Tag Archives: new york city

Amber Steakhouse

Amber Steakhouse overall score: 83

I had heard good things about this place from a few different people recently, so I had to go give it a shot. I was pleasantly surprised! First, watch my Ride & Review on YouTube below. Then read on!

Flavor: 8

We had the bone-in dry-aged rib eye, and the dry-aged t-bone. Both had a really nice char on the outside from the broiler, and both were just slightly over medium-rare. They were both really juicy, though, so that made up for any slight overcooking. Both were on the mild side for dry-aged flavor, but they both packed a punch for beefy, satiating flavor in general. I give the rib eye a 9/10, and the t-bone a 7/10, bringing the overall score to an 8/10.

Choice of Cuts & Quality Available: 9

Everything here is Certified Angus Beef brand (typically prime) and dry-aged. They cover all of the major cuts in various sizes, with shared steaks coming to the table in “sizzling plate” format.

Portion Size & Plating: 10

The portions are great here. Our sides were quite large, and the appetizers were big too. The plating is standard clean white elegance, cast iron skillets, etc.

Price: 8

Some stuff here is really well priced, like the cocktails, whiskey pours, apps, sides, desserts… especially when figuring in the price. But the steaks themselves are at midtown prices despite the “mom and pop” nature of the place and the neighborhood.

Bar: 5

Sadly, I had to dock some points here because there is actually no place to sit at the bar. It is a service-only bar with no stools. Our table was beside it, though, so we got a good look at their bottle selections. They have a really awesome spirits list, and they made some great cocktails, so don’t let the score here deceive you.

Specials and Other Meats: 9

There were no real specials read to us, but they offer lamb, chicken, duck and numerous other interesting proteins that I’d like to come back and try. Next visit, we are definitely getting the bacon (had to be 1.5″ thick for $18 – like a steak in itself), the roasted duck legs (plural, for $39), and the lamb chops (looked like four per plate).

Apps, Sides & Desserts: 9

We started with the escargots, which were served in a really nice creamy mushroom broth/gravy, and had to have at least a dozen snails in the order. A great deal.

The steak tartare was a little bit too finely minced or ground, but the flavor was great, as was the portion size.

The roasted potatoes with peppers and onions were also a massive portion size, but the only negative here was that the dill was a little bit overpowering. It did smell nice though.

The sautéed spinach and mushrooms side was soupier than I expected, but really nicely flavored. This was just the right side for the steaks in my opinion.

For dessert, we had a scoop of espresso ice cream (very nice and creamy), the chocolate mousse cake (perfect thickness, richness and you could tell it was homemade instead of pre-purchase from a box like many midtown steak joints give), a glass of Hakushu 12yr ($30) and a double espresso. The double espresso was the only bad item of the entire meal. it tasted like burnt bean water.

Seafood Selection: 7

This was a rare occasion in which we tried absolutely no seafood. I saw the shellfish coming out though, and it all looked nice. Next time we will definitely delve into their raw bar selections and broader seafood entree menu.

Service: 10

Service was excellent. Our waiter was very knowledgeable and super helpful/attentive without being pushy, annoying or intrusive.

Their table bread is similar to Luger’s style – a stuffed onion roll.

Ambiance: 8

For a small neighborhood mom and pop joint, they really did a great job with making the place feel like an old-timey, age-old steakhouse that’s been there forever. It’s been there since 2010, and in that time it has established itself as a staple for the neighborhood drawing in weekly regulars as well as exploratory outsiders like us.

I will definitely be back for more!

AMBER STEAKHOUSE
119 Nassau Ave.
Brooklyn, NY 11222

Oak Steakhouse

Oak Steakhouse overall score: 83

My wife and I visited Charleston for the new year, and I was determined to try another steakhouse in the wonderful city. This time I hit Oak. Read below!

Flavor: 8

We had the dry aged rib eye as well as the filet mignon steak frites. Both were juicy, well seasoned and flavorful, but the age didn’t really come through too strongly on the rib eye. That said, both were cooked to medium rare perfection. 8/10.

Choice of Cuts & Quality Available: 8

There’s a good selection of cuts here, and most claiming to be dry-aged for around 60 days. The selections are prime Certified Angus Beef brand, so they are generally going to be high quality.

Portion Size & Plating: 8

Portion sizes are good here, with most individual steak entrees ranging from 14-22oz. The plating is standard, minimalist elegance; common for steakhouses.

Price: 7

The prices here are a bit high for a non-NYC steakhouse. Charleston is an expensive city too, but I felt like $115 for my steak was a bit hefty.

Bar: 9

The bar here is very nice. I was almost hoping we would have to wait for our table when we checked in, because I kinda wanted to sit there with a martini for a few minutes.

Specials and Other Meats: 8

There was a special 30oz dry aged porterhouse offered, which wasn’t on the menu. As for other meats, I did see some lamb, chicken and pork. A nice spread!

Apps, Sides & Desserts: 8

We started with three appetizers: a pair of oysters Rockefeller, a pork belly dish, and beef carpaccio. All were good, but I feel like the carpaccio could have been larger.

We took down some crispy fried Brussels sprouts with bacon as a side. These were great.

The sticky toffee pudding a la mode was a nice dessert option.

Seafood Selection: 8

There was a curry red fish on the menu for the night, which sounded delicious, but I had my mind on other things. If the oysters were any indication of how the seafood is prepared here, I’m sure it would be good.

Service: 10

Service was great here. They even took note that it was my wife’s birthday, and they were kind enough to comp the dessert. They even included a little happy birthday chocolate and a candle.

Ambiance: 9

This joint is inside an old downtown townhouse, so it is really nice inside. The only downer is the middle floor which, if seated there, I imagine it can get both hot and annoying due to the proximity of bathrooms.

OAK STEAKHOUSE
17 Broad St
Charleston, SC 29401

La Marchande

La Marchande overall score: 80

My wife took me here for a nice dinner last week. I’m calling this a French steakhouse. Not sure if that’s correct, but I feel like it fits into my review categories nicely.

First, check out my Ride & Review video HERE:

 

Flavor: 7

Sadly, the boneless domestic wagyu rib eye was WAY over salted. I hunkered through half of it, but I could not finish and had to give up. It was a beauty though, with a great crust. 5/10.

My wife had the bacon wrapped venison loin, which was much better, despite the little snaggle of connective tissue in the middle.

Nicely cooked. Irony without game flavor. Lean and clean. 8/10.

Choice of Cuts & Quality Available: 7

There’s a good selection of cuts here all day long, but they don’t have enough dry aged selections. I would also like to see more traditional Angus on the menu, as opposed to all the fancy wagyu cross breed shit.

Portion Size & Plating: 8

My steak was like $105 for a pound, which is about right for the domestic wagyu varieties. Portions here are good for everything else, and plating is definitely understated but elegant.

Price: 8

The prices here are average to slightly above, which makes sense for the location near lots of FiDi businesses.

Bar: 8

The bar here is small but nicely appointed as you walk in. No sidewalk people watching views, but its snug and cozy. They made some nice drinks too, both standard cocktails and their signatures.

Specials and Other Meats: 8

I mentioned there was venison, which is rare and nice to see. They also offered a Peri Peri chicken dish, which I’d love to try. It feeds two and is only $68.

Apps, Sides & Desserts: 7

We started with the beef tartare summer roll with lemongrass sauce. This was really nice, but they just need to wrap it a bit tighter. This was probably the best dish of the night, with a close second to a side that I’ll discuss below.

Skip the marrow. The table-side service is unnecessary (at least it wasn’t theatrics), and it was mainly just a fancy bread service or sandwich. Probably better off getting a burger and fries for a few dollars less.

The mushrooms were ever more over-salted than the steak We actually had to send them back, which is wild because we NEVER do that.

They replaced it with this bean cassoulet thing, which was actually quite good and was a close second for my favorite dish of the night.

The miso creamed spinach was nice. As you can tell, there’s a distinct theme for trying to bring Asian fusion into the menu.

For dessert, they forgot to bring out our Vietnamese style egg coffee, but the basque style cheesecake was nice enough.

Seafood Selection: 8

We didn’t take on any seafood, but they did have some nice looking shellfish and tower selections, as is common with steakhouses. The king crab cake was a whopping $45. I wonder if that is any good. Too rich for my blood!

Service: 10

Service was really good here. They brought out some complimentary bubbles at the beginning and end of our meal, since my wife told them it was our anniversary on the reservation. They also comped the drinks, desserts and the bogus side for us, which they replaced gratis as well. This was a really great gesture, and they genuinely tried to make the evening nice despite the mishaps. They did forget our coffee, though. I was done complaining for the night, so we just let it slide. A for effort, I guess.

Ambiance: 9

Gorgeous dining space, with big private booths that you can curtain off if you’d like. I really dig the space. Very elegant but casual. A nice balance.

LA MARCHANDE
88 Wall St.
New York NY, 10005

Prime 112

Prime 112 overall score: 78

My wife and I had one night to squeeze in a steak meal when we were in Miami. Since most steakhouses in South Beach seem to be chains, we went with Prime 112 based on a totality of recs we got from friends. The other contender was Papi Steak (next time).

Flavor: 9

We had the t-bone and the veal rib chop. Both were nice, and aged flavor came through. Both solid 8/10 in my opinion. I was impressed for Florida steak!

Choice of Cuts & Quality Available: 9

There’s a good selection of cuts here all day long,. In fact the menu is pretty gigantic. There’s both a T-bone and a porterhouse, a rib eye for two and for one, bone-in and boneless strips. Plenty of dry aged selections as well.

Portion Size & Plating: 8

The portions are on the large side here. Sometimes I forget how small portions can be in NYC, even at steakhouses. Plating was on par with minimalist upscale modern steak joints.

Price: 7

Steaks for one here will range between $80 and $140, which is mighty high. They’re really raking the tourists over the coals here, but at least the food is good.

Bar: 6

The bar here is small. I was expecting a bigger, nicer/better bar for a hot spot like a Miami beach steakhouse.

Martini was nice, however.

Specials and Other Meats: 8

There are plenty of non-beef options to explore here, and as I mentioned earlier, the menu is massive. We tried the veal and we were impressed, so I think 8/10 is fair here for not having tried any other items.

Apps, Sides & Desserts: 6

We started with the foie gras and broiled Louisiana style oysters. The oysters were the better of the two, and they were great. After the apps, things went slightly downhill, and then they fell off a cliff.

I wish I knew the veal came as a composed dish with a side (spinach, cheese and breadcrumb stuffed tomato). I would have skipped the gummy creamed spinach and maybe even the scalloped potatoes.

Dessert would have been great if a couple of the mini donuts weren’t raw inside.

Inedible.

Seafood Selection: 8

Based on the quality of the broiled oysters, I think it’s safe to get all manner of seafood here and it will be good.

Service: 10

Our waiter was great, friendly and knowledgeable, so I have to give a full 10 here. A few things to note, though, was that there was a musty/moldy smell to the warm/moist towels they brought out for us between courses. Don’t use

The table bread was a nice assortment of cheese biscuit, nut roll and pumpernickel onion. Really liked this.

Ambiance: 7

This joint had a smell throughout that was wet/musty. It did just rain when we went there, and it is Miami/south Florida, so maybe this is common. But it was sort of like the entire place smelled like the moldy hand towel! Strange.

PRIME 112
112 Ocean Dr
Miami Beach, FL 33139

Benny John’s Bar & Grill

Benny John’s Bar & Grill overall score: 83

My wife and I came here as guests of the restaurant. They just opened last week, and they’re the same ownership team behind Atto Prime and Tudor City Steakhouse. Check out my Ride & Review video first, then read on.

Flavor: 9

We had the porterhouse for two. It was pretty great. Excellent crust, perfectly overcooked, and it was very tender. It was a bit mild on the dry aged flavor, and that’s why I took a point.

Choice of Cuts & Quality Available: 9

There’s a good selection of prime cuts here all day long, and everything is aged in-house.

Portion Size & Plating: 8

The plating here is 100% standard steakhouse style, and the portions are all big enough to share when it comes to sides, and most apps and desserts.

Price: 8

Prices have gone up significantly lately in the city, especially for beef. But this place is keeping it pretty friendly compared to others I’ve seen in the area that have really jacked up their prices. A steak for two is still under $120, and most single cuts are under $60.

Bar: 7

The bar here is beautiful, but they only serve wine and wine style cocktails, as they are still waiting for their liquor license.

Specials and Other Meats: 9

There were no real specials read to us, but they did have lamb, chicken, and this absolutely delicious, tender and mild “Serious NY Veal Chop”  on the menu. We loved it – 9/10.

Apps, Sides & Desserts: 8

Excellent oysters Rockefeller, creamed spinach and truffle creamed corn. I highly recommend all of these.

For the desserts, I say stick with the creme brulee. The others were good, but not up to par with that one. The cheesecake was a close second, but it ate a slight bit salty. Great creamy texture though.

Seafood Selection: 8

Based on what I had (the oysters) this place is legit for seafood. I’d have to go back and try more to really level this section up though.

Service: 10

Service is impeccable here. Nobody does it quite like these lifelong steakhouse and restaurant industry professionals. Great focaccia and toasty table bread too.

Ambiance: 7

They definitely made the best of this narrow space, which, I think, used to be a sort of mini-market, perhaps Japanese. It looked familiar to my wife and I when we were there. Great job on the renovation, and I think the outdoor seating area is going to be awesome.

I can’t wait to go back and try more steaks!

BENNY JOHN’S BAR & GRILL
8 E 48th St
New York, NY 10017

Steak Frites Bistro

Steak Frites Bistro overall score: 86

The PR company that helps promote this restaurant invited me in for a free meal in exchange for some social media posts. I brought a couple of other friends from the Instagram food world and we gave it a shot.

Flavor: 9

We had three steaks here. First was the tremendous cote de boeuf, which was roughly 28oz on the bone, meant to be shared among two diners.

This comes out sliced with a hotel herb butter on top. Great presentation.

While this wasn’t dry aged and left a little bit to be desired in terms of texture, it was quite tasty, juicy and nicely cooked. 8/10.

Next up was the dry-aged strip steak.

What this lacked in crust and thickness, it made up for in flavor. The age definitely came through. 8/10.

A delicious crust on this chateaubriand filet mignon for two at 20oz for under $100. 9/10.

Finally, we tried the hanger steak.

This was the winner of the three, especially when eaten with the peppercorn cream sauce. It had a great hard crusty sear on the outside, it was cooked to a perfect medium rare on the inside, and it was properly sliced against the bias. 9/10.

I should also discuss the “Burger Francaise” here, which was a stellar dry aged patty cooked to a nice juicy rare, topped with gruyere, stone ground mustard, crispy fried shallots and gherkins, on a freshly made brioche bun. GO GET THIS!!! It’s a 10, and it was probably the best item of the night.

Their French Dip sandwich, offered at lunch, is killer. While a bit pricey at $34, you will definitely leave there very satisfied.

Choice of Cuts & Quality Available: 8

There’s a lot to choose from here, including some large format items meant for sharing like the chateaubriand. All the meats come from the great folks over at Pino’s Prime Meat Market.

Portion Size & Plating: 8

This place came through with good sized portions. The hanger, for a lighter appetite, is 9oz. The strip is 16oz on the bone, but it felt more like 12 or 14. The larger format steaks for two are just under the 30oz mark. Slightly light, but maybe fine for many diners. The presentation is nice, French and simple.

Price: 9

The pricing here is very fair. $35 for the hanger, $65 for the strip and $88 for the rib eye that’s meant for two people. I like that.

Bar: 8

The bar here is nice, and it was crowded while we were there, even on a nasty weather night. It can get a little cramped since there are high tops close to the back of the bar seats, as well as a row of tables behind the high tops, making for some narrow passing. Otherwise, nice cocktails and great beer and wine selections.

Specials and Other Meats: 9

There were no real specials read to us, but they do offer a rotisserie chicken that I’d like to try next time I go. At the bar, they’re offering 12 duck confit sandwiches per night (until it graces the lunch menu permanently. This was an easy 10/10. Absolutely insane! It’s cooked in duck fat at 165F for 24hrs.

Apps, Sides & Desserts: 8

We started with steak tartare, escargots, foie gras terrine and duck pate. All of these were great, but to me what stood out the most was the escargots. They were different than what’s typically presented at other French bistros. I liked that they came in a bowl/tray and had chunks of French bread already soaked in the delicious puddle of herb butter/sauce in there. The fries are also outstanding here, and they pretty much come with every meat item.

The green beans were good (not pictured), but we mainly ordered them just to have some green shit on the table.

On a second trip I tried the frisee lardon salad, which was stellar!

The Paris Brest is nice as well, with hazelnut.

The brest was swapped out recently for the eclair. Similar flavors.

The chocolate mousse was very nice too.

Also really loved this almondy, grapey, blueberryey baked thing called a claufutis.

Seafood Selection: 8

I didn’t try any seafood here, so can’t really rate it. But I think they would do a great job on the mussels given how well they prepared the escargots. I always felt they were similar, in many ways

UPDATE – I tried these large, plump and juicy mussels. They were really nice! Ask for extra baguette to dip.

Oysters also delicious.

Service: 10

Impeccable service here, and the bread game is on point! Just ask for extra butter.

Ambiance: 9

The location of this place may seem odd to some, but I always thought the area had a unique flare to it. Inside, they did a great job with the decidedly “French bistro” space they have, minus one point for the narrow passing areas that I noted in the bar section. I’ll definitely be back!

Side note: Brunch is pretty great here on weekends. Quiche Lorraine, Moroccan Baked Eggs, and Croque Madame – all top notch.

STEAK FRITES BISTRO
496 9th Avenue
New York, NY 10018

NYC’s Top 10 “Old School” Style Italian Joints

A friend of mine asked me about Emilio’s Ballato the other day, and I realized I should probably have a list of “old school” style, red sauce -heavy, Italian comfort food spots in the city. Especially given how we lost some great ones due to COVID-19, like Forlini and Crispo.

I should note, I’m largely ignoring the panoply of mediocre tourist trap restaurants in Little Italy. Yes, there are some old classics there, but the one’s listed below are in another league, in my opinion.

So here we go. These are my favorites, in no particular order.

1. EMILIO’S BALLATO

This celebrity magnet of a restaurant is one of the best spots to score some old school, red sauce, New York Italian food. Aside from their awesome pastas, they also put serious work into their parms and antipasti. Pictured below is the spicy vodka sauce, prosciutto and peas -topped bone-in veal parm, which is commonly offered as a special and even called an “off menu” item to those in the know.

2. CARBONE

A list of old school Italian joints wouldn’t be complete without a nod to Carbone. When you walk in this joint, you feel like you might witness a mob hit! Not in a scary way – because you feel like family when you’re here (take THAT Olive Garden!) – but in a cinematic way. Everything just looks the part, from the black and white tiled floors to the decor on the walls. This place is special, and my favorite items here are the trio of baked clams and their famous spicy rigatoni alla vodka.

3. SANDRO’S

We almost lost this joint to COVID-19. It closed, and everyone was pissed off and upset. But they re-opened in a new location, and I’m so psyched to get back in there to try everything. This joint slings some of the best pasta I’ve had, and all of the good the Italian chefs in town know that this is the place to go when you want a delicious, comforting meal outside of your own kitchen.

4. SAN MATTEO

Right up there in the same neighborhood as Sandro’s is San Matteo, a noted two-time NYCWFF Burger Bash winner, of all things. While primarily organized as a Neapolitan style pizza joint, San Matteo actually serves up some of the most crave-worthy Italian food that I can think of. I regularly need my fix of this place. Everything from their apps to their aged steaks are fantastic. Pizza should be your snack when you go here. Save room for the mains, like their pork milanese!

5. BROOKLYN ROOTS

Relative newcomer to the “old school” scene is Brooklyn Roots. This place is the only spot I picked that’s outside of Manhattan. I know I’ll get some shit for that, since there are lots of amazing places out in Queens and Brooklyn that garner a lot of love for this cuisine. But Chef Tommy is really dialed into the food that I grew up eating. Check out his “Matty Guns” pasta dish. It’s basically a baked red sauce and mozz rigatoni dish that has every kind of meat you can imagine. Incredible portion sizes and wildly affordable prices can be found here. You can’t beat it.

6. ARTHUR & SONS

Another new “old school” style joint is Arthur & Sons. This place is red sauce to the core, and it has quickly become one of the hardest places to score a table. Everything with red in it is a hit here. The Parms, the meatballs, the subs, the pasta sauce… They even use cans of tomatoes as planters in the dining room. This is definitely the place to carb-load before a big competitive sporting event.

7. DON ANGIE

This joint is the only Italian restaurant to actually inspire me to go home and cook one of their recipes. Their “Broken Meatball Ragu” is absolute perfection, and it reminds me of Sunday visits to my grandparents’ house when I was a kid. I immediately went home and made it myself the following weekend. They use giant garganelli pasta for the dish, the perfect big floppy noodle for sopping up massive amounts of sauce. Also noteworthy here is the chrysanthemum salad and the lasagna, pictured below.

8. OSTERIA MORINI

This place was famously known as the home of $9 Monday night pasta dishes. I’m sure the price has gone up since I enjoyed that special, but it would be worth every penny even at double the price. This place is part of the Altamarea restaurant group (Marea, Ai Fiore, etc.), but it is markedly obvious that it is meant to be their rustic, home cooking style restaurant. They do great burgers and aged steaks here as well.

9. IL CORSO

My friend turned me on to this place just recently. I was blown away to learn that his wife’s cousin owns the joint. They’re from Capri. Let me just tell you: Their lemon cream pistachio paccheri is probably one of the best pasta dishes in town. It’s an absolutely delicious combination of flavors. I could eat this every day, with a side of their fried zucchini and fried castelvetrano olives.

10. IL TINELLO

The owners behind Tuscany Steakhouse also own Il Tinello, which recently just opened a second location on the east side. The move here is to get the trio of pastas as a sampler dish, of sorts. We ordered it as an appetizer because I needed to try some of the meat-focused items from the mains menu. They do a really nice veal rib chop here, if you feel like eating something more meaty.

That’s all I’ve got for you right now. Maybe I’ll update this if I ever get out to those old and somewhat infamous joints in Queens and Brooklyn. But other notable mentions here for old school style Italian food would be Isle of Capri, Becco, Patsy’s, Scarpetta, Marc Forgione, Ornella Trattoria and Parm.

Oh yeah – and it’s always SAUCE. Gravy is BROWN!

Hall’s Chophouse

Hall’s Chophouse overall score: 90

I finally got down to Charleston, SC, and, of course, a top priority was to check out Hall’s Chophouse. I went down to visit a law school friend with some other guys from law school, so we went big here!

Also: quick caveat – I think the score for this place would climb with multiple visits. I’d need to get back and try more meats and some seafood, but I can see this place getting in the 95-point range.

Flavor: 9

We tried three cuts: the porterhouse, the tomahawk, and the prime rib. All were excellent, but I think the prime rib took the victory.

The prime rib was a 10/10. It’s wet aged, but rubbed with a Montreal seasoning that really added a ton of flavor.

Both the tomahawk and porterhouse are dry-aged a minimum of 45 days after two weeks of wet aging. These packed a lot of funk, both 9/10.

Choice of Cuts & Quality Available: 10

There’s a great selection of dry-aged beef from Allen Brothers in Chicago. Everything is aged off site, first wet-aged and then dry-aged for 45-days (except for the prime rib – that’s just wet-aged). All prime, and all delicious.

Portion Size & Plating: 9

The meat board plating was really nice for our massive order of three steaks. Portion size is definitely on the large side, especially for sides, apps and desserts.

Price: 8

Don’t expect a cheaper bill just because you’re outside of the NYC insanity! Beef prices have gone up lately, and top notch quality like Allen Brothers being shipped from Chicago to Charleston means you’ll be paying a premium. That said, I thought the prices were all kinda fair, with the exception of the martinis at $26ea.

Bar: 9

The bar here a great spot to hang out. My buddy is there all the time, and I would be too.

My martini was great (blue cheese olives) despite being pricey.

Specials and Other Meats: 8

There were some specials off the menu that all sounded delightful. They have quail and duck for non-beef meat items. One stand out was the bison filet, which you can see here in this short video at the beginning (the very dark colored lean cut, top right). We didn’t try it, but I’m sure it was good.

Apps, Sides & Desserts: 9

We started with the bacon; really nice. The tomato on top was a nice twist on this.

The tartare was slightly over worked but it was still really delicious. The table was impressed!

We split a burger for our appetizer, which was really delicious. It reminded me of Peter Luger and Red Hook Tavern – a distinct dry aged flavor that eats more like a steak than a burger. It’s definitely a top five steakhouse style burger for me.

The sautéed spinach was a nice light side.

Loaded mashed potatoes – of course.

These fried okra were a fun change up for side dishes as well.

For dessert we tried the skillet cookie, the lemon cheesecake, and the whisky bread pudding. All were awesome, but the bread pudding was my favorite.

 Seafood Selection: 8

I gotta be honest – I didn’t even bother looking at the selections. But the she crab soup that we tried in between courses was fantastic. If you have room, get it!

Service: 10

Service was amazing here. You really can’t beat it. The staff knew everything there was to know about the meat when I pried them, too. Our waiter even asked if we’d prefer a chuck side or loin side cut of prime rib, which I don’t think I have ever experienced before. I was impressed (and of course I went with chuck side).

Table bread was warm and toasty, with a great whipped butter. You know I always have to mention it!

Ambiance: 10

Great spot. There is live music in the main bar room, which is more lively and loud, while the side rooms and upstairs are a bit more private and cozy.

While walking around, I saw Walter Goggins and Danny McBride having a meal, so I sent them a bottle of wine and had the pleasure of chatting with them for a bit. If you don’t know the names, they are the headliners for great shows like Eastbound and Down, Justified and The Righteous Gemstones.

Oh yeah – nice little Michters bottle in the bathroom filled with mouth wash.

This place is the real deal, and if you plucked it out of SC and dropped it into NYC, it would still be a wild success and I’d rank it among the heavy hitting stars here, easily. I can’t wait to go back.

HALL’S CHOPHOUSE
434 King St
Charleston, SC 29403

Fini Pizza

If you’d rather WATCH this review, check out my ride and review video. If you’d rather read it, then continue below.

That bike makes the city so small. I can get everywhere so fast now. If you’re interested in one for yourself, use my coupon code JOHNNYPRIME for $150 off at www.zoozbikes.com.

I tried two slices here, pepperoni and Sicilian.

The regular pepperoni slice was good. Great crust. The sauce was a little sweet so I was happy to have the pepperoni on there to balance it out with some spice.

The Sicilian was incredible. I highly recommend this. It has a homemade flavor to it, but with pro-quality amazing dough. Light. Airy. Crisp. PERFECT.

I’m usually not a fan of Sicilian because it can get heavy. But I can easily eat a bunch of slices of Fini’s Sicilian. Look at this:

I’ll definitely be back to try some more pies.

FINI PIZZA
305 Bedford Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11211

Maple & Ash

Maple & Ash overall score: 81

Maple & Ash came recommended by a friend. First thing I saw when I looked at the menu online was an order called “I don’t give a fuck.” For $200 a head, they give you what they want. I thought that was funny, so I was sold on trying this place out.

Flavor: 7

We had the aged porterhouse, called “The Eisenhower.” I didn’t really get much aged flavor from it, and the thing was basically swimming in juices (likely cut too soon after cooking), but it was in fact tasty and tender. It was cooked slightly over in some parts, and slightly under in others.

Choice of Cuts & Quality Available: 10

There’s a lot to choose from here, including, again, items from Japan and various parts of the country.

Portion Size & Plating: 8

The portions here are big, on everything from the steaks to the sides and sweets. They go a little extra here on plating – beyond the usual white plate elegance. The marrow served with the steak is nice; kinda reminded me of stuffed clams (breadcrumbs mixed in).

Price: 6

Another Chicago slam job on the price. I don’t think NYC has gotten there yet. A steak for two here was $225, over $100 a head. That’s insanity!

Bar: 8

The bar(s) here are a little too small for the size and type of crowd that this joint attracts (bros and hoes). They mixed a decent martini though, and the bars were nicely appointed.

Specials and Other Meats: 10

There were no specials read to us, but I didn’t expect much from a place with such an extensive menu. We did try their veal chop as an appetizer. This was much better than the porterhouse for two.

Apps, Sides & Desserts: 7

The broccolini was in fact broccoli rabe. Let down. It was also mushy and chopped up into oblivion.

The coconut cream pie was excellent, and the size and shape of the slice was a sight to behold.

Seafood Selection: 8

There’s a lot of seafood on the menu, but we only tried the octopus appetizer. It was okay, but a slight bit snappy and chewy in texture.

Service: 9

Service was very good. Nice waiter, and they seemed to know their meats very well.

Ambiance: 8

I really can’t decide if I want to give this place a 10, or something like a 6, so I’m splitting the difference. I like the idea of a gothic looking steakhouse. They have these wild candlesticks all over the place. The rooms are dark and dim, but loud as fuck from a young crowd. It’s kind of a strange juxtaposition. And then they also have modern touches throughout, which kind of clashes with the gothic stuff. Interesting, to say the least. Since the place is multi-level, at times it seems cramped and small. But they did make the best use of their space.

MAPLE & ASH
8 W Maple St
Chicago, IL 60610