Tag Archives: lamb

Bistro Pierre Lapin

Dining at Bistro Pierre Lapin was probably one of the best French culinary experiences I’ve ever had. Everything I ate was either good or bordering incredible. The meal began with a “slice” of pate, a plate of butter, olives and herb truffle goat cheese, and a basket of small French baguettes that were really hard to stay away from, even though I knew I was about to indulge in a massive and decadent French feast. This may be the best table bread in the city.

Next up was a foie gras mousse, which was silky smooth and one of my favorite bites of the night.

These little guys are pig’s ear pinwheels stuffed with spicy sausage. Really nice.

This head cheese incorporated a boiled egg in the middle. The flavor and texture on this was incredible. This is a must try.

The deviled eggs were great, getting a great pop of texture and flavor from the bacon and pickle additions.

This is a bunch of pig head meat that was deep fried into a delicious patty. Awesome.

This was probably the most unique preparation of escargots I’ve ever seen. They were served with a sunny side up egg, peas, fava beans and a garlic-butter sauce.

The frog’s legs here are the best I’ve ever had, and was one of my favorite dishes of the night. If you have never eaten frog’s legs before, get them here so that you are forever spoiled.

They offer two styles of burger here. The first is a simply grilled burger with foie gras on top, sandwiched between two slices of Texas toast.

They also have an American style burger here as well, with the traditional fixings.

I preferred the American burger over the Texas toast burger, but both were very tasty.

Speaking of toast, this preparation of cognac flambe mushrooms on brioche toast was delicious. I could see this going over really well with the NYC brunch crowd.

These tortelloni are stuffed with rabbit and served with sweet peas in a carbonara sauce (you can see the yolk).

One of the best dishes I tried here was this “Shake N Bake” style breaded pork chop, served with an au poivre sauce. There’s a great story associated with this dish that goes back to when Chef Harold Moore’s mother used to cook pork chops at home. Apparently she used to overcook regular pork chops, but when she followed the instructions on the box for “Shake N Bake,” they came out perfectly every time. So Harold came up with his own breadcrumb mixture here, and the dish is a tribute to his mother’s Shake N Bake dinners at home.

The chicken for two is a great way to go if you’re looking to share:

But I would recommend the leg of lamb if you are going with a group:

This beauty is deboned, stuffed with herbs and spices, rolled back onto the bone, covered with sauce and roasted for hours.

The result is a prime-rib like texture and some dangerously tender and delicious meat. You have to request this a day in advance, and it will feed four to six people with ease.

As for sides. I tried both the clarified butter fries and the truffle fries. Both were excellent, but I think I preferred the truffle fries.

Both the potato gratin and the potato puree were delicious. Between those, I prefer the gratin.

The broccoli was pretty good too. That brown plate at the bottom is actually foie gras stuffing for the roast chicken dish. That stuff is crack.

I will definitely be back here to try more dishes from the entrée menu, and most certainly the artichoke salad. And don’t forget to try one of their tasty and beautiful cocktails. This is their French margarita:

BISTRO PIERRE LAPIN
99 Bank Street
New York, NY 10014

Harolds Meat + Three

Last night I tried a ton of really great American, and specifically NY/NJ, comfort food here at Harold’s Meat + Three. There’s a lot to discuss, so I might as well get right down to it.

WINGS

Brined, smoked and grilled, these are some of the best, most deeply flavorful wings I’ve ever had. They have a great charcoal, wood-fired flavor to them.

PIZZA

We sampled two wood fired flatbread pizzas. The first, an arugula, cheese and ham:

The second, egg, cheese and Taylor ham. Amazing. Off the menu, but you can ask for it at brunch time.

BURGERS & SANDWICHES

Breakfast burger with sunny side egg, taylor ham and American. This tasted like a great white castle slider mixed with a classic deli style egg sandwich.

The South Jersey Soul Crusher: five thick cut, griddled slices of Taylor ham (or pork roll, depending on which part of Jersey you’re in), on an everything bagel. Perfect hangover food.

Egg sandwich with American cheese, salt, pepper and ketchup. A classic, but on a potato bun, and with some pork roll added for good measure. So tasty.

The award winning burger. This baby is simple and delicious. Two smash patties, lots of american, pickles, and a smear of ketchup and mustard, all on a potato bun. Perfect.

BLT. Perfectly executed with Harold Moore’s smoked bacon and crispy Taylor ham bits.

Speaking of smoked bacon, we had a plate of that as well. Incredible.

CHOPS

The rib eye steak.

This is wet aged and simply grilled to a perfect medium rare. Served with an array of veggies so you feel good about yourself.

The lamb blade chop.

I love when places offer interesting and less common cuts of meat. Harold nails it with a citrus marinade, Italian herbs and crushed red pepper. A squeeze from the grilled lemon really made this do backflips on my tastebuds. Check out the perfect cook temp inside:

PASTA (sweet potato tortellini)

There’s smoked ricotta, sage and brown butter in those beauties.

TRIPE STEW

That’s garlic bread on the side there with it. Super tender, great sauce with aji panca chili.

BISCUITS

This biscuit with pork roll bits inside was incredible. Great way to start the meal (sorry I’m adding it here so late).

DESSERT

Miniature soft serve vanilla ice cream cones. My favorite kind of ice cream. I’m a simple man.

Chocolate cake with ice cream on top. Gotta have the rainbow sprinkles on the frosting too.

Not one bad bite in the bunch. I really suggest you get down here and try this place ASAP. So good, and currently still somewhat “under the radar” of people who like to line up like assholes for food. Not for long though. This place is amazing.

HAROLD’S MEAT + THREE
2 Renwick St
New York NY 10013

Mifune

I was invited into Mifune with my wife to sample some of their meat dishes and post some photos on Instagram. But we started with some cocktails, because Shingo Gokan, the man behind the cocktail menu, is an award winning “mixologist.”

This is the Seven Samurai, which is made with rye, aged sake, East India sherry, bitters and smoke:

Pretty beautiful, and really tasty. The smoke aroma was as intoxicating as the booze, and it was similar to a smoked old fashioned.

The Throne of Blood is made with Japanese whisky, Bourbon Antica, Torino and bitters. This is similar to a Manhattan.

The Hidden Fortress, made with bourbon, milk, honey shrub, orange cordial and bitters, is super smooth and tasty.

Finally, we tried the Drunken Angel, made with Hibiki, Umeshu and shiso. This was also great. Very light and crisp.

Now on to the food. The first thing we tried was the steak tartare.

This is made with Angus beef, poached egg and tosazu sauce (a seafood style vinegar). Watch the video as the egg breaks into the tartare:

It was delicious. More like a beef tartare soup – very interesting.

This next item was on special: bluefin tuna temaki. It’s a rib section of bluefin tuna, served with seashells for scraping the meat out and making hand rolls with all the fixings.

Check out this video. Pretty insane!

At just $40, this is a great deal. We probably got about 10 or 12 hand rolls out of this baby.

Okay now on to the meats! First, a straw smoked rack of lamb!

The lamb was perfectly cooked to medium rare.

It came with roasted garlic and grilled fennel. But the real treat about this dish is that when it comes to the table for eating, it’s served in a clay dish that has a smoking chamber underneath, so you get to smell that awesome straw smoke aroma the whole time while you eat.

Next up was washugyu tenderloin.

Washugyu is an American Black Angus and Japanese Wagyu cross breed that achieves a great balance of beefy flavor and tender marbling. This is the same stuff I sell in my shop, pretty much. Anyway, it was incredibly tender and flavorful. They got a nice sear on the meat too. 9/10.

It’s plated up with a shallot puree and some roasted veggies.

This was easily one of the best meals I’ve had in a while. I highly recommend this place, especially for that bluefin tuna temaki. You should go ASAP if you have any interest, because I don’t know how long that will be available on special.

MIFUNE
245 E 44th St
New York, NY 10017

Chouchou

Chouchou (pronounced “shoe-shoe”) is a relatively new (eight months old) Moroccon restaurant in Alphabet City. The name is a French term of endearment; a word that you might use to refer to your spouse, like “babe,” “doll face,” or “sweet tits.” Actually I think it translates more easily to “little love” or something. But I wanted to use the word “tits” there somehow, because I talk about breasts quite a bit in this review.

In any case, the restaurant is cozy inside, and decorated in such a way that it transports you to the middle east. With cavernous archways on the ceiling and faux-ancient stone walls, you’ll feel like you’ve stepped off the streets of NYC and into a quaint, rustic and romantic dining space in Morocco. Even the sweet mint tea that they serve in small glass cups smacks of authenticity.

The place boasts a very impressive wine menu, which can be seen via PDF HERE. They also have a small selection of really deliciously described craft beers.

The first thing that struck me about this joint, aside from the amazing decor, was the simplicity and focus of the food menu. There are a handful of couscous dishes and a handful of tagine dishes, utilizing largely the same set of proteins: chicken, lamb chops, kefta (seasoned meatballs), merguez (spicy lamb sausage), lobster, a veggie option, etc.

I came to learn that this is how Moroccans traditionally eat: a basic array of starters; some sort of meat item, either with couscous or slow cooked in a tagine; and simple desserts. I like it.

Each entree comes with a collection of starters or mezes included in the price.

Warm pita bread with baba ganoush, hummus, shakshuka, and harissa-spiced almonds, to be precise. Of these, my favorite was the hummus (left of the pita).

While I don’t believe the tagine dishes are actually cooked in tagines (health department and fire codes likely prevent this in NYC), they are presented in beautiful decorative tagines.

I tried the savory lemon and olive chicken tagine, as well as the sweeter prune and lamb tagine. Both were great. The chicken tagine came with a generous half chicken, bone-in. The skin was crisp, and the meat was tender and juicy – with the exception of the breast meat, which was slightly dry in parts. It happens.

I think if tagine cooking were happening in NYC, dry knockers would be a less likely outcome. Tented, closed-vessel cooking preserves juiciness and airborne vapors, while oven cooking involves a dry heat. That being the case, perhaps a Dutch oven technique would be better for these dishes.

While I enjoyed the savory flavors of the chicken tagine better than the sweet-ish flavors of the lamb tagine, I liked the juiciness and succulence of the lamb better. It was almost like a braise, perfectly cooked to fall-off-the-bone tenderness. No dryness whatsoever.

The couscous dishes come with a beautiful plate of couscous, your desired choice of protein, and a bowl of stew juice that contains potatoes, beef, lamb and peppers.

I tried the mixed protein option, called “royal.” This came with chicken, lamb chop, kefta and merguez.

All of the meats were good and juicy, again with the exception of the chicken being a bit dry in the jugs. But when you mix the meats together with the stew juice and couscous, there’s not much to worry about in terms of dry mammaries. It was delicious.

Desserts here are made in house, and consist of a variety of traditional Moroccan pastries and cookies. I was only able to try two – an almond pastry and an orange flavored cookie – but both were excellent.

Dry chicken hooters aside, I would definitely come back here again, and I highly recommend this place for a romantic date night. And again only parts of the chicken (boobs) were dry. The rest was perfect.

NOTE: A public relations professional invited me and a group of food writers to Chouchou to taste the food and review the place.

CHOUCHOU
215 E. 4th St.
New York, NY 10009

Prune

My wife and I went to Prune for brunch. We started off with some nicely crafted Bloody Mary drinks (which come with a Red Stripe beer back).

Mine was made with gin and garnished with a pickled egg, and my wife got a vodka based one with some southern spices, caper berries and pickled beans. I actually mixed my beer into the bloody when I was about halfway done, to make what was almost like a michelada.

For my entree, I had the famous fried monte cristo sandwich (ham, turkey, and cheese, breaded and deep fried). It was amazing – like a French toast sandwich. It came with two eggs and a berry jelly.

That coil of sausage we ordered as an extra side. Home made lamb sausage to be exact. It was incredible.

While the bill was a bit steep, we were satisfied and the food was delicious.

Incase you’re wondering, those are little licorice schnauzers that come with the bill.

PRUNE
54 E 1st St #1
New York, NY 10003

Guan Fu Szechuan

I recently had the pleasure of dining with a bunch of food friends at this new Szechuan joint in Flushing called Guan Fu. They do an incredible job of showcasing the different kinds of spice that the cuisine is known for (numbing as well as heat), while also developing intense, robust flavors that you can actually taste. Contrast with many other Szechuan joints in NYC that just blow your mouth out with heat and numbness, leaving you unable to actually enjoy the food.

That’s not to say that the food here isn’t spicy. It sure as heck is! But the balance is so well done that it’s quite impressive. But let me get down to business, because we tried 17 different dishes here. There is a lot to discuss…

The first four dishes were cold preparations.

1. Thinly Sliced Pork Liver

This was nice. No mealy texture or gamey flavor. Good heat from the red chilis. Excellent citrus-flavored sauce.

2. Sweet Fried Pork Ribs

These were awesome. Great crispy texture, super tender, and with just a little bit of heat to gently contrast the sweet.

3. Razor Clams

These were served with Mexican green peppers (likely a poblano or hatch variety) as well as some red Thai chili peppers. Great preparation, and the clams were perfectly cooked.

4. Bean Jelly

This was one of my favorite dishes of the night. The bean jelly was reminiscent of a snappy, thick noodle. This was served with chili oil, peanuts, sesame seeds and scallions.

Okay now onto the warm food.

5. “Water Fish” Tilapia

This was both numbing and heat spicy. The fish was served in an over-seasoned broth so as to get all the flavors into the flesh of the Tilapia. In fact, the sauce/broth isn’t meant to be eaten, as is the case with many of the dishes we were served.

6. Dry Pot Frog

This was another favorite of the night. The frog was so tender on the inside and crispy on the outside. It was served with crisp, fried potatoes and lotus root in the mix too. That textural contrast really blew me away. Just be careful of the tiny bones in the frog meat!

7. Sliced Beef With Pickled Cherry Peppers

This was a really fun dish. The peppers were pickled, but the beef and cucumber cooked in the sauce were both fresh (meaning not pickled). Really nice.

8. Hot Pot

In addition to cabbage and mushrooms, this also contained slices of lamb meat and beef meatballs. Awesome flavors going on here when you mixed it all together, and a little bit of numbness from those famous Szechuan peppercorns.

9. Sweet & Crispy Corn

This was a nice way to knock back any heat that might be lingering in your mouth. These little nuggets were a perfect snack. Juicy inside, bursting with kernel corn flavor, but crispy and batter-fried on the outside.

10. Kung Pao Chicken

This is a famous dish, but done right and as close to authentic as you’re going to get. Lots of heat, really tender meat, and a great contrast of flavors and textures in the stir fry mix.

11. Ma Po Tofu

This is another famously spicy dish from the Szechuan region. The sauce here is a blast of heat and numbing spice, meant to be eaten with rice. I skipped the rice, though, and was just spooning the sauce into my mouth, gulp after gulp. It was great!

12. “Fishy Pork”

There is no actual fish in this dish, but it is made with the intent of giving the diner the essence or flavors of fish. The actual protein here is shredded pork, and it is delicious.

13. Hand Ripped Cabbage With Pork Belly

Bacon makes everything better, especially cabbage. This was a really nice way to get a veggie into the mix other than incorporating peppers and onions into a stir fry.

14. Double Pepper Chicken

Wow. Just when you thought Kung Pao was a kick in the balls, you discover double pepper chicken. The two peppers are green chilis (jalapeños) and red chilis (Thai chilis). But the sneaky spice here is the numbing Szechuan peppercorns that are also worked into the dish. Excellent.

15. Shrimp

These head-on giant shrimp were excellent. They even serve small shrimp where you can eat the shell as well.

16. Green Beans

I love how the veggie comes out last. These were simple and delicious though. A welcome addition to the meal.

17. Fried Sesame Cakes

I’ve had these babies before and I love them. These were filled with a squash mash or paste of some kind. I generally like the red bean or mung bean pastes better (they’re a little sweeter).

That about does it. I really want to come back here and try more stuff, or even just put down full portions of my favorite dishes from this trip, like the bean jelly and dry pot frog. Get your ass out here and try this stuff ASAP!

GUAN FU SZECHUAN
39-16 Prince St
G01
Flushing, NY 11354

Superior Farms Lamb Bacon

I’ve come across Superior Farms lamb products a few times at Foodservice shows and conventions. One time, I tried their lamb bacon, and I was completely blown away. I liked it better than pork bacon! I reached out to them recently, to see if they’d be okay with sending me some of their lamb bacon so that I could properly feature it in a post for you guys, to expose you to this delicious protein. I was very happy to hear back that they were interested! And I was blown away when I received this massive hunk of lamb belly in the mail one day:

Not only was I excited, but I was also scared, for with great pounds of bacon comes great responsibility. This thing weighed as much as my leg, so I had to make sure I gave it the proper respect it deserved. I figured that the best way to do this was to prepare it in several ways. I channeled my inner butcher, the part of me that still recalls my profession from a past life in the late 1800’s.

I made five different cuts: (1) thick chunks for stewing and braising; (2) thick slab strips for steakhouse style grilled bacon; (3) medium thickness slices for lettuce wraps, candying and baking flat; (4) thin slices for breakfast, sandwiches and burgers; and (5) diced into pancetta, or “lambcetta.” See below (thin slices not featured here):

I kept some cuts aside for immediate use. That night, my wife made a really amazing bucatini carbonara with some of the lamb pancetta. The mild game flavor of the lamb bacon was the perfect pairing for the earthy flavors of the aged cheese and egg yolk used in the carbonara. And the soft, creamy rendered fat from the lamb belly was pure gold. Here’s what the dish looked like:

The next dish my wife made was a lamb bacon, egg and cheese sandwich on a Trufflist-infused everything biscuit. She used the thinly sliced lamb bacon for this one. Awesome!

Next: Thick cut, steakhouse style bacon, made of lamb…

Oh yeah baby. That shit was delicious.

I actually prepared this two ways: one slow roasted on a hibachi, and one on a cast iron grill pan.

Both had their benefits. The roasted style was more evenly cooked, with nicely rendered and crisp fat. The grill pan left the meat more juicy with a harder crisp and softer, more gelatinous inside.

For the final preparation, we braised some with boiled eggs and molasses; a traditional clay pot vessel Vietnamese dish. Typically made with pork, we swapped it for lamb.

Needless to say, I’m really happy with this product. I hope to push it in MY BUTCHER SHOP someday, or at least keep buying it for home use.

New in the Shop: Lamb Ribs!

I’m really excited to be working with Mosner Family Brands to bring you all this rare and delicious protein.

These are LAMB RIBS, you meat maniacs!!!

 

You don’t see them too often, but they’re really special.

Smoke ’em if you got ’em, as they say… and, well, I got ’em… And now you can get some too. You don’t want to miss out on these – especially you game meat and BBQ fanatics out there. These are pure heaven.

ORDER HERE!

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

Bella Luna

My wife and I were recently invited into Bella Luna, and upper west side Italian joint, for a complimentary meal in exchange for an honest review of the food. The menu looked pretty great, so I was excited to get in here.

The restaurant was jumping on a Thursday night. I don’t think there was an empty table in the joint. It makes sense, given the attractively priced pasta dishes ($12 for their long list of classics) set in a beautiful dining room.

We started with an order of mussels. These babies are cooked in a garlic, white wine and tomato sauce.

The sauce was awesome. In fact, we kept asking for extra bread to soak up the goodness. I was happy there was a spoon on the table, because I was eating the sauce like soup.

Next up was one of their special pasta dishes: lamb pappardelle.

Pappardelle is one of my favorite styles of pasta: long, wide ribbons. This stuff was fresh made, and the lamb ragu was great. The meat sauce also contained some diced carrots, onions and peppers. It reminded me of the Sunday meat sauces (aka “gravy,” in some circles) that my grandmother used to make when my family would visit each week. It was boldly flavored, yet not too heavy where you feel bloated after. This was definitely my favorite dish of the night.

Then we shared a pizza.

We ordered the “Bella Luna” pizza, which is topped with wild mushrooms, truffle oil, onions and fontina cheese.

As you can see, we added some prosciutto and olives to the party.

This was a really great pizza! The dough was puffy and light, but still had a good crunch with an airy, doughy bite. They’re working some magic back there in the brick oven!

Dessert was impressive, as they were offering slices of a special praline ice cream cake from the bake shop that used to be located next store (Grossinger’s; a neighborhood classic for many decades).

This was so rich and decadent. Such awesome flavors going on, and I even thought I tasted some halva in the mix, which I love. I highly recommend a slice of this if they have any left when you go.

My wife’s choice was tiramisu, her favorite, but with a scoop of their toasted pistachio gelato on top.

A genius idea, if I may say so. The tiramisu was soft, and nicely coffee flavored. The lady fingers weren’t soaked in too much booze, and it was overall very creamy and tasty.

I definitely recommend this place. It’s a great neighborhood joint with extremely reasonable prices, set up with gorgeous exposed brick and rustic wood decor.

BELLA LUNA
574 Columbus Ave
New York, NY 10024