The Royalton burger is fantastic (named for the farm where they get a lot of their meats). I usually don’t like brioche buns, but this one held up just fine. What’s inside? Dry aged wagyu beef, beef heart, malted bacon jam, Vermont cheddar, smoked tomato and frisee.
For $27 it comes with fries, and they’re great: crispy shoestring style, nicely seasoned, crisp and flavorful.
But they also sell “animal fat fries,” where the animal fat used to fry the potatoes changes on a nightly basis. When I went, it was beef fat.
These are really nice, but I kinda liked the shoestring fries better.
Next up, General Tso’s pig face!
This thing is insane, and for $85 it can easily feed four people. It comes with cilantro, pickled onion and pancake wraps.
We also tried a few starters. First, the kielbasa pigs in a blanket. The mustard on these was awesome! Great puff pastry, really nice flavor on the meat.
Soy-chili beef jerky. So tender and flavorful!
And finally, an array of desserts. Peanut butter pie, raspberry cheesecake, and an assortment of cookies.
I’ll definitely be coming back to this place to try some steaks. In the meantime, I highly recommend you get your asses over here for the Royalton burger.
THE CANNIBAL BEER & BUTCHER
113 E 29th St
New York, NY 10016
It turns out that the chef there, Chuck Troup, is experimenting with some really interesting things.
After speaking with him that night, I decided I wanted to do a little feature of him here on the site in the form of a Q&A interview. Read on and enjoy, and I highly recommend Maxwell’s Chophouse.
JP: Tell my readers a little bit about yourself: where you’re from, how long you’ve been in the business, and what got you interested in cooking.
CT: I was born in PA and raised in New Orleans. I have been living this lifestyle going on 31 years now. I don’t think I necessarily chose this lifestyle, it really chose me. Growing up and starting out in the industry I was surrounded by all of the craziness and excitement in a kitchen. I was so engulfed in the way all the cooks would interact with one another and I found that really amazing. It was funny to me and also exciting the way the cooks would all scream and swear at each other all night long, and then be best friends after it was all over. It really was and is organized chaos and I love that.
JP: You seem to know your way around steaks. Would you say this is your specialty, or are there other cuisines that challenge you and inspire you?
CT: I would say I know my way around steak and I do enjoy working in the steak environment, but over the years I have worked in various cuisines. I spent three years in Japan. Working and living in Japan had a great influence on me as a person, and as a chef. Being from the south, I grew up in an environment full of Cajun and Creole food. I always try to incorporate everything I’ve learned over time wherever I go. Even at a Steakhouse such as Maxwell’s, I’ll throw in a Cajun/Creole special, or even a salmon or steak tartare or sushi roll special. All in all I love pretty much every cuisine, there isn’t much I won’t cook or won’t eat!
JP: I like that you are experimenting with various lengths of dry aging. Is there a sweet spot for flavor in your opinion? 30 days? 60 days? 90?
CT: I think that my personal sweet spot for aging is the 160 to 180 day range. To me, that length of dry aging just has the right amount of funk, flavor and taste. Honestly, after eating a dry aged steak, I don’t know if I could ever go back to not eating it this way. With that being said, as a chef it’s important to know what’s too much. I totally understand why some people have different views on aging. Always have to know your guest.
JP: What sorts of other things are you experimenting with?
CT: Lately, I have been experimenting with lamb, duck, bison, elk, veal and I have even done a few pheasants.
JP: Last time I was here you let me try something that was aged for 500 days. How would you describe the flavor on something aged for that long? I took to calling it concentrated beef rocket fuel!
CT: Well for me I would say that piece of New York strip steak had an unseasoned salami texture with a huge musky flavor, but was not near as funky as a 500 day rib eye. Not sure if “funky” is a good word to describe aged meat, but it’s usually a good kind of funk!
JP: Would you ever consider offering a tasting of various ages to a customer? Say 4oz each at 30, 60 and 90 days?
CT: I would love to do a tasting of aged meat! It would be really great to have people that don’t understand the complexities of flavor that come with the dry aging process at different intervals so they can see how that switch flips with age.
JP: Are customers generally aware of what dry aging does, or do you find that you and the staff have to explain the process?
CT: I think that our audience is generally more educated than 10 or 15 years ago, plus there are a decent amount of people that go to a steakhouse for the aged meat. There are times when we will need to explain what the process is and why different cuts have different flavor at the same age. It’s important that all staff (servers, back servers, etc.) are educated on the process so we can confidently explain to our guests.
JP: What’s your favorite item on the menu at Maxwell’s?
CT: My favorite cut on the menu is for sure our rib eye. My favorite thing on the menu would be the Lamb Burger! Of course it depends on what specials we have, so it does change from time to time. Now that I’m thinking about it, I also love our roasted chicken – it’s really hard to choose!
JP: What’s your favorite cut of steak?
CT: Rib eye!
JP: What’s the most difficult steak to cook properly?
CT: The porterhouse is the hardest to cook correctly. I am completely opposed to the technique of cooking it to rare, slicing and then bringing up to temperature. A good grill cook knows that is reheating, and how most steakhouses do the meat this beautiful deserves the respect of proper cooking along with our customers.
Please enjoy this triple whammy write-up about DeBragga Meats, Certified Angus Beef and Blackbarn Restaurant.
DeBragga Meats, originally named the Brooklyn Hotel Supply Company, was founded by Joseph DeBragga, Emil Guenther and James Heilman in the early 1920s. In the mid 1930s, the company moved to Washington Street’s “meat packing” district of Manhattan. In 1948, the company was incorporated under its present name, DeBragga & Spitler, by Farmar DeBragga (Joseph’s son) and Paul Spitler.
In 1954, Marc Sarrazin joined the firm. Marc trained as a butcher at his family’s hotel and restaurant in the Charollais region of France, which is known for producing some of that country’s finest beef. The joy that Marc took in his work, selling New York’s top restaurants the finest cuts of meat, was evident in the strong relationships the company developed under his sales leadership.
In 1973, Marc Sarrazin became President of DeBragga, and the company became known as one of the finest meat purveyors in the entire industry, working directly with the best restaurants and hotels throughout the New York metro region and the Caribbean. Marc retired in 1992, and stepped aside to welcome his son, Marc John Sarrazin, as President of DeBragga & Spitler. Marc John’s two sons Eric and Peter represent the third generation of a business that traces its roots back nearly 100 years.
About eight years ago, the Whitney museum purchased DeBragga’s Washington Street lease, and DeBragga moved to a 25,000 square foot facility in Jersey City, which operates six days per week (there are no butchers cutting on Saturdays – only packing and shipping).
Today, DeBragga works with large packers like Nebraska Beef and Greater Omaha. DeBragga are purveyors of boxed beef, not wholesalers. The Certified Angus Beef brand is the entry level quality here. There is no choice quality, and there is no commodity pork or chicken. Half of their supply is hormone and antibiotic free. They sell 120,000 pounds of protein a week, and they have 100,000 pounds (roughly 4200 pieces, or a million dollars worth) of inventory in their three dry aging rooms. Take a look:
DeBragga’s customers are less steakhouse oriented, though they do supply Strip House and Gallagher’s. Their major customers are high end restaurants. Jean George, Tom Colicchio, Daniel Boulud and others use DeBragga for their proteins. Blackbarn (below) gets everything from DeBragga. They even started an e-commerce business to sell and ship directly to people at their homes.
CERTIFIED ANGUS BEEF
DeBragga became one of the first distributors of the Certified Angus Beef brand in the early 1980s, just shortly after the Certified Angus Beef brand began (1978).
In the late 1970s, the ability to get a great steak at home or even at a restaurant was hit or miss. The CAB founders wanted to set a standard for what would be considered a premium beef product. They found the best Angus ranchers and meat scientists to help them, and together they created 10 exacting quality specifications to determine what gets accepted into the program. Marbling, of course, is one of those key specifications. Four decades later, their vision to be the best of the best still remains.
All the beef in this delicious meal was Certified Angus Beef from DeBragga Meats. Chef John Doherty of Blackbarn Restaurant has been using CAB from DeBragga from the start of his career, which goes back to the early 1980’s, when he cooked for President Reagan, Margaret Thatcher and even rock gods Bob Dylan and Paul McCartney.
He cooked up a feast to celebrate CAB’s 40th year, and it was incredible. Here is everything:
Rib Eye Carpaccio with Shaved Foie Gras
Bone Marrow with Manilla Clams
Rib Cap Ravioli with Truffle Cream
Spinach Salad with Beef Bacon
Braised Short Rib Stuffed Rigatoni
Dry Aged Strip Loin Roast with Veggies
Tallow Biscuits with Berries & Cream
19 E 26th St
New York, NY 10010
King Solomon Foods is a family owned wholesale meat operation that’s been in business in Brooklyn since 1938, making them one of the oldest wholesalers to distribute in the city. They serve restaurants, supermarkets, country clubs, delis, you name it… from all over New York City to all the way out in eastern Long Island. Even some of the biggest named steakhouses in the area get beef from King Solomon Foods. These were all going to Peter Luger’s.
Here – take a closer look at some of these beauties:
In addition to Luger’s, they’ve also supplied places like Ben & Jacks, Old Homestead and Primal Cut in Manhattan. Some places even hand pick their meat in the facility.
Last weekend, Grant Siegel, Vice President of Sales, gave me a tour of the King Solomon facility, which is located on the water in Sunset Park, Brooklyn.
Grant represents five generations of the family business. As a former college football athlete from Colgate, his competitive nature is an asset to the company. He’s young, just 23, and he’s aggressively marketing and selling their high quality meats with the goal of making King Solomon a transcendental force in the game.
There’s no quit in him. He’s up at 3:00am every day and working until 9:00pm, and even putting in weekend time, as he was there showing me the facilities on his “day off.”
You probably noticed that massive slab of beef hanging behind us there in that last photo. Here it is all by itself:
Not many purveyors in the city are getting fresh carcasses like this anymore. There are maybe four of them. Most places are bringing in boxed beef and then further portioning that out for their customers.
One very important thing I learned from Grant on this visit was how much of a difference a fresh carcass makes in the final product for consumers. Take a look at this photo:
Both short loins had been aged for eight days at the time. The one on the right was cut by King Somolon’s butchers directly from a fresh carcass, right there on premises. The one on the left is boxed beef. Boxed beef comes off the fabrication floor at slaughterhouses and is then sealed up in bags and sent out to distributors in boxes. Distributors then break the beef down further depending on what their customers want (restaurants, delis, catering halls, etc). The difference in color and fat quality is staggering. The fresh beef will have a much better flavor from the aging process. But I was blown away by how dark and aged it looked after just eight days.
Speaking of dry aging, take a look at this nice room. Lots of good spacing and great air flow. To me, this is a treasure trove, and it’s probably worth about $100,000!
As the business continues to grow, Grant says that they plan to open up a second, much larger dry aging room off the back of the facility. Take a look at some of the beautiful pieces that were aging when I was there:
Grant personally doesn’t like to push the aging past 28 days, but here is a rack of 50-day dry aged ribs:
Almost everything I saw was stamped as Prime, and the smell of these short loins, especially the ones that were cut from fresh carcasses, was amazing.
But short loins and rib racks aren’t all they supply, despite the fact that they’re cutting between 500 and 600 steaks a day. There’s lamb, veal, and tons of other cuts of beef. Watch:
There’s a Kosher division, and they even grind their own burgers from trim. There are several different blends that they market. They do dry aged burgers, a “Brooklyn” burger (the official burger of the Verizon Center), a “King Solomon” burger, and a very popular chuck, brisket and short rib blend.
Additionally, a huge part of their business comes from poultry sales. King Solomon Foods moves about 250,000 pounds of chicken a week!
They are a direct receiver of chicken, so as a wholesaler that means their prices are extremely competitive. Bell & Evans, Purdue, Allen, you name it.
The business is already highly diversified. But Grant is looking to make this place a one stop shop, as they’re even supplying things like cheese, produce, turkey, seafood and sausage. For Grant, meat is a passion. It’s in his blood, and running this business was his dream. He’s always looking to take advantage of new technologies, study what’s available, and assess new business opportunities. He has the keys to the castle, so to speak. With youth and hustle on his side, he’s integrating a new mindset into an old school industry.
And he isn’t the only young blood in the family running things. His cousin, Zack Solomon, is the Executive Vice President of the company. He’s 29, and handles the day to day logistics and operations. Together, they represent the future of a business that runs five generations deep. That’s pretty exciting.
What’s even more exciting is that they sent me home with some really high-marbled, 28-day dry-aged strip steaks to try. Keep an eye out for some cooking videos and photos of these babies.
My wife and I came here with her uncle to celebrate his birthday and to use some accumulated Open Table credit that we built up with reward points. Check out the verdict:
We had two steaks. The first was the Australian wagyu tomahawk from Broadleaf. This thing was impressive.
It had a great crust, it was cooked perfectly to medium rare from end to end, and it was so damn tender. 10/10.
The other steak we tried was the 20-day wet aged prime porterhouse.
This was pretty good too, but I felt that it needed a bit more crust and lacked a little bit in terms of tenderness and flavor. 7/10.
Choice of Cuts & Quality Available: 9
There is a massive selection of cuts here, with several different types of cuts within each category, and then some. Very impressive. The quality is all wet-aged prime or wagyu. I took a point because they have no dry-aged offerings.
Portion Size & Plating: 9
Portions here are good, and they do some really nice plating for the chilled seafood. Everything else is pretty standard for steakhouse fare.
We had $120 of credit to use but the bill was still hefty.
Overall I think there is a better value for the tomahawk at Del Frisco’s (same steak is $95 instead of $115 – and just as good), and better value elsewhere for the porterhouse. For $63, a mediocre 24oz cut is a bit of a stiff price to pay.
This joint has three bars; two upstairs and one downstairs. That splits up the crowd a bit, but each bar is still pretty nice.
I liked that they served my martini to me with the shaker, rather than taking it away. This allowed me to have that briny, watered down gin as a second serving when I finished the stiff drink. At $26 all in with tax and tip, that martini was pricey though.
Specials and Other Meats: 10
There were lots of specials read off to us, both in the meat and non-meat categories. As for other meats, they offer veal, lamb, chicken, and pork. They run the full gamut.
Apps, Sides & Desserts: 9
We tried the “steak bacon.” This was really good and thick. Loved it.
The chilled seafood was pricey but really delicious. We built our own tower with three jumbo shrimp, colossal crab meat and a dozen oysters.
For dessert we had butter cake and chocolate cake. The butter cake was awesome, and truly rivaled Del Friscos. It was bigger but lighter than theirs.
Seafood Selection: 10
There’s bass, tuna, swordfish, salmon, scallops, crab and lobster. Damn! I didn’t try them, but based on the quality of the seafood in the apps section, I have to bump this from my placeholder of 8/10 to a solid 10/10.
Let me start with the bread – amazing little basket here:
As for the wait staff – really top notch. They were very attentive, nice and non-intrusive. They gave us a freebie dessert since we were celebrating a birthday too. What really sent me over the top, though, was that they even called my wife the following day to ask how everything was, and to make sure that her uncle enjoyed his birthday celebration. That’s crazy!
This place can get loud and rowdy, a little bit clubby upstairs. But the downstairs is a little more intimate and chill. I like that split personality aspect. Hopefully, when you go, they seat you in the location that corresponds to your mood.
If you don’t already know about Delmonico’s, then you’re missing out. For over a decade, I’ve gotten pissed off every time I’ve seen TV shows or news articles about steakhouses (both in NYC and throughout the country) that discussed a whole bunch of mediocre places without Delmonico’s even so much as being mentioned. I’m happy to see that trend is finally changing, and people are waking up.
Not only is this joint serving up some of the best steaks in town, but they were first. Yeah. That’s right, Peter Luger fans. This place was the first fine dining restaurant in America, opening its doors in 1837. They invented the “Delmonico” Steak (a boneless rib eye) and Delmonico Potatoes, obviously. But they also invented Chicken a la King, Baked Alaska, Lobster Newberg, Egg’s Benedict and Manhattan Clam Chowder.
It’s one thing to be first or to have been around a long time, but it’s quite another to be consistently top notch. While I’ve only been getting down on steaks for this blog for about six or seven years, I can honestly tell you that they’ve always been a top choice favorite of mine, sitting comfortably in my top three to five steakhouses for the entire time. Right now they are first on the leader board, at 97/100 points. The 45-day dry aged rib eye is one of the best steaks I’ve ever eaten, and their bacon is hands down the best in the city. My full review base on several visits is HERE.
But anyway, on to the point of this article.
This month Delmonico’s is celebrating its 180th year in operation. Starting on 9/14 they’re offering 180-day dry aged bone-in rib eye steaks to mark the occasion. They’re being served on keepsake plates that you get to take home, featuring the artwork of New Yorker cartoonist John Donohue.
The steak is about 28oz of bone-in rib eye, and it’s magnificent. I was invited in to try it with some other steak connoisseurs.
It has a deep nutty and earthy funk to it, while still remaining juicy and tender. Chef Billy Oliva really nails it. This cut is being offered at $380 and is easily shareable, since you also will need to try some of their signature apps, sides and desserts when you go.
But that’s not all. The restaurant has also invited a bunch of well known chefs to create dishes that celebrate Delmonico’s 180th. This special tribute menu is available from 9/14 through 10/14.
I was able to try a few of these items as well (I focused mostly on the beef-centric dishes, though I did try some others). My favorites were as follows:
Chili Rubbed Rib Eye with White Corn Pudding, by Michael Lomonaco, Porter House.
This steak is in the vein of those cajun rib eye steaks you might see at Greenwich Steakhouse or Smith & Wollensky. It is truly delicious, and I highly recommend it if you’re not springing for Chef Billy Oliva’s 180-day dry aged rib eye.
Tournedos Rossini, by Paul Liebrandt, two Michelin starred chef, author and consultant.
That’s a massive, tender and juicy filet mignon sitting on a potato pancake and sautéed spinach, all topped by some foie gras. This is 100% pure decadence. Awesome dish.
Lobster Shepherd’s Pie, by Danny Meyer, Union Square Cafe.
Nine Herb Ravioli, by Daniel Boulud, Daniel.
Beef Wellington, by Harry & Peter Poulakakos, Harry’s Steak & Cafe.
Paris Brest Profiteroles, by Dominique Ansel, Dominique Ansel Bakery.
I really suggest you get down here between 9/14 and 10/14. I know I’m going back at least two more times this month to try more shit. Get on it, people. This is a rare opportunity to try a wide variety of amazing dishes and steaks. Tell them Johnny Prime sent you.
The time has finally come for me to start slinging meat as opposed to just crushing it.
Over the last six years I’ve really fine-tuned my taste for high quality beef. I can almost pick out flavor notes like those freaks who test milk and wine, only I do it with beef. Blue cheese “funk” here, aroma of hazel nuts there, earthy mushrooms over yonder. You get the idea.
Writing restaurant reviews lead to writing recipes, and striving to replicate the steakhouse experience in my kitchen – even to the point of dry-aging beef at home.
My concern and respect for this amazing protein also fostered a desire to learn about the entire beef life cycle: from cow/calf operations to stockers and backgrounders; from corn farms to grazing ranches; from forage to feed; from fabrication floor to front of the case, and all the way back to the restaurant again. Start to finish. No stone left unturned. I’ve even addressed various nutritional and environmental concerns.
I’ve become an expert on steak. But photographing, eating and writing about beef was no longer satisfying me. It seemed that I hit a wall and was spinning my wheels. I wasn’t fulfilling the goals I had for this website. Or maybe my goals changed, because now I feel the need to offer these meaty experiences to you, rather than just tell you about them. I’m still going to review restaurants, highlight products and write informative articles about beef. But now there’s got to be more than just those things.
That’s why I’ve decided to open an online butcher shop. I’ve been working with an extremely high end “middle meats” company that has the resources and connections to buy out massive stocks of incredible prime, American Wagyu and even Japanese Kobe beef. They’ve got a multi-million dollar state of the art facility in the Bronx’s famous Hunt’s Point Cooperative Market with a crazy dry-aging room, a huge blast freezer and all the support they need from an incredibly skilled team of butchers.
All my steaks are cut to order, and can be fully customized. They’re individually vacuum sealed, wrapped in butcher paper and signed by a butcher before being shipped to you. Shipping, by the way, will be free and arrive at your door just 2-days after the order is cut.
I’m really excited about this. I’ve hand selected every cut that I’m offering, and I’ve even cooked up and tasted everything to verify that it’s something I’d want on my own plate. If you tend to agree with me on my steak review opinions, then you’re in good hands with anything you order from my butcher shop. You won’t be disappointed. Johnny Prime Meats will impress you.
My plan is to stock a few items that will always be available. For example, the best steak I’ve ever eaten is the American Wagyu strip.
I’ll be offering that all the time, along with a few prime dry-aged rib eye options and a prime dry-aged porterhouse.
But the bonus is that I’ll also be showcasing some rare and unique proteins that have limited supply and quantity. For example, I’ve got my hands on some really sweet dry-aged Duroc pork rib chops right now, as well as some dry-aged tenderloin tails for the grill. Maybe in a few weeks I’ll try to locate some dry-aged veal, American Wagyu hanger steaks, or lamb bacon.
And speaking of bacon, you’ll be able to add a pound of thick cut bacon to any order for just $10 at checkout. Because what steak meal at home is complete without that steakhouse style slab of thick cut bacon?
I hope you guys are interested. Check out the shop. Browse the offerings. And keep your eyes on my meat!
My wife picked up a nice Gilt City deal for this joint that gave us $200 to spend for something like $100. I had heard great things about the burger here, so I figured it was time to check it out now that there was a flash deal at play.
The cocktail menu is pricey at $18, but very nicely crafted.
We shared that burger (the “White Label Burger”) as an app. The patty is an aged beef blend; the cheese is fontina; and it’s topped with a tomato jam and dijonnaise.
They cook it nice and rare, so you don’t lose any of that aged funk to the heat. It’s a potent burger, and part of me still loves a classic roadside American burger better, but this is kinda like having a steak between a bun. Definitely nice.
And like any good French joint, it’s served with frites.
These were pretty good, but not quite on the level of Boucherie, which has now become my benchmark standard, to which all French fries must be compared.
We also tried the calamari stuffed with lobster and rice.
Unfortunately there wasn’t much lobster to this dish. In fact, I couldn’t really find any or taste any in the bites I had. In any case, the tomato sauce was nice, as was the cook on the squid.
My wife had some rabbit, truffle and cheese ravioli for her entree. This was a small portion size for $25, but they at least warned us ahead of time that it would be.
They were excellent. Each raviolo seemed to be partitioned, with one side having the rabbit, and the other side having the cheese.
Of course, I had steak.
This was served with some dressed watercress, but I quickly brushed that bullshit aside. I sliced it up so you could see the perfect cook temp on this prime NY strip steak.
This was actually a steak frites, so it came with more fries and a peppercorn au poivre on the side. Well, I asked for it on the side so I could get this intense shot of foodpourn.
Did you just bust? Because I did.
I ate every bite. It was a great little steak. I didn’t detect any aged flavor, and I assume they would have advertised that if it were the case. Not too bad at $44, but on par with the Jubilee rib eye steak frites that I had just the other day for $40. 8/10.
We shared a lemon tart with basil ice cream for dessert. This was really pretty, and tasted a bit like a key lime pie with the herbaceous basil ice cream on top. We liked this a lot.
Oh and I should mention that this place also brings out an amuse at the beginning, as well as petit fours at the end. I only snapped the amuse, which was a tiny popover style bread with a truffle cream filling. The dessert capper was a chocolate hazelnut bite.
I scored a limited run Groupon for Tavern on the Green that was just $89 (plus a coupon code discount on top of that) for a four course meal for two.
We started with salads. I had the iceberg wedge. While the blue cheese dressing was a little bit watery, the other components of the salad were great, especially the diced tomato and bacon.
My wife went with the caesar salad. I’m not sure if you can see it, but it was plated with some little anchovies as well. Pretty good salad.
She also had the sea bass with roasted leeks and mashed potatoes. The skin was crisp and the fish was cooked nicely on the whole, though I had a few bites that were slightly overcooked.
My wife went with haricot verts for her side item. These were crisp and buttery, lots of flavor.
I went with the sirloin steak, 12oz, dry-aged, with creamed spinach, roasted fingerlings and au poivre sauce.
I was suprised at how tasty this shit was. I was half expecting some throw-away cut of steak with tons of gristle, but it was really nice. 8/10.
Here’s the gravy getting poured on top:
I mistakenly chose the roasted baby vegetables as my side. These were terrible. Bland. I should have gone with the creamy whipped potato option instead, but I thought it would be an overload of potato items since they were already in both entrees.
The shared carrot cake for dessert was flavorful and moist, but it sort of had the texture of a fruit cake. I didn’t mind it because I love carrot cake, but my wife, who is a baker, wasn’t too impressed.
Good deal. If it ever comes up again, grab it.
TAVERN ON THE GREEN
Central Park West & 67th Street
New York, NY 10023