Tag Archives: bar

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

Manhatta

There’s another French onion soup burger in the game, from Manhatta.

It’s very tasty but it definitely requires a fork and knife, as it sits in a puddle of soup and has some stewed onions and onion rings on the top bun. In any event, it’s one hell of a swanky place in which to get messy. Lots of fun. Check out the view!

I’ll be back in here for a proper dinner soon enough. Until then, this will be a short review.

MANHATTA
28 Liberty Street, 60th Fl
New York NY 10005

Warren 77

This joint puts up some solid pub food. I came in with a group of food bloggers to help them promote their Stanley Cup game night specials (the joint is owned by an ex-NY Ranger). Anyway, here’s what we had:

Wings

These are breaded and served lollipop style. I liked them, despite generally having less of a preference for breaded wings.

Nachos

Stacked high with tons of toppings. Really good.

Boneless Chicken Wings

For the vagina in your group who doesn’t want any bones. Still good though – and also breaded.

Fried Pickles

A little too salty for me, but I liked the texture and sauce.

Philly Cheesesteak

I loved that this was on a hot dog potato bun. They said they usually serve it on different bread but ran out. I say stick with the hot dog bun. It was great. Low budget and tasty.

Double Cheeseburger

This was nice and basic too, but well executed. For $11 this is a great deal (fries were $3 extra, shoestring style, and  very nicely cooked). Their “77 Sauce” is like a Big Mac sauce. Dig it.

WARREN 77
77 Warren St
New York, NY 10007

Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop Bar

I love this spot. It barely has electric, as it is one of the oldest structures in the country, built in the 1700’s and used as a blacksmith shop before it became a piano bar.

I love old shit, especially old timey bars and restaurants. Hence Tux-Con. Drop into this place for a drink, or even just to walk through and take a look around, if you’re ever in New Orleans.

LAFITTE’S BLACKSMITH SHOP BAR
941 Bourbon St
New Orleans, LA 70116

Cafe Beignet

This little courtyard spot on Bourbon Street is a great place to sit outside with a coffee, a beignet, a yard of frozen hurricane, or whatever else the fuck you want. It’s also a good place to watch the barrage of drunks stumble by on Bourbon Street, while listening to some free music. This was the perfect place to wait for our table to be ready next door for dinner. I smoked my pipe, and my wife and I sipped on some drinks.

CAFE BEIGNET
311 Bourbon St
New Orleans, LA 70130

Blue Seafood & Pizza

One Sunday afternoon my wife and I went on a hunt for oysters in the neighborhood. The first place we went to was closed for renovations (they usually have dollar oysters), but we always wanted to try this place ever since we saw it first open.

They had oysters, so we got our fix. Three east coast and three west coast, times two, so we could each try one of each variety.

They were all great and really fresh. The cost goes down as you order more, so this plate of a dozen came out to $3 each, or $36. A bit high considering we were starting off with the idea of paying $1 per oyster, but we were happy with the quality. A few of the varietals normally cost upwards of $4 a piece. We both liked the Kumamoto style the best.

Next up was their seafood pizza.

This elongated beauty of a pie was a bit pricey at $20, but also very tasty. I don’t mind paying up a bit if the quality is good. The only critique here is that the pie could have used some shaved parmesan cheese to finish at the end, and perhaps a sprinkling of some crispy prosciutto.

BLUE SEAFOOD & PIZZA
856 9th Ave
New York, NY 10019

Camacho’s

Camacho’s is a new Mexican joint with great cocktails and a fun cantina vibe. Named after the executive chef, it features a variety of classic Mexican favorites, including tacos:

Clockwise from top: shrimp, steak, short rib, cod.

Excellent guac and chips:

Tasty Mexican corn:

A nice, filling taco salad:

Yucca fries:

The “Bad Hombre” drink, a mezcal based margarita-ish concoction that’s served in a smoke-filled glass skull:

Tons of DOTD sugar skulls on the walls:

Crazy dessert shakes:

And even a suggestive neon sign that’s all the rage on Instagram:

They play some fun music too, if this is your thing; a throwback to mid- to late-90’s rap and hip hop. I dug it, and I’ll definitely be back.

Note: I was invited in by the bar’s ownership to take some photos and do some Instagram posts in exchange for a free meal.

CAMACHO’S
118 E 15th St
New York, NY 10003

Malt House (FiDi)

You may recall my recent review of Malt House in the West Village. Well, the other day I was invited to the downtown location for another press review. I have to say, as Chef Armando (formerly of STK and Five Napkin Burger) has become more comfortable in his role as Executive Chef, he has really elevated the level of food.

At the time of the West Village review, he was relatively new at Malt House. The food was good, but it had a different feel than the food I tried at the FiDi location. While both restaurants do share a similar menu, Armando brings a bit more of his personal touch to the FiDi menu. Here, Armando is more clearly elevating standard pub food to quality restaurant dining. Take my favorite dish of the evening, for instance: the artichoke and crab dip with crispy fried plantains.

crab artichoke dip fixed 3

Every pub, Friday’s and Applebee’s offers something like this with tortilla chips. But Armando has removed the grossly oily and heavy texture that is so common with these dips – often laden with insanely salty cheeses and prickly, woody bits from the wrong part of the artichoke – and replaced it with a velvety smooth, light and extremely satisfying indulgence that is topped with succulent, high quality crab meat. The plantains – as opposed to tortilla chips – come with a thicker crisp as well, and they add a higher quality, more complimentary crunch element to balance with the creamy dip.

If my yammering about artichoke dip doesn’t quite convince you that this place is more than just pub food, just take a look at this gorgeous pan roasted chicken dish.

roasted chicken fixed

Do you expect to see this at a bar? Of course not. That’s why I’m making a point of saying that this is real restaurant dining. That chicken dish comes with mashed potatoes, sauteed kale, mushrooms and au jus, by the way.

And as you might expect from a burger at a fine dining joint, plain old ground beef simply won’t cut the mustard. This location features wagyu beef in the grind. But that’s not where it ends. It also boasts hickory smoked bacon, a pesto aioli and Bibb lettuce on a brioche bun, with your choice of cheese, of course. But the kicker is something so simple that it’s brilliant: a slice of oven roasted tomato that just melts right into the burger to become a natural ketchup when you bite down on it. Amazing.

wagyu burger fixed

Armando is also keeping things a bit more seasonal and market fresh at the FiDi location, swapping out the mahi in the fish tacos with whatever is good at the market each day, like mako or swordfish.

mako tacos fixed

If those types of fish don’t float your boat, maybe the blackened salmon sandwich will. This was good enough to make me think twice about beef for a brief moment.

salmonwich fixed

Cajun salmon with grilled onions, cucumber, avocado and sriracha aioli? Yes please. That was a great tasting sandwich!

However, my favorite thing between two buns, aside from The Cake Dealer’s thong, was the slow braised short rib slider.

braised slider fixed

After braising, these babies are pan seared and topped with house made spicy and sweet pickles, shallots and rosemary caramelized onions. Oh my God, those onions… And those pickles… So good, and such a complex bite of food. There are lots of well-balanced flavors popping in these. I highly recommend. They’re technically apps, but I guess if you order enough of them you can call it a meal.

Speaking of appetizers, by the way, a pair of other notable mentions were the buttermilk bites and avocado bacon deviled eggs. The eggs come cleverly plated in an egg carton with six pieces per order. Very generous! And these devilish morsels tasted heavenly. The egg is mixed with the avocado to make a very creamy filling, and the sriracha and serrano peppers on top bring that slight bit of heat that you want from deviled eggs.

deviled egg 2 fixed

The buttermilk bites, if sold in bulk, would probably be the cause of my death. I can easily see myself eating these until I pop. There’s nothing too complicated about them; they’re just southern style fried chicken morsels.

buttermilk bites fixed

But the buttermilk fry batter is spectacular, and the meat is tender and juicy inside. Perfect execution! What really brings these home for me, though, is the cilantro jalapeno aioli. It’s cool and refreshing, while at the same time bringing a kick of spice to your taste buds.

I also got to sample both the sweet potato and regular fries. Both were good, but I actually preferred the sweet potato fries for some reason. They ended up being seasoned better, they held a better crisp, and they actually tasted savory rather than sweet. This was a nice change, because I typically don’t like sweet potato fries.

sweet potato fries fixed

Malt House actually has a pastry chef now, so dessert is on point. I sampled four items: chocolate mousse, beignets with chocolate sauce, banana and chocolate filled crepes and cheesecake. All were nicely executed, simple and delicious.

mousse fixed

crepes fixed

cheesecake fixed

beignets fixed

Now that I’ve gotten the food out of the way, let me talk a bit about the drinks and decor at this place. Aside from something like 200 whiskies and 40 draft beers, they also offer a nice cocktail menu and an extensive list of bottled and canned beers as well.

DSC08263

DSC08227

In addition, this joint is hugely spacious, with a main bar and dining floor, a nice mezzanine overlooking the main floor, a private party room off the mezzanine and a massive basement called “The Armory,” which features a wrap-around bar and tons of additional seating. I love the proud patriotism on display down there. There are tons of old US flags and such (to be fair, some might be British colonial flags as well – I’m not sure). This place also boasts some other nice historic and architectural touches, like a preserved 125yr old, all-original skylight in the private room and several actual Carnegie Steel Company beams in the main bar and dining room.

unnamed 2

unnamed

unspecified 2

unspecified 3

unspecified 4

unspecified 5

unspecified

The interior pics aren’t mine, by the way. They were provided to me by the restaurant. But you get the sense of how enormous and gorgeous this place is. Go check it out for yourself one of these days. You won’t be disappointed.

MALT HOUSE
9 Maiden Ln
New York, NY 10038

Decibal

For documentation purposes, I’ve decided to include this little basement sake bar in my reviews. I didn’t eat anything, but I did try a nice Japanese cocktail made with yuzu, grapefruit and shochu.

In any event, I’d like to come back here and give it a more thorough write up. For now, just enjoy the info.

This joint is a small, authentic, almost speakeasy like bar in the basement of an East Village building. The lighting is dim and red, and the drinks are flowing. It gets pretty packed, even on random weeknights, so get there with some time to spare.

decibal interior

DECIBAL
240 E 9th St
New York, NY 10003

Bar Boulud

Here’s another restaurant week review for your asses.

For $42, my wife had a three course meal. The first course? A fucking salmon rillette.

DSC06584

This was pretty good. I apologize in advance, though. My pictures don’t look too good this time around. I had competing light color values from outside along the windows (blue) and inside from the overhead lighting (yellow/orange/red, with dark shadows). As a result, my photos look like dog diarrhea smeared onto a piss and blood-ridden diaper/maxi pad, but only the kind of diaper/maxi pad you see in commercials that use blue colored liquid to simulate blood and piss for some ridiculous reason.

But anyway that salmon rillette had a nice base of hard rye, topped with minced salmon and pickle, and some frisee and sliced beets. It had a good flavor and texture.

The main course was a bavette steak. If you don’t know what the fuck a bavette is, click the link I just provided and read up on it, asshole. It’s a cut of beef.

DSC06593

This was roasted to a nice medium rare, but I was somewhat disappointed with the lack of char on the outside. It was buttery and garlicky, which was good for flavor. However, the slices that I had were slightly under seasoned. I think it still gets 8/10, so there’s some room for improvement. It was served on a bed of potato puree with a side of green beans.

For dessert, there was this blackberry financier with brown butter ice cream.

DSC06602

The cake itself was a bit dry, but all the toppings served well to moisten it the hell up. Corn? And popcorn? Interesting! But the brown butter ice cream blob way the fuck on the right was the real star of the dish. I would have preferred a bowl of that instead.

Overall this is a pretty good deal for restaurant week. Lunch is always the better buy ($29), but you aren’t getting raped here for a $42 three-course dinner.

The couple we were with let us try a bit of their dessert as well, a chocolate ganache pie of sorts:

DSC06603

This was very rich and tasty. If chocolate is your vice, then this dessert is nice. That was a rhyme.

For my meal, I went with the “Frenchie” burger. If you’re in the area for a burger, you can go with PJ Clarke’s for a standard style American burger, or pop in here for something unique and different… and French.

This mother fucker is topped with raclette cheese and a thick goddamn slab of soft, confit pork belly! Bitches know what’s up! I think. I don’t know, actually… Do they know what’s up?

DSC06601

DSC06597

That’s arugula underneath, incase you were wondering. The patty was perfectly seasoned, and the bun was soft yet pliable and strong. Toppings, as you can imagine, were on point. The confit pork was like having a fast food burger patty made of belly (in terms of size) right on top of your already-delicious burger. Good move. This burger was pretty damn good, but it doesn’t quite make it into my top 10.

For $23, the burger also came with fries, which were some crispy-ass, natural cut, shoestring mother fuckers. I liked them.

DSC06599

Honorable mention: bread selection. We had three styles of table bread. First were small cheese bread things that reminded me of pop-overs in muffin form. They were warm too, like the pair of underwear that you just peeled off your sweaty, NYC-in-the-summer ass cheeks and tossed into the laundry pile. The other bread basket had slices of a sunflower seed sourdough bread of some kind, and a few slices of standard French baguette. All good quality, just like the writing in this review.

DSC06574

DSC06578

That’s it. Now go fuck off.

BAR BOULUD
1900 Broadway
New York, NY 10023