Formerly Kat & Theo, Merakia is a Mediterranean and Greek inspired meat house in the Flatiron district. I was invited in as a guest of Instagram influencer @NYCFoodFOMO to take pics and sample the menu. Here’s the breakdown:
We had the porterhouse. This baby had a great seared crust on the outside that was nicely charcoal flavored and charred. I enjoyed that aspect of it – you could taste the garlic that was rubbed onto it, as well as the variety of fresh Greek herbs. The meat itself was tender and juicy as well. It was dry aged somewhere between 28 and 32 days, and hailed from either DeBragga or LaFrieda (there was some confusion about this between what management said and what the chef said). The main pitfall for this delicious hunk of beef was that it was under seasoned.
Choice of Cuts & Quality Available: 8
As you can tell from the menu, there is a pretty nice selection of beef on this otherwise lamb-heavy Greek meat house menu. I was impressed.
Portion Size & Plating: 8
Portions are all on par with similar steakhouses.
The porterhouse was priced at $120, which isn’t too steep for 32oz, but could certainly be a bit lower. Other steaks are priced a bit high, close to the top end of the normal range at expensive midtown steak joints.
This joint offers some really unique cocktails.
I really enjoyed the “Metal & Dust.” It even came with a small triangle of home made strawberry fruit leather.
The bar itself was really nice, and I would definitely hang here for drinks any time.
Specials and Other Meats: 9
Lamb is the way to go for non-beef meats. This is a Greek joint after all, and they do it well. We tried three different lamb items.
Avid readers of this website will know of my affinity for lamb ribs. I absolutely love them, and I even sell them. Merakia nails them! Perfectly seasoned, nice balance of crisp lean meat to fat, and nice with a squeeze of lemon and some tzatziki. There are enough to share between two people in one app order (five meaty ribs).
This is an entree, and it comes with four nicely sized chops. These were a slight bit overcooked for my liking (more like medium to medium well), and also under seasoned. But damn were they good quality. I still recommend them.
Kleftiko (“mountain thief” lamb stew)
This was the star of the night. If you eat here, you must order this. It is a 200 year old family recipe that the chef has carried down for generations. The story behind this traditional dish is that thieves would steal a lamb and cook it in the mountains, covering it underground in the process to conceal the smoke and aromas. It makes for a nice concentration of flavors. Mixed in with the stewed lamb meat are peppers, herbs, spices, and Greek cheeses. It is served in a sourdough bread bowl.
Apps, Sides & Desserts: 10
I mentioned the lamb ribs just a moment ago. Those are top notch. Based on that, I’m giving full points here. We were too full for dessert so we skipped.
Seafood Selection: 8
There are some nice looking fish entrees and apps on the menu. We didn’t get to try them this time around, but we will certainly be back for them.
Amazing people are running this joint. Very attentive but not in your face all the time. Eager to make your dining experience excellent. Chef Scalco is very friendly and enjoys talking about his family recipes and the history of the dishes. If you’re into that sort of thing, you will love this joint.
This is what your table bread will look like: nice toasty bread, high quality olive oil and tasty olives.
I was blown away by the interior of this restaurant. Tin ceiling with awesome beams and Edison bulbs up front:
And a cozy, rustic brick-walled and beamed-ceilinged rear dining room with a fireplace.
I highly recommend giving this place a shot – especially for the lamb ribs and kleftiko.
CrowdCow works with small, sustainable cattle ranches to ship beef directly to consumers. They specialize in grass-finished beef. Today I’m working with a flatiron steak and a chuck eye steak that they sent to me.
Tom’s Steak Rub is made by a family that lives and works on a large cattle ranch in western Nebraska. They sent me awesome hats with the steak rub, too, which match my steak shirts perfectly.
In the video I’m testing out the Kamikoto 7-inch Japanese forged steel santoku. They’re running a massive sale on these things right now. The knife is normally $675 but it’s currently on sale for $115. They also have nice knife sets at deeply discounted prices as well.
In short, I highly recommend all three of these products. Please enjoy the video!
For less than $79, my wife and I scored this Groupon deal for Bocca, which gave us $120 to spend. In reality we probably paid about $68 for the Groupon, since we almost never buy them unless there is an additional discount code.
Anyway this Italian joint had some pretty interesting items on the menu. Here’s what we ordered:
This shit was really fresh and clean. It was a great way to start this incredible meal.
Grilled Octopus Crostini with Chorizo, Kalamata Olives and Chic Peas
The octopus was perfectly cooked, and when I took a bite with a little bit of everything together, the flavors really exploded. Such an awesome Mediterranean dish.
Strozzapreti with Nduja
This was amazing. If you don’t know what nduja is, its a spicy, fatty and spreadable sausage product that lots of people eat with bread in southern Italy. Here, however, the geniuses rendered it down with tomatoes into a decadent sauce. Highly recommended.
Cacio e Pepe (Spaghetti alla Chitarra in Pepper and Cheese Sauce)
This was prepared table-side, and was absolutely delicious.
It’s a really simple dish, but sometimes that’s all you need for a winning food item. It’s no wonder this dish is all the rage in NYC.
Hanger Steak with Mushrooms
This fucker was awesome. Seriously. It was cooked to a perfect medium rare, and the selection of wild mushrooms (I think Hen of the Woods and Porcini) really brought out the earthy flavors of the beef, which happened to be black angus from Creekstone Farm. 9/10.
Another thing worth mentioning is this great beer they serve.
This is right in my wheelhouse, since it’s an unfiltered, super bubbly Belgian farmhouse wheat beer.
I’m generally a pretty simple person when it comes to Indian food. I love a few of the popular and Americanized curries, and almost anything in the saagwala family (stewed spinach). In addition, Indian rice like Basmati is far and away the most superior rice that I’ve ever eaten. And who could pass up the amazing tandoori oven breads like naan, or delicious fried samosas? They’re amazing. But that’s such a limited, pinhole view of an incredibly vast and diverse cuisine.
Kokum opened my eyes and my stomach to items I would never think to order. Most of my experience with Indian food in NYC is centered around ordering delivery. What tends to happen is that I end up ordering the same things from the same places because I know that I will be satisfied. That’s lazy, and it precludes a lot of great stuff from ever hitting my palate. For example, I almost never order fish for delivery, from ANY kind of restaurant for that matter, not just Indian joints. I don’t know what it is, but I just never do it.
So when my wife and I came to Kokum for a press meal, we were pretty amazed at the inundation of flavors we were getting from a pair of Indian fish dishes that we probably never would have thought to order. I’ll get to those dishes in a moment, don’t worry. I just want to keep prattling on about Indian food a bit first, because I’m seeing the greatness of the cuisine with a fresh pair of eyes now; I’m re-motivated about the food, and really eager to dive deeper.
Kokum is a great place to do make that dive. It’s been open for three years, it’s captained by a Michelin starred chef, and it’s been reviewed favorably by top notch, respectable food critics from major publications.
Chef Hemant Mathur distinguishes Kokum from the plethora of other Indian joints in Curry Hill by representing four regions in southern India: Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Kerala and Andhra. With his newly re-envisioned menu, he offers some items that most casual diners like me don’t often see or wouldn’t necessarily think about when eating at Indian restaurants or ordering delivery.
So here’s a run down of our meal. I’m always eager to try beers from all over the world. These two imports, Kingfisher and Taj, were mild lagers with good flavor. I preferred the Taj for the slightly more malty and round flavor at the back end.
These little fried calamari-shaped doo-dads are multi-colored rice crackers. They come to the table at the start of the meal and are fun to snack on.
We were then presented with two shot glasses of warm tomato, tamarind and lentil soup, called rasam. This was delicious, and similar to a hearty minestrone, only with more complex spice flavors. The lentil flavor was strong here, but the soup was strained of any chunks or actual lentils, so it was velvety smooth.
We started with a pair of potato, cauliflower and pea samosas, These had a great crunchy pastry outer shell, and the inside was perfectly cooked and well seasoned.
Next up was lasoni gobi: fried cauliflower bites in a tangy sauce. Imagine a cross between General Tso’s chicken and buffalo chicken wings flavors. I was impressed! They had a crispy outside and the cauliflower was soft and tender inside. The sauce had bits of peppers and onions.
Fish poriyal came out next. This is flaky shredded fish with lime, shallots and mustard seeds, served on a banana leaf. My wife and I really loved this dish. It reminded me of some of the Vietnamese fried rice concoctions that my wife makes at home, only without the rice. Super healthy and very flavorful.
This beautiful web like thing is called appum. It’s a huge bowl-shaped rice crepe that you basically rip up and eat with curries.
Another vehicle for delivering delicious curry to your mouth is Kerala parotta, which is a multi layered bread that comes out steaming in a bamboo dumpling-style basket. Looks like onion rings with bits of potato mixed in. It’s cool bread.
This first curry is kori gassi. It’s a spicy and savory Mangalorean (an ethnic group from the south western coast of India) coconut chicken curry. This was by far my favorite item of the night. It had a great, rich and salty flavor with nicely balanced heat. The chicken was perfectly cooked, super tender, and varied by cut (both dark and white meat portions).
This next bowl is keerai masiyal: spinach, lentils and red chilies in a savory broth. Since this dish had a more soup-like consistency, it seemed to pair better with the rice. This is definitely a solid choice for you health-conscious eaters out there. It packs flavor and its satisfying, but its low on calories and fat content.
Our final entree was meen polichattu, which is roasted cod that’s wrapped in banana leaf with green masala. It comes with a side of diced, fried banana that serve as a starch element similar to a potato side. It had a nice high level of spice, was really tender and was completely devoid of any bones. Lovely!
We tried two items for dessert. The first was rasmalai. This is a cold dish of cheese balls in sweet reduced milk (like a vanilla custard soup) with pistachios. I liked this because it wasn’t too sweet.
In fact, the above cold dessert went really well when you combined it with the warm dessert, gulab jamun. These are warm cardamom dough balls in a honey-flavored and sugary sweet syrup. This was very sweet, so I loved going back and forth with the cheese balls to balance the flavors.
That about does it. I highly recommend trying this place out. I was really impressed and will definitely be back for more.
Atoboy is a new Korean fine dining joint with a new concept; you choose three dishes for a $36 tasting with a bowl of rice. The menu is set out in three sections, which are somewhat similar to an app, salad and entree breakdown. You choose one of each, but can add additional items from each section at an upcharge of $9, $12 or $15, depending on which section you’re choosing from. White rice and some kimchi (both cabbage and tomatillo varieties) comes with your meal, but they also offer a seasonal rice for $2 extra. Currently, the seasonal rice is a white rice that’s been mixed with powderized nori.
The portions are a little small, but they’re all really well executed and delicious. Since I came here with Jay from The Dishelin Guide, we sampled an extra entree item as well as a dessert in addition to our three courses each. Here’s what we had:
Eggplant with snow crab and tomato jelly. While this doesn’t look pretty or even sound particularly appetizing, it was actually pretty tasty. I’m generally not a big fan of eggplant to begin with, but I was pleasantly surprised.
Littleneck clams with avocado cream, rice crackers and gochugaru (red chili flakes). This was pretty good. I’ve never had clams with avocado before. It was pretty interesting. The rice crackers gave the dish a nice dynamic texture.
Next was grilled avocado with horseradish, cotija (hard cow’s milk cheese) and trout roe. I’ve never had grilled avocado before. I just assumed doing anything to a ripe avocado would result in guacamole due to the softness. Perhaps these are grilled while they’re still a little bit hard to avoid structural breakdown? In any case, this was a tasty and healthy dish.
This next dish is highly recommended, and was one of my favorites of the night. Squid rings, stuffed with pork and shrimp, then topped with salsa verde. The squid was perfectly cooked and tender, and the stuffing gave a nice salty and fatty flavor. Plus, it was really pretty.
Now we move on to the big winners from this dining experience; the entree selections. We started with crispy pork jowl on a bed of barley, ssamjang (spicy and sweet sauce/paste) and romaine.
The crispy skin and under-layer of fat were delicious, and as I bit down into the meat beneath, my mouth came alive with salivation. Great dish!
Next up was the brisket with melted foie gras, garlic and ginger. This was really hearty and delicious. The beef was super tender and can rival any top notch BBQ brisket you might find out there at a pit smoker competition (though this one was admittedly not prepared the same way with a smoker – it’s just the same cut of beef).
Our last entree item was the strip steak. This came with a tofu skin and celery salad, and everything was lightly dressed with sesame oil.
The steak was super tender and flavorful. They marinade the steak with kiwi to allow the enzymes to slowly tenderize the meat before it is cooked. That may be the reason why there was a healthy amount of grey banding around the edges of the meat.
The outside could use a slightly better crust, but I imagine they need to be careful not to overcook the steak, as it isn’t very thick. This was a big success though, overall, and it tasted like wagyu. 9/10.
For dessert we tried this black raspberry cake with hazelnut and pistachio, which was garnished with fresh blueberries. This is the only dessert that’s made off-site by another pastry person. The texture was almost like mousse, and the look reminded me of Italian tri-color cookies. Very nice.
Although expensive at $80 each after tax and tip, this was a satisfying, unique and delicious Korean fine dining experience.
Mouth is alive With juices like wine, And I’m hungry like the wolf. -Duran Duran
New York City and its surrounding ‘burbs are well known havens for killer sandwiches and all things tasty that get slapped on or between some kind of bread item. The subs of Long Island, the American heroes of the city proper, and the wedges, hoagies and grinders of Westchester and New Jersey… we have it all here.
In fact, over the centuries this glorious city has taken very kindly to the sandwiches of our rich and diverse immigrant communities, whether it’s Italian sausage and pepper sandwiches, Grecian lamb gyros, near-eastern falafel-stuffed pita, Vietnamese banh mi (with a touch of French colonial influence, of course), or tomato-, cream cheese- and lox-crammed bagels from the Jewish community. We truly are a melting pot that embraces different food cultures. Shit, even just a few weeks ago I had some nice Brazilian sandwiches and burgers in Astoria. The international sandwich community here just keeps expanding.
So what’s left? Which other cultures’ sandwiches are missing from the NYC foodscape? Enter Eastern Europe: Austria, to be precise. At least at first.
Duran Sandwiches was started by the Duran brothers, Tomas and Vladimir, in Vienna, 1969. From there, the family began operating bakeries and restaurants in the city. They later expanded to Hungary, Turkey and the Czech Republic in the 90’s. This joint on 27th and Madison is the first franchise to hit the USA. It’s operated by Hungarian-turned-American Tom Szebeni, who was a TV producer in Hungary, where he used to eat sandwiches at Duran during breaks from work.
It’s been open since October, and in my opinion the timing couldn’t have been better. “Elevated Toast” has been crushing the food world lately, trending hard, and the concept of Duran Sandwiches is to deliver light, open-faced, cold sandwiches that are clean and easy to eat, don’t fall apart or drip, and focus on high quality, delicious, natural ingredients that happen to be presented beautifully.
There are three different styles of bread: rye, pumpernickel and whole wheat. Vegan options are available, but the bulk of the menu showcases classic Austrian fare like sausages, salamis, sliced meats, cheeses and cream-based salads.
The sandwiches range from about $2.50 to $3.50 each, and there are nearly 40 different sandwiches you can choose from.
I was invited in for a press tasting by my friend Jay at The Dishelin Guide and Duran’s PR folks, Benvenuti. You guys know I’m brutally honest in my reviews. If something bugs me, I say it! And that’s regardless of whether it was free or for the press. I must say: I was really happy with this place. My first instinct was “I’m not going to get full, these sandwiches are too small.” But after about five I was stuffed. That’s only about $13-$15. Not bad at all! But then Tom kept feeding us more and more, and since they were so good we couldn’t stop! I think we ended up trying eight or nine in the store, and then Tom packed up a box of nine for each of us to go.
All in, I tried about 15 different sandwiches. They break down into three categories: meat, fish and vegetarian.
My favorite vegetarian sandwich was probably the the sun dried tomato and date sandwich. The fresh tomato and sun dried tomato had just the right amount of sweetness added in from the dates, and that struck a perfect balance. Pretty funny: The steak guy ended up loving the vegan option!
As for the fish, I liked the salmon sandwich. Resting beneath the smoked salmon was a scoop of celery root salad that was really unique and flavorful. To me, this made for a much better cream element for the smoked salmon than the more familiar cream cheese. And, in fact, you can get just that celery root cream salad by itself, on its on sandwich, if you want.
My favorite of the meat sandwiches was the spicy Hungarian salami. It had great fat flavor content, it was super soft and tender, and had a really nice spice level to it. In fact I might have to find out where Tom gets the salami, so I can keep some stocked in my fridge at all times. If not I’ll just have to keep coming back here! I even got to sample the slices of salami by themselves back in the kitchen.
Here are the others I tried:
Turkey Breast: carved turkey breast with horseradish cream, Duran spread, carrot and cucumber.
Roast Beef: carved roast beef with Duran spread, onion and chives.
Traditional Hungarian Salami (center): salami with Duran spread, boiled egg, cucumber, and carrot.
A salami sample from the kitchen:
Traditional Hungarian Sausage: paprika sausage with Duran spread, pickles, carrot, boiled egg and cucumber.
Salmon Caviar: salmon caviar with Duran spread, lettuce, boiled egg, tomato, cucumber and lemon.
Tuna Salad (right): tuna in water mixed with tuna in oil (makes for a very creamy tuna salad), with tomato, onion and lemon.
Lobster Salad (left): lobster salad, tomato and lemon.
Asparagus: pickled asparagus with farmer’s cheese, cucumber, boiled egg and tomato.
This place is a lot of fun, and it’s perfect for summer eating, since it’s cold, not messy, and easy to eat. In fact, if my wife and I ever throw another scotch party at our place, I’m going to cater it with Duran Sandwiches instead of busting my ass cooking for it! A large chunk of their business, both here and overseas, revolves around external catering, providing food for corporate functions, private parties, etc. The full-sized sandwiches lend themselves well to hors d’oeuvres or tapas, but Duran also caters bite-sized, circular versions of every sandwich for even easier, mess-free eating.
62 Madison Ave
New York, NY 10016
Resto is a small Belgian joint that recently became known for having a really good burger, in addition to their kickass beer menu. I apologize for the obnoxious watermarks on these photos, but I’ve been having way too many issues with people jacking my photos and using them for their various social media pages and websites without giving me the photo credit.
My two buddies and I started with lamb ribs and steak tartare.
The ribs were awesome. They were tasty and fatty, and the honey and pear sauce was delicious. It came dressed with some dried figs and fresh pear as well.
The tartare, however, was a little lacking. I feel it needed less pickled flavors and more pepper and egg. The meat quality was good, but it had an odd meat flavored gelatin mixed in as well.
The burger is a pork and beef blend. As such it gets cooked through. I thought this would be a problem, since I like a burger to be medium, but the meat retained good juiciness. Topped with red onion, pickles and gruyere, this baby is a very nice addition to the NYC burger scene. They chose the right bun too. A simple potato roll.
The steak style fries were good too – nicely fried and seasoned.
For dessert we had this ice cream and waffle sunday. It was drizzled with caramel and topped with shaved almonds. The crispy pieces of warm waffles were the perfect contrast to the ice cream.
My wife and I came here for an early Valentine’s Day date. We chomped though a good deal of food, so I’ll just get right to it.
The decor here is incredible. It’s elegant yet old fashioned-inspired. High ceilings, big fireplace, wide-planked dark wood floors, dark wainscoting, etc.
The bar is a destination in itself, and they make some really unique cocktails that utilize ingredients you’d never expect to see in a drink, like chicken stock and pea puree.
Table bread is a nice warm and toasty loaf that’s served with a soft, freshly salted whipped butter.
We started with a dashi cured smoked salmon appetizer that was topped with puffed rice, greens and a soft boiled quail egg.
This had a bright and acidic pop to it. A great way to start the meal.
Our next course was a burger, which we shared.
This this was pretty much perfect. By far, this was the best thing we ate here.
It was seared to a nice crisp on the outside, and a beautiful medium rare on the inside.
On top was lettuce, bacon, red onion, pickle, cheddar cheese and special sauce. Nothing too fancy – just really good quality shit. The bun was toasted and warm on the outside but soft like a potato roll on the inside. Just the right balance.
The fries were thick, long and hand-cut – like John Bobbitt’s dick – only crunchy on the outside and soft inside, like mashed potatoes. They could have used a little bit more seasoning or salt, but they were so perfectly cooked that I didn’t mind.
Our awesome waiter Jake, who had really great suggestions on drinks and food items, cleared the table and presented us with these kickass plates as we awaited out main course.
For our main course we ordered the cote de boeuf for two, which was a 40oz bone-in rib eye that came with gratin potatoes (two servings), a green bean salad, and bone marrow jus.
This thing was beautiful. The sear on the outside was like a salty and crisp meat bark, and the aroma was out of this world. It was dressed up with some lightly roasted garlic cloves and thyme.
As you can see, the meat was cooked to a gorgeous pink medium rare, and every bite was tender and juicy. The fat was so soft and mushy too – completely edible. Nine out of ten!
I wasn’t much of a fan of the bone marrow jus. For some reason it wasn’t working for me in the flavor department, but it did smell wonderful.
The potatoes were pretty good. With gratin style potatoes, I always find myself wishing that the chef had done several thinner crisped preparations and then layered them before serving, that way there is some more of that delicious top crunchy texture as you work your way down into the middle.
The green bean salad was nothing to scoff at. It was topped with truffle and tossed with foie gras! This thing was so earthy from the truffles, the truffle oil, the toasted hazelnuts and the foie that it was almost like having another meat course.
By time dessert rolled around we were pretty full, so we just shared this chocolate custard item with a cocktail that was made from cheerios milk and bourbon called “The American Seriel Killer.”
To our surprise, Jake later brought over a tin of shortbread, brittle and English toffee, along with a special dessert plate of grapefruit sorbet since he learned that we were celebrating a special occasion. Killer service here.
I highly recommend this place. At $25 the burger may seem a bit steep at first, but it’s a half pound of some of the best eating you’ll ever have, and it also comes with those delicious fries. Similarly, at $135 the steak for two may seem steep, but you get three sides with it, and I guarantee you will go home full and satisfied.