My wife and I went to Down and Out in the East Village to try their crazy “double dozens” oyster happy hour. They currently offer two varieties of oysters for $1.50ea, but when you order a dozen, you get a second dozen for free. Essentially, they’re $0.75ea, which is the cheapest I’ve seen them in town!
We tried both the Kusshi (small ones, west coast of Canada) and Glidden Point (pictured above). My wife preferred the Kusshi, and I liked the ones from Glidden Point.
We also tried their “oyster pan roast,” which is a really nice bisque-like oyster and potato soup. It might not be much to look at in the photo, but I assure you it was delicious!
We also got down on their blue claw crab cake sandwich, which was nice and tasty, topped with a home made slaw.
They also serve a lot of high end canned fish items, like these sardines.
Their deviled quail eggs are good too. These come eight pieces per order.
Lots of these food items are discounted at happy hour, like the oysters. The happy hour runs daily from 4pm-7pm, and they also offer two different beers for $3, as well as discounted cocktails.
Most notable about this place, however, is the great whiskey selection, which includes some very rare, vintage bottles that the owner/bartender Josh secured from various estate sales.
He gave us some samples of a few really nice old bottles, like that Canadian Club from 1940! Soon there will be an entire separate menu of vintage whiskeys here, which will nearly double the current selection of whiskey on the menu. Stay tuned!
My wife and I have wanted to try out this cocktail bar and live music lounge for a while. We finally made it in for an early dinner yesterday.
Quick take-aways: Delicious cocktails and good comfort food.
We really liked the broiled oysters and the french fries, as well as the ice cream sundae. The rest was just okay.
The snails were a bit under-seasoned and lacked that “snap” texture.
We also tried the shrimp and crab cake special. The shrimp were slightly overcooked and the batter on the crab cake needed work (no texture). The salad with fried green tomato was really nice though.
The batter on the fried chicken was too hard, but the meat was cooked nicely. The Voodoo seasoned fries were great.
Their coffee-based dessert cocktails are incredible. They have two, and each one is extremely unique, with one even having carrot juice espresso and tahini in it. Wild. They paired really well with the ice cream sundae.
We will be back for cocktails and live music, for sure. But maybe we’ll stick to the oysters and fries in terms of food.
Quality Bistro opened back in January, if I recall, right when I started a hellish new job with insane demands on my time. Then, of course, the entire city went into lockdown from Covid-19. Somehow my work-life balance got even worse. I’m only just now finally beginning to break away from the +60 hours/week grip of this gig, to get back out there and review restaurants for you savage bastards.
Anyway, the point of that bullshit preface is really just to say that I’m excited to finally write about a new(ish) joint that I’ve tried, especially one that’s serving some awesome food.
Here’s my quick video run down of those spots, if you haven’t seen it:
First of all, this new place, Quality Bistro, is totally decked out. This is easily the most gorgeously decorated space in the entire Quality Branded suite of restaurants. High ceilings, beautiful booths, decor and tables – really on another level. They spared no expense. So when you go here, make sure you request a table inside. I recommend the booths in the room on the left when you walk in. The bar is sick too (hopefully some day soon we will be allowed to sit at one again).
The menu is decidedly French, which makes sense given the “bistro” restaurant name. But like all their other restaurants, they are aggressively beef-forward. I wouldn’t call them a steakhouse, per se, but they get very close to it. They offered five steak cuts when I was there: a filet mignon, a strip, a bavette, a tomahawk and a “cote de boeuf” rib eye for two. We went with the tomahawk, but let me run through the other stuff we tried.
We started with the escargots and the crab cake. The escargots are probably some of the best I’ve had in the city, rivaling Paul Denamiel’s at Le Rivage. Very close competition! And they’re in the shell too, which I love. Order these, and get a dozen because you save $10 when you jump from a half ($19) to a full dozen ($29).
The crab cake is massive. It’s about the size of an 8oz burger patty, thick too. Super crisp, great sauce. I think this would be amazing as a lunch sandwich with pickled green tomato on a brioche bun or a croissant, with a bit more green on top. Absolutely delicious.
Our mid course was the prime tomahawk. This comes slathered with Rogue Creamery smokey blue cheese – a TON of it!
The smell coming off of this thing was so amazing. It filled the massive dining room with funk.
The cook temp was a perfect medium rare. So juicy, so tender, and so packed with flavor. This is an easy 9/10. I stripped the fucker clean!
We chased that with the corn custard brûlée. I had high hopes for this, but it fell short for two reasons: (1) The inside was less custard and more clumpy scrambled egg. This is usually a turn off for me, but the flavor was really good, so I still devoured it. And (2), a bit heavy on the caramelized sugar on top. Too thick for my liking. The flake salt, however, really made the flavors on this pop. I can see this side being a star with a bit more fine tuning.
*SEE UPDATED REVIEW NOTES BELOW!*
Our third course was the Moroccan fried chicken. They serve a whole bird for two in a beautiful tagine with fresh cilantro, Moroccan pancakes and a trio of dipping sauces (spicy honey, Moroccan cilantro chimichurri and citrus yogurt).
The breading is really nicely spiced, with great middle eastern earthiness and aromas.
Absolutely jerkworthy. I’d get this again in a heartbeat. In fact, I’m glad we ordered big, because we took more than half of it home. I’m about to eat the left overs right now, and I’m psyched!
Last, we had the apple tart sundae with cinnamon ice cream. This was really good, and big enough to share with your date at just $12. The cinnamon ice cream tasted like Cinnamon Toast Crunch, my absolute favorite cereal of all time!
I guess that about does it for now. I plan to go back and try some of the other cuts, particularly the bavette frites, since that’s a little less common on menus. Definitely give this place a shot. Gaetano, Scott and Roger will treat you right. They provide amazing, clean service here, and you’ll feel safely spaced apart and very comfortable. Can’t believe I have to even mention such things right now…
My wife and I went back for round two, and tried a bunch more stuff.
For apps, we tried the taste flame, which is the joint’s take on Detroit style pizza + bread service. This was incredible!
Probably my favorite app here so far though, is this tuna carpaccio. Spicy, fresh, and deliciously refreshing.
These jambon beurre bites are pretty damn tasty as well.
This time, my wife went with the branzino. This was perfectly cooked and very flavorful. It comes with a choice of either salad or fries.
I went with the bavette, and also went with the French fries option.
They developed a great char on the outside…
While maintaining a perfect cook temp on the inside…
This was a solid 8/10. Really nicely executed.
On the side, we gave the corn brûlée another spin, and MAN were we glad that we did. As I expected, with the improvements I outlined above, this dish was a star. Much nicer texture inside (real custard-like), and lighter on the sugar top. PERFECT!
So that’s two steaks down, three to go: filet, strip, and rib eye for two. I’LL BE BACK!
Strip steak has a mild aged flavor, but a really nice peppercorn crust. Perfectly cooked throughout. 8/10.
Rib eye for two is great – a solid 8/10.
Lemon chicken is a sleeper here. Amazing dish!
Also really loved the glass for the French Bird cocktail. They should sell them!
My wife took me to The Grill for a birthday dinner. I had no idea this place existed, but apparently it’s the former location of the Four Seasons.
Famed Torrisi restaurateurs opened this joint and stuck to an old fashioned theme with things like a wheeled cart for prime rib and a “meat press” for squeezing the juices out of various bits of fowl in order to create a nice sauce reduction for their pasta app.
The crab cake exhibits some of that classic technique as well, with thin sliced scalloped potatoes forming a crust on top of the $36 lump crab cake appetizer.
A nice refreshing endive and apple salad cut the fat of our steak entree perfectly.
But for $220, this 50-day, dry-aged Creekstone Farms 40oz steak for two was way overpriced.
It really should have been half that price, but I will say that, despite the wallet raping, this was a pretty good steak. It had a great seared crust, and was cooked to a nice medium rare throughout. 8/10.
Dessert was a fun throwback as well, with this fruit cake style rum raisin ice cream.
Everything here is delicious, but at over $500 all-in for this meal (we had four drinks total), you really need to be ready for a gorging.
I came back in with some friends to try more shit. The steak tartare was incredible. I didn’t think I’d be into it because it contains anchovies, but I really loved it.
The foie gras was incredibly creamy, smooth and delicious. You could order a bunch of these and eat them for your entree if you’re daring enough. The crazy thing is that a friend I was with was unimpressed with this, since he said the foie in his home country of Israel is way better. I can’t even fathom that. This was so good.
We shared the honey mustard duck entree as an appetizer as well. This was easily the best duck I’ve ever had. The mustard has a spicy kick to it, but the honey rounds it out. The skin is perfectly crisp, and the breast was incredibly tender.
One of the guys I was with had the bone-in strip steak. He ordered it medium, but it still had great flavor and texture. The crust was similar to the porterhouse I had on my first visit. At a much more friendly price point of $74, I think this comes in with the same score at 8/10, even though I did enjoy the porterhouse better.
The prime rib, on the other hand, might just be the best piece of meat I’ve ever eaten in my life. This is a 10/10. It gets sliced from a wheeled cart table side, and then topped with jus and freshly shaved horseradish.
It is served with spicy mustard and horseradish cream sauce. Insane. Well worth the $62, and it wasn’t as small as I thought it would be.
Also tried an end cut – not necessary since the flavor penetrates all the way into the center even on the middle cut.
They even give you the bone with all the attached meat still there. This is the best part of the meal.
I little something we looked at but did not touch – 112 day dry aged wagyu rib eye. Not much of a cap on it, and it didn’t have a very dry-aged smell to it. We passed. Especially since it was $650.
The lamb and ham are both excellent . There are no mediocre dishes.
Squab was nice but overpriced for the size (to be expected here).
On the side we had a broccoli pot pie thing, as well as some fries that were similar to JG Melon (but way better).
For dessert we shared a slice of grasshopper ice cream cake, which is chocolate and mint. Despite not being a big fan of mint ice cream, or the combination of mint and chocolate, I did like it.
Also worth mentioning – I really love the bar here.
Afterwards we were chatting with the manager and he ended up giving us a quick tour of the kitchen. It was immaculate back there.
The burger and prime rib sandwich are both excellent!