Tag Archives: cocktails

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

Rainbow Room Macallan Dinner Pairing

My wife and I went to the Rainbow Room/Bar Sixty Five as guests of our friend who was hosting a special Macallan scotch cocktail pairing dinner.

The meal started with this “Breakfast for Dinner” cocktail that had some bubbles, blueberry and, of course, Macallan scotch. The garnish was actually blueberries and pancakes. Kinda cool.

This was paired with the two appetizers that my wife and I shared, scallops and peekytoe crab toast.

Next up was this vanilla, ginger beer and scotch cocktail that was garnished with a fresh sprig of rosemary. This tasted like cream soda.

Naturally, this paired nicely with the burger and steak entrees.

The hanger was great. 9/10. Super tender and flavorful despite being grass finished.

The burger was a monster. It was unwieldy to eat as a whole, so I pretty much ate each component separately.

To start off the dessert items, we had this really special drink called The Sixth Borough:

This delicious smoked cocktail is made with rare cask Macallan, 50-60 year old amaro and bitters, charcoal and rosemary. It’s stir-chilled with an ice sphere and then dropped into an ornate gold filigree glass from a chandelier platform that’s a replica of the iconic Rainbow Room. What a special treat!

That paired nicely with the Baked Alaska that I had. My wife had the cheesecake with apple sorbet. I obviously had a taste, and it was delicious as well.

RAINBOW ROOM / BAR SIXTY FIVE
30 Rockefeller Plaza
65th Floor
New York, NY 10112

Dell’ Anima

This spot just opened up in the Gotham West Market food hall, and is formerly of west village fame. My wife and I tried a pair of cocktails and a pair of pasta entrees. All were great. Here’s the breakdown:

Roasted Orange Negroni:

Tastes just how it sounds. Really great cocktail with prosecco, campari and roasted orange.

Blame it on the Aperol:

Aperol, gin, lemonade and soda. Perfectly refreshing.

Speck Carbonara:

Perfectly cooked tagliatelle with freshly shaved cheese and a gorgeous egg yolk, spiced up and naturally salted by the generous amount of speck in the dish.

Oyster Mushroom Pappardelle:

This was the winner. Amazing texture in the wheat pasta, nice pop from the Aleppo peppers, and great earthy flavors from the garlic and mushrooms.

We will definitely be back to try the other pasta dishes for sure, and likely for the apps and main meats as well.

DELL’ ANIMA
Gotham West Market
600 11th Avenue
New York, NY 10036

Pappardella

My wife and I came here to use some of her Blackboard Eats credit. I think we got something like 30% off the bill thanks to her. Anyway, let’s get down to business.

We started with a mixed charcuterie plate. We chose mortadella, finocchiona and bresaola. This was great, but slightly pricey at $21.

Next up was wagyu carpaccio with arugula, shaved parmigiana and pistachios. I loved this. A little squirt of lemon really made this pop.

Next up was the calamari. This was served in a tomato broth of sorts, with raisins. It was too sweet, and the squid itself was really bland and flavorless, despite being nicely cooked and tender. If you go here, skip this one.

For our entrees, we tried a pair of pasta dishes. First was this “pappardelle buttera” dish with peas and sweet and hot sausage. While I didn’t get much kick from the hot sausage, the sauce and all components – including the pasta itself – were perfect. Get this one.

We also tried the tagliatelle spinachi, which was a green spinach pasta served with roasted cherry tomatoes, shrimp and Calabrian chilis. This had no heat – maybe one single chili was in the dish. Like the squid, the shrimp was also bland as well. Weak flavors for such bold ingredients. Pass on this one.

That about does it. We skipped dessert because we were pretty full. Over all this place was mediocre. Some hits, some misses. But I think if you stick with the carpaccio and the pappardelle you’ll be happy.

PAPPARDELLA
316 Columbus Ave
New York, NY 10023

Covina

My wife and I went to Covina with another couple and tried a bunch of things from the menu. Check it out:

First, huge and great selections of cocktails. Definitely imbibe when you go here.

We started with the pork belly, which was nicely braised and tender.

The shrimp and polenta was a perfectly cooked and really tasty dish.

This pappardelle pasta was slightly overcooked for my liking, but the pork and veal “white bolognese” was incredible.

Next up, pizza! We did both the spicy honey pie and the fontina with Brussels spouts pie.

The spicy honey pie was miles ahead of the competition. I could eat three.

We also tried their famous Big Mac style burger.

The bun was a little hard, perhaps heading towards dry or stale, but the burger itself was masterful. I really enjoyed it.

On the side we had truffle fries and charred broccolini. Both were good, although there was really no char to the broccolini.

For dessert, we did the bread pudding and the pumpkin mousse. Here, the mousse was better. It was awesome!

COVINA
127 E 27th St
New York, NY 10016

Le Turtle

NOTE: THIS PLACE IS NOW CLOSED!

I went to Le Turtle with a group of Instagram food lunatic friends to try some of their iconic dishes. This ended up being one of the best meals I’ve had in a while. Let me get right down to it.

We started with the following:

Dry aged beef carpaccio with Hokkaido uni and pickled ramp bottoms. Just the right amount of surf with your turf. Great pop from the pickled ramps.

Sliced avocado and radish with avocado mousse, mango curd and mixed grains. Beautiful, light, refreshing and satisfying.

Fresh cheese and beets with apricot kernel oil, toasted sunflower seeds and a maple emulsion. This was fucking fantastic. Get it.

Tagliatelle carbonara with guanciale, pecorino and egg yolk emulsion. Really nice take on the classic pasta dish.

Halibut and tomato with brussels sprouts, calabrian chili and arugula. Perfectly cooked, light and flakey.

Fried octopus with crisped rice, ramp chimichurri sauce and togarashi and arbol chili peppers. One of the very best octopus dishes I’ve ever had. It gets braised for hours before a light batter fry. And the ramp chimichurri is incredible.

Sasso Poulet. This is the best whole chicken dish I’ve eaten. The birds are brined for days and then hung, to allow the skin to cook more crispy. The bird comes out on a plate of burning hay for display purposes, filling the dining room with an amazing aroma.

Then it comes back disarticulated and ready to eat. I particularly liked munching on the feet.

This comes with crispy fingerlings, chicken liver mousse and pickled shishito peppers. At $69 this is a steal, and can easily feed two people.

90 day dry aged Pat LaFrieda cote de boeuf. This comes out to the table for viewing uncut like this, before resting:

And then after resting it comes back ready to serve for two (or more) looking like this:

This would be a 10/10 if there was a bit more char and crisp on the outside. It’s a bit more like a roast. But the flavor is perfect. Not too funky that it fucks up your taste buds. Perfectly cooked. And the fat and trim is diced up and fried, which is a brilliant way to reduce waste and make everyone smile with more tasty bits to eat. 9/10. You can pass on using the molasses sauce that comes with it though.

There was also and Japanese yam dish that came out at this time. I wasn’t a big fan, but it was absolutely stunning.

There was also a simple but tasty salad of greens citrus and blue cheese. Good way to cut the richness of the steak.

Dessert was equally as impressive as the savory courses, and they were all unique, which is rare these days.

Hazelnut financier with blood orange creme anglaise and cranberry dust.

Chocolate sorbet with milk crumbs, sea salt and olive oil.

Forbidden rice pudding with vanilla chai ice cream, rye sand and coconut snow.

I highly recommend this place. Go while ramps are still in season though, because this is one place that actually made me respect that produce. Until now I didn’t get the infatuation with ramps. I’ll be back again very soon. In fact, I’m going tomorrow with my wife.

LE TURTLE
177 Chrystie St
New York, NY 10002

Hillstone

My wife and I tried this place today on the recommendation of a friend of mine who spoke highly of the prime rib.

I give this a solid 8/10. For $46 you also get two sides with it, and the slab of roasty, beefy goodness is very well portioned.

It had a nice cap, good flavor both on the crust and throughout, and they serve it with a great seasoning salt (tasted like a sweet but spicy old bay salt), horseradish cream sauce, and gravy in a tea kettle.

The item that stole the show for me though was this grilled artichoke appetizer that our really nice and helpful waitress Marissa recommended.

The halves were perfectly seasoned, steamed, grilled, and then hit with some finishing salt. Absolutely awesome.

They serve some good crafted cocktails, and the bar is impressive as well.

Not a bad lunch!

HILLSTONE
153 E 53rd St
New York, NY 10022

The Aviary

I took my wife to The Aviary as an early Christmas present. I booked the five course “Cocktails & Canapes” tasting menu dinner about two weeks in advance with a $100 deposit. The cost is $165pp, with an 18% gratuity added at the end (and tax, of course).

That’s crazy expensive, but this is truly a unique drinking and dining experience. I drank and ate things I never would have even thought about. In hindsight, five cocktails was aggressive (but awesome). I think when I go back, I will just order a la carte.

Here is the entire menu, but I will highlight what was selected for us below in the review:

AMUSE

The first thing to come out was an “amuse” drink – a small shot of tastiness that involved lime, rum, and mint.

A few moments later, our first round of cocktails came out with the first course of food.

COURSE ONE

Drinks: Micahlada (left – and yes, that is spelled correctly) and Zombie Panda (right)

Of these two, the Micahlada was my favorite. This is The Aviary’s take on a michelada (beer, spices and tomato juice), made with soy, coriander, Japanese whisky and Evil Twin beer. The Zombie Panda was tart from the lemon, lychee and pisco, and filled with frozen spheres of raspberry juice to sweeten it up.

Food: Pineapple Two Ways

This was a nice way to get the taste buds popping. That brown stuff at the bottom was a mole sauce. I liked it a lot, but my wife wasn’t too taken with it. The black mint garnish was tasty and went well with the watermelon radish and passion fruit.

COURSE TWO

Drinks: How Does Snoop Dog Use Lemongrass (left) and Mimosa (right)

The mimosa was nice because the fruit juice was frozen into ice cubes, so the drink becomes sweeter and more smooth as it sits.

The idea behind the Snoop drink is that Snoop Dogg ends everything with “-izzle” when he talks/raps, so there is a “swizzle” made out of lemongrass, which is used to mix the drink together:

Food: Kampachi Ceviche

This was bright, light and savory, pulling in southeast asian flavors from Thai green curry, heart of palm and coconut. I really enjoyed the briny broth and the coiled peels of red pepper for spice.

COURSE THREE

Drink: Heart of Stone

This was the best drink of the night, and you get about six glasses out of the container. That container is filled with bourbon, tea, Fresno chili, pistachio and peach. As it sits there, the flavors infuse deeply into the bourbon, so each time you refill the glass it tastes a little different. More spices come out, more sweetness too. Amazing.

Food: Pork Belly Curry

This dish was really good, but it could have been excellent with a crunch element. I think the iceberg lettuce discs were supposed to be that element, but they fell short just a bit. Perhaps a fried shrimp chip or crispy egg roll wrapper would do the trick. But the pork belly curry itself? Awesome. The banana and cashew are excellent compliments to the savory.

FROM THE CHEF

Chawanmushi

They’re experimenting with “all times of day” food here at The Aviary, so this is meant to be a breakfast item. It’s velvety smooth, and the smoked abalone within makes you think you’re eating bacon. The pops of flavor from the pickled huckleberries really brighten and balance this seafood porridge custard dish.

COURSE FOUR

Drink: Memphis Half Step

These glasses come to the table upside down on a charred piece of oak cask, filled with smoke. The aroma is awesome. This absinthe and rye cocktail is super smooth with a hint of sweetness.

Food: A5 Miyazaki Wagyu Rib Eye

Clearly my favorite food item of the night. The meat was buttery soft, and the grilled romaine with puffed rice was a great textural pop to go with it.  That yellow sauce is a yuzu mustard. Possibly the greatest mustard ever. 10/10. Wish I had 16 more ounces of this.

COURSE FIVE

Drink: Boom Goes The Dynamite

This was sweet and warm, almost like a port or brandy. It was made with rum, vanilla, violet and rooibos…  and dry ice for the smoke.

Food: Blueberry

Milk chocolate, violet and buttermilk sorbet make this dessert extra decadent. There were some more spheres of raspberry ice on the plate too, rounding out the meal with a call back to the very first cocktail (Zombie Panda). Really nice.

THE OFFICE

After dinner, our waiter Preston took us on a short tour of The Office, the speakeasy behind The Aviary bar staging area (which looks more like a kitchen than a bar).

Here’s what the inside of The Office looks like:

They have a cabinet filled with really old spirits that you can order as well. Super rare.

I will definitely be back to try this place, as well as the Aviary again. So many interesting sounding drinks and food items to try, like the “Science AF,” which looks like a chemistry set, or the “Wake & Bake,” which is a pillow filled with smoke and a drink made with orange, everything bagel, coffee and rye. I snapped a photo of it before they opened the bag filled with smoke:

THE AVIARY
Mandarin Oriental
80 Columbus Circle at 60th Street
New York, NY 10023

Death Avenue

I’ve been meaning to check out Death Avenue because I was always intrigued by the name. Death Avenue was the notorious nickname given to 10th Avenue due to all of the railway deaths that occurred there in the old days, when trains ran vertically up and down the avenue to service the warehouse and meat packing districts.

In any event, the joint is Greek-inspired, but also had some classic American staples like burgers and BBQ.

The cocktail list is excellent.

I tried the Banana Bourbon, which was light and smooth, and definitely banana-infused. My wife tried the Mastiha Mint (Mastiha is a kind of tree – its sap or extract is used in the drink). It was refreshing like a mojito.

We started with fried pickles. Pretty basic. The dips were interesting: a BBQ cause, tzatziki and some kind of hollandaise-isa sauce. The pickles were tasty, but the batter slipped off too easily.

My wife ordered the 8 Hour Octopus app as her entree. This was pricey at about $26, but it was tasty and somewhat substantial enough to eat as an entree if needed.

I had the Feta Burger. This was stacked way too tall, but overall it was a decent enough burger to satisfy my cravings. The oregano fries that came with it were great.

I’d say this was a great place to have a few drinks and snacks, but I’d skip making a whole meal out of it.

DEATH AVENUE
315 10th Avenue
New York, NY 10001

The Fat Monk

NOTE: THIS PLACE IS NOW CLOSED

The Fat Monk has one of the most incredibly ambitious and delicious looking menus I’ve ever seen. Just about every item sounds unique and awesome, and I pretty much got to try them all.

Chef Rob McCue, who has been honing his art for 25 years, elevates American comfort food by using only the finest ingredients sourced via his close relationships with local artisans. He achieves the unexpected through molecular gastronomy, a style of cooking that you don’t often associate with American comfort cuisine.

And the unexpected delights are not limited to the food here, either. The cocktails are equally as exciting. Cory Goldstein, founder of Muddling Memories, put together an amazing cocktail menu.

We tried a whole bunch, but the standouts for me were the “Emma Stone’s a Ginger” (bourbon, peach, Lapsang Souchong tea, molasses, ginger beer, cookie “snack back”), “Say a Dirty Word” (barrel aged gin, vodka, house dirty brine, white pepper, chili oil, Boursin cheese stuffed olives), and “Paul Bunyan’s Flask” (rye, pine infused maple, Oloroso sherry, Bergamot bitters, apple wood smoke) cocktails. In fact, that’s the order in which I would recommend drinking them, the Emma to start the meal, the Dirty with your main course, and the Flask – which is a treat to see being served – with dessert.

Their PR person contacted me, and we arranged to bring in a crew of savage meat eating wackos to get down on all the tasty shit and post some pics of their joint on Instagram. So here’s what we had:

STARTERS

Oyster Escargot: Yeah – I know. Making you think a little, right? Oysters served with a parsley and pernod crust. Lovely.

Kale Caesar: Ours was more arugula and mixed greens than kale, which I was actually happy about. Kale is a bit woody for my liking. All that said, I didn’t even eat any salad. I had my sights set on tons of other delicious stuff.

Crispy Duck Wings: Crisp on the outside, super tender and fall-off-the-bone on the inside. Really amazing Thai/Viet flavor combo too from the sweet and tangy fish sauce glaze and scallions.

Double Cut Slab Bacon: This delicious shit tasted like spiral ham, but more bacony, if that makes any sense.

Deviled Eggs: That’s a “chicken-fried” oyster on top. The balance of textures here is what really sets this deviled egg apart from all the rest. It was a nice crisp against a velvety smooth egg.

Dungeness Crab Tater Tots: If these were around when I was a kid, I may have never found French fries. They’re like part carb cake, part tot. Really genius.

Shells & Cheese: Really nicely executed adult mac and cheese right here. Smoked bacon and fontina cheese make it decadent, but it’s not too rich to the point where you don’t want to touch your main courses after.

Scotch Egg: Perfection. Just really nicely done. Crispy outside, perfect slightly yolky egg inside. Again, great texture contrast.

Foie Gras Bratwurst: The ultimate mash-up of cheap eats and decadent eats, this is a bratwurst served in a hot dog style potato bun with foie gras, crispy onions and truffle mustard on top. Why hasn’t anyone thought of this before? Delicious.

ENTREES

Schweinshaxe: Good luck trying to pronounce that shit, but I think it kinda sounds like you’re saying “swine shank” with your hand in your mouth, which makes sense considering what this is. Successfully speaking the name of this item is one thing, but I know you’ll succeed wildly at eating it. It’s a pork shank with a crispy-as-fuck skin on the outside and juicy-as-fuck meat on the inside. It’s served with spaetzle and cabbage.

Not a Ramen: This is an American fusion version of ramen. The broth is a beef bone consomme, and it’s served with a soft duck egg, a hunk of tender short rib, marrow and egg noodles. Obscenely good.

Duck Burger: This is actually quite lean, so if you’re trying to be mindful of fat intake, this might be the way to go for you. It still had a robust duck essence without being overly gamey. It’s topped with melted Emmenthaler cheese and shallot confit, and served with house cut fries.

Monk Burger:  This was my favorite between the two burgers; a house blend patty topped with cheddar, lettuce, tomato, shaved red onion and house pickles, served with smoked ketchup and fries.

Fried Chicken Sandwich: I actually didn’t get to try this, but take a look at that amazing batter on the chicken! The chicken itself is breast meat, but it has been pickle-brined. Very inventive!

Bone In Rib Eye: Here we go! This baby was cooked to a perfect medium rare through both the eye and the cap. It also had a pretty decent char-crust on the outside. It was seasoned nicely with flake salt and pepper, and served with roasted tomatoes, roasted garlic and seared exotic mushrooms (my guess is Hen of the Woods). 8/10.

SIDES

Brussels Sprouts with Bacon: The bacon in this was thick cut style, and the smokey, sweet, meat flavor really permeated into the sprouts. Nice execution.

Seared Exotic Mushrooms: These also came with the steak, and were absolutely delicious. Earthy and savory.

House Cut Fries: The fries are pretty great! Usually I see thick fries like this and I’m immediately turned off. These were perfectly fried to a beautiful golden crisp, however, and nicely seasoned.

Also worth mentioning here is the homemade Irish Soda Bread that comes to the table at the beginning of the meal. Really good stuff.

You see how much shit I tried here?!?!? Well, I actually want to go back and try even more stuff. As I said, the menu is bonkers. Give this place a try. You won’t be disappointed.

THE FAT MONK
949 Columbus Ave
New York, NY 10025