Tag Archives: bar

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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:

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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?

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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.

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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.

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That’s it. Now go fuck off.

BAR BOULUD
1900 Broadway
New York, NY 10023

Gebhard’s Beer Culture

Gebhard’s is a beer connoisseur’s dream bar. Their bottle menu is five or six pages long, printed in tiny 8-point font (perhaps even smaller), and organized by style. Their tap selection is pretty stellar as well. When I was there, I tried a flight of four different brews from Brooklyn. A pilsner, a saison, a sour fruit beer and a stout (pictured below from front to back, or right to left).

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All were pretty great, but the stars of this joint, for me, were these White Castle style sliders.

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They’re made with Schweid & Sons ground beef, topped with cheese, steamed minced onions, and a dijon-based sauce that will knock your socks off. These little things were awesome, so it’s no surprise that renowned and respected burger expert Rev Ciancio (formerly of Burger Conquest) is promoting these things. It’s safe to say that these are my favorite sliders.

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I highly recommend getting up there to try them out for yourselves. The tots were perfectly crisp as well, and, if sliders aren’t your thing, then you can go with the full sized burger.

GEBHARD’S BEER CULTURE
228 W 72nd St
New York, NY 10023

Krave’s Smoke Apple Fusion & Giveaway

This is a genius recipe. The good people at Krave Jerky contacted me about this great cocktail recipe they formulated in conjunction with Angry Orchard hard cider. And read through to the end of this post because there’s a limited-time-offer free giveaway attached to this in celebration of National Jerky Day, which is Sunday, June 12th.

What You Need:

  • 1.5oz Krave Chili Lime Beef Jerky infused reposado tequila
  • 0.5oz cinnamon infused honey syrup
  • 0.5oz lime juice
  • 4oz Angry Orchard Crisp Apple
  • smoked salt

How to Make It:

Tear up a medium sized piece of the beef jerky and add it to the tequila. Let that soak for a while, like 20-30mins, before straining off the tequila. Boom. Just like that you have your jerky-infused tequila. The honey syrup is easier to put together: just add cinnamon to a honey simple syrup if you don’t have the time or patience to let a cinnamon stick soak in the syrup.

Add all ingredients into a shaker with ice and shake. Strain into a low ball glass with ice and a smoked salt rim. Garnish with a piece of Krave Chili Lime Beef Jerky.

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Giveaway Instructions

Okay so here’s how to enter the giveaway: Simply go to my Facebook page, Twitter feed or Instagram gallery, follow, and use the tag #jerkylove in a comment related to this post or the picture above. Do that so I know that you are actively entering this contest. Pretty simple. Tell your friends to enter, and use the tag on all three of my social media accounts to increase your odds of winning.

On Sunday, June 12th, which is National Jerky Day, I will select a winner at random and first I, and then Krave, will contact you regarding the prize. What’s the prize, you ask? An assortment of Krave jerky as seen below!

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Krave is giving away over 25,000 bags of its delicious, artisanal jerky across the US!

Let me tell you: their product is top notch. I’ve sampled pretty much every flavor they offer, and they are all fantastic. You can see my review of all their jerky flavors HERE.

Good luck, drink up, and eat up!!!

The Villager

The Villager is a bar out in Babylon, near the train station. After a group of us spent the day drinking out at the wineries on Long Island’s north fork, we came here to get some grub. I have to say: I was pretty surprised at how good the food was. I was not expecting much. Shame on me for assuming shit.

The group started with an order of gouda fries. They were waffle style – nice and crisp – and covered with melted gouda, crumbled bacon and scallions.

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I ordered the breakfast burger, which was topped with American cheese, bacon and a fried egg, served on a toasted English muffin.

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Since I wasn’t sure what kind of place this was before ordering, I went with medium on the cook. I was kicking myself once I tasted the quality of the meat. I should have gone medium rare. It was still fucking fantastic though, and it came with a side of tater tots.

My wife ordered the duck burger, which was topped with gruyere and applewood smoked bacon. She, too, ordered it medium. The burger was cooked perfectly and had a hearty flavor to it, but, as a result of the medium poultry, was a bit on the dry side.

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I will definitely be back here, and next time I will order properly at medium rare for my burger.

THE VILLAGER
262 Deer Park Ave
Babylon, NY 11702

MexiCali Sunset

This refreshing cocktail is super easy to make. Here’s what you need to make it:

  • 1 freshly squeezed clementine (or substitute with orange)
  • 1 packet sugar in the raw
  • 1 bottle of spicy ginger beer
  • mezcal (or substitute with tequila, sotol)

Add all ingredients except the ginger beer into a shaker with ice, and shake it the fuck up. Put as much mezcal in as you want! Pour over ice in a low ball glass. Fill it up between half and three quarters full. Then add ginger beer and stir before serving. Garnish with clementine rind to add a pop of bitter into the otherwise sweet drink, and rub the rind around the rim of the glass to get those citrus oils popping with each sip.

McSorley’s Old Ale House

McSorley’s Old Ale House is NYC’s first Irish bar, and it is a place known for limited options. For example, the clientele was limited to men from 1854 until 1970 when it was forced to allow women into the bar. Their motto was “Good Ale, Raw Onions and No Ladies.”

As far as beer goes, your options are limited to their proprietary “McSorley’s” dark beer or light beer. You get two mugs that are mostly filled for the price of one beer, chiefly because it is faster to pour two half-assed mugs than it is to properly pour a full mug while waiting for the head to settle on the beer.

While there, you should definitely man-up and try their infamous liverwurst and onion sandwich. If you’re really feeling manly, spread some of that super spicy – and likely dirty – dijon mustard onto the bread. The stuff graces each table.

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Quick story about the wishbones on the light fixture above the bar: They were hung by guys getting ready to deploy in WWI. If they came back they took down a wishbone and made their wish. The ones that didn’t make it back; their wishbone remains on the light fixture. Special thanks to BG for that bit of info.

MCSORLEY’S OLD ALE HOUSE
15 E. 7th St.
New York, NY 10003

Tanner Smith’s

This joint is home to some really excellent cocktails.

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I had been eyeballing the place for a while, and when a buddy was in town and staying at a hotel nearby, we decided to go in.

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Our bartender, Albert, mixed up the absolute, hands-down best Old Fashioned I have ever tasted. On the menu it is called a Winona, and is made with a few flourishes to the standard ingredients, the most impressive of which is its delivery in a smoke infused bottle.

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Watch as the smoke billows out and creates a nose for the drink as you sip it:

I’m not big on the whole “mixology” thing. Mixing drinks is cool but I still call it bartending. Bartending with interesting ingredients doesn’t require a scientific-sounding name. It’s all about pairing flavors, and that’s what any good bar tender should be able to do. Albert is one of those people who takes pride in what he does. He isn’t afraid to try new things and come up with new drinks. I even told him about the Germain Scotsman. His initial reaction was “mixing peaty scotch with anything is blasphemy,” but he embraced the drink with an open mind and found that he actually liked it! It works on many levels.

Anyway, after another visit here for drinks with ANOTHER friend who was in town and staying in midtown, my wife and I finally made it over to try out some of the food.

We started with the scotch eggs. These seem to be made with quail eggs, so the ratio of egg to breading is a bit off. While they tasted really good, had good seasoning and crunch, the egg just got lost a little bit in the breading.

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The dry rub chicken wings had nice flavor. If I had to guess, it was some kind of mild jerk spice rub. Very interesting. Good crunch on the outside and nicely cooked inside, and served with a celery and jicama slaw.

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We also dug into the pork terrine. The meat was a bit more solid than I expected. When stuff like this is served with toast, I expect more of a spreadable texture. The taste was nice, however, and paired nicely with the mustard and jicama, pepper and cabbage slaw.

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Our last savory course was the burger with blue cheese.

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I ordered medium, and that seems about right to me on the inside. Perhaps just a bit over?

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The pickles, bun, lettuce, tomato and cheese were all on point, but the meat was a little grainy in texture. I think maybe the beef was over worked after it went through the grinder to become a patty. It also could have used a bit more seasoning.

Fries were shoestring style – like McDonalds (a good thing).

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For dessert we tried the blueberry upside down cake. This was essentially three small muffin sized cakes served with fresh blueberries (both in the cake and as garnish), tangy orange/lemon curd, whipped cream and basil.

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The flavors worked really well together, and the cake was warm and fresh. Even my wife, a baker, gave it her seal of approval.

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I’ll definitely be back to try a few more items from the food menu, but it seems like the drinks are really the star of the show here. Nicely done!

UPDATE! IMPROVED BURGER & SECRET BURGER, SAME GREAT COCKTAILS!

TANNER SMITH’S
204 W. 55th St.
New York, NY 10019

Cow Pig Bun

Cow Pig Bun

What a fucking weird location for a reataurant. I can understand the brewery being there, as this area is an office park or business park. I suppose people hit this joint for lunch while they’re at work nearby.

The place is like something out of Williamsburg Brooklyn. The decor is corrugated metal, reclaimed wood, filament bulb lighting and industrial meat facility chic.

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The food is great. It’s a small menu, essentially a burger joint with fancy apps and lots of different whiskey and bourbon to sample.

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We tried a flight of flavored whiskey – one was just a blend, then coconut, chocolate macadamia nut, and coffee flavored whiskeys followed. Macadamia nut was my favorite. Sweet and strong.

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We also sampled some of their mixology style cocktails. My wife had an awesome tequila and pho broth based drink, called “Cannibalistic,” and I had a pineapple, lime  and Maker’s called “Butcher Town.” Good shit.

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I ordered the bacon jam burger. This was a potent and powerful burger. The blue cheese didn’t overpower the meat, nor did the bacon, but altogether it was super heavy. I liked it, but I could only put down half (I ate the rest a few days later).

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My wife had a poorly worded sandwich that was called banh mi, but was really more like a pulled pork sandwich. It had pork belly, pulled pork and really nice fois gras butter, but none of the pickled veggies, fish sauce or fresh leafy cilantro that you usually associate with the banh mi flavor profile. In short, it was still good, but not banh mi.

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Along with the drinks, I think the best part of this place is the pork rind chicharones that come with each entree instead of French fries. These morsels were real pig skin fried up to warm, golden, crispy goodness. Amazing.