare and served on a bed of mashed potatoes with a mix of sautéed wild mushrooms. Very nicely done. 8/10.

For dessert, we had the creme brûlée and the chocolate soufflé with vanilla ice cream. Of these, we preferred the creme brûlée but both were good.

This is a great addition to the neighborhood. Go give it a shot before it gets mobbed!

COCO J’ADORE
1 Little West 12th Street
New York, NY 10014

La Lena

I went to La Leña in Hudson Yards’ “Little Spain” specifically to try a cut of steak from an 8-10yr old Holstein dairy cow from Mindful Meats in California.

This “Vaca Vieja” style steak is common in Spain and other parts of Europe, so I was psyched to try it. The beef was very lean, and also dry-aged, making it ripe for a quick cook. However, the restaurant spent nearly an hour cooking it in their fantastic open flame style kitchen. They ruined it.

We ordered medium rare but it came out to us somewhere between medium and medium well.

Ultimately it was a very uneven fire, with some parts in the center being properly medium rare, but with way too much thick grey-banding on the exterior.

Amateurish, and likely fired by a cook who was unfamiliar with open flame cooking. The result was a grainy textured eating experience. Not much in the way of flavor either. I had hoped for more uniqueness, having heard that dairy cows can develop great marbling with robust flavors when they get up there in age. 5/10.

At $120 for 24oz this was a complete rip off. Not only that, but when we informed the waiter of the improper cook, he simply said thanks and that he would let the chef know. No offer of a new steak. No money off the bill. Not even a free dessert or drink.

If you must go here, stick to the pork until these guys learn how to cook a steak. My wife said the pork tasting menu was good. Also,  nice gin and tonic:

LA LEÑA
10 Hudson Yards
New York NY, 10001

Rabbit House

My wife picked up a Pulsd deal for this place that got us a six course omakase with three glasses of sake each for $89.

We opted to share six different glasses, one to pair with each course.

Yes, they do serve rabbit, and the theme of the restaurant definitely involves rabbits.

Before the omakase began, we were served a delicious, warm wedge of country bread with olive oil and pepper.

Prior to eating rabbit, we ate rabbit food. The first course was miniature crudite with a blob of miso paste, and an oyster shooter with wine jelly.

Next up, beautiful and delicious tuna tartare with fried lotus root.

Then we had this trio of beef tartare, cheeses and pork spare ribs.

After that, a yellowtail preparation that included both cooked and raw styles.

Then came the star of the show – the “trapped rabbit.”

This was pretty nice, and similar to a porchetta of sorts (rolled whole muscle cuts that are cooked, then sliced). It came with a side of dressed greens, colorful carrots and mushrooms.

Last was the black sesame custard. This was a tasty but not overly sweet way to end the meal. I enjoyed.

Over all this was good but not great. The Pulsd deal is definitely worth it, though, if it’s still available.

RABBIT HOUSE
76 Forsyth Street
New York, NY 10002

The Saratoga

This nicely appointed San Francisco eatery serves up some pretty fun grub.

We tried a bunch of stuff, so let me get right down to business.

Toga Tots

These brick-like tots were stacked, Jenga style. They had an awesomely crisp outside and a soft, mashed potato-esque inside. Topped with cheddar, chorizo and cilantro. Perfect.

Seven Spice Chicken Slider

These were pretty good. I really liked the Alabama white sauce and dill pickles.

Cubano Frank

This wonderful mashup between a Cuban sandwich and a hot dog was my favorite dish of the meal. Slow roasted pork, swiss cheese and spiced relish.

The Saratoga Burger

This baby was served with taleggio cheese and slaw on an onion bun. Pretty good! But after coming off of a Causwell’s burger high, we weren’t blown away.

Dry-Aged Flannery Beef NY Steak

For years I’ve heard great things about Flannery Beef. I had high hopes. This was really tough. I think they served us a hanger steak too – not a NY strip (I even asked and they confirmed NY strip). No way. I know beef texture and this was more like hanger and not remotely like striploin. The sauce was good but the beef was difficult to eat. 4/10.

Tomato Braised Tuscan Kale

Not my cup of tea here. Probably should have ordered the mushrooms or spring peas instead. This tasted like heartburn in each bite.

Ho Hos

These were fun! Definitely tasted just like a classic ho ho, but much better and elevated. Winner.

Chartreuse

The staff was awesome here. The owner saw that we were all taking pics for Instagram so he gave us a round of yellow and green chartreuse on the house. We barely touched them, however, since none of us particularly liked either of them. Bitter, and tasted like cough medicine. I realize this spirit is an acquired taste though, and I respect that this joint has one of the largest collections of chartreuse available in the world. Pretty cool. Just not my taste.

Their cocktails, however, are delicious. Here’s a shot of the Vieux Carre, which was delicious:

THE SARATOGA
1000 Larkin Street
San Francisco, CA 94109

Shari’s Cafe & Pies

This roadside stop in Red Bluff is like an improved mom and pop style Denny’s. We stopped in mainly to try the pies, but we couldn’t resist trying some of the savory items too.

First, the marble rye patty melt:

This was nice, and I liked the idea of it, but after coming off of the perfect patty melt at Pinecrest Diner in SF, we were underwhelmed.

Philly Style Prime Rib Dip

This was okay. Nothing to go nuts over, and a bit light on the meat. The fries and tots were good though.

Now on to the pies.

The butterscotch pie was probably the most well liked at the table. Really great texture and flavor.

I wanted more from the s’mores crunch pie, but ultimately I would house these, slice after slice, with ease.

The strawberry and rhubarb pie with vanilla ice cream was perfection. I usually don’t love fruit pies but this one was fucking fantastic.

Definitely stop here if you’re driving by. Stick with the pies!

SHARI’S CAFE & PIES
128 Bell Mill Road
Red Bluff, CA 96080

YAKS on the 5

This roadside dining spot was referred to us by the folks at Belcampo Meat Camp as a fun place for good burgers.

We tried their famous warm sticky bun first. This was deadly delicious.

Next up, some wings. I thought these were a little on the sweet side, but I appreciated the smoke flavor.

We tried the jalapeno and cheddar burger, which was really tasty despite looking like pure foodporn. Loved the addition of ranch here to cool it down, and the local beef happened to come from a guy’s family farm who we just met (he now works for Belcampo now, but this place uses his family’s grass finished beef). Great beef.

The cajun brown sugar tots were strangely addictive! I could not stop popping them.

YAKS ON THE 5
4917 Dunsmuir Avenue
Dunsmuir, CA 96025

Pinecrest Diner

I didn’t eat much here other than having a bite of this awesome patty melt that was served on delicious rye bread.

This little spot is a classic American no-frills diner.

Worth checking out, but be warned: they do generate a line outside.

PINECREST DINER
401 Geary Street
San Francisco, CA 94102

TAK Room

My wife took me to Thomas Keller’s new Hudson Yards eatery, TAK Room, for my birthday. This meal was pretty awesome, so let me get right down to business.

Cocktails

This place has a great selection of classics, spins on classics, and new style cocktails. I went with the “Old Hat” old fashioned. I liked it, but both my wife and I liked her order better (Waldorf Vieux Carre)

We both remarked that the cocktail pricing wasn’t too rapey. And it’s worth noting here that the bar and lounge area is seriously impressive. The bar is backed by windows, offering an impressive view. There’s plenty of lounge style seating near the bar, where you can drink, snack and enjoy the live music on the stage.

Table Bread & Crudite

This was a nice touch; the crudite was cold and fresh, and that butter extruder thing is becoming insta-famous. There are two varieties of delicious house made breadsticks as well.

Green Garlic Agnolotti, Razor Clams, Gremolata

Strong opener, and an easy contender for my best pasta dishes of 2019. It almost had an oreganata flavor to it, with a great balance of textures.

Beef Tartare

This had some freshly shaved horseradish on top of the raw egg yolk, and was really nicely executed.

Prime Rib Cart Service

Take a look at this video of the prime rib service cart:

That’s Snake River Farms domestic wagyu cross, highly marbled and riddled with intense flavor.

This is easily one of the best prime rib orders I’ve ever had. At $110, I would bark about it being too expensive, but it really was worth every forkful. 10/10.

Short Rib Beef Wellington

Check this out:

A beautiful specimen. The short rib was snappy, but super tender.

The puff pastry was perfectly cooked from end to end. Perfect execution.

The only thing I disliked about it was the perigourdine sauce. It had a bitter and almost burnt flavor to it. Luckily that was poured on the side rather than on top of the dish. 9/10.

Champagne Cake, Strawberry Creamsicle Ice Cream

This was a pretty tasty special for dessert (not on the menu), and they generously gave us a couple of glasses of rose champagne to go with it, on the house. Here’s the dessert menu:

Box of Caramel Corn

This comes with your dessert, for the table. Jumbo size pops, very few kernels. Highly addictive.

Views, Decor & Service

Last but not least, one can’t really do a proper review of a joint like TAK Room without speaking about the views, decor and service.

The outer rim of the gorgeous dining room overlooks “The Vessel,” the new scalable art structure in Hudson Yards.

The decor is like a cross between 60’s mod and 20’s art deco. It’s truly beautiful. The service matches the spectacular views and decor, with an impeccably neat, attentive and genuinely nice wait staff. We even saw the likes of Thomas Keller himself, doing one of the prime rib cart services, with Geoffrey Zakarian watching from afar:

One of the managers gave us a quick kitchen tour too, which was really interesting to see. The place is immaculately clean, and they showcase their selection of premium meats in a glass cabinet near the kitchen entrance. Listen carefully for specials, as they were offering cote de boeuf rib eyes at varying sizes.

In summary, this was one of the best meals I’ve had this year, and I look forward to going back to try more beef and even their roast chicken for two. We just need to save up a little bit, because this place is pricey. All in, this meal was $467 with tax and tip. Woof. Here’s a look at some of the pricing:

TAK ROOM
20 Hudson Yards
5th Floor
New York, NY 10001

Kow Cattle Company & Nobu 57

I’ve been holding off on talking about Kow Cattle Company for a bit, hoping to visit the farm and facilities out in Iowa first, but I’ve been privileged to eat so much of it in the past year that I just couldn’t hold back anymore – especially after the beef binge I just had with their product at Nobu 57.

Kow Cattle Company is a small producer of highly marbled, domestically raised wagyu full blood and purebred animals in Iowa. They’re consistently raising cattle that grade out at super high prime, with BMS scores of 8 or higher.

They made a big splash in the NYC meat scene and made some great connections both in the restaurant world and in the influencer world.

Some noteworthy folks who are featuring their product fairly regularly: BLT Steak, Delmonico’s, The Grill, The James Beard House, The Gotham Burger Social Club, Bistrot Leo, Boucherie, and, of course Nobu 57 (and more as well).

 

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Supply isn’t always high at Kow, so if you see some on a menu, grab it while you can.

My first run-in with this delicious stuff was at Bistrot Leo. I tried a burger, some tenderloin tartare, filet skewers and a tomahawk rib eye that night. As you might imagine, the shit was delicious.

 

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One of the owners of the company, Jon Urbana, who has since become a good friend of mine, sent me home with a beautiful strip steak to cook up:

Later, I banged out a tomahawk at home as well. Absolutely stunning.

The high quality, and more importantly the consistency of that quality, is pretty much untouched by any domestic producer of wagyu beef here in the states. I’d love to get some of it into my shop, but they’re currently only shipping direct from their site. Believe me, a LOT of distributors are trying to get their paws on this stuff right now. I’m not alone.

In any case, seeing that Nobu 57 is one of Kow’s purveyors here in NYC, Jon brought me there to try some of the new lot of striploin that they have.

What occurred was nothing less than a Kow Cattle Company strip loin omakase for the ages.

COURSE 1

This preparation is thinly sliced, torched and sauced with ponzu and some sesame, rare to raw. Simple and delicious.

COURSE 2

Beef nigiri sushi. This had a quick sear on the edges, rare to raw.

COURSE 3

Tataki. One of my favorites. Thin sliced after being seared on the edges, rare to raw, and then lightly dressed and garnished with some ginger and shiso.

COURSE 4

This was my favorite. This was seared on the edges as well, rare to raw, but sliced a bit thicker and garnished with a black garlic sauce and some micro sprouts. Incredible.

COURSE 5

This was similar to sukiyaki, a saucy stew with onions and greens. Really tasty, and it demonstrates that even when cooked through, this stuff is tender and savory.

COURSE 6

Classic steakhouse fare here: seared and sliced, rare to medium rare, served with a garlic miso butter on a bed of grilled asparagus. Perfection.

COURSE 7

Foie gras and wagyu beef potsticker dumplings. So decadent, and they ate almost like soup dumplings with that burst of liquified foie and wagyu renderings.

I think that covers it. When you go to Nobu 57, you’ll find Kow on the “washu” side of the menu. Ask about some of the preparations you saw here, because they’re not always on the menu. If you know about them, they may accomodate you if they have the ability. Some stuff is limited availablility, so go early and go often.

NOBU 57
40 West 57th Street
New York, NY 10019

Hudson & Charles Dinette

Hudson & Charles Dinette serves up some nice burgers with thick cut tallow fries! I tried three. In order:

1) Double “Smash” (9/10) – A classic American double with shredded lettuce and pickle.

2) Catalina Stack (8/10) – A double with catalina sauce, lettuce and pickle.

3) Foxy Burger (8/10) – A thick Korean single, with kimchi and spices.

All burgers come with thick cut tallow fries, and the prices range from $14-$23.

The first was near perfect, with a great crispy char and nice toppings. I only dinged it because it really wasn’t a smash, but this is definitely my preferred style of burger.

The other two were great but a bit aggressive on salt levels. The same goes for the fries, but I didn’t mind so much on those. I’ll definitely be back for the double, and also to try some steaks and pies.

I also tried their Korean fried chicken & waffles entree. The sauce is a mildly spicy gochujang base, heavily sprinkled with scallions. The waffle is more like a muffin or biscuit, with sesame and scallions. There was a mix of breast and thigh meat with a great crunchy breading, three pieces per order.

HUDSON & CHARLES DINETTE
522 Hudson Street
New York, NY 10014