A buddy of mine helped open this joint over by Bryant Park, so I had to go check it out. The food here is excellent! Check out how perfect this burger looks:
That’s a handsome fella. And it was as delicious as it looks. Certified Angus Beef smash patties, shredded lettuce, sharp American cheese, and tomato on a brioche bun. The crust on those patties was perfect!
The chicken sandwich was great as well. Great spice to it.
As a tribute to Rutt’s Hut over in NJ, they also offer this ripper hot dog. It really hit the spot with a crispy snap.
And to top it off, the fries and tots were both golden and crunchy.
I highly recommend this place. The food is better than most other joints out there slinging smash patties now.
HANDCRAFT BURGERS & BREW
110 West 40th Street
New York, NY 10018
NY Pizza Suprema is one of midtown Manhattan’s best pizza joints.
Patrons will grab slices and scarf them down at the counter before hitting MSG, just across the avenue, for a game, concert, or whatever. Well, they used to, before public events were put on lockdown. I stopped in after a wonderful visit to the DMV, and ate my slice while walking to the subway.
This is a great slice. Thin, crisp and flavorful. A great representation of the classic NYC style. At $4, though, it’s a hefty price for a slice. It is, however, extremely convenient to Penn Station, so if you’re in the area and in need of a great slice, this is the place to go.
Quality Bistro opened back in January, if I recall, right when I started a hellish new job with insane demands on my time. Then, of course, the entire city went into lockdown from Covid-19. Somehow my work-life balance got even worse. I’m only just now finally beginning to break away from the +60 hours/week grip of this gig, to get back out there and review restaurants for you savage bastards.
Anyway, the point of that bullshit preface is really just to say that I’m excited to finally write about a new(ish) joint that I’ve tried, especially one that’s serving some awesome food.
Here’s my quick video run down of those spots, if you haven’t seen it:
First of all, this new place, Quality Bistro, is totally decked out. This is easily the most gorgeously decorated space in the entire Quality Branded suite of restaurants. High ceilings, beautiful booths, decor and tables – really on another level. They spared no expense. So when you go here, make sure you request a table inside. I recommend the booths in the room on the left when you walk in. The bar is sick too (hopefully some day soon we will be allowed to sit at one again).
The menu is decidedly French, which makes sense given the “bistro” restaurant name. But like all their other restaurants, they are aggressively beef-forward. I wouldn’t call them a steakhouse, per se, but they get very close to it. They offered five steak cuts when I was there: a filet mignon, a strip, a bavette, a tomahawk and a “cote de boeuf” rib eye for two. We went with the tomahawk, but let me run through the other stuff we tried.
We started with the escargots and the crab cake. The escargots are probably some of the best I’ve had in the city, rivaling Paul Denamiel’s at Le Rivage. Very close competition! And they’re in the shell too, which I love. Order these, and get a dozen because you save $10 when you jump from a half ($19) to a full dozen ($29).
The crab cake is massive. It’s about the size of an 8oz burger patty, thick too. Super crisp, great sauce. I think this would be amazing as a lunch sandwich with pickled green tomato on a brioche bun or a croissant, with a bit more green on top. Absolutely delicious.
Our mid course was the prime tomahawk. This comes slathered with Rogue Creamery smokey blue cheese – a TON of it!
The smell coming off of this thing was so amazing. It filled the massive dining room with funk.
The cook temp was a perfect medium rare. So juicy, so tender, and so packed with flavor. This is an easy 9/10. I stripped the fucker clean!
We chased that with the corn custard brûlée. I had high hopes for this, but it fell short for two reasons: (1) The inside was less custard and more clumpy scrambled egg. This is usually a turn off for me, but the flavor was really good, so I still devoured it. And (2), a bit heavy on the caramelized sugar on top. Too thick for my liking. The flake salt, however, really made the flavors on this pop. I can see this side being a star with a bit more fine tuning.
*SEE UPDATED REVIEW NOTES BELOW!*
Our third course was the Moroccan fried chicken. They serve a whole bird for two in a beautiful tagine with fresh cilantro, Moroccan pancakes and a trio of dipping sauces (spicy honey, Moroccan cilantro chimichurri and citrus yogurt).
The breading is really nicely spiced, with great middle eastern earthiness and aromas.
Absolutely jerkworthy. I’d get this again in a heartbeat. In fact, I’m glad we ordered big, because we took more than half of it home. I’m about to eat the left overs right now, and I’m psyched!
Last, we had the apple tart sundae with cinnamon ice cream. This was really good, and big enough to share with your date at just $12. The cinnamon ice cream tasted like Cinnamon Toast Crunch, my absolute favorite cereal of all time!
I guess that about does it for now. I plan to go back and try some of the other cuts, particularly the bavette frites, since that’s a little less common on menus. Definitely give this place a shot. Gaetano, Scott and Roger will treat you right. They provide amazing, clean service here, and you’ll feel safely spaced apart and very comfortable. Can’t believe I have to even mention such things right now…
My wife and I went back for round two, and tried a bunch more stuff.
For apps, we tried the taste flame, which is the joint’s take on Detroit style pizza + bread service. This was incredible!
Probably my favorite app here so far though, is this tuna carpaccio. Spicy, fresh, and deliciously refreshing.
These jambon beurre bites are pretty damn tasty as well.
This time, my wife went with the branzino. This was perfectly cooked and very flavorful. It comes with a choice of either salad or fries.
I went with the bavette, and also went with the French fries option.
They developed a great char on the outside…
While maintaining a perfect cook temp on the inside…
This was a solid 8/10. Really nicely executed.
On the side, we gave the corn brûlée another spin, and MAN were we glad that we did. As I expected, with the improvements I outlined above, this dish was a star. Much nicer texture inside (real custard-like), and lighter on the sugar top. PERFECT!
So that’s two steaks down, three to go: filet, strip, and rib eye for two. I’LL BE BACK!
Strip steak has a mild aged flavor, but a really nice peppercorn crust. Perfectly cooked throughout. 8/10.
Rib eye for two is great – a solid 8/10.
Lemon chicken is a sleeper here. Amazing dish!
Also really loved the glass for the French Bird cocktail. They should sell them!
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:
My wife and I came here for a quick meal and to take photos for Instagram.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The beef was served with two sauces: roquefort and poivre.
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.
Next was a bit of offal! Veal kidneys with an amazing mustard sauce, boiled potatoes and spinach.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
And of course the fries are excellent as well, which are cooked with herbs right in the fryer oil.
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.
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.
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.
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.
118 E 40th St
New York, NY 10016