Tag Archives: medium rare

La Lena

I went to La Leña in Hudson Yards’ “Little Spain” specifically to try a cut of steak from an 8-10yr old Holstein dairy cow from Mindful Meats in California.

This “Vaca Vieja” style steak is common in Spain and other parts of Europe, so I was psyched to try it. The beef was very lean, and also dry-aged, making it ripe for a quick cook. However, the restaurant spent nearly an hour cooking it in their fantastic open flame style kitchen. They ruined it.

We ordered medium rare but it came out to us somewhere between medium and medium well.

Ultimately it was a very uneven fire, with some parts in the center being properly medium rare, but with way too much thick grey-banding on the exterior.

Amateurish, and likely fired by a cook who was unfamiliar with open flame cooking. The result was a grainy textured eating experience. Not much in the way of flavor either. I had hoped for more uniqueness, having heard that dairy cows can develop great marbling with robust flavors when they get up there in age. 5/10.

At $120 for 24oz this was a complete rip off. Not only that, but when we informed the waiter of the improper cook, he simply said thanks and that he would let the chef know. No offer of a new steak. No money off the bill. Not even a free dessert or drink.

If you must go here, stick to the pork until these guys learn how to cook a steak. My wife said the pork tasting menu was good. Also,  nice gin and tonic:

LA LEÑA
10 Hudson Yards
New York NY, 10001

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

Tambour Bistro & Wine Bar

Tambour Bistro and Wine Bar is a cool spot that serves up some great Mediterranean style eats in Brooklyn. They have a great deal going on: for $120 you get an appetizer, a dry-aged porterhouse steak from Romeo Brothers (Bensonhurst meat shop), a side and a dessert.

My wife and I came in to try this stuff out. Here’s what we had.

First, some nice wines. I had a Rioja and my wife had a white that I can’t pronounce.

The mussels here are incredible. Make sure you ask for a spoon to slurp up the sauce at the bottom of the bowl. There’s white wine, roasted chili peppers and herbs in that crack sauce.

This arugula salad was simple and refreshing, with kalamata olives, feta cheese, pickled shallots, English cukes and marinated baby tomatoes.

Next up was the main event: a 70-day dry-aged porterhouse, served Florentine style, with charred lemons and rosemary.

This thing was a real beauty. Perfectly cooked with that great brown Maillard crust on it.

There was a lot of earthy funk on this from the aging process, so wiping an occasional bite across the charred lemon was a great way to cut the fat and funk with a pop of brightness.

We finished every bite. I highly recommend this steak. 9/10.

On the side we had the asparagus with crumbled parmesan cheese. That’s an Italian chimichurri sauce in the back. Basil, oregano, lemon, etc. Great with the steak actually.

For dessert, we had this perfectly executed creme brûlée.

This baby was big, creamy and flavorful.

I will definitely be back here to try their bacon as well as some other cuts of steak. I suggest you give it a shot too, especially if you live in the area.

TAMBOUR BISTRO & WINE BAR
652 5th Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11215

The Anthony

NOTE: THIS PLACE IS CLOSED

I was invited to newly opened The Anthony by my buddy Mike from Gotham Burger Social Club for a special tasting dinner with some other influencers and Instagrammers. We sampled a massive portion of the menu, and everything was pretty much fantastic. Let me get right into it for you hungry savages…

First, the cocktail menu is excellent. I tried this “Matador” drink, made with mezcal, lime, cilantro and spicy habanero honey – it was dynamite.

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To start, we had a cheese and meat board, with my favorite olives: Castelvetranos!

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Then some French onion fondue. This was really unique and flavorful.

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We also did some fried oysters, which were breaded to a perfect crisp and served in refreshing lettuce cups.

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But the star of the apps, though, were these mini char siu pork belly and liver mousse banh mi sandwiches. Holy shit! I could eat a dozen (two minis per order).

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While this item is listed as a starter, it can probably be consumed as a main if you order the banh mi to start. Duck confit and waffles.

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Fuck what you think you know about chicken and waffles. This is the way to do it.

On the side we did some cacao e pepe fries, which were really nicely cooked and golden brown.

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Some lobster mac and cheese, which was really nice as it was made with thick cavatappi / fusilli rigate (ridged).

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And some Asian style sautéed greens (broccolini / Chinese broccoli).

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Okay now let me get into the meat of the review. I’ll tackle the burgers first. We tried two: an off menu “Tavern Burger,” and the “Tony Prime.” Nice name, right? Maybe he iso a long lost brother of mine or something. He must be, because he is made of aged beef and a special house made creamed spinach cheese. Say whaaat?!??!

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Yup. That’s right – they make it in house by combining creamed spinach with cheese, spreading it out flat and thin, cooling it down to let it congeal, and then slicing it out  into individual cheese sliced for this incredible burger.

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This has to be one of my new favorite burgers in town. It’s so unique and special. It actually tastes like steak! Amazing. And so does the Tavern Burger, which is topped with a nice melty gruyere and arugula.

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We also tried the brick chicken. This had a great crispy top from the cooking process. I think it just suffered a bit and got too dry. I honestly don’t mind dry chicken from time to time, as long as there is a sauce to go with. Otherwise it was excellent.

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We also hit this pork chop pretty hard. Really nice spice and herb mix going on here, and a very tasty glaze.

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Underneath this 12oz Berkshire chop is a bacon and apple potato cake, and on top are caramelized onions.

And now for the champion. The 28-day dry aged 40oz tomahawk rib eye.

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This was truly a sight to behold.

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I got more funk and flavor from this 28-day steak than I have from 60-day chops. It was absolutely wonderful.

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It seemed a bit small for 40oz (and $140), but then again the bone was pretty big, as was the flavor. I was hoping for a bit more cap, but what I did taste was great. It was nicely cooked, well rested with no bleed-out, and it sported a nice outer crisp. 8/10.

I didn’t think any of us had room for dessert, but apparently humans are equipped with a second stomach that’s just for dessert.

First, this berry mousse. Very light and flavorful.

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Next, an apple pie style tart. Great hits of cinnamon and brown sugar here. Cold ice cream and hot pie – perfect combo.

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And chocolate cake, because why the fuck not.

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This was really a great meal. The biggest standouts for me, for which I will definitely go back, are the burgers, the banh mi and the duck waffles. I recommend you do the same.

THE ANTHONY
183 Bleecker St
New York, NY 10012

Bespoke Kitchen

NOTE: THIS JOINT IS NOW CLOSED!

The concept behind Bespoke Kitchen is a totally custom dining experience that’s different every time. The idea is simple: aside from about a dozen starter items, you choose from four proteins and whether you want your protein to have rich or light flavors. The alternative is to leave the entree completely up to the chefs with a secret protein. There are several chefs, too, by the way. All have different culinary backgrounds, but all are incredibly talented and well-experienced.

When I was here for an influencer event via their PR group, NYC Restaurant, organized by The Dishelin Guide, the available proteins were rib eye, branzino, sea bass or duck. The secret protein turned out to be lamb on this night, but I didn’t get to try any. It did look beautiful though:

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Let me get back to the starters though. We tried a bunch, so I will just fire them off with some commentary to go with each.

STARTERS

Diver Scallops:

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These were pretty good. They were halved scallops served atop a bed of spaghetti squash, hen of the woods mushrooms and pine nuts. The outside was seared and caramelized just right, leaving the meat supple and juicy inside.

Bacon Tasting:

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Thick cut belly, maple bacon and lamb bacon graced this beautiful natural wood platter of pork. My favorite was the lamb, not only because it is delicious but because it is a rare gem to find on any menu here in the city.

Bacon Dumplings:

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Lobster cocktail:

Why the fuck not? These were like cheddar and bacon Totino’s pizza rolls, only elevated and in a nicer wrapper.

Mixed Ceviche:

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Light and refreshing, this bowl contained fluke, octopus and shrimp, with a side of sweet potato chips.

Tuna tartare:

Short Rib Gnocchi:

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The gnocchi were light but with a crispy coating on them, and the short rib was rich and extremely flavorful. Big fan of this dish.

Grilled Octopus:

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This was really well executed. The tentacle was very tender, and the squid ink balsamic on the plate was perfect for smearing onto the purple potatoes. Check out my buddy Ben’s awesome shot of it:

A photo posted by Ben Hon (@stuffbeneats) on

My other crappy pic:

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I ended up going back another time and shooting this again. Check it:

ENTREES

Each protein comes as a fully composed meal, complete with a starch and a veggie. Naturally, I went with the rib eye. I also tried some of the duck.

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The rib eye was really juicy and succulent, with lots of nice beefy flavor. While there wasn’t much cap present, the eye was delicious. I score it at a nice 8/10. Two other rib eyes were ordered in our group, and each one was plated differently, with different veggies. One even had a poached egg on top!

But check out this duck!

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Beautiful tuna plating.

The fat could have used some better rendering, to get that rubbery quality out completely, but that is a tough challenge to accomplish on a breast while still maintaining a good medium rare cook temperature. I was fine with trimming the fat away and munching on that beautiful pink breast meat.

DESSERT

Burrata Cheesecake:

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This delight is made in house, which is very impressive being it is a burrata cheese. It was super creamy and light, served with graham cracker crumble and an apple caramel. It was simple and delicious.

Cinnamon Bun:

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This was really tasty, and my favorite of the desserts. It was a soft cake inside, some good crisp outside, and lots of ooey gooey dolce de leche glaze on top.

Chocolate Pudding:

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This lacked sweetness, and almost tasted as if it was sugarless or “diet” – not fake sugar, but NO sugar, or LOW sugar. I didn’t mind so much, since I don’t have a huge sweet tooth to begin with, but some other diners expressed dissatisfaction. I did get that cocoa flavor from it, though, and the texture was nice and smooth.

Butternut Squash Ice Cream:

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This was really interesting, and at first I didn’t think I’d like it, based on the description. Imagine candied yams in an ice cream format, but without that horrible starchy texture. It was similar to that flavor. I was oddly attracted to this, so I just kept going back to it over and over. That must mean it was a success.

I definitely recommend coming to this joint. Every meal you eat here will be different, even if you and your table-mates order the same exact thing at the same exact time. It’s kind of fun, new, exciting and adventurous. I’m happy to see something unique like this in NYC.

BESPOKE KITCHEN
615 Hudson St
New York, NY 10014

Beautique

NOTE: THIS PLACE IS CLOSED

As usual my bargain hunter wife found a nice Gilt City deal for a three course meal for two here at Beautique.

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It included two drinks per person, which is unusually generous.

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Apparently the place turns into a sugar daddy lounge after like 9pm, where young girls try to score rich older men (according to reviews I’ve seen online). We went at 6pm, so there wasn’t too much of that going on at that time.

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I wasn’t expecting much given that lounge atmosphere. As it turned out, the food was pretty great. So let’s get down to business.

I started with a red an yellow beet salad. Beets are all the rage these days. They were a little more stiff here than at other places, and cut into rustic chunks rather than thinner slices. But they retained a more natural flavor as a result. They were dressed with pistachio nuts, yogurt, lemon and rosemary.

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My wife ordered the Beautique salad, which was radicchio, pear, gorgonzola and walnuts. This was a bit bitter for my taste, but the ingredients were all fresh, crisp and high quality.

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For my entree, I had the hanger steak. This was super tender and cooked to a perfect medium rare. I was expecting some chew to this but every bite was extremely soft and had a good char on the outside. This would be 10 out of 10 if it weren’t for a slight lack of salt on that crust. But otherwise this was incredible.

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It was served with a peppery gravy and on top of a bed of sweet corn and mushrooms.

My wife went with the branzino. This was plated beautifully.

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As you can see, the skin was crisp and well seasoned. The meat was cooked just right, and it was served on top of some potatoes, tomatoes, baby leeks and artichoke in a rosemary sauce.

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For dessert, we had cheesecake with oreo ice cream. The ice cream was awesome. It was super flavorful and almost fudgey, but without being overly sweet. The cheesecake had a nice thick, but not heavy, consistency, however the cracker crust was too hard to get through with a fork. It may have been a peanut brittle type of thing, because it didn’t taste like graham cracker.

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Overall this was a great deal, especial given the fact that my wife paid much less than the asking price due to coupons and other shit like that. If it is still available by time you read this, I recommend trying it out.

UPDATE 9/16/16

My wife and I went back with another Gilt City deal to try a few different menu items and see how well this joint has been holding up. I think we went with better choices the first time around, because this time wasn’t as good as we remembered.

We started with the duck wonton tacos. The sauce on them tasted like McDonald’s BBQ sauce. Nothing wrong with that except that it seemed to clash with the asian toppings. Also there was a strange flavor that reminded me of the scent of wet dog.

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The other app was tune tartare. This was a bit lacking in flavor and a bit small and uninspired in the presentation.

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For my entree, I went with the burger. The menu said there were brandied onions on it, but I didn’t find any. The tomato was cut way too thick, but the bacon was nice and crisp. Also the cheese didn’t taste like gruyere either, as mentioned on the menu. It was cooked perfectly, however, the the rosemary fries were awesome.

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My wife had the roasted chicken. This, too, was a bit small. Luckily it wasn’t dry and the skin on it was deliciously crisp and well seasoned.

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Beautique really shined with the desserts, which took forever to come out because the place was starting to get jammed. First was cheesecake with oreo ice cream (same as last time) with strawberry and mango sauce.

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Next was chocolate lava cake with vanilla ice cream and caramel popcorn. I usually dislike lava cake, but this was really soft like a brownie, and the fudgey melty stuff inside was tasty.

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BEAUTIQUE
8 W. 58th St.
New York, NY 10019

Brasserie 8.5

Brasserie 8.5 is part of the Patina group of restaurants. If you’re loyal to them, they’re loyal to you. What I mean by that is simply this: go to one of their restaurants, and at the end of the meal they provide you with a contact and comment card. When you supply them with an email address and date of birth, they send you a free $50 credit for your birthday, which can be used within two months of the date. My wife and I have been to many of their establishments, and we haven’t been disappointed yet. The $50 credit makes it all a bit sweeter too.

So we came here with the $50 credit this time because it was within two months of my wife’s birthday. But, to be honest, we’ve been meaning to come here for quite some time. This joint offers an amazing happy hour deal with $5 quality draft beers, $1 oysters, and a bunch of other fairly priced items. In addition to that, they have a regular $29 three-course price fix lunch, a regular $39 three-course price fix dinner, no corkage fees on Sundays and Mondays, and on Sundays they have an awesome $32 bottomless mimosa brunch buffet that takes over the whole lounge area. Amazing, and you are truly dining in elegance with impeccable service at this massive midtown restaurant. The bar area is really nice, too, and the cocktail menu has some very nice concoctions.

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So let’s get down to business. My wife did the price fix menu. Her appetizer was octopus with bean puree. The octopus was soft and tender, but it had a bit of skin slime going on. Perhaps a quick char on the grill would have knocked that back a bit before plating it on the bean puree.

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Her entree was branzino with kale and calamari. These were nicely cooked and the skin was crisp. However the fish taste was a bit stronger than we are usually accustomed to for branzino. Not bad in any way, just a bit more powerful than expected.

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Her dessert was a pear tart with vanilla ice cream. This was a beautiful dish, and the tart was perfectly executed.

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I started with this nice cylinder of tuna tartare. The tuna was fresh and the cucumbers were crisp. The dressing was minimal so as to allow the simplicity and quality of the tuna stand on its own.

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My entree was, as you might have expected, their dry-aged cote de boeuf, which was topped with sauteed mushrooms.

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This nice bone-in rib eye was cooked to perfection on the inside. An even medium rare through and through.

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I’m giving it 8/10 for flavor. I’d say it came in at about 20oz., if I had to guess. While the meat was perfectly cooked, there was a lot of bleed out due to the fact that the outside did not have a great deal of sear or char to it. That char tends to lock in all of the meat juices, that way, when you let it rest after cooking, none of the juices pour out of the meat. I wondered if it was cooked sous vide style… but the fact that the mushrooms were plated on top of the steak didn’t help much either, as that heat and moisture would work to remove any trace of searing that was done during the cooking process.

On the side I had an order of fries and sauteed spinach. The spinach was a bit watery, but it had a good buttery-garlic flavor.

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The fries were perfectly crisp, though a little light on the seasoning.

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I skipped dessert and shared some of my wife’s tart. All in, this was a pretty good meal. And we did well with that $50 birthday credit. Check out the William:

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BRASSERIE 8.5
9 W 57th St
New York, NY 10019

Lahaina Grill

Lahaina Grill

Our last meal was a great one, and this joint represents probably the only real-deal fine dining establishment we went to (with Koa’s coming close behind).

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We celebrated our anniversary here in style, and had a really great waiter named Justin, who chatted with us about the all-natural grass-fed steak purveyors on Maui, and the Idaho aged beef guys with outposts in San Diego, which is where they get their meats. That naturally lead to NYC steakhouses and this blog, which he actually took the time to browse between check giving and check paying (when all the convo started).

We started with some awesome cocktails. Mine was a tequila, honey and smoked salt drink, and my wife’s was a jalapeño vodka and cinnamon syrup drink. Crazy good.

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For starters, we had the “cake walk,” which was a trio of lobster cake, crab cake, and tuna cake. All were good, but the tuna was more like a tartare than a cake. Fine by me.

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My wife had a chili relleno for her app. It was served with a blue corn crust and surrounded by a tomato sauce that tasted like homemade chili, and stuffed with cheeses, corn and all sorts of seafood goodies.

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My entree, was, of course, the largest steak on the menu. They didn’t have rib eye but they did have a decently sized boneless NY strip steak. Pretty nice for 14oz.

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I wasn’t crazy about the red wine reduction sauce, but the meat was good quality. It would hang tough in NYC, I think, though certainly not in my top 10. It was cooked perfectly to medium on a skillet – nothing fancy, just real technique:

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My wife ordered the coffee crusted rack of lamb. This was a little gamey for my liking, but it was cooked nicely and the crust had a nice flavor, though not as strong in the coffee department as I might have expected.

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We planned to skip dessert, since we wanted more Ululani’s before our trip home, but Justin brought us out a triple berry pie on the house.

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This was awesome. The berries were smooth, fresh and delicious. The pie crust was crispy and covered with granulated sugar that gave it an awesome texture.

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And then the management came by and took a nice photo of us. They even gave us a card from the staff for our anniversary.

Todarello 9.6.15