Tag Archives: midtown

The Modern

My wife and I came here for our 10th wedding anniversary.

We did the six course chef’s tasting menu. But first we started with some nice cocktails.

We did the groundskeeper and the terracotta navy. Here’s what’s in them:

The first thing to come out was this interesting tartlet amuse that had some sort of cheese and mushrooms inside a tiny pie crust.

The bread service consisted of a nice rosemary focaccia and small buns of pretzel bread.

The first of the six courses was their egg on egg on egg. Custard, yolk and caviar with a toasted brioche stick. Really delicious and easily a top dish for the year.

Next was this snapper crudo/tartare preparation.

Another top dish for the year goes to this foie gras tart with strawberries. Both white/green strawberries (tart) and red (sweet). A perfect dish in every way, with some meringue and tart strawberry salsa on top. Really nicely balanced between savory and sweet.

Next up was the first of the main proteins; the sea bass with mushroom in minestrone broth. Really light and flavorful, and it came with a pasta made from noodle-ized celtuse root.

This five-spiced, dry-aged Long Island duck was the winner for the mains though. Beautifully tender with lots of flavorful punch from the Thai basil puree and leaves.

Along with our complimentary anniversary cupcake (pictured above), they brought us a dessert amuse of mango fruit leather and ice cream, made to look like dim sum.

And finally, our dessert was this nice pistachio cake with lemon ice cream, white chocolate, balsamic reduction and some crumble.

We really enjoyed this meal. It was hefty in price, but we truly loved every dish. Also this is a no-tipping restaurant. Here’s the William:

THE MODERN
9 W 53rd St
New York, NY 10019

Four Cuts Steakhouse

Four Cuts overall score: 82

NOTE: THIS PLACE IS NOW CLOSED!

My wife and I came here for a quick meal and to take photos for Instagram.

Flavor: 8

The porterhouse was a 7/10. It was cooked nicely to medium rare, but it lacked a bit of seasoning and dry-aged flavor. The strip side had a bit of a chew to it, but still pretty good. The filet side was perfect!

The “sauce” we ordered on the side was the “cherry peppers and onions” selection, which I knew in advance wouldn’t be an actual “sauce” as listed on the menu.

Four Cuts Steakhouse is owned by the same folks as Tudor City Steakhouse, and I recall that I enjoyed the cherry peppers and onions there (it, too, wasn’t a sauce, but, rather, a toping or a side item). I dig it. And these are perfect to use for leftover steak and eggs the next morning.

We also tried the filet “oscar” style.

This was a 9/10.

The lobster meat and hollandaise really worked nicely together with the steak, which was perfectly cooked to medium rare.

I highly recommend that filet, and I’m looking forward to trying more cuts the next time I visit.

Choice of Cuts & Quality Available: 8

You can see here on the menu that all “four cuts” are represented (not counting the lamb chops):

However, they also offer specials like the filet “oscar,” and this tomahawk that I unfortunately didn’t get to try:

It looked and smelled delicious! The meats hail from Masters, and are all dry-aged for 28 days.

Portion Size & Plating: 8

Portions are large here, and plating is pretty standard in the steakhouse style. Elegant and simple.

Price: 9

The prices here are all very fair. In fact some are a huge bargain considering what neighboring steak joints are charging, much like their sister restaurant, Tudor City Steakhouse.

Bar: 7

There’s a cozy little stretch of bar that was seeing a fair amount of action on a Friday evening. I liked this little guy sitting on there:

Drinks are pretty good too.

First they brought out a vodka martini by mistake, but they knew before I did (I hadn’t sipped it yet). They just brought out a gin martini and told me to keep the vodka one too. Bonus!

Specials and Other Meats: 8

There are definitely some steak items that aren’t listed on the menu. The tomahawk steak and filet “oscar” style that I mentioned above, for example. Make sure you ask what they have. By way of alternative meats, you can go with either lamb or chicken.

Apps, Sides & Desserts: 8

The crab cake was meaty!

The star of the apps were the oysters Rockefeller and the clams casino. These usually come six to an order, but the chef did us a solid and gave us three of each so we could try both preparations.

I also really liked the tuna tartare. Big portion, clean and fresh taste, and simply executed.

Sautéed asparagus with garlic:

Hash brown potatoes:

Sautéed spinach with garlic:

For dessert, my wife liked the raspberry cheesecake best of the two:

But I liked the raspberry creme brûlée. This was a unique take.

Seafood Selection: 8

There’s branzino, salmon and tuna on the menu for you non-carnivorous losers out there. But based on the quality of the baked shellfish apps, I would say you’re in very good hands ordering a seafood entree here.

Service: 10

Tony is incredible, and the wait staff is top notch. You really are treated like royalty here. My favorite service aspect of the meal at Four Cuts was the table bread. It comes with a really tasty garlic, olives, capers and tomato oil spread that will blow you away. It’s almost like a “bagna cauda,” but I’m not sure if there are anchovies involved.

Ambiance: 8

This little “mom and pop” steak joint exudes a cozy yet elegant atmosphere that really makes great use of the space. It felt like the right balance between a traditional steakhouse and a local neighborhood joint. Go give it a shot. There’s even free garage parking for four hours right around the corner on 58th Street.

FOUR CUTS STEAKHOUSE
1076 1st Avenue
New York, NY 10022

Le Relais de Venise L’Entrecote

There can be beauty in simplicity, and comfort in consistency. One can easily get swept away in the panoply of new and exciting menu items from the plethora of cuisines represented by the multitude of talented chefs in NYC. And I just used several words that are synonymous with “many.”

But there’s something to be said for a simple yet perfectly executed steak frites meal from a familiar French bistro.

Le Relais de Venise L’Entrecote is one of those French joints slinging such a classic meal. In fact, it’s the ONLY thing they serve. The menu is set: salad, fries and steak. The only choices you have are related to wine and dessert. Well, other than how you want your steak cooked and whether you want sauce, that is.

This kind of streamlined dining experience is awesome to me. One thing is for sure, though, and I can attest to it myself: If you’re going to focus on one thing (steak), you better damn well do it proud. Le Relais does. This is a great meal, and it comes at a great price to boot: $29.95 for the steak, fries and salad.

Let me start with the salad. It’s a simple plate of greens, nicely dressed with a mustardy vinaigrette and topped with walnuts.

It’s a great way to start, along with the sliced baguette table bread and dijon mustard (screw butter).

The steak and fries come out together.

Don’t be alarmed: A second plate of steak and fries comes out when you’re finished with this plate. I assume that’s why they call it “le relais,” or “the relay” in American: You’re getting a new steak “baton” handed off to you right after finishing the first. In round two, you get a similar amount of fries, and about half the amount of steak.

The sauce is a mustard- and peppercorn-based gravy. It’s really nice, especially with the fries. You can hold the sauce, or get it on the side, if you want, but I think this is one of the rare occasions where the sauce really makes the steak pop.

The steak hails from Cambridge Packing, and is a very nice, lean, tender strip loin cut. Pictured here is “rare,” but you can order “blue,” “medium” or “well done.” They even mark the table with your order preference as well.

That SOS means “sauce on side,” R means rare, and the M is medium. No sauce markings means that the plate will come out pre-sauced.

This steak is a solid 8/10, and the fries are incredible. Perfectly golden brown and crisp.

I’m not rating the joint on my full 100-point scale, because it’s too focused on the one dish to really be in the same ballpark as a full-menu steakhouse. However, I love the fact that this place is shameless in its offering of just one dish. It’s easily one of the best steak frites I’ve had in NYC, especially at that reasonable price point.

Now for dessert. There are so many to choose from! We went with a classic creme brûlée, and their house special, which is a layered tower of hazelnut ice cream and meringue, topped with chocolate sauce and whipped cream.

The tower was the winner, as the creme brûlée was a bit eggy for my liking (though still very tasty).

This place is a home run, and anyone who has been here usually sings its praise any time steak is mentioned in a conversation. The best part: If you hate midtown, then you can go to the brand new location in SoHo. I’ll be heading there ASAP for sure.

LE RELAIS DE VENISE L’ENTRECOTE
590 Lexington Ave
New York, NY 10022

Manting

My buddy Jeff from @foodmento organized a bunch of influencers to check this place out. I was instantly interested, since Jeff always seems to help me discover new and awesome places (like Pao de Queijo, among others).

Manting is a Chinese dry hot pot joint. What is that? Well, if you’re familiar with hot pot, then just remove the bubbling pot of broth and replace the cooking method with stir fry.

Hot pot is one of the most fun and delicious dining experiences, but hot broth doesn’t necessarily jive with the warmer weather. Dry hot pot is a nice solution to remove some of the temperature heat, if you can take the spice heat.

I can take the spice. Manting is known for having really spicy dry pot (obviously you can order it mild or without spice as well). They will likely caution you against ordering extra spicy or even medium spicy. And even if you manage to get them to give you spicy or medium, it may still be mild if you’re a spice freak like me. I think they’re worried about blowing people’s mouths up, because the word on the street is that this joint is too hot to handle.

The deliciousness of the food is unparalleled. Here’s how it works: you work your way down a row of veggies and fungi, telling the chef which items you want in your bowl and how much. Then you get to pick the meats and/or seafood. You pay by the pound, unlike some places which charge by ingredient.

I filled my bowl with string beans, bok choy, mushrooms, lotus root, tofu skin, okra and bean sprouts before hitting some lamb, beef and fish from the protein section. Here’s the finished product, topped with cilantro and spiced up to medium.

If the dry pot thing isn’t your bag, there is a full menu of other Chinese dishes available for you as well. Here’s a pair of shots of a really nice looking seafood soup:

I’ll definitely be back here again, especially since it’s so close to work.

MANTING
150 W 49th St
New York, NY 10019

Sel et Poivre

FIRST REVIEW 4/10/2014

Thanks to new friend and fellow food blogger The Restaurant Fairy, I was recently hooked up with a restaurant PR person who is in charge of setting up press dinners for restaurants that are looking to generate detailed reviews and additional news coverage to build customers or put a spotlight on a new/special menu at their establishment. I’m hoping to attend more of these types of press dinners in the future. With any luck some wealthy benefactor will discover me and fund a new career for me in the world of food writing. The goal is to become a professional diner.

Anyway, my first press dinner in this vein was at French joint Sel et Poivre. For you proud, dirty American apes out there who don’t know or care too much about other languages, that means Salt and Pepper.

The restaurant has been in business here for decades. Owners Christian and Pamela are a husband and wife duo who take turns managing the place each night. They’ve been a team here for about 8 years, and for decades prior the restaurant was run by Pamela and her mother. This year Christian and Pamela are celebrating their 25th anniversary so be ready for some special menus coming this spring/summer season.

The atmosphere is very local and homey. Walls are adorned with old black and white photos of family travels. There’s a classic, clean French bistro feel to the place, and the 65-person seating capability is intimate without being stuffy or crowded.

So how’s the service? Amazing. Waiters here aren’t just people toiling away at their job. These are men with long careers. The newest employee other than the bar staff has been there for 7 years, and veteran waiters have loyalty in the 25-30 year range. The chef has been there for that long, and the staff still manages to keep the menu interesting and new while always retaining the classics that some people have been coming back to eat for years. Impressive, and that speaks volumes about the management and quality of the joint. Christian himself is a stand-up guy. A class act. He’s funny, talkative, approachable, kind, warm, inviting and a great host. Within moments of talking with him you feel as if you’ve known him all your life.

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Located on Lex at 64th, the customers range from shoppers, to business people, to tourists. But their bread and butter are the locals, some of whom come in several times per week for specific dishes that they’ve been enjoying for generations. One family has been dining here for 4 generations. Even the landlord eats there, who has had the building property in his family since it was a cow grazing pasture in the 1600s. I’m serious.

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Okay so on to the good stuff. Note that the portion sizes in my pics are all smaller than the actual menu items (except for the desserts). Press dinner portions are typically smaller so that more stuff can be tried. Here’s what we had:

First was a celery root remoulade with red beets. There was a distinctly Mediterranean flavor in this dish, likely because of the cumin spicing. I enjoyed it. It was a cool, refreshing way to open up the taste buds.

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Next we had wild striped bass with artichoke hearts, fennel and black olive lemon oil. The fish was perfectly cooked with its crisp skin still intact. This was also very Mediterranean in its flavor profile. Light and fresh. And I must say that the artichoke was one of the best preparations I’ve ever had outside of mom’s home cooking.

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Steak was next. An aged sirloin to be exact. It was juicy and flavorful, had a nicely seasoned crust, and was cooked to a perfect medium rare.

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The beef was served with two sauces: roquefort and poivre.

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I only took a pic of one because they looked and tasted similar to me, though one was clearly more peppery. Both were drinkable, however. They went especially well with the cone of crispy and savory fries that came with the steak. Delicious.

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Next was a bit of offal! Veal kidneys with an amazing mustard sauce, boiled potatoes and spinach.

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Kidneys aren’t for everyone. This was my first time eating kidney. It was a bit mealy and chewy in parts, but the flavor was delicate and nice. The sauce did a great job of bringing out the game flavors without letting them overpower you. I ate every bite!

For dessert we had classic French creme brulee and chocolate lava cake.

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They were both very nicely executed, well-balanced, and not overly sweet. The cake came with some fresh whipped cream and vanilla ice cream, and the brulee had a nice consistency and great caramelized sugar on top.

Last, I should also note that the wine selection here is extensive. Having broadened the scope from French and California wines to include stuff from New Zealand and South America, Christian and Pamela have modernized their wine selection to stay on pace with an increasingly knowledgeable caliber of diners. This is probably because Christian is also a sommelier, so he knows what pairs well with the dishes outside of French-only wines.

I look forward to going back for lunch or dinner to try some of their other amazing menu items, like frog legs, or to try their classic French daily special dishes (Bouillabaisse Monday; Coq Au Vin Tuesday; etc).

If you like classic French food then this is a great place to go, and they also modernize and freestyle very well with some of their other dishes.

UPDATE 3/8/2017

I went back to Sel et Poivre for another press dinner. We tried a few different items this time, and I was able to meet Pamela, the other half of the dynamic duo behind their French bistro (which is now coming up on its 28th year in business).

The celery root and beets were just as good as I remembered, this time more artistically plated.

The fish soup was really fun. It comes with a plate of toasted baguette slices, roue and shredded Swiss cheese. The idea is to spread the garlicky, spicy roue onto a slice of bread and they sprinkle the shredded Swiss on top. Then, you float it in the soup and let it all melt together and combine into a velvety consistency.

It was delicious. The fish was clearly present, yet subtle and not overly powerful. I could easily slurp down a few bowls of this.

The brook trout was really nicely cooked and had great flavors from the shaved almonds and tangy white wine and lemon sauce.

It was prepared skin-on, but I felt that it could have used a bit more crisp on the skin. Perhaps because it was plated skin-down, the skin lost some of the crisp it might have developed while cooking. Otherwise this was an excellent dish.

This lamb rib was perfectly cooked. So juicy and tender, with a nice mild game flavor. The outer edges were coated with peppery spices that penetrated deep into the meat. My favorite dish of the night.

I was excited to see the steak come out (sirloin). While I had already tried it in the past, this time I was able to see the full portion size – with a beautiful pre-sliced presentation – on a bed of mustard-based peppercorn sauce.

It was a perfect medium rare execution!

This baby still had all the same qualities as the last visit, only this time there was only the one sauce and a more pronounced peppercorn crust. Further, the last time featured an aged cut, while this one was not aged, as far as I could tell.

The fries that are served with the steak were golden and crispy.

Dessert was nice. We tried some profiteroles and a berry tart.

The berry tart was gorgeous, and was easily my preferred dessert between the two.

SEL ET POIVRE
853 Lexington Ave.
New York, NY 10065

Bedford & Co.

My friend Jean invited me to Bedford & Co. for an Instagram infleuncer dinner, since she and a few others were going to be digging into a nice large format rib eye for two (along with other tasty items) and tasting a variety of wines for the restaurant’s “Wine Wednesday” pairings with their somm, Sarah.

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This 28-day dry-aged 40oz bone in rib eye from Master Purveyors is a “for two” steak, which comes with lardo, watercress and roasted garlic for $125. We were five, so we pigged out on other shit too.

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The prices of beef have certainly gone way up lately. I remember when I was chomping on 36-40oz steaks for one at half the price just a few years back. But hey, this one was free! Not gonna complain.

We were able to sneak into the kitchen to watch Chef Justin Neubeck and his team flame this baby up for us.

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But while we were waiting for that to finish cooking and then properly rest, we sparked up some scallops with pumpkin puree, kafir lime and roasted pumpkin seeds.

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This was a really interesting flavor combo, and I really liked it. The round sweetness of the pumpkin contrasted nicely with the acidic pop from the lime.

The entrees rolled out all at once, and the five of us Instagrammers went bonkers taking photos of everything.

The first thing I tried was the Long Island duck breast.

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Garnished with a scallion ginger oil, glazed with honey, and accompanied by a cranberry purée, this was easily one of the better duck breast dishes I’ve had in quite a while.

Berkshire pork chop was next.

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I’m hard to please when it comes to pork chops. My mom used to cook them in a glass covered electric skillet so that they were somehow juicy on the inside but crisp on the outside, and with onions, potatoes and cherry peppers. Very Italian, as I later discovered. With all that said, this was a pretty good version. It had a sour orange glaze and was served with pink winter squash and marinated radicchio.

The main event was that steak, though.

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A cut this thick is difficult to cook properly. Lots of times you’ll end up with some spots that are too rare, while the outside is overcooked. I have to hand it to these guys; they did a pretty solid job with this monster.

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As you might have noticed from the raw shot above, there wasn’t much of a fat cap on this baby, but what scraps were there after trimming was used to make the lardo, which was really nice. Also I feel like the 28-day dry aging was done masterfully (by Master Purveyors, no less). They really packed a ton of funk and earthiness for the minimal end of the aging process. 8/10.

Since this was essentially a carnivore party, we had to try the burger at this place. It has been getting a fair amount of attention on social media lately, and for good reason. Look at it, for fuck’s sake.

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This beauty is topped with bloomsday cheddar, caramelized onion and thick cut braised pork belly. So juicy. Get it when you come here, even if you have to split it with a group of people, like we did.

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And of course the fries are excellent as well, which are cooked with herbs right in the fryer oil.

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We did a pair of sides as well. Brussels with bacon and apple cider, and roasted wild mushrooms. These were dynamite! The roast on those sprouts was fantastic. Great texture and crisp. And the mushrooms were the perfect pairing with the earthy steak.

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Just when you thought we were full, the desserts came out. Chef Canty makes all the stuff in house. We got to try the carrot cake (my favorite of the three – so rich and delicious), cheesecake in a jar, and apple crostada.

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Definitely one of the best carrot cake renditions I’ve had in the city, right up there with Bob’s Steak & Chop House and Ocean Prime.

I definitely recommend this place to anyone who generally likes any of the shit that I got to try. All high quality, deftly executed shit.

UPDATE 5/6/17

I came back for brunch with another group of food influencers. I tried much of the menu, but most importantly the hanger steak. This was a very small portion that came with two eggs, potatoes and some greens. The steak had a great char on the outside and a perfect medium rare temp inside. Great seasoning and flavor. I just wish it was bigger! 8/10

The porchetta was delicious as well. It had a great crisp on the outside with juicy, fatty, savory near inside (bacon wheel was additional, and arranged by my wife).

Also nice was the chicken and waffles entree.

And they’re now offering unlimited prosecco mimosas with uniquely flavored mixer juices for brunch.

And of course, what brunch is complete without pastries?

BEDFORD & CO.
The Renwick
118 E 40th St
New York, NY 10016

Uncle Jack’s (midtown)

Uncle Jack’s overall score: 85

NOTE: THIS PLACE IS CLOSED

Uncle Jack’s has three locations in New york. My buddy and I decided to give the midtown location a try. Overall the food was better than good. I’d definitely give another location a shot, especially since I was pretty hammered toward the end of the meal.
Flavor: 8
I had the ribeye (8/10), and my friend had the bone-in strip (7/10). Both were pretty good, though I liked mine better. There was a slightly marinated flavor to the meat that I wasn’t sure I liked too much, but the fat was good and melty, and there was nothing left on the bone when I was through with it. Can’t complain too much.
Choice of Cuts & Quality Available: 9
Uncle Jack’s has filet mignon in two sizes, a big ass ribeye, two sizes of strip, porterhouse for two or more, and a “Kobe” selection as well. Everything is USDA Prime, and dry-aged for 3-4 weeks. Top notch stuff.
Portion Size & Plating: 9
For the steak, the filet comes in puss-bag size (10oz) or awesome size (16oz). I must say, ordering a filet here is manly. That’s a full pound of no-waste beef. The ribeye is 30oz (bone-in), the strips are 16oz bone-in or 16oz boneless, and the porterhouses start at 48oz (24oz pp). Everything is pretty much on the large side here, which is good.
Price: 8 => 9 (see update below)
The price is a bit high, with the ribeye at $55, but this seems to becoming all too normal in the NYC steak world. Inflation is hitting the industry hard. Our total bill for a dozen oysters, the two steaks, two sides, and several martinis was $240. One great thing I noticed was that on Sundays they offer a $99 price fix lunch for two that comes with a shared caesar salad; crab cakes; choice of 10oz filet, 16oz strip, or a 2lb lobster; two sides; and dessert + coffee or tea. Freaking sweet!
Bar: 8
The bar is a little small; not the kind of place that will generate a crowd. But the bartenders are really nice, and they mix a good cold, crisp martini ($14). They offer a nice bar menu with things like “Kobe” meatball pops and “Kobe” sliders. A bit expensive, but it is nice to see the quality. They also have a pretty good single malt scotch selection.
Specials and Other Meats: 7
On special there were some appetizer items, and a veal steak. As mentioned earlier, they had “Kobe” offerings, which is fantastic (but be aware of the Kobe & Wagyu sham). This place doesn’t fuck around. On the entree menu there is NOTHING BUT BEEF (and lobster under surf & turf). Good for them, but not good for everyone. I like the boldness but I can’t give full points when the only thing regularly offered is beef.
Apps, Sides & Desserts: 9
We had a dozen Bluepoint oysters, and they were creamy, crisp, cold and refreshing. The creamed spinach was fantastic too – just right with the creamy and savory balance. We also had the sauteed mushrooms, which went really well with the spinach when you mixed them together. We skipped dessert.
Seafood Selection: 7
Uncle Jack’s has no real seafood entrees, aside from a surf and turf item. I am fine with that, but it’s a good thing I have balls between my legs, otherwise I might have wanted something more gay, like fish. For apps, they have the usual smattering of shellfish and seafood cocktails, but I can’t give a high review. See above. Without anything to offer, I can’t give full points, even though I dig their boldness for holding strictly to beef.
Service: 9 => 10 (see update below)
Our waiter was good – he knew his meat well. He talked about the need to cook ribeyes a little longer than strips, so that the fat has a chance to melt away a bit more. On the table we had a nice selection of warm breads and rolls. The butter was a bit hard though.
Ambiance: 9
Uncle Jack’s has a nice “exposed brick” look on the outer walls; elegant but classy and old fashioned looking. There’s a beautiful half-spiral stairway that winds up to a second floor when you first walk in, and it looks over the bar from the balcony railings. The downstairs has a patterned tin ceiling, and the upstairs has ornate molding and recessed trims with dark cherry and marble accents. They rock the traditional all-male wait staff with bow ties and vests, black and white. The crowd was slightly touristy based on the cougar count, and based on the fact that the older couple next to us was up from WV for a three-play weekend. Bathrooms were nice and clean, and smelled like apples and cinnamon due to a huge glass bucket of potpourri.
UPDATE 4/24/2016: Brunch
Uncle Jack’s offers an amazing brunch deal on Sundays for $34.95. You get unlimited bloodies, bellinis or mimosas, you get biscuits and popovers, a jar of ricotta and honey, and your choice between one of ten entrees.
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If you’re not already full after those started, which you probably will be, the entrees are fucking dynamite. My wife went with chorizo, thick bacon, black beans, eggs and plantains.
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My mom went with this baked eggs dish, which came with sausage and chorizo as well.
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My dad had this burger, which comes with what I consider to be some of the best fries in town.
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For an $8 upcharge, you can do the steak and eggs brunch, which is a nice 14oz strip steak that comes served in a skillet with potatoes, onions, spinach and eggs however you like.
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This strip was an improvement over the one I tasted last time I was here. It was nice, juicy and flavorful. 8/10.
Given the amazing value that this brunch deal adds to the mix, I am bumping this score up by a point for price, from 8/10 to 9/10.
The service here is excellent too. Our waiter, Lenny, was great to converse with, whether it was about food in general or the latest TV show crazes.  The manager, Wander, came to the table to check on us as well. He was very accommodating and even offered us a dessert on the house. We were so full by that time that we had to kindly pass. This place is a fantastic deal. I will definitely be back for brunch soon. There are five other things I wanted to try from the menu.
Chipping away at those items, my wife and I tried the house smoked salmon and the French toast bread pudding at the bar one afternoon. Richie, the bartender, was a total class act. Awesome barman, and I hope to get back soon.
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UNCLE JACK’S
44 W. 56th St.
New York, NY 10019

Xi’an Famous Noodles

Xi’an Famous noodles are good even in take-out form. My wife brought home some nice wide, flat chow fun style noodles for dinner tonight: one with beef, one with chicken and one with pork.

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A photo posted by Johnny Prime (@johnnyprimecc) on

I think the chicken was the best, because the meat was just so incredibly tender. The pork was tasty, but a little dry. The beef was spicy and had a more robust kick to it, but ultimately I kept going back to the chicken for the meat.

We also tried some sweet and sour tofu soup, which was pretty good as well:

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But the most interesting item of the night goes to this “lamb burger.” It wasn’t really in patty form. It was more like a Sloppy Joe, with loose chopped meat and some peppers, onions and spices.

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And what Chinese meal on lunar new year would be complete without a sweet, sticky rice new year “cake?”

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RELATED: Noodle Pulling Class

UPDATE 7/5/17

I really do love these noodles. Picked up four on my way home from work. I killed two in one sitting.

XI’AN FAMOUS FOODS
24 W 45th St
New York, NY 10036

Iroha

UPDATE: This place is closed!

Big Steak is king in the vast wasteland of Manhattan’s midtown “Bankville,” but Japanese cuisine is a strong and worthy adversary that’s rapidly encroaching on its territory (especially for lunch).

My wife and I stopped into one such Japanese joint, Iroha, for a quick dinner bite at the bar before seeing a Broadway show, and we were both pleasantly surprised by the quality of the food, the plating presentation and the price.

First off, there is a coupon for a free mug of beer online that you can use from 5-7pm. That was perfect for us, since our show was at 7pm.

We ordered a bunch of shit, and we could have kept going, because everything looked fucking awesome.

First was this amazing glass cup of rawness. Uni, salmon, salmon roe, tuna, yellow tail and avocado. Not only was it beautiful, but it was absolutely devourable. Get it. I can’t recall the name of it for the life of me, but you can’t miss the pretty picture in the highly visual menu.

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Next was a pork belly and soft boiled egg appetizer, which had three generously sized thick-ass hunks of braised belly. Perfection. It’s ramen toppings without the soup and noodles, essentially. Can’t go wrong with bacon and eggs, ever.

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I ordered a small version of the all-salmon Chirashi bowl (Salmon Oyako Don), which had four pieces of salmon sashimi and a good blob of briny and savory salmon roe. The sushi rice beneath was surprisingly tasty, and was topped with a good amount of fresh wasabi, ginger and sesame seeds.

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My wife ordered a grilled eel dish that came with a LOT of eel (in the pic, there is an entire second slab of eel that is not visible because it is UNDER the rice). It is served with a miso broth of sorts, to mix in with the sweet-yet-savory flavored rice. There’s also a plate of pickled items and some puffed rice for a crunchy texture element.

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In short, this place is great, and it is representative of the strong and growing force that is Japanese cuisine in midtown. We sat at the bar, and the guys were plating everything right in front of us. Some of the salad items were tremendous and included tons of proteins (fish). I will definitely be back here to try more shit in the future.

UPDATE: 7/17/17

AWESOME salmon don. Really good quality stuff.

IROHA
152 W. 49th St.
New York, NY 10019

Capital Grille (midtown west)

Capital Grille (midtown west, NYC) overall score: 84

One of the rising star steakhouse chains, Capital Grille has several locations around the country. This review is for the midtown west location in NYC.
Flavor: 8
Unfortunately, my Delmonico steak came rare despite ordering it medium. The replacement steak was not rested, and when I cut into it, it bled out all over my plate, leaving me with a pool of juice and a feverish struggle to finish before it got dry. The steak also had a bit of inedible fat on it, but it also did have some nice melty yummy fat too. It tasted good, but I had to add salt and pepper because they rushed my replacement and didn’t season it properly. I tasted the filet as well, since my coworker ordered the price fix for ladies (FYI he is not a she), which came with an 8oz filet (no bigger than a good burger). It was perfectly cooked and juicy. So rather than the minus 5 that this place would have gotten for the incredible steak mishap, I added a point back for the filet. Keep in mind that mishap threw off the entire flow of the meal. My coworker had to start eating otherwise his steak would have gotten cold, and I was sitting there poking at the sides while waiting for my unrested, unseasoned $45 steak. Sons of bitches… On a second visit I went for the $39 price fix theater menu’s Kona crusted sirloin, which comes in at 14oz. Not a bad steak for the deal, but I think the 8oz filet tasted better (my buddy got that). Either way the points went up here after the second visit. See pics below (FYI that is shallot butter that they dumped on the meat):
STEAKS
Choice of Cuts & Quality Available: 8
They have a fair selection here. They offer a filet and a filet oscar for the (!)s of the group (A (!) is a pussy – look at it closely). They have two preparations of sirloin (cognac peppercorn being one, and the other just being regular grilled/broiled), a porterhouse, and a ribeye. The essentials are covered with a little variation, but not enough to live up to other joints in the neighborhood. The ribeye was semi-bone-in. I say that not because it was a half-limp penis, but because there were two very small pieces of bone that were part of the cut. I was a little disappointed, like a woman if she tried to get it on with a guy that had a half flaccid penis instead of a rock-solid longbone.
Portion Size & Plating: 8
The portion sizes are good. My Delmonico was 22oz, and all the other cuts are on par with normal NYC steakhouse sizes.
Price: 8
Martinis were $11 (good); my Delmonico steak was $45 (semi-okay if not for the complete fuck-up of my order); the pussy-ass price fix dinner was a great deal at $39 (Caesar or mixed greens salad, filet or 14oz sirloin, 2 sides and dessert). Otherwise sides were $10; and apps were anywhere from $12 to $17. The total bill for two, including three drinks, was $165 with tax and tip included – not bad. Here is the very reasonable bill from my second visit, when we had the theater menu price fix:
BILL fix
Bar: 9
The bar is great. There are high ceilings and the whole area is sunken to ground floor level so that you are looking up at street level through the large, tall windows. It is elegantly decorated with wood panels, mounted and stuffed (ooooh yeaaah) deer heads, and nice moulding. My martinis were made well. I can definitely hang here. It is good after work, if you are into suits in midtown (which you probably aren’t, since you are a normal person).
Specials and Other Meats: 7
There’s not much on special by way of meats. That could’ve been because we were seated near the bar, but we were still given access to the full menu, including the price fix special. They have lamb and chicken for alterna-meats: a bit lacking if you ask me. Step up CG. With as many locations as you have, you can afford to throw some pork, veal, and maybe some venison onto the menus.
Apps, Sides & Desserts: 8
I had the “wagyu” carpaccio, which was delicious – probably the best part of the meal. The meat has a nice aged flavor, was very thinly sliced, and came with a nice peppery arugula dressed just right with a lemon aioli. There is nothing quite like priming the meat hole with some raw meat before adding some pounds of ribeye in. We tried the mashed potato and creamed spinach sides. The creamed spinach was just okay – it was creamy but the spinach itself seemed a little dried out. The mashed were good and creamy, lots of flavor, but after a few minutes of sitting out they became hard. For dessert we had ice cream, which came with a stick of biscotti. Sounds boring but the stuff is very rich and good. Especially the chocolate, and I usually hate chocolate. The creme brulee was perfect.
SIDES FIX
SALADS
Coconut cream pie is one of my top five NYC steakhouse desserts.
Seafood Selection: 9
A solid showing here for seafood. The standard shellfish apps were available, along with a special 3oz lump crabmeat item, which I was tempted to order. For entrees there was lobster, swordfish, salmon, tuna, and shrimp – all done a bit different from the usual ways, like cedar planking, Japanese tataki style, etc.
Service: 10
Great service considering we sat at a table near the bar area that was not part of the main dining room. Our waitress was attentive and helpful, and someone from the managerial staff came out with my replacement steak to make sure all was cooked well (medium)… cooked properly that is. The waitress even said as she saw me cut into the first steak: “You said medium, and that is definitely not medium. I don’t know what’s going on back there.” They brought over a free mashed potato app to make up for it – nice try but no dice, dicks. The table bread basket (which we had to ask for) was really nice. There was warm onion bread, hot square-shaped everything bagel-ish things, and a huge matzo-like cracker (similar to Maloney & Porcelli, only better). Kaboom. Small world… I’m eating dinner during the second visit here, and all the while I’m thinking the waitress looks familiar. At the end of the meal I hand her my Johnny Prime card and she says that she remembers me. She says she waited on me in a big group at Vic & Anthony’s. “Tracie” – crazy that she remembered the group. She left there b/c she didn’t like the management and b/c she wasn’t making good $, and the restaurant was always dead. Anyway she gave me some “passes” for their specialty cocktails and a fried calamari app. Pretty funny, and just goes to show how great the service is.
Ambiance: 9
Aside from the obvious corporate milieu, the decor is really nice. The dining room is beautiful – with a view into the kitchen on the first floor. The wall art is classy, the bathrooms are clean and stocked with nice thick paper towels, and it smells fresh. The floors were clean, the ceilings were high, the music was good, and the crowd was just the right size.
I added a few points to this review after a recent trip to celebrate both my birthday and my move back to Manhattan. This place is a solid choice in the neighborhood. And nothing beats the prix fix deal for dinner before 7pm.
Here are some additional photos. Notice the amazing service. They sprayed the table with a confetti cumshot (clown jizz) since they knew we were celebrating, and they also brought out complimentary champagne and dessert (cheesecake and brownie). Our waiter, Edgar, was amazing. He provides the kind of service you get at meals where you spend $200 per person. The manager Tim stopped by too and thanked us for our patronage. I’ll definitely be coming back more often. Tim recently came from Keens Steakhouse, and I’m glad he did, because he’s clearly doing something right!

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BURGER UPDATE 10/16/14

The ultimate burger is here at Capital Grill for the fall season, through around Thanksgiving. There are three different styles with a wine pairing for each. The one I stuffed down my esophagus tonight was 8oz of American Wagyu beef with havarti cheese, a fried egg and crispy fried onions on top. In other words it was a fucking cummy wet-dream on a bun.

Not only was the burger great, but so was our waiter, Jeremy. I felt like I’d known him for years! After my buddy graciously picked up the tab for the three of us and bolted to catch his train, me and my other buddy got to chatting with Jeremy about various different steak and burger places around town. Let’s just say I now have a bunch of new places on my short-list, both for burgers AND steaks. Thanks Jeremy: I truly appreciate the heads-up on those places, and I’m looking forward to dining at Capital Grill again, hopefully with you as the waiter.

Now on to the food pr0n. The burger was juicy as all fuck, tender and delicious. The beef quality is off the charts. This is by far the best burger I’ve had at a steakhouse. Look at this shit:

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The egg was perfectly cooked sunny-side up and it dribbled down nicely into the meat without fucking up the bun. Like a sloppy BJ without any chick-spit hitting your balls or the sheets underneath your ass. Unreal. And the fries were perfect! Nice and crispy, well seasoned, soft inside. They offer a parmesan herb french fry too, with their regular menu burger, which I also want to try (these Wagyu fucks are a special offering only). And the wine I picked was a really nice Pinot Noir. Smooth.

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My buddy opted for the Wagyu burger that was “Kona crusted” in an earthy coffee grind mixture, and topped with caramelized onions (and the havarti cheese). Looks sexy – like a slutty-but-not-quite-fat voluptuous chick who dresses in too-tight clothes and needs a good pounding to satisfy her craving for male attention:

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That’s about it for now, you bastards. I’m sure I will be back before Thanksgiving to try out some more burgers here.

BURGER FOLLOW UP 4/8/15

I returned for the Kona wagyu burger when it was offered again in early April. I was delighted to see that Jeremy was there tending bar and actually remembered me! Such a professional, and we talked again about various burger joints. Funny part was that Tracie, who I mentioned above re: Vic & Anthony’s, waited on my wife and I! Pretty neat. She even threw in some desserts for us on the house. A-plus service at this joint, all the way! Anyway, I like the egg burger better than the Kona crust. Despite the meat being amazing quality, I still lean towards a traditional American cheeseburger with a potato bun and your standard lettuce, tomato and onion.

cap grill wagyu

cap grill wagyu half

BURGER FOLLOW UP 9/22/17

It’s that time of year again, wagyu and wine!

This baby has aged cheddar and thick cut candied bacon on top.

CAPITAL GRILLE
120 W. 51st St.
New York, NY 10020