Tag Archives: hells kitchen

West Side Steakhouse

West Side Steakhouse overall score: 79

A few weeks back some friends and I were discussing steakhouses, and one friend randomly mentioned this spot – a spot which I have been meaning to try for years now, but never got around to it. Same for him – always wanted to try, but never did. None of us had particularly high expectations going into this, as it’s a small spot with bargain-friendly pricing in a traditionally bargain-friendly area. My buddy and I were both shocked that we both actually wanted to try it, so a few of us got our schedules in order and made it happen, almost purely for research purposes. Here’s what went down:

Flavor: 8

We had the rib eye and the porterhouse for two. Both could have benefitted from some seasoning, but overall everything was cooked perfectly to medium rare and tender all over. They definitely cook with butter, which you can smell and taste, but it isn’t overpowering like some places. The steaks were also well-rested before they were served, with little to no bleed out.

We also tried their burger. I forgot to dress it up with the lettuce and tomato that comes on the side, but this 10oz beefy patty was cooked perfectly to medium rare and the bun help up nicely to both the cheddar and the burger juices. Like the steaks, it just needed salt.

Choice of Cuts & Quality Available: 8

All the major cuts are well represented here, and the beef is Certified Angus Beef, from Performance Foodservice. There was no dry-aged flavor coming through, so, if I had to guess, they are doing wet aging.

Portion Size & Plating: 9

Portions here are pretty big. The porterhouse clocks in at 45oz, the boneless strip and filet mignon are 12oz, and the rib eye is 16oz. They even offer a smaller t-bone (20oz) and a petite filet (8oz), which comes with three jumbo shrimp. Plating is pretty basic. Nothing too fancy. White plate, watercress garnish.

Price: 9

The prices here are awesome. That giant porterhouse for two is just $79. The rib eye is $40. We ordered so much shit and felt like we got away with murder. For what you get here, this place is a great deal.

Bar: 6

The cozy five-seat, elbow-shaped bar may be small, but it sees a lot of action. It’s stocked with a really great rum and scotch selection. Upon seeing the nice rums they had, I decided to order a rum old fashioned for my first cocktail. I was not disappointed.

They mix a nice martini to boot. I noticed that several people ate their dinner at the bar, either solo or with their companions, throughout the evening.

Specials and Other Meats: 9

There’s pork, duck, chicken and lamb. No veal, but this is a great spread for a small spot. I almost never see good pork at steak joints these days, so I had to try some. We went with the braised pork shank as a mid-course, and it was cooked perfectly tender. The risotto was a little soupy, and tasted like chicken stock a bit, but I would definitely order that again in a heartbeat.

In addition to the pork shank they also offer a rack of ribs and center cut chops. I asked about specials but only recalled that the soup of the day was a split pea with bacon.

Apps, Sides & Desserts: 7

We had the fries, the sautéed mushrooms and the creamed spinach as far as sides are concerned. All were pretty good, with the creamed spinach being the standout of the three. The fries needed salt (like the burger and steaks), but they had a great crisp on the outside.

For dessert, we had the cheesecake, which was rich and creamy. They don’t make the desserts in house, but I don’t mind if the stuff they serve is tasty.

See the seafood section below for notes on the app that we tried.

Seafood Selection: 7

There’s bass, salmon and rainbow trout on the entree menu here, as well as shrimp, scallops, calamari, crab cakes and mussels on the app side. We tried the bacon wrapped scallops app and they were pretty good. I was shocked that the bacon was crisp all the way around – no rubbery spots – and the scallop was still cooked properly. They just had the flavor of something that was pre-made and frozen.

Service: 9

Our waiter was great. I don’t think he was used to seeing such heavy orders from a small group of three, so we kind of shocked him. He was great though, knew his meat and made good recommendations.

Bread here is a basket of basic dinner rolls with pre-packaged butter. The rolls are served nice and warm.

Ambiance: 7

A steakhouse with outdoor seating in NYC is a hard thing to come by. This place has it.

The interior is basic for the type of structure that it’s in – just a stretch of seating along one side of the room, with the bar and kitchen entry doors on the other.I’m glad I finally came here. Now I know I can go back when I want a good bargain with a nice mom and pop neighborhood feel. It reminded me a lot of Murtha’s back home, only better.

WEST SIDE STEAKHOUSE
597 10th Ave
New York, NY 10036

Boston Market Rotisserie Prime Rib

This is NOT a belated April Fools joke. I actually went to Boston Market to try their “21 days aged” rotisserie prime rib. The anticipation was building ever since I saw an ad for it in my neighborhood.

I live sorta close to one.

At $16.99 with two sides and cornbread, how bad can it be? The answer: not fucking bad at all! First of all, in a weird way, it was kinda beautiful. I ordered it just like what I saw in the picture, with string beans and mashed potatoes.

I was expecting something revolting, but what I got was really nicely crusted on the edges, with great peppery and savory flavors. The meat itself was good quality, and cooked pretty nicely for a chain fast food joint. I would definitely get this again, especially since it’s a third of the price of many expensive steak joints that just don’t get this dish right. So many places serve a chewy, undercooked, inferior product (despite using superior meats). 7/10. Well played, Boston Market. You have my respect, and my repeat business. Mainly because you gave me a BOGO coupon with my receipt, making a great deal even better.

Somehow, though, I suspect that this might be a hit and miss kind of item across all other locations. I guess we’ll see. Here’s where I got it:

BOSTON MARKET
885 10th Ave
New York, NY 10019

Vintner Wine Market

My wife and I strolled by this cool spot on Sunday and popped in for a beer and a sandwich. Vintner Wine Market sports hundreds of cool and unique beer selections in their fridges, as well as wines (by the glass and bottle). But what really got my attention was the roast beef sandwich.

This baby comes with horseradish cheddar, mayo and red onion. Simple and delicious. And the baguette was nice and fresh.

Good sized sandwich. We will be back here for sure.

VINTNER WINE MARKET
677 9th Ave
New York, NY 10036

Haru

My wife and I stopped in here on a weekend to try their happy hour menu.

We started with some drinks:

And then moved on to the food. Wings, shishito peppers, and four rolls: Haru wasabi, phoenix, Hell’s Kitchen, and spicy Titanic.

Everything was great, and we will definitely be back here again. The total bill for everything was just over $60. Not bad.

HARU SUSHI
859 9th Ave
New York, NY 10019

Anchor Bar

The other day while walking around our neighborhood, my wife and I noticed that Anchor Bar had opened. For those who don’t know, Anchor Bar up in Buffalo is supposed to be the place that created what we now know as “Buffalo Wings.” The Buffalo location has become quite the tourist trap, so I am told, and people like to bicker about which place is better: Anchor Bar or Duff’s.

Well, I’ve been to neither. But I have been to some pretty fantastic wings places here, like Bonnie’s Grill and International Wings Factory (my two favorites – Bonnie’s for traditional Buffalo style, and IWF for the vast array of amazing flavors and dry rubs). Some people tell me that Dan & John’s is great too.

Anyway, we decided to give Anchor Bar a try. We ordered three styles: Hot (top), Suicidal (middle) and Habanero Dry Rub (bottom).

I’m not sure if they’re weakening the spice levels for the pussies out there, but hot was more like a mild or medium to me.

I expected suicidal to destroy me. Instead it was just a more earthy and granular flavor that had the same level of heat as the hot flavor.

The habanero dry rub was the weakest in spice of the three, and at times it felt like the flavors didn’t penetrate into the meat. They were nice and crunchy though.

Overall the wings were good. Above average for sure. I still think I like Bonnie’s and IWF better, but this is a pretty solid spot and very convenient.

My favorite thing that we ate was the beef on weck. I hope you people realize how fucking difficult it was to fool autocorrect from making that say “beef on deck.” Fucking annoying bullshit. The sandwich was good here, particularly the bread (I’ve had better roast beef).

Weck is a special kind of roll that also hails from the Buffalo area, typically topped with thick grain salt and other seeds and spices. The roast beef is sliced thin and served hot on the sandwich, typically with nothing but horseradish. I sliced up the pickle spear that came with the sandwich and put that on there as well. And it may be blasphemous, but I’ve always thought this sandwich would kick serious ass with some melted cheddar on top.

The great thing about this item at Anchor Bar is that for $16 you can get the sandwich and five wings – the best of both Buffalo specialties in one meal. Give that a shot if you go.

ANCHOR BAR
327 W 57th St
New York, NY 10019

Soba Noodle Azuma

THIS IS MY 500th RESTAURANT REVIEW!

Not really a big deal, but I figured I would mention that just for the fuck of it.

My wife and I noticed this joint while walking around the ‘hood, and since we are always interested in trying new noodle joints, we figured we would give it a shot.

We started with an order of fried octopus balls – not ‘pus testicles, but, rather, fried spheres with a creamy octopus-based filling.

These were excellent. Super tender on the inside and crisp on the outside. Hot though, so careful when you pop these balls into your mouth.

I’ve been on a Japanese fried chicken kick lately, so the next thing we tried was their fried chicken appetizer. For just $6.50 this was a great deal. Lots of good, juicy, tender thigh meat with an excellent golden crisp batter on the outside.

The way to go here is ordering their combination platters. My wife got this combo deal that came with soba noodles, sashimi, tempura and some other nice bits.

You can choose hot or cold soba (she picked hot), and small, medium or large orders are all the same price (S=100g; M=200g; and L=300g). Pictured above is a large.

I ordered a combo that came with soba noodles and a chicken and egg rice dish.

I, too, ordered large and hot.

I think, though, the noodles weren’t the star of the show here, as odd as that seems. All the stuff AROUND the noodles was better. Maybe because we picked hot/soup style? Perhaps the best way to go is cold noodles or tsukemen style (you dip the noodles into concentrated and flavored broth/sauce).

One last pair of things to mention: the desserts. My wife’s combo came with a scoop of ice cream. They were out of black sesame so she picked green tea. It was good but not quite sweet enough for my tastes. I generally dislike all things green tea, so take that assessment with a grain of salt.

That said, I was intrigued by the idea of a green tea tira misu, so I had to order it.

It was amazing. The green tea wasn’t bitter – it was sweet. And when we combined the tira misu with the whipped cream and sweet red beans in one bite, the flavors were outstanding. I highly recommend this for dessert.

SOBA NOODLE AZUMA
251 W 55th St
New York, NY 10019

Wondee Siam II

Thai Town (Hell’s Kitchen) delivers again with Wondee Siam II. I believe there are three of four restaurants with the same name, but I’ve only been to two of them. This one, like the other, is good.

We started with Thai iced tea and Thai iced coffee. Addicting as fuck.

Then we had this really interesting ground shrimp, pork and crab meat thing. It was deep fried in a tofu skin wrapper (contrary to popular belief, I love tofu skin)

My wife had this delicious crispy duck salad dish – clearly the winner of the day.

I had a wide noodle dish with chicken and mixed veggies. Hit the spot.

WONDEE SIAM II
813 9th Ave
New York, NY 10019

Blue Seafood & Pizza

One Sunday afternoon my wife and I went on a hunt for oysters in the neighborhood. The first place we went to was closed for renovations (they usually have dollar oysters), but we always wanted to try this place ever since we saw it first open.

They had oysters, so we got our fix. Three east coast and three west coast, times two, so we could each try one of each variety.

They were all great and really fresh. The cost goes down as you order more, so this plate of a dozen came out to $3 each, or $36. A bit high considering we were starting off with the idea of paying $1 per oyster, but we were happy with the quality. A few of the varietals normally cost upwards of $4 a piece. We both liked the Kumamoto style the best.

Next up was their seafood pizza.

This elongated beauty of a pie was a bit pricey at $20, but also very tasty. I don’t mind paying up a bit if the quality is good. The only critique here is that the pie could have used some shaved parmesan cheese to finish at the end, and perhaps a sprinkling of some crispy prosciutto.

BLUE SEAFOOD & PIZZA
856 9th Ave
New York, NY 10019

Badshah Modern Indian

Badshah is a new modern Indian joint on 9th and 52nd that’s headed up by the former executive chef from Babu Ji, Charles Mani.

The restaurant is small, yet spacious and uncramped, unlike many joints in the area. The dining room is bright and airy, with whitewashed exposed brick and a great bar with excellent cocktails, mixed up by the joint’s talented and friendly bartender, Warren.

We tried the Mumbai Old Fashioned (whiskey with licorice and cardamom); the Indian Rose (mandarin orange vodka, peach, cranberry and rose petals); and the Sassy Lassi (mango lassi with coconut rum): All delicious.

Chef Charles is doing some great things here! My wife and I came in for a press meal, so we were able to sample a lot of items from the menu. Here’s a rundown of the meal:

The meal opened with these bite-sized, crispy street snacks that were filled with chutney. A great way to wake up the taste buds.

Our first app was the cauliflower. Chef Charles is known for this dish, which received a lot of food media attention when it was on the menu at Babu Ji. It’s satiating, filling and really delicious. It almost reminds me of something like the flavors you get from a really satisfying order of General Tso’s chicken, only with a more enjoyable sauce, a lighter feel and much less greasy.

Next was the potato and pea samosas with fenugreek sauce. Man. That sauce is something else! So deeply rich with flavors, and really velvety in texture. Winning app dish for me!

The third app was the southern style mussels. At this point in the meal I knew this chef was a master, because every sauce he brought out to us was incredible. I feel like that’s the ultimate sign of a great chef. Anyone can learn to cook a protein properly. But sauce work is like an art.

We drank this stuff up, while intermittently dunking the garlic naan into the remainder.

And let me tell you something about the naan: It’s the best I’ve ever had. It was light, airy and crispy, yet pillow-soft. I was blown away by this stuff. Just perfect in every way. We tried both the regular and the garlic, and both were awesome.

Our first entree was the salmon with coconut curry. The salmon was cooked perfectly. It had a char and crisp on the outside, but nice and pink/orange through the center. The plating was beautiful, because the fish wasn’t buried in the curry, but, rather, sitting nicely on top. The curry (which is like a sauce) was yet again top notch quality. It was silky smooth, creamy, and mild yet dense with flavor.

Our second entree was the cardamom and clove masala lamb chops. These babies were so tender and flavorful. The spices didn’t overpower the protein, which often happens with aggressive Indian oven-cooked or grilled proteins. They had just the right amount of spice to compliment and highlight the flavor of the lamb.

Finally, we enjoyed some homemade cardamom and pistachio ice cream. I loved the flavors here, and there were some nice pieces of pistachio mixed in.

I’m really happy this place is in my neighborhood. I’ll be going back to try the butter chicken, chicken tikka and onion seed naan for sure, among other menu items. Badshah means “Great King.” Well, this place has some Great fuc-King food! Go give it a shot.

UPDATE AUGUST 2017

I came back in with a group of friends to celebrate a birthday. We all tried the tasting menu, and it was excellent.

Check out the beautiful plating.

The Tandoori chicken was amazingly flavorful and tender.

And Chef Charles brought out a new item from his upcoming seasonal menu.

BADSHAH
788 9th Ave
New York, NY 10019

Crispin’s

My wife and I grabbed a Groupon for this place that scored us a bottle of wine, a shared app, two entrees and two desserts.

When we stepped into this joint it felt like we had stepped into a wine bar meat shop in Rome. The warm wood decor was inviting and cozy, and starting our meal with some red wine and salumi just brought us right back to our Italy vacation.

There were no offensive limits to what we could choose from the wine and app selections, by the way. And the meats were high quality and consisted of salami, prosciutto, mortadella and brasaeola. This was my favorite item of the night.

Our entrees were both good, but my wife’s lamb shank was the winner between the two. We were limited in our selection to items that were listed for $24 or less.

Interesting though – instead of a bed of orzo, as is traditional, this featured as bed of roughly mashed potatoes. They were tasty.

I had a pork chop. It was pretty big at 16oz, T-bone style.

It was nicely cooked and tender.

For dessert we did a chocolate cake with vanilla ice cream, and panna cotta. The panna cotta was great. Super smooth, light and flavorful.

Overall this is a good deal and I recommend picking up the Groupon if they’re still offering it.

CRISPIN’S
764 10th Ave
New York, NY 10019