Tag Archives: miyazaki

My Favorite Steaks

Inevitably, when discussing steaks, I am often asked what my favorite steak or steakhouse is. This is a very complicated answer for someone like me. For example, and by way of analogy, most movie buffs don’t have a single favorite movie. They might have a handful of favorites from each genre, though. Favorite horror (The Shining); Favorite Sci-Fi (12 Monkeys); Favorite Comedy (Trading Places); etc. That’s how I view steaks and steakhouses. So when I’m asked, I always tell people that it depends on the cut. So here we go:

RIB EYE

I often consider the  rib eye to be the true steak eater’s steak. Bovine bliss. So here are my favorite rib eyes, in order:

1. Antique Bar & Bakery‘s “Dirty Rib Eye”

I can’t say enough about this rib eye. There’s just something magical about what Chef Paul Gerard can do with that crazy 2000ºF oven of his.

2. Delmonico’s 45-Day Dry-Aged Bone-In Rib Eye

Delmonico’s consistently serves the best dry-aged steaks in the city, and the 45-day dry-aged rib eye is the top of the heap.

3. Osteria Morini‘s 120-Day Dry-Aged Tomahawk

This bad boy is only offered on the first Wednesday of every month, and they only get about seven of them, so you have to call ahead to reserve yours. Well worth the effort, and it comes with sides and apps if I recall correctly.

4. Delfrisco’s Double Eagle Domestic Wagyu Tomahawk for Two

This 32oz hunk of pure tenderness is the way to go when dining here. I love that peppery crust.

CHECK OUT MY BUTCHER SHOP!!!

PRIME RIB

This is a tough category, and I’m torn between high end/upscale and old school manliness.

1. TAK Room

This isn’t always available, but when it is, you have to get it. This is nearly a pound of Snake River Farms gold label domestic wagyu beef. Amazing.

2. 4 Charles Prime Rib

As my buddy Tappi recommended to me, so shall I recommend to you: Get the “English Cut” prime rib here, if you’re lucky enough to score a table in the first place. The other versions are great as well though.

Also, any steak or chop this place has on special is work ordering, whether it is a bone in tenderloin or a porterhouse.

3. The Grill

I’ve really come around on this place. At first I was a hater, but now I’m a huge fan. And there’s just something about this classically served prime rib that I can’t get enough of. Dining at The Grill is special, but eating the prime rib there is decadent.

4. Keen’s Steakhouse

 

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For the manly appetite, this is the place to go. This massive dry-aged, beautifully roasted chunk of beef is probably big enough to share. If you order like I do, you’ll share the mutton as an appetizer and then share this as your entree.

PORTERHOUSE

Ahh, the porterhouse. So many places do it well. But there are two that really stand out to me:

1. Tuscany Steakhouse

The way to go here is the off-menu cajun porterhouse. Tell them Johnny sent you and they will accommodate. It’s a great one.

2. Porter House Bar & Grill

Chef Lomonaco does the name Porter House proud with his delicious porterhouse. It always packs a punch of dry-aged goodness.

NEW YORK STRIP STEAK

I don’t order strips as often as I should. My typical game plan at a steakhouse is to share the rib eye as an appetizer, and then share the porterhouse as the main course. And since the porterhouse includes a strip in it, I’m sort of covered. But these two places offer some great stand-alone strips that are worthy of your time.

1. Strip House

Time for an updated pic! As their double-entendre restaurant name might suggest, Strip House serves a really good strip. It just wouldn’t be cool if they didn’t. Smear some of the roasted garlic across the always perfectly cooked and beautifully crusted beef, and you’re in heaven.

2. Harry’s

Transport yourself to the lavish days of Wall Street power meals at the newly re-vamped Harry’s, and treat yourself to their delicious strip. It is classically grilled and mildly dry-aged, but a perfect pink throughout. This meal is just as much about the ambiance as it is about the flavor.

FILET MIGNON

Since I don’t have a vagina, I almost never order a filet unless I’m having a light lunch. That’s not to knock the filet mignon by any means. I just prefer it attached to a porterhouse instead of by its lonesome. But here are a couple of my favorites:

1. Quality Meats

By far the best filet I’ve ever had. Super tender, big and beefy. Order it Pittsburgh style, so the outside has a hard sear and the inside is rare.

2. Gallagher’s Steakhouse

Another spot that needs a new pic! After this place remodeled a few years back, they really upped their game. Not only is their filet killer, but their dry-aged prime rib is worth getting as well.

OTHER CUTS

A list wouldn’t be complete without some outliers and specials; cuts that you normally don’t see on steakhouse menus, but they’re worth seeking out.

1. Catch Steak‘s Dry Aged Rib Eye Cap

This thing is amazing. It may be on the small side as far as entrees go, but I suggest you get one as an app if money is not an issue for you. Grab a second if you can!

2. Bowery Meat Company‘s Bowery Steak

A neatly presented pinwheel of spinals dorsi muscle (the delicious outer “fat cap” of the rib eye) with chimichurri sauce awaits you at Bowery Meat Company.

Go get it!

3. Le Rivage‘s Deckle for Four

They say it’s for four, but you can definitely take it down with two people. You have to call ahead and ask for this beauty. Similar to the Bowery Steak above, only large format and roasted, served family style. When you call ahead, request that they serve their Pommes Anna to go with it. You will thank me.

Rib Room

Rib Room overall score: 81

Our first dinner in New Orleans during our 2019/2020 New Year trip was here at Rib Room. I was dying to try some prime rib from here ever since I passed by it on the street two years ago. Here’s how it went down.

Flavor: 8

I had the king cut prime rib, which is a gorgeous tomahawk chop that’s roasted to perfection. The cap was delicious, and the eye was cooked evenly throughout, without getting too monotonous in terms of flavors and textures.

This baby came with a hard, pipe-hittin’ horseradish sauce that will known your brain out of your skull if you’re not too careful with how you apply it to your steak. I love that kick! But beware.

Choice of Cuts & Quality Available: 9

There’s a good selection of cuts here, even beyond the standard prime rib sizes that you expect to find at a place that specializes in prime rib. They also served grilled rib eyes, strips, filets, etc. Everything is sourced from local producers and purveyors, but I didn’t detect too much dry-aged flavors coming through.

Portion Size & Plating: 9

The portions here are big, and you get a lot for your money on everything from the apps all the way through the entrees.

Price: 9

At $45 for the king cut of prime rib, which comes with a side and a salad, you really can’t go wrong. Coming from NYC it was a nice, refreshing reveal when the bill came.

Bar: 8

The bar here is nice. We hung out for a bit before being seated and enjoyed the beautiful hotel-lobby environs (Omni Royal). The martini I had was a bit too sweet though.

Specials and Other Meats: 8

In addition to an extensive list of chops and roasts, they also offer specials here as well. My wife had the prime rib “manager’s special,” which is a princess cut of prime rib that gets grilled on the sides after roasting. Here is a before and after:

Apps, Sides & Desserts: 7

We tried a few things as starters. Let me get right into them.

Lamb Pastrami Grilled Cheese:

This sounded better than it tasted. I had high hopes, but it came out a bit cold, and not too pastrami-flavored at all.

The cast iron baked cheesy oysters were pretty fantastic. Very unique.

 

The frog legs were massive, and breaded very nicely – fried to a golden, crunchy crisp.

The baked potato and salad came with the prime rib. Both were basic but good.

We skipped dessert and opted for some late night beignets at Cafe du Monde instead.

Seafood Selection: 7

There’s standard steakhouse seafood fare here. I didn’t try any so can’t really rate it.

Service: 8

Service here was good. Our waiter Richenel was really nice, attentive, and made good suggestions. However the restaurant messed up my wife’s order a bit (they brought her out a princess cut of prime rib instead of the manager’s special – firing it on the sides meant it was a bit overcooked from how she ordered). As a result, her steak wasn’t as good as it could have been.

Another thing to note here, they don’t have a prime rib cart service here like at Lawry’s or House of Prime Rib. They have something a bit different: a central carving station on the side of the dining room where you can watch the meat master work if you’d like. I dig it.

Ambiance: 8

This place is gorgeous inside. The hotel spared no expense in decking this place out. High ceilings, dark woods, fancy music.

RIB ROOM
621 St Louis S
New Orleans, LA 70130

Liberty Prime Steakhouse

Chef Chuck Troup is kicking ass over at Liberty Prime Steakhouse in Jersey City. Last night I had the pleasure of dining there with some friends from Strassburger, which supplies Chuck with a lot of his beef.

Chuck buys mostly fresh beef, which he ages himself in-house to a minimum of 42 days in most cases. However he loves the flavor of dry-aged beef, especially in the 80-120 day range; he even experiments with really old stuff. For example, when I first met Chuck at Maxwell’s Chophouse, he served me a 500 day dry-aged strip.

This time he served me a 365 day dry-aged strip.

But before I get sidetracked with all of that delicious, mad-scientist shit, let me get right down to the meal from front to back.

The night began with a dry-aged martini. Grey Goose vodka gets infused with 60 day dry-aged beef fat and rosemary. It gets mixed with a little vermouth and simple syrup before being garnished with a rosemary-skewered trio of blue-cheese stuffed castelvetrano olives. Sweet. Savory. Delicious.

While we are on the subject of drinks, the main bar here is beautiful and impressive. Easily a place you’d want to hang at after a rough day at work or even to hit up for some bar grub, like this kickass dry-aged burger.

The grind comes from Debragga since Strassburger doesn’t supply dry aged ground beef at the moment. The burger had a nice funk, was well seasoned and was perfectly cooked.

Okay so back to the rest of the meal…

We started with the house-made bacon and beef fat table bread, which was served with creamy, soft, herb butter.

Everything here is house-made, in fact, from the bread to the bread pudding, from the signature sauces (soon to be bottled and sold) to the signature sides. Even the microgreens are grown by Chef Chuck at his Colorado ranch, Skeleton Ridge Farms.

The first course was a 60 day dry-aged steak tataki sushi roll that was lightly fried. This was fucking amazing and crazy creative.

On deck: even more creativity and deliciousness. Chuck cranked this out of the park. This not your ordinary bone marrow:

The marrow gets roasted, folded with blue cheese to create a mousse, piped back into the marrow bone, and then brulee’d for the finish. A squeeze of charred lemon really cuts the fat with brightness, creating a beautiful and delicate balance. A taste of this will send shock waves through your tastebuds. This is a top dish of the year for me. It’s off menu though, so make sure you tell them I sent you when you ask for it – it’s different from the regular marrow on the menu.

We had a light palate cleanse with this small, refreshing salad, composed mostly of Chuck’s micro greens.

Then we had a Spanish style braised and grilled octopus dish that was garnished with potato, chickpea puree, tomato, pickled onion and greens. Tender and delicious.

The main event for the table was a huge spread of the major beef cuts. We had (counter-clockwise from the bottom right) a 60 day dry-aged porterhouse, a 60 day dry-aged tomahawk rib eye, a 40 day dry-aged bone-in tenderloin, and the 365 day dry-aged strip steak.

Here’s a closer look at that year-long aged steak.

After all the fat and bark was trimmed away from that hunk I showed you up at the top of the review, this was all that was left:

Now you understand why dry-aged steaks cost more. So much is lost in the process! The result is a somewhat vaporous and aromatic punch in the mouth that leaves you with the familiar flavors of mushrooms, truffles, aged cheese, and nuts. Just a few ounces will do fine for this, as it can more readily be identified with a cured product like bresaola or salami than a traditional steak. I like to call it “beef jet fuel,” since it almost tickles the back of your nose – like when you catch a whiff of gasoline, or take on a big blob of wasabi.

The steaks were all awesome. Every one of them was a winner, and you can really taste the care that Chuck puts into the aging process. And Chuck’s sauces really helped to elevate them.

These aren’t your average steakhouse sauces. Chuck’s chimichurri, his vinegar based steak sauce (fuck tomato based sauces), and his horseradish cream are all recipes he developed over decades in the business, from way back when he was 15yrs old and working two blocks from home in his local neighborhood fine dining restaurant,  Commander’s Palace. Hell of a place to start. Hell of a place to earn your stripes.

It should be no surprise, then, that he came up with an absolutely killer sauce made from luxardo cherries, rendered trim, drippings and reduced bone broth. This is a sauce that I might expect from an extremely high end meat-centric place like The Grill or TAK Room, to accompany a roasted prime rib or a decadent Wellington.

Insane depth of flavor in that shit. Pure gold. I would drink it.

On the side we had a nice array of creamed spinach, mashed potatoes, lobster mac & cheese, and Brussels sprouts with bacon.

And of course dessert was a blowout with key lime pie, fried cookie dough with ice cream, bread pudding, chocolate lava cake, cheese cake and creme brulee.

What a great spot. Spacious, beautifully decorated, sleek, and with top notch service and attention to detail. The place even does double duty as an event space next door for corporate events, weddings, etc.

Please don’t be dissuaded by the fact that this place is in Jersey. The PATH train to Grove Street or Exchange Place is so fast from either midtown or downtown Manhattan. And Liberty Prime is just a short five minute walk from either station in Jersey City.

I’m going to need to go back there and try some more of Chuck’s amazing cooking. I hope you get over there too!

Liberty Prime Steakhouse overall score: 91

Flavor: 9
Choice of Cuts & Quality Available: 10
Portion Size & Plating: 10
Price: 8
Bar: 10
Specials and Other Meats: 8
Apps, Sides & Desserts: 9
Seafood Selection: 8
Service: 10
Ambiance: 9

My second visit was just as good as the first, only this time I was able to try some absolutely stunning A5-rated beef from  Miyazaki.

As expected this was a knockout. But so was the 60-day dry-aged strip steak that he served.

LIBERTY PRIME STEAKHOUSE
111 MONTGOMERY ST
JERSEY CITY, NJ 07302

Catch Steak

NYC has entered the era of Catch Steak, a sleek, trendy and sexy steak joint that has some real chops. Chef Michael Vignola, formerly at Strip House and Pomona, proves once again that he is an indispensable asset to the NYC culinary scene. And Catch Steak might be his opus.

The menu that he’s meticulously crafted is filled with both wild feats of cookery and traditional, no nonsense dishes. He exhibits both flare and restraint; fancifulness and humbleness; complexity and simplicity.

He boldly forgoes all other meat protein entrees and focuses solely on beef, save for fish and a plant-based meatless parm dish. There is no chicken. There is no lamb. There is no duck. Beef is the star of the show.

The beef selections are broken down into four sections: Japanese imports; domestic prime; dry-aged beef; and domestic Wagyu cross bred beef.

At first glance, the steak sizes may seem small and pricey. The largest steaks are 24oz porterhouses, and the average size of the cuts range from about 5oz-12oz. But there’s absolutely no waste on these cuts: no “vein steaks” with connective tissue; no gristle. Everything is high end, and trimmed to Michael’s meticulous specifications. Top quality and lack of waste means good value, so the initial sticker shock should be tempered in the mind of the savvy diner.

He sources the beef from many purveyors, but none of them hail from the usual suspects that you might know from the area. If you ask him who supplies the beef, he’ll tell you, “It depends on the cut.”

He spent months vetting each cut from various purveyors all over the country and all over the world. He spent months getting certifications to serve things like true A5 Kobe – with Catch Steak being one of just 11 places in the country that are permitted to serve it.

But the menu doesn’t stop at just one or two cuts from each section. There’s a full range of beefy selections within each, such that any one section would contain enough diversity to satisfy discerning meat connoisseurs dining at any great steakhouse. Catch Steak goes way beyond.

To put it briefly, there are almost 20 steak choices on the menu. My wife and I tried five of them.

First was a duo of imported Japanese selections. Snow beef strip steak, and true A5 Kobe deckle. The Japanese imports are all sold by the ounce, and as such they make great starters for the table to taste and share.

These are treated very simply and grilled on a beautiful hot stone platter that’s been freshly slicked with beef fat. Add fresh flake salt, pepper and garlic ponzu to your liking after it cooks, on your plate.

These were incredible. Both 10/10, but the Kobe deckle was the winner between the two. Both had a naturally buttery aroma from that marbling, which begins to render at room temperature. The deckle had a slightly more tender texture and beefy flavor.

Next was a 5oz soy caramel glazed domestic wagyu strip steak. A truly unique flavor bomb that is unmistakably Michael Vignola. The earthy and savory glaze paired perfectly with the natural sweetness of the meat. 10/10.

My favorite cut of the meal was this 6oz dry-aged deckle.

The peppery maillard crust gave it a great classic steakhouse texture, while the dry aging concentrated the beefy flavors into a walloping punch of “umami.” That aging also succeeded in transforming the most tender portion of the animal into an even more unctuous steak eating experience in this perfectly cooked steak. This was an easy 10/10, and it’s one of my top steaks of the year.

Our final beef selection was a prime porterhouse. This beauty is classic steakhouse fare, where the peppery crust serves as a counterbalance to the soft meat texture within.

While this was closer to medium than medium rare, it still held a ton of flavor and richness. Both sides were very tender, to the point where it would be difficult for the untrained palate to discern strip from tenderloin. The meat was a bit over-salted, but I chalk that up to new restaurant jitters. All of the other cuts were perfectly seasoned. 8/10.

I don’t know how we did it, but we tried a lot more of the ambitious Catch Steak menu.

We started with the roasted peppers appetizer, which is drizzled with 25yr old balsamic, sprinkled with crumbled pistachio, and topped with a dollop of pistachio cream. This was delicious, but I think it could be served with some thin slices of toasted country bread to knock back the concentrated natural salinity of the peppers.

The truffle toro sashimi is absolutely incredible. If toro is your thing, this is definitely a must-order.

Papa’s spicy clams are special. This is a traditional baked clams oreganata dish, but Michael has deftly incorporated spicy nduja into the stuffing, officiating the beautiful marriage between pork and shellfish with his own distinct signature on the nuptial papers. This dish is all him, and it’s killer. If you don’t know Michael’s cooking you’ll know it when you taste this.

On the side we went with three items. The first was actually listed as an appetizer, but we ordered it as an accompaniment to our steak: the potato churro.

This dish will become iconic. The potato is fried into a churro form, filled with sour cream, and then topped with caviar. What an amazing creation. A top dish of the year for sure.

The roasted maitake mushrooms dish is the perfect side to go with your Japanese beef selections. But if you’re like me, you can eat them all day, every day, on the side of whatever is around. I loved these.

Asparagus is a tough veggie to make unique. Here, Vignola has transformed them into a delicious and familiar menu item that many of us enjoy on a weekly basis when we get Chinese take-out: they tasted like sauteed string beans with garlic and almonds! In no way is that meant to be an insult or a triviality. I devoured these!

Dessert aficionados will flip their lid for this Snickers Baked Alaska. It’s large enough to share among four people, especially after going deep into beef for your mains. It’s big. It’s bold. It’s sweet.

This apple cobbler crumble is a house favorite. Inside the pecan strudel there’s a toffee flavored blondie, baked apple and creme fraiche ice cream. Awesome.

Just as impressive as the food menu is the cocktail menu. Mix master Lucas Robinson has curated one of the best cocktail programs around. We tried five drinks from the bar menu and one from the dessert menu. Here they are:

Cafe Disco: Start with this unique take on a negroni, made with cold brew coffee, gin, green chartreuse and campari.

Black & Bleu: This is a savory and earthy mix of miso-infused vodka, dry vermouth, white soy truffle and blue cheese stuffed olives. Very cool frozen copper martini glass too.

Cuffing Season: Wet your taste buds with this stiff pork rind-garnished cocktail, made with fat washed scotch, aperol and amaro. The pork rind is actually pretty friggin’ delicious.

The Glass Slipper: This spicy number is made with rye, Ancho Reyes, benedictine, sherry and absinthe. The rim is cajun salt. My kind of drink!

Up In Smoke: This delicious smoked cocktail is made with rye, yellow chartreuse, dry vermouth and mole bitters. It comes out to the table presented inside a smoke-filled glass lantern box. A delight for the senses with an earthy bottom end from the mole bitters.

Proper Irish Coffee: Lucas’ take on the classic is made with Proper 12 Irish whiskey (of Conor McGregor fame), Colombian coffee, creme de cacao, Ancho Reyes and vanilla salted cream. This hot drink is strong as fuck! A nice balance with those sweet desserts.

The bar area is awesome. Big, spacious, warm and comfortable, yet cool and sleek. I will hang out here and sip those amazing cocktails as often as possible.

The remainder of the space is massive and incredibly well designed. There are two large dining rooms and an upstairs. It has to be one of the biggest restaurants in the city. They spared absolutely no expense in building this place out. Every fixture, every wall, every table is stunning.

That about does it. I’ll be back here for sure. I need to work my way through some more of those amazing cuts of beef. I highly recommend you do the same.

Catch Steak overall score: 94

Flavor: 10
Choice of Cuts & Quality Available: 10
Portion Size & Plating: 9
Price: 9
Bar: 10
Specials and Other Meats: 8
Apps, Sides & Desserts: 8
Seafood Selection: 10
Service: 10
Ambiance: 10

CATCH STEAK
88 9th Avenue
New York, NY 10011

Pomona

This spot took over the space that was formerly Beautique. Chef and partner Michael Vignola, who used to be the head chef for the Strip House restaurants, has created an amazing menu here. My buddy and I tried a lot of stuff, so I’ll get right to it.

Foie Gras Sliders:

Incredibly tender and decadent, cut nicely with some acid from the apple slaw.

Mackerel & Potato Tartare:

The hazelnut, creme fraiche and jalapeno sauce really made this pop. This was so delicious.

Nduja Baked Little Neck Clams:

This is a perfect marriage of the classic seafood and pork flavor combo, with a slight boost of heat from the nduja. Great starter!

Truffled Chicken Dogs:

Probably one of the best upscale riffs on a hot dog that you’ll have. I didn’t get much truffle flavor and there was no brioche bun as the menu suggested, but the texture and porcini mustard were nice.

Duck Burger:

Jurgielewicz farms duck burger patty made of ground breast, confit of leg, foie, and fresh duck liver all seasoned with l’orange spices. Seared and rested in a rich duck jus. Duck skin mayo, grapefruit jam and killer fries. This place is no joke!

Seared Miyazaki A5 Wagyu:

AMAZING! This was dry-aged for 20 days and also cooked in dry-aged beef fat. This is some of the best beef I’ve ever had. 10/10.

Duo of Deviled Rib Eye:

This unique duo packs a powerful smoky and dry-aged punch! It features smoked deckle (bottom) and grilled eye (top), each rubbed with chili, herbs and spices, and served with black garlic bone marrow. This should be on your “must try” list! Chef Michael really nailed this. 10/10.

Creamed Escarole:

I love the use of escarole here in place of spinach. Escarole is such an under-appreciated green. This is a good “creamed spinach” dish for your steak entree. I think more butter and a bit less cream/cheese would make this pop a little more. Or perhaps I’d just like to see a sauteed version with some cannellini beans in the mix to remind me of growing up in an Italian household.

Ripped Sunchokes:

I love sunchokes/Jerusalem artichokes. They’re like an awesome cross between a potato and an artichoke. These were smashed and fried, and then seasoned with shredded pecorino cheese and rosemary. Great side dish.

Goose Fat Tater Tots:

These are so crisp and flavorful. This should be your go-to potato dish here. Awesome.

Chocolate Mousse:

This has a nice texture to it, almost like cheesecake but light and fluffy. Great espresso ice cream to go with it too.

I highly recommend this place. Everything here was very good to outstanding. I can’t wait to try more of the menu and supplement this review over time.

POMONA
8 West 58th St
New York, NY 10019

The Aviary

I took my wife to The Aviary as an early Christmas present. I booked the five course “Cocktails & Canapes” tasting menu dinner about two weeks in advance with a $100 deposit. The cost is $165pp, with an 18% gratuity added at the end (and tax, of course).

That’s crazy expensive, but this is truly a unique drinking and dining experience. I drank and ate things I never would have even thought about. In hindsight, five cocktails was aggressive (but awesome). I think when I go back, I will just order a la carte.

Here is the entire menu, but I will highlight what was selected for us below in the review:

AMUSE

The first thing to come out was an “amuse” drink – a small shot of tastiness that involved lime, rum, and mint.

A few moments later, our first round of cocktails came out with the first course of food.

COURSE ONE

Drinks: Micahlada (left – and yes, that is spelled correctly) and Zombie Panda (right)

Of these two, the Micahlada was my favorite. This is The Aviary’s take on a michelada (beer, spices and tomato juice), made with soy, coriander, Japanese whisky and Evil Twin beer. The Zombie Panda was tart from the lemon, lychee and pisco, and filled with frozen spheres of raspberry juice to sweeten it up.

Food: Pineapple Two Ways

This was a nice way to get the taste buds popping. That brown stuff at the bottom was a mole sauce. I liked it a lot, but my wife wasn’t too taken with it. The black mint garnish was tasty and went well with the watermelon radish and passion fruit.

COURSE TWO

Drinks: How Does Snoop Dog Use Lemongrass (left) and Mimosa (right)

The mimosa was nice because the fruit juice was frozen into ice cubes, so the drink becomes sweeter and more smooth as it sits.

The idea behind the Snoop drink is that Snoop Dogg ends everything with “-izzle” when he talks/raps, so there is a “swizzle” made out of lemongrass, which is used to mix the drink together:

Food: Kampachi Ceviche

This was bright, light and savory, pulling in southeast asian flavors from Thai green curry, heart of palm and coconut. I really enjoyed the briny broth and the coiled peels of red pepper for spice.

COURSE THREE

Drink: Heart of Stone

This was the best drink of the night, and you get about six glasses out of the container. That container is filled with bourbon, tea, Fresno chili, pistachio and peach. As it sits there, the flavors infuse deeply into the bourbon, so each time you refill the glass it tastes a little different. More spices come out, more sweetness too. Amazing.

Food: Pork Belly Curry

This dish was really good, but it could have been excellent with a crunch element. I think the iceberg lettuce discs were supposed to be that element, but they fell short just a bit. Perhaps a fried shrimp chip or crispy egg roll wrapper would do the trick. But the pork belly curry itself? Awesome. The banana and cashew are excellent compliments to the savory.

FROM THE CHEF

Chawanmushi

They’re experimenting with “all times of day” food here at The Aviary, so this is meant to be a breakfast item. It’s velvety smooth, and the smoked abalone within makes you think you’re eating bacon. The pops of flavor from the pickled huckleberries really brighten and balance this seafood porridge custard dish.

COURSE FOUR

Drink: Memphis Half Step

These glasses come to the table upside down on a charred piece of oak cask, filled with smoke. The aroma is awesome. This absinthe and rye cocktail is super smooth with a hint of sweetness.

Food: A5 Miyazaki Wagyu Rib Eye

Clearly my favorite food item of the night. The meat was buttery soft, and the grilled romaine with puffed rice was a great textural pop to go with it.  That yellow sauce is a yuzu mustard. Possibly the greatest mustard ever. 10/10. Wish I had 16 more ounces of this.

COURSE FIVE

Drink: Boom Goes The Dynamite

This was sweet and warm, almost like a port or brandy. It was made with rum, vanilla, violet and rooibos…  and dry ice for the smoke.

Food: Blueberry

Milk chocolate, violet and buttermilk sorbet make this dessert extra decadent. There were some more spheres of raspberry ice on the plate too, rounding out the meal with a call back to the very first cocktail (Zombie Panda). Really nice.

THE OFFICE

After dinner, our waiter Preston took us on a short tour of The Office, the speakeasy behind The Aviary bar staging area (which looks more like a kitchen than a bar).

Here’s what the inside of The Office looks like:

They have a cabinet filled with really old spirits that you can order as well. Super rare.

I will definitely be back to try this place, as well as the Aviary again. So many interesting sounding drinks and food items to try, like the “Science AF,” which looks like a chemistry set, or the “Wake & Bake,” which is a pillow filled with smoke and a drink made with orange, everything bagel, coffee and rye. I snapped a photo of it before they opened the bag filled with smoke:

THE AVIARY
Mandarin Oriental
80 Columbus Circle at 60th Street
New York, NY 10023

Salt + Charcoal

Salt + Charcoal overall score: 85

A food Instagram buddy of mine, @NYCFoodFOMO, set up an “influencer” dinner here, so I was able to try a bunch of stuff. I was really impressed with the meats. It was difficult to fit this review into my standard 10-category format, as some sections just didn’t pan out like they would for a larger steakhouse. With that in mind, you should focus more on the flavor category, as well as the specific notes I made about other food items. Base your decision to go here on the substance and “meat” of the review, as opposed to the total number. I really loved every single item that I ate here, and I will definitely be back again. Anyway, check it out:

Flavor: 9

Porterhouse: 8/10. This baby is dry aged for 50 days, so it eats really soft with with a nice outer crust texture for contrast.

The aged flavor was on the milder side, but I really enjoyed it.

Both the tenderloin side and strip side were perfectly cooked and tender.

Miyazaki Sirloin: 10/10. Look at this gorgeous slab of beef.

I mean, it’s rare that you find beef that’s really from Japan, so this is a special situation. They cook and serve this very simply – almost like a sushi dish – with ginger and wasabi.

It packs a lot of flavor, and is incredibly tender. A really nice treat.

Choice of Cuts & Quality Available: 7

You don’t have the biggest selection here (porterhouse, strip, off-menu filet, and wagyu sirloin), but the sirloin is highly marbled Miyazaki; the filet is topped with tons of uni; and the other two cuts are dry aged for 50 days. They are in serious need of a rib eye, however.

Portion Size & Plating: 9

Portions are fairly normal here for the pricing, but the plating is gorgeous. Dishes are served in a Japanese aesthetic.

Price: 8

The prices can get steep. This surprised me for a steakhouse outside of midtown Manhattan. That’s the price you pay for high quality beef, though, and the Miyazaki is actually pretty fair compared to other places I’ve seen it.

Bar: 6

There’s not much of a bar scene to speak of, but the cocktails are certainly well crafted. I had a spin on an Old Fashioned, and I loved it.

Specials and Other Meats: 9

They offer an off-menu filet mignon that’s topped with tons of uni. I didn’t try it, but I’ve heard mixed reviews. I did, however, try their lamb and duck. Both were excellent, and some of the best I’ve ever had. No shame in taking a break from beef to indulge in these two dishes. Hell, they even work as shared apps if you want.

Apps, Sides & Desserts: 10

We tried a delicious trio of apps. First was the wagyu and uni roll. This is similar to the item served over at Takashi, with the accompanying shiso leaf and nori paper.

Next up was the uni shooter with poached egg, salmon roe and truffle oil. Delicious, smooth and decadent. I could slam a dozen of these no problem.

Last but not least, the crab cakes. These were generously meaty with a nice lightly breaded crust. Lovely.

Worth noting here: two of the dishes came with these amazing potato cake sides made of dozens of thinly sliced potato. It was buttery, salty and delicious.

Seafood Selection: 9

There’s a healthy amount of seafood on the menu here, as this joint also serves up some killer sushi. We tried a few rolls and loved them all. No pics though.

Service: 10

The service here is outstanding. Everyone is attentive, yet respectful of your space and privacy.

Ambiance: 8

Beautiful rustic wood tones make for a very cozy, warm and inviting atmosphere. I really liked the open view into the kitchen on the main dining floor. While the restaurant is long and narrow, they make good use of the space. And like a traditional steakhouse, there is a private dining room available downstairs, which is where we ate.

SALT + CHARCOAL
171 Grand St
Brooklyn, NY 11249