Category Archives: Rib Eye

Madame Vo BBQ

The talented couple behind Madame Vo recently opened this joint as a way to introduce NYC to Vietnamese BBQ, which, from what I understand, is very popular in central Vietnam.

Be aware: this is not the same as American BBQ, which we all know is characterized by slow and low smoker cooking. This involves a high-heat metal mesh grill and various cuts of meat. Fast and hot, no smokers.

Also: this isn’t Korean or Japanese BBQ. While they use a similar cooking method with the grill, the flavors, preparations and beef items are obviously entirely different.

What’s really unique about Madame Vo BBQ, and what I feel sets Vietnamese BBQ apart from other grilled meat establishments, is that the traditional “Beef 7 Ways” or “Bò 7 Món” feast in Vietnamese culture really lends itself perfectly to this style of cooking.

So what is “Beef 7 Ways?” Sounds like a dream come true, right? It is. It’s also really not that difficult to figure out from its name.

“Beef 7 Ways” in Vietnamese cuisine is generally a large format family style meal where various cuts of beef are served, obviously, in seven different ways. Almost always this will involve some thin sliced beef that’s grilled or dipped in a hotpot broth. There will also almost assuredly be a spiced ground/minced beef application, often wrapped in a betel leaf. And surely there will be a finishing dish of some form of starch with beef. But all throughout, there are “summer roll” rice wrappers on the table – along with various veggies, herbs and even fruits – for you to wrap up with the beef as you eat your way through all seven courses.

Madame Vo has done a great job of elevating that traditional “Bò 7 Món” concept, refining it, and presenting it to New Yorkers in the familiar grill table format. Here’s how they present their version of “Beef 7 Ways:”

1st Way: Eye Round Carpaccio

This was great. I’ve always thought that eye round would be perfect for a carpaccio application. This Viet style carpaccio was so delicious. Great pops from the herbs, spices and sauce.

2nd Way: Meatballs

These are technically not beef; they’re pork. But delicious nonetheless, and still part of the seven.

3rd & 4th Ways: Ground Beef Wrapped in Betel Leaf & Thin-Sliced Short Rib with Onion

These are both grilled, and the betel leaf rolls were my favorite of the seven courses. They have a great fresh green kick to them from the grilled leaf.

5th Way: Five-Spice Beef Tongue

This was awesome. They’re cooked through and make for the perfect filling in those rice wraps with veggies and herbs.

6th Way: Dry Aged Strip Steak with Marrow Butter

That marrow butter was absolute crack. Here’s a little video of it getting smeared on.

7th Way: Oxtail Congee

I really liked this. It was a close pick for my favorite of the meal.

Madame Vo BBQ offers this “Beef 7 Ways” for just $59/pp. I think that’s a great deal considering the quality of the beef, the amount you get, and of course the deliciousness of the whole experience.

We didn’t stop there, though. We also had some amazing seafood apps (not included with the “Beef 7 Ways”).

Giant Oyster with Uni Mayo

These things were huge, and that uni mayo was really addictive.

Maine Uni with Special Fish Sauce Beurre Blanc

Beautiful, sweet and delicious.

Grilled Prawns

These were nice and big. Tasty heads too!

BBQ Quail

The tamarind sauce on this really made it unique.

Short Rib & Marrow Spring Rolls

Loved these. I could eat a dozen easily.

And because I’m like a wild animal, I wanted more beef. We shared the Pat LaFrieda dry-aged tomahawk rib eye. At $95 for about 40oz, this is a steal.

Really beautifully presented too.

I highly recommend this place. Go with a group so you can try lots of stuff. Trust me – you won’t be disappointed!

MADAME VO BBQ
104 2nd Ave
New York, NY 10003

Wolfgang’s Steakhouse

Wolfgang’s overall score: 85

This place has been on my list of must-do steakhouses since the list began. I’m a little ashamed that I hadn’t gone until just last night. I don’t know what the fuck took me so long to get my ass over here, but, in any case, it finally happened. Here’s what I thought:

Flavor: 8

My wife and I tried two steaks. First, we shared the bone-in rib eye.

We both remarked that this was cooked perfectly the whole way through, with a great crust all around.

There was just a bit of seasoning missing. Perhaps just a little more salt would have bumped this up a bit. 7/10.

The second steak we tried was the porterhouse.

This baby was good. The filet side was melt-in-your-mouth tender, and the strip side was full of powerful dry-aged funk. The filet side had less character than the strip side, and the strip side had more tooth to each bite.

Served in the Luger style, the Wolfgang’s porterhouse comes out broiled on the top of the steak only, with the bottom being in contact with the sizzling hot plate. While they were judicious on the use of butter (not too much, thankfully), I do prefer my steaks broiled or seared on both sides. In any case, this was a really good rendition of that style, and it was cooked expertly to medium rare throughout. 8/10.

Choice of Cuts & Quality Available: 8

You’ve got porterhouse, strip, filet and rib eye here. The basics. All of the beef comes from the midwest and is aged in-house, and it’s all USDA prime grade.

Portion Size & Plating: 8

Portions here are in line with what you might expect at all the major midtown steakhouses, and the plating is standard as well. Nothing fancy.

Price: 8

The prices here vary from the $50-$60 range per person, which has become pretty much standard for the area. Not bad when you consider that they are nailing the cook temps here, and putting out some good grub.

Bar: 10

This bar is iconic. The arched ceiling throughout the restaurant really gives you the feeling that you’ve stepped back in time, to the old days of dank, dimly lit taverns. I was actually shocked to learn that they only opened in 2004. I was almost expecting something like the 1920’s.

The cocktails are great too. We tried “The Black Manhattan” and a standard gin martini. Both expertly made.

Specials and Other Meats: 7

There were no specials read to us, but then again we were pretty much dead set on what we were going to order anyway. That may have signaled to the waiter that he didn’t need to get into it with us. In any case, the only other meat available here is lamb. Fuck that other nonsense anyway. I respect that. Unfortunately, though, for scoring purposes, that means I have to take some points.

Apps, Sides & Desserts: 8

We started with a round of littleneck clams and oysters on the half shell. Both were tasty and fresh, cleanly shucked and void of debris and odors. The clams come eight to an order, which is nice. The oysters, six.

We also had a slab of their bacon.

I’m happy to report that this blows away Luger’s bacon, which is always fucking burnt. This was nice and thick, rendered well, crisp and meaty.

On the side, we had two types of spinach: sautéed and creamed. The creamed spinach is my favorite style – “creamless” creamed spinach. So velvety and buttery. That was the better of the two, but both are definitely up to snuff.

For dessert, we shared a slice of pecan pie with schlag. Very nice. Hot and sweet. The schlag was a good balance to the pie. Without it, it would’ve been too sweet.

Seafood Selection: 8

There’s sea bass, salmon, tuna and lobster on the menu. These seem to be industry standard in the steakhouse world. Occasionally you see swordfish, or some shrimp scampi preparations from time to time.

Service: 10

The servers here are all awesome, and everyone – the bartenders, the hostesses, the managers – is really looking out for you. I loved it. Classic style on the wait staff, bowties and all.

Ambiance: 10

As I mentioned above in the bar area, this place is absolutely iconic. The arched ceilings can cause the room to get pretty loud when the place is crowded though, so make sure you expect that going in. I didn’t mind it at all. It felt welcoming.

WOLFGANG’S STEAKHOUSE
4 Park Ave
New York, NY 10016

Robert’s Steakhouse

Robert’s Steakhouse overall score: 84

YES! This is the steakhouse inside the gentlemen’s club called “The Executive Club,” formerly of Penthouse fame. For many years I had heard – all bullshitting aside – that this really was a great steak joint. Adam Perry Lang is rumored to have designed and built the aging room that’s there on site. So how did it fare under my intense scrutiny? Very well, actually. See below:

Flavor: 9

I tried both the porterhouse for two and rib eye for two. The porterhouse was a 9/10, and is probably in the running for one of the best porterhouses I’ve had for 2019.

The rib eye, 8/10.

Both had great aged flavor and were cooked almost perfectly, but the porterhouse just came out on top in terms of that aged goodness. Also, I felt like the rib eye was a bit small as being marketed “for two.”

Choice of Cuts & Quality Available: 10

I’ve heard that the beef here is from Master Purveyors in the Bronx, though they did not confirm. Those guys have been very consistent in terms of quality, from my experience. The dry-aging is done on site here in a proprietary aging room, but they did not reveal how long they age the meat. No matter, though, because that flavor was definitely present and pleasant. Next time I go, I’d like to do a tour of the aging room. Prime quality all the way here, and the basics are all covered in terms of the cuts.

Portion Size & Plating: 8

Portions are fair. As noted above I thought the rib eye for two was a little small, but otherwise they were fine. The plating is upgraded a bit from the standard basic steakhouse style, with some flare for the apps and sides.

Price: 8

My meal was free, as this was a press event, but the prices were pretty fair for steakhouse fare. I was expecting a heavy uncharge being in a strip club, but that was not the case at all. There may be some price holding as, from what I understand, this joint may be a members only kind of place. I have to check up on that though. Don’t hold me to it…

Bar: 7

I was only privy to the bar upstairs by the Robert’s dining area, which was a small seven or eight foot stretch without any actual bar stool seating. Mainly this seemed like a place to either stand and drink while waiting to be accosted by a dancer, or just a staging place where the bartenders can mix up drinks to later be distribute via waitresses to the various tables. In any case, they did mix a good martini, and if eye candy is what you’re after at a bar, then what better place is there to be than a strip club?

Specials and Other Meats: 8

There weren’t any specials that I was aware of, but then again this was a press meal with a somewhat set menu. As far as other meats go, they offer veal, chicken and lamb. One thing I did enjoy, oddly enough, was the rigatoni pasta with fresh ricotta and tomato sauce. Not sure if that’s a special or just another type of entree, but it was tasty and had a good level of spice to it.

Apps, Sides & Desserts: 8

We tried a bunch of items, some of which I didn’t shoot (like the creamed spinach, mac and cheese and mashed potatoes). First was the hamachi crudo. I liked this.

Next up, tuna tartare with quail egg. This was delicious as well.

The shrimp salad was bland and somewhat flavorless. Pass on this one.

However, the shrimp cocktail was incredible. These gigantic shrimp were meaty, perfectly cooked and robust with that great shellfish flavor. Get this.

The crab cake fell into the world of averages. Not bad, not great. It was crispy on the outside and meaty on the inside, however, which are two big and important characteristics of a crab cake.

We skipped dessert since we were full, so I can’t comment on that.

Seafood Selection: 8

There’s a bunch on the menu here (tuna, salmon, sea bass, lobster), and from what I tried of it in the appetizers section, I think they would do a good job with mains.

Service: 10

The service here is great. All of the staff is very attentive and they explained the menu and beef cuts correctly, even to the extent that they discussed the dry-aging processes. The chef is also really great and visited with us throughout the meal. He bounces back and forth between the NYC location and Atlantic City, however, so I hope he leaves the kitchen in trusted hands when he isn’t around.

Ambiance: 8

While the “surroundings” are indeed pleasing to any heterosexual male, the “restaurant” itself isn’t quite separated from the club other than the fact that it’s upstairs. There are still girls walking around looking to cash in with dances, and I suppose if you wanted you could see the main stage and pole from anywhere up there. That’s not a complaint – just an observation that this place is different than a standard steakhouse or restaurant due to the nature of it being literally inside and not separated from the strip club.

ROBERT’S STEAKHOUSE
The Executive Club
603 w. 45th Street
New York, NY 10036

Legacy Records & Ada’s Place

Legacy Records is the restaurant, and Ada’s place is the bar/lounge upstairs. Both places are serving up some awesome food, connected by the same kitchen staff and crew.

While at first glance you might think that prices are high for the portion size, once must remember that these are “no tipping” establishments, where the tip is already worked into the pricing.

LEGACY RECORDS

I started at the main bar with a brandy old fashioned. This was delicious and beautiful. The ice game is on point here.

Later on I tried the “Fig Fix,” which was somewhere between a mint julep and a berry bramble type of drink. Very nice, but I prefer the stronger shit.

We started with three different crudos. Each crudo comes with four pieces, unless otherwise prepared (like the fluke, which is a tartare). They’re all around the $20-$25 range. First, and my favorite, was the hamachi with cilantro citrus cream and puffed rice.

This red snapper was “veddy tasty.” Do not choose what Hiro-san offers in the mystery box over this. If you haven’t seen Weird Al’s masterpiece film, UHF, then you missed that reference completely. Do yourself a favor and go watch it. Now. Before finishing the rest of the review. You’ll thank me later.

Third, the scallop. These were small. I wish there was more to them, because they were delicious; bright, acidic, creamy, smooth… everything you want in a crudo. And beautifully presented.

After the crudos, we transitioned to some smaller plates. First was the octopus.

This was executed nicely, and consisted of about 1.5 tentacles worth of meat.

This next dish was a special entree listed at $40, but we split it as a shared app. Pigeon with parsnips and some other shit.

The meat was roasted rare to medium rare, and was pretty much in the realm of duck in taste. The waiter said it was deboned, but I think they were really just referring to the thigh, breast and rib sections, as the wings and lower legs were not deboned.

Then we switched over to the pasta dishes. My first, and favorite, was the pesto cavatelli with sausage and mint. Incredible.

This torchio pasta was perfectly cooked and came with clams.

The spaghetti with uni and red pepper was great too, and the sauce reminded me of peri peri sauce from Portugal.

At this point we also tried some of their house made bread and butter. I didn’t shoot it, but both bread and butter varieties were good. However, at $8, I’m not sure I would order it. Fortunately for us, they brought it out on the house since we had a lot of delicious sauce to soak up from the pasta dishes.

We tried two entrees. First was the dry aged rib eye.

This was perfectly cooked and absolutely delicious, though it lacked that dry-aged flavor punch. It was only aged for 14 days, so that may be why. It ate more like a filet than a rib eye, which was a nice surprise in terms of texture. However, at $48, it was a bit on the small side (maybe 8-10oz max). The Brussels were too acidic/citrus flavored for my liking, but the meat really was almost perfect. I think it was just the eye, or longissimus dorsi, and not the cap though, which was a little bit of a bummer. Overall this was still an 8/10, so I was happy.

Next up, duck for two.

We were four people, so we only had one slice of duck each. I could probably eat all of this myself as a main if I wanted, but it really is a good portion size for two. If you get this with a date, you’ll basically each get two of these, which I think is fair for the $98 price tag including tip:

I should note that this is one of the best duck dishes I’ve ever had, right up there with Little Frog, The Grill and Ferris. I already have this listed as a contender for the best dishes of 2019.

We skipped dessert downstairs, but went up to try some of the items on the bar menu upstairs at Ada’s Place.

ADA’S PLACE

First, the duck and honey sandwich.

This is basically a slightly oversized slider, but the flavor is immense. The duck comes from the leg meat of the duck that we ate downstairs (which was only breast), and it is paired with kimchi and a delicious spicy red pepper sauce, which is balanced deftly by the addition of honey. Another contender for best dishes of 2019. Awesome.

This burger was great too. It’s described as a crudo burger, so expect it to come out rare.

This, too, is dressed with a spicy red pepper sauce, but the fresh mozzarella cheese cuts it beautifully with a nice, mild creaminess. We split one “slider plus” sized burger among four of us, so I need to get back in here and try this all by myself.

Finally, the Tuscan fried chicken.

This is a steal at $24 for a bowl of beautifully batter-fried and spiced thigh and breast meat. I could eat buckets of this. I also really liked the combo of red pepper, lemon and rosemary.

In short, I highly recommend this place. Everything we tried above was great – no bad dishes. While the price tag may feel steep for some items, you need to remember that you’re getting superior quality in every dish, and you have that tip already included. Go give it a shot. I know I’ll be back. Maybe even tonight.

LEGACY RECORDS & ADA’S PLACE
517 West 38th St
New York, NY 10018

Sai Gon Dep

Sai Gon Dep is a new pho-focused casual joint by acclaimed former Hanoi House chef John Nguyen. He’s a master at making pho – the best I’ve had outside of Vietnam.

While Hanoi House is focused on northern style beef soup, Sai Gon Dep focuses on southern style chicken soup from the region where John was born.

Although beef soup is still served here (as well as full-on 45-day dry-aged tomahawk chops, available only on weekends – 8/10) and other protein entrees are available on the menu, the main focus is on fowl.

They even have balut, for those looking for either an authentic or Zimmern-esque experience.

At $15 a bowl, these soups are a steal. The rich, hearty poultry flavor is like nothing else I’ve had. Not even the most rich paitan broths come close, and this soup eats much lighter than those salty sweat-bomb bowls at ramen shops.

While the noodles here come with shredded meat and an egg yolk in the broth, you can order a half or whole chicken to go with it.

Pull some meat off the bones and drag it through the ginger chicken fat oil and scallion sauce that accompany the dish, and munch away at the delicious bird between slurps of noodles… or just plop it into your soup.

Honestly, the broth alone is so soul-satisfying and delicious that you might not even need the additional meat. But if you do order the extra chicken, don’t be alarmed: you may get a plate of feet and heads along with your order. Nothing goes to waste here, just like where John was born in Vietnam. The entire bird is used, and that’s why the soup tastes so fucking great.

Keep an eye out. This place opens next week. I was there for a special media preview, and I can’t wait to start eating this more regularly. The chicken pho is a top dish of the year for me.

SAI GON DEP
719 Second Ave
New York, NY 10016

Pomona

This spot took over the space that was formerly Beautique. Chef and partner Michael Vignola, who used to be the head chef for the Strip House restaurants, has created an amazing menu here. My buddy and I tried a lot of stuff, so I’ll get right to it.

Foie Gras Sliders:

Incredibly tender and decadent, cut nicely with some acid from the apple slaw.

Mackerel & Potato Tartare:

The hazelnut, creme fraiche and jalapeno sauce really made this pop. This was so delicious.

Nduja Baked Little Neck Clams:

This is a perfect marriage of the classic seafood and pork flavor combo, with a slight boost of heat from the nduja. Great starter!

Truffled Chicken Dogs:

Probably one of the best upscale riffs on a hot dog that you’ll have. I didn’t get much truffle flavor and there was no brioche bun as the menu suggested, but the texture and porcini mustard were nice.

Duck Burger:

Jurgielewicz farms duck burger patty made of ground breast, confit of leg, foie, and fresh duck liver all seasoned with l’orange spices. Seared and rested in a rich duck jus. Duck skin mayo, grapefruit jam and killer fries. This place is no joke!

Seared Miyazaki A5 Wagyu:

AMAZING! This was dry-aged for 20 days and also cooked in dry-aged beef fat. This is some of the best beef I’ve ever had. 10/10.

Duo of Deviled Rib Eye:

This unique duo packs a powerful smoky and dry-aged punch! It features smoked deckle (bottom) and grilled eye (top), each rubbed with chili, herbs and spices, and served with black garlic bone marrow. This should be on your “must try” list! Chef Michael really nailed this. 10/10.

Creamed Escarole:

I love the use of escarole here in place of spinach. Escarole is such an under-appreciated green. This is a good “creamed spinach” dish for your steak entree. I think more butter and a bit less cream/cheese would make this pop a little more. Or perhaps I’d just like to see a sauteed version with some cannellini beans in the mix to remind me of growing up in an Italian household.

Ripped Sunchokes:

I love sunchokes/Jerusalem artichokes. They’re like an awesome cross between a potato and an artichoke. These were smashed and fried, and then seasoned with shredded pecorino cheese and rosemary. Great side dish.

Goose Fat Tater Tots:

These are so crisp and flavorful. This should be your go-to potato dish here. Awesome.

Chocolate Mousse:

This has a nice texture to it, almost like cheesecake but light and fluffy. Great espresso ice cream to go with it too.

I highly recommend this place. Everything here was very good to outstanding. I can’t wait to try more of the menu and supplement this review over time.

POMONA
8 West 58th St
New York, NY 10019

BLT Steak

BLT Steak overall score: UNRATED

This is a special sort of review, so I am keeping it unrated for now (flavor on all of the cuts was a 10/10 though, just for your own edification). I recently became friendly with the owner of Kow Cattle Co., a domestic wagyu producer out of Iowa that ships directly from the farm to customers and restaurants. No distributors get their hands on this stuff, and the beef goes right back to them after the slaughterhouse. Needless to say they create some great product, most of which is grading out at BMS scores of around 8. This dinner was a special tasting of a few different cuts of Kow, since BLT is now going to serve some of their products on the menu. Check it out:

Wagyu Tongue Reuben

This baby is on their lunch menu, and it is amazing. You may be freaked out by the idea of eating tongue, but it is tender, marbled and delicious. When cooked properly, this is one of the most delicious cuts of the animal. Go give it a shot.

Vietnamese Style Tri-Tip

Perfection! I hope this is on their regular menu, because it is an amazing way to treat an off-cut, or not-so-common cut (uncommon here in NYC steakhouses anyway). There was a hit of fish sauce, fresh herbs like cilantro and scallion, pickled daikon and carrot. Amazing. And look at that sear on the outside!

Wagyu Tenderloin/Filet Mignon

This is pure butter. So friggin good. Great cook temp, great crust on the outside, and super soft inside.

Wagyu Tomahawk Rib Eye

This is served sliced and off the bone. I loved it. Everyone goes nuts for the tenderloin from these Kow folks, but I am a traditionalist. Give me that rib eye!

As for some of the other items we tried from the BLT bullpen, their awesome popovers:

A really nicely crafted terrine/head cheese:

Lamb bacon, which I was excited to see on the menu:

A standard wedge salad:

A great blue cheese olive martini:

Some kind of flourless healthy vegan brownie, that was actually good:

And mini cookie ice cream sandwiches. Good ice cream, but cookies needed to be softer.

Anyway, that does it. I’ll definitely be back for seconds on the Reuben for lunch, and I need to take my wife for the Viet tri-tip.

By the way, you can order all of these Kow steaks online from THEIR WEBSITE. I highly recommend.

BLT STEAK
106 E 57th St
New York, NY 10022

Royal 35 Steakhouse

Royal 35 Steakhouse overall score: 81

My wife and I came here with another couple. We got to try a good amount of stuff, so let me get right to it.

Flavor: 8

We had both the porterhouse and the rib eye. Both came in at about 8/10 for flavor.

Both were cooked to my liking of medium rare with a good crust.

Choice of Cuts & Quality Available: 8

All of the standard steakhouse cuts are available here. They are all dry aged on site, and prime.

Portion Size & Plating: 8

Portions are good, and on par with all the other major steakhouses in the area. For the price, you get a good value here.

Price: 8

Pricing is average for the area, with some good values here and there in terms of portion size and quality. You won’t feel like you got banged out.

Bar: 7

The bar is a small stretch near the front of the restaurant, separated from the lounge area and the main dining room. They make a nice martini.

Specials and Other Meats: 8

There were definitely some specials that the waiter read to us, but we were set on what we wanted from the main menu, so we didn’t pay too much attention. By way of alternative meats, they offer veal and lamb.

Apps, Sides & Desserts: 8

We started with the bacon, half a strip each:

Here I am cutting it with an awesome new knife that I will tell you about soon:

 

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Next was the crab cake. This was killer! Easily one of my favorites in the city. Go get this!

We also tried the baked clams. These had a bit too much breading, so they ate a bit dry. Otherwise nice flavors.

There was also this nice wedge salad. Simple and delicious.

For dessert we had the butter cake. I had high hopes, considering this is my favorite dessert at Del Frisco’s, but here it was a bit too dry.

Seafood Selection: 7

There’s a lot to choose from by way of seafood entrees, but since I only tried the clams so far, I can’t really opine other than on those.

Service: 10

Impeccable. The staff here is amazing all the way from top to bottom, front to back. That’s the way it should be.

Ambiance: 9

I really loved the decor and set up here. They made the most of what would otherwise be a challenging space. There are some awesome booth tables on the way leading back to the main dining room, and the main dining room has super high ceilings with elegant wallpaper and wood trim. Very nice.

ROYAL 35 STEAKHOUSE
1 East 35th St
New York, NY 10016

Frenchette

Frenchette has become a very popular place to eat since they scored some critical acclaim from the NY Times. Reservations are difficult to come by, but if you just walk in early and ask for a table by the bar, you should be fine. That’s what my wife and I did over the weekend.

We started with a pair of apps: the terrine and the mortadella.

The mortadella is $9 for about 3 slices of mortadella, placed atop a soft dinner roll and then hit with some shaved parmesan and black truffle on top. This was good, but a bit overpriced (and the truffle wasn’t really that flavorful enough to justify the cost).

The terrine was incredible. Probably one of the better terrines I’ve had. It came with toasted slices of baguette and jars of gherkins and Dijon mustard. A perfect way to start the meal.

They even still give you a bread basket with some nice butter for the table as well. We used that with the terrine as well.

Next up was the 100-day dry aged Masonic Farm rib eye.

That’s a garlic and herb butter you see there on top.

This was pretty good. Lots of really nicely tenderized meat, and tons of edible fat that tasted like meat jelly. The dry aged flavor came through in parts, but not in a wallop. I say this is about 8/10 on my flavor scale. Too pricey though at $135 for what was essentially a steak for one, even though they market this as a steak for two.

We didn’t stop there. We had to try the duck frites.

This was pretty good. While a few bites were sinewy, overall it was a nicely prepared duck breast. I’ve had better, but this is a really affordable and fun version of steak frites from the fowl kingdom.

I had high hopes for this last dish. Artichoke and couscous tagine.

It was bland. But not only that, there were hardly any pieces of artichoke in the dish. In fact, there was only ¾ of one artichoke in it. About eight olives, one or two small carrots, and a few strands of fennel. What a waste. At least I didn’t count on this being a main item.

Overall this was a good meal. I might consider going back for their beef steak frites or au poivre, but I think I’ve pretty much covered everything else that I wanted to try. If that frites doesn’t wow me, then there is no reason for me to come back other than for cocktails at the bar (they make some really nice stuff).

Some of the stuff here is good, but I’m not sure I agree with the NY Times critics who are losing their shit over this place. It’s just above average.

FRENCHETTE
241 W Broadway
New York, NY 10013

Ai Fiori

My steak-eating crew and I came in here and tried 16 different items, so there’s no time for bullshitting. I will just get right down to it.

STARTERS

Dry-Aged Beef Tartare (bar menu)

This was damn good. Not as beautiful as Vaucluse, but it had a different flavor profile (Italian) that worked just as well as the classic French style.

Fried Soft-Shell Crab

So delicious. The zucchini puree underneath was a great Italian play for the sauce element, and the whipped ricotta just made it soar.

Octopus

The radish, white bean and salsa verde made the perfectly tender and grilled octopus shine with a bright pop of acidity.

Tomato Salad

This had stracciatella, pesto and watermelon. Very refreshing.

MID COURSES

Lobster Cavatelli

This sounded amazing but it fell a little short. It was by no means a bad dish. It was just not as stellar as the other entrees. Of course I would prefer this over the tomato salad from the appetizer courses. Duh. I just didn’t get a lot of robust flavors.

Spaghetti with Blue Crab & Bottarga

Winner. This was so delicious. Every aspect of it popped, and the robustness was there, while still preserving the delicate flavors of the crab meat.

Scallops

What made this really special was the corn pudding and toasted corn on the plate. I could eat buckets.

White Label Burger (bar menu)

My favorite of all the Michael White burgers. This one has Calabrian aioli and pickles on it, along with fontina, tomato and red onion. The blend is dry-aged Pat LaFrieda, just like the other White Label burgers as well. What’s really awesome here at Ai Fiori is the potato side that comes with it: pommes dauphines. I didn’t get a good shot, but they are basically breaded and deep fried balls of mashed potato. Again, buckets are needed!

ENTREES

Butter Poached Lobster

Insanity. One of the best lobster dishes I’ve ever had. So tender and flavorful, and it’s a really meaty lobster tail portion size with some sliced claw meat along the side.

Lamb Chops

These were wrapped in caul fat and crusted/glazed very nicely. The snap peas were a nice refreshing touch here to cut the fat, and I liked the use of barley in this dish. One of my favorite grains to eat when done right.

Tomahawk Steak (Costata)

This was an easy 10/10. Michael White’s large format steaks are just amazing at every one of his restaurants. While pretty much identical to the steaks available at Vaucluse and Osteria Morini, there is something to be said about the consistency of these steaks. Every time I visit, they are just as good, and they are all good at every restaurant. These are definitely signature items, and they are 100% worth ordering.

The charred lemon is killer! The rest of the meal was sides and desserts, which were all great but I won’t really dive to deep. My favorite dessert was the chocolate budino. There was some banana incorporated into that. Delicious.

SIDES

Broccoli Rabe

Chicory

DESSERT

Chocolate Budino

Almond Cake

Cheese Plate

I highly recommend both the burger and the tomahawk here. To start, split a pasta and a burger. Then hit the tomahawk for your entree, and get some extra pommes dauphines for the road!

AI FIORI
400 5th Ave #2
New York, NY 10018