Cornelius is a new French and American style joint in Grand Central. My wife and I came in to give it a try, as the menu looked pretty incredible.
We started with some cocktails, all of which were killer. My favorites were the Sazerac (not pictured) and the caviar martini. If you have some time before you start to eat, grab the espresso old fashioned. That also works well with dessert too though.
We started with this foie gras terrine, which wasn’t on the menu. This is basically delicious meat butter, and it would also pair well with their cheese plate. We had that for dessert.
Next up was the beef tartare. This is made from hand cut prime tenderloin, but the bump of caviar is extra/not standard. I really loved this, and it’s definitely large enough to eat as a main course.
We shared this beautiful 28oz, 30-day dry aged NY strip/shell steak on the bone.
The sauce is a velvety and mild Hollandaise, and draped over the bone is a nice portion of sautéed broccoli rabe. On top, shaved Perigord black truffle. 9/10 – very tender, well rested, and great aged flavor coming through on that evenly browned crust.
Of course we didn’t stop there. These two dishes were both beautiful and well executed, but the winner of the night goes to the duck leg confit. The lamb collops of tenderloin were perfect, it’s just that the duck was masterfully prepared, The meat was so tender and well seasoned/balanced. And with a huge bed of lentils underneath, it was filling as well. Make sure you order that!
For dessert, along with the cheese plate up above, we had these incredible dolce de leche donuts. WOW! I was actually shoving some of the currant jelly into the hole to make them even more decadent.
This place is crazy good, and I really can’t wait to go back to try the chateaubriand for two and a few other items that look great.
The Pulsd deal for Hotel Chantelle is pretty good. You get two cocktails, two apps, two entrees, and a shared dessert for $69.
The cocktails are tasty and colorful.
The apps we selected were the steak tartare and the charred octopus. Both were incredible, and I’d go back again for these any day.
The entrees, however, fell a bit short. My strip steak was definitely not a center cut, which is totally fine – they’re using it for the Pulsd deal diners. Be minfdul of connective tissue At $31 regular price, this really is a pair price though. The pepper chimi was unique, and it was cooked properly and had a nice flavor to it. 6/10.
The seafood paella was simultaneously undercooked and wet/soggy. Bad combo! The seafood itself was nice though.
For dessert, a lemon cream tart of sorts. The shell tasted like greasy tortilla and was tough to bite/chew, but the filling was awesome.
All in, not a bad meal, thanks to the saving grace of the apps. I’d come back here for apps and cocktails on the rooftop again for sure. It’s beautiful up there, and even the bar downstairs is cool. I’d skip the entrees though.
My wife and I were recently invited into Nice Matin to help promote their Provencal menu in their celebration of Bastille Day.
I’ll say this: Nice Matin is the best French joint in the restaurant group’s ownership among other French joints (L,Express, Cafe D’Alsace, and Le Monde).
We tried a few small bites and drinks from that menu, and, of course, the strip steak frites from the regular menu.
First, we started with some Ricard, which was sponsoring the evening’s French kick-off night. Some diners win goodie bags, and you can enter for a chance to win a trip to France.
Squash Blossom Beignets:
All of those were on the special menu, and all were really good. I think the favorites, for me, were the onion tart and the tapenade, but the squash blossoms were really light and tasty and the mussels were really nice.
The steak was a solid 8/10. The meat was super tender, and I really only took points off because the cook was a little bit over what I asked (medium rare).
The fries were perfectly cooked, but the addition of the Provencal herbs (like lavender) was a little bit aggressive.
For dessert we tried a sesame panna cotta and an olive oil cake. Both were really great, both flavor-wise and texture-wise.
Also, really nice bread here. Warm and tasty.
I definitely recommend this joint for anyone looking for some good classic French fare in the neighborhood.
I cooked one up at home yesterday and these babies are incredibly tender and delicious. They’re lean, juicy, and packed with a really nice but mild flavor. For the one pounders, you just need some salt, pepper and garlic powder for the seasoning. Then sear in a hot pan with butter for about three and a half minutes per side. Let rest, and then slice.
My wife picked up a nice Gilt City deal for this joint that gave us $200 to spend for something like $100. I had heard great things about the burger here, so I figured it was time to check it out now that there was a flash deal at play.
The cocktail menu is pricey at $18, but very nicely crafted.
We shared that burger (the “White Label Burger”) as an app. The patty is an aged beef blend; the cheese is fontina; and it’s topped with a tomato jam and dijonnaise.
They cook it nice and rare, so you don’t lose any of that aged funk to the heat. It’s a potent burger, and part of me still loves a classic roadside American burger better, but this is kinda like having a steak between a bun. Definitely nice.
And like any good French joint, it’s served with frites.
These were pretty good, but not quite on the level of Boucherie, which has now become my benchmark standard, to which all French fries must be compared.
We also tried the calamari stuffed with lobster and rice.
Unfortunately there wasn’t much lobster to this dish. In fact, I couldn’t really find any or taste any in the bites I had. In any case, the tomato sauce was nice, as was the cook on the squid.
My wife had some rabbit, truffle and cheese ravioli for her entree. This was a small portion size for $25, but they at least warned us ahead of time that it would be.
They were excellent. Each raviolo seemed to be partitioned, with one side having the rabbit, and the other side having the cheese.
Of course, I had steak.
This was served with some dressed watercress, but I quickly brushed that bullshit aside. I sliced it up so you could see the perfect cook temp on this prime NY strip steak.
This was actually a steak frites, so it came with more fries and a peppercorn au poivre on the side. Well, I asked for it on the side so I could get this intense shot of foodpourn.
Did you just bust? Because I did.
I ate every bite. It was a great little steak. I didn’t detect any aged flavor, and I assume they would have advertised that if it were the case. Not too bad at $44, but on par with the Jubilee rib eye steak frites that I had just the other day for $40. 8/10.
We shared a lemon tart with basil ice cream for dessert. This was really pretty, and tasted a bit like a key lime pie with the herbaceous basil ice cream on top. We liked this a lot.
Oh and I should mention that this place also brings out an amuse at the beginning, as well as petit fours at the end. I only snapped the amuse, which was a tiny popover style bread with a truffle cream filling. The dessert capper was a chocolate hazelnut bite.
On a second trip, I came in to promote the burger for the Altamarea Group, as well as to try some other items with a group of Instagrammers. Here’s what we had:
Escargots served on bone marrow.
Squid ink spaghetti.
Those rabbit epaulettes again. So good.
Wild boar strozzapreti.
The White Label burger.
Tomahawk rib eye. This was a 10/10 – absolutely perfect.
Atoboy is a new Korean fine dining joint with a new concept; you choose three dishes for a $36 tasting with a bowl of rice. The menu is set out in three sections, which are somewhat similar to an app, salad and entree breakdown. You choose one of each, but can add additional items from each section at an upcharge of $9, $12 or $15, depending on which section you’re choosing from. White rice and some kimchi (both cabbage and tomatillo varieties) comes with your meal, but they also offer a seasonal rice for $2 extra. Currently, the seasonal rice is a white rice that’s been mixed with powderized nori.
The portions are a little small, but they’re all really well executed and delicious. Since I came here with Jay from The Dishelin Guide, we sampled an extra entree item as well as a dessert in addition to our three courses each. Here’s what we had:
Eggplant with snow crab and tomato jelly. While this doesn’t look pretty or even sound particularly appetizing, it was actually pretty tasty. I’m generally not a big fan of eggplant to begin with, but I was pleasantly surprised.
Littleneck clams with avocado cream, rice crackers and gochugaru (red chili flakes). This was pretty good. I’ve never had clams with avocado before. It was pretty interesting. The rice crackers gave the dish a nice dynamic texture.
Next was grilled avocado with horseradish, cotija (hard cow’s milk cheese) and trout roe. I’ve never had grilled avocado before. I just assumed doing anything to a ripe avocado would result in guacamole due to the softness. Perhaps these are grilled while they’re still a little bit hard to avoid structural breakdown? In any case, this was a tasty and healthy dish.
This next dish is highly recommended, and was one of my favorites of the night. Squid rings, stuffed with pork and shrimp, then topped with salsa verde. The squid was perfectly cooked and tender, and the stuffing gave a nice salty and fatty flavor. Plus, it was really pretty.
Now we move on to the big winners from this dining experience; the entree selections. We started with crispy pork jowl on a bed of barley, ssamjang (spicy and sweet sauce/paste) and romaine.
The crispy skin and under-layer of fat were delicious, and as I bit down into the meat beneath, my mouth came alive with salivation. Great dish!
Next up was the brisket with melted foie gras, garlic and ginger. This was really hearty and delicious. The beef was super tender and can rival any top notch BBQ brisket you might find out there at a pit smoker competition (though this one was admittedly not prepared the same way with a smoker – it’s just the same cut of beef).
Our last entree item was the strip steak. This came with a tofu skin and celery salad, and everything was lightly dressed with sesame oil.
The steak was super tender and flavorful. They marinade the steak with kiwi to allow the enzymes to slowly tenderize the meat before it is cooked. That may be the reason why there was a healthy amount of grey banding around the edges of the meat.
The outside could use a slightly better crust, but I imagine they need to be careful not to overcook the steak, as it isn’t very thick. This was a big success though, overall, and it tasted like wagyu. 9/10.
For dessert we tried this black raspberry cake with hazelnut and pistachio, which was garnished with fresh blueberries. This is the only dessert that’s made off-site by another pastry person. The texture was almost like mousse, and the look reminded me of Italian tri-color cookies. Very nice.
Although expensive at $80 each after tax and tip, this was a satisfying, unique and delicious Korean fine dining experience.
Occasionally you come across a meal that changes the way you view particular food items. I’m a steak man. Clearly, this is known. I’ve eaten hundreds of cuts in my endeavor to find the best that NYC has to offer. I thought I’d pretty much seen it all in the world of steak. What else could there be, aside from some aged wagyu, or something completely ridiculous and rare? But just when I was starting to get a little bored and comfortable with my favorite food, Petrossian Chef Richard Farnabe came through with a completely unique and utterly genius steak offering.
The cut itself is something with which we steak aficionados are familiar; a 28-day, dry-aged strip loin (NY Strip). This lean cut hails from Four Story Hill Farm in PA. But Chef Richard’s preparation is what sets it apart from the panoply of great meats in the city of this cut’s namesake; it’s cooked to a perfect medium rare all the way through, and topped with bone marrow and caviar.
Caviar? Why would someone do that, you ask? Well, having eaten it, I have a hypothesis: The natural brine and salt content in the caviar compliments the aged taste of the meat in a tremendous way. Aged beef has a certain flavor profile to it – earthy, funky, and highly concentrated. The caviar, being naturally salty and funky in its own right, is the perfect pairing with this kind of meat. It helps bring out those aged characteristics while also providing a juicy pop and briny burst to each bite.
And, as you might expect, the marrow adds some nice fat flavor and texture back into the lean cut of beef. It really is a brilliant conception. In my opinion this is probably one of the best strip steaks you can find in town. 10/10.
It’s accompanied by a semi-raw, ice cold asparagus salad. This adds some acidity and fresh green flavors to the meal, deftly balancing the punch you’re getting from the steak.
And that’s not the only beef I tried. On the appetizer menu, they offer A4 wagyu topped with grilled sturgeon.
This comes with a pickled quail egg and some caviar as well, along with a little crispy potato cube. When eaten together (beef and fish), you are experiencing that same beautiful pairing of earth and sea, one enhancing the other. The sturgeon had a flavor that was reminiscent of a good, Japanese style grilled eel. The slightly candied or caramelized, almost sweet top coating on the sturgeon pulled out a lot of those rich beef fat flavors from the steak. Another 10/10. For the record I believe this was sliced strip loin, but since it’s A4 wagyu, I will include it in my “other cuts” section for catalog purposes.
Now that I’ve gotten the most important things out of the way, let me briefly discuss the remainder of the meal. After all, the rest was just as impressive as the meats reviewed above. Even the table bread and drinks were nice.
Petrossian explores elements of both classic French cuisine and Russian/Eastern European cuisine, and there is a healthy presence of caviar and smoked fish in the dishes, aside from having a robust stand-alone caviar menu. The starting amuse, for example, features both French technique and Russian cuisine, along with both caviar and smoked fish.
What exactly are you looking at here? Three items.
(1) The lollipops are smoked salmon with cream cheese foam dipped in beet foam to make a shell;
(2) The cubes are savory caviar marshmallows;
(3) The spheres are chocolate foie gras truffles with gold leaf.
These concise, decadent and dynamic bites set the tone for the entire meal. Petrossian is truly one of the few great places to indulge and splurge with a high quality meal where it’s actually worth the money, and where there is no pretense, no elitism and no unnecessary vegetable worship.
The next item that came out was a terrine-like foie gras brulee with smoked sturgeon and a pomegranate Guinness drop. It came with a little bread puff but I really enjoyed this by itself.
The Guinness drop was spun sugar and candy-like in flavor and texture, and the foie brulee was rich, creamy and deeply flavorful.
My wife’s starter was the Petrossian sampler, which contained various smoked fish items and caviar. Everything I tasted on this plate was delicious in addition to being beautifully presented.
Her entree was a special: baby pig, which consisted of an assortment of meats from the animal, including kidney, ear, rib, and crispy skin. There was also a croquette and crispy hash made from the meat as well. I tasted a bit of everything, thankfully, because I definitely would have ordered this if the steak wasn’t on the menu.
In particular, I really liked the kidney, which was skewered on a sprig of rosemary. That little touch of presentation/technique added a great roasted herb flavor to the meat. Absolutely outstanding. It almost reminded us of Japanese yakitori.
Our sides were sumac pomme souffle, which were like little puffed potato chips, and a bowl of sauteed wild mushrooms with herbs.
These items went perfectly with our meat courses.
Dessert was a lot of fun as well. We had beignets with a multitude of injectable sauce bulbs, and a smoked wood ice cream chocolate ball, which was covered in chocolate sauce at table side.
The beignets were very light and crisp, and my favorite sauce was the pistachio. The chocolate ball was rich, creamy and decadent. Really smooth and tasty.
And then these little guys came out with the check: chocolate truffles and marshmallow cubes, both plated on a bed of dark chocolate morsels.
With Chef Richard at the helm, Petrossian has skyrocketed back into NYC’s short list of high end restaurants that discerning diners simply must experience at least once. I was extremely impressed.
My wife picked up a Gilt City deal for Le Rivage, with which we shared a 62-day dry aged, bone-in Creekstone Farms/Pat LaFrieda New York strip steak, two sides, a bottle of wine and a dessert for about $100. Pretty great deal, especially if you can use a discount when buying the flash deal.
Anyway, Le Rivage is a cozy French joint in the theater district on 46th Street between 8th and 9th Avenues.
They gave us some nice table bread with whipped butter to start:
And the wine was an 80% Merlot 20% Cabernet blend that was actually pretty good.
The long, 62-day dry aging process imparted a bit of nuttiness and funk to the flavor of the beef. This baby was masterfully prepared. It definitely can hang tough with some of the best steakhouse cuts in the city. Get your ass over here and try it, if it is still available on special. I give it a 9/10. Why not the full 10? I felt like it needed just a hint more salt, maybe just some finishing salt even, but not much.
The steak came with two sauces, so dipping into these added some of that saltiness that I was looking for from the seasoning. The sauces were a wine reduction and a peppercorn:
Our sides were actually very abundant. We ordered broccolini and fries, but they brought out two dishes of fries, one dish of broccolini and one dish of carrots. We had lots to bring home.
I’m a big fan of broccolini, and I cook a mean broccolini at home quite often. I was impressed with it here. It was simply treated with seasoning, garlic and oil. The carrots were buttered and slightly sweet-glazed, and the fries were nice and crisp.
For dessert, we went with the chef’s recommendation, which was a Jacques Torres chocolate chip cookie and a sweetened, spiked milk.
So simple, yet so tasty. After chatting with the chef for a bit, we learned that he is best friends with Pat LaFrieda, and that Jaques Torres is his godfather! That’s a serious pedigree, and it shows in Chef Paul’s abilities. He did a great job on the steak, especially.
I definitely recommend giving this place a shot, especially if you like to take advantage of Gilt City deals (not sure if this one is still available), or even just their regular three course price fix specials, which are offered daily for between $25 and $40. Very reasonable.
UPDATE – 6/30/16
I went back to Le Rivage to try Chef Denamiel’s award winning French Onion Soup Burger today. Holy fuck, people. This thing is absolutely amazing. It’s not a surprise that he won the “Judge’s Choice” award in New York City Wine & Food Festival’s 2013 “Burger Bash” with this baby, beating out the likes of burger master Chef Capon in the process.
His patty grind is usually between 60/40 and 70/30 lean/fat, and the beef also comes from Pat LaFrieda, just like the steak I reviewed up above. He seasons the patty with salt, pepper, drawn butter and brown sugar before it hits the grill. After the first flip, he puts on a slice of a Swiss gruyere type cheese called Emmenthal, which melts around the patty to seal in the medium rare juices. This then gets placed onto a butter-toasted sandwich-sized English muffin, and then topped with cognac-reduced confit onions, and then a bechamel cheese sauce for good measure. The top bun is placed on top, and then the French flag toothpick with roasted cocktail onion and gherkin gets popped on. Viola – perfection.
This is definitely one of my new favorite burgers; it really is unique. I walked out with a full belly, but I was still craving another one. Pretty sure I will be back again very soon, especially because the place is close to both work and home.
Burger still on point:
Even my maniac food photographer homies agree:
Croque Madame is stellar!
Quiche is the best I’ve ever had in my life:
You can even buy it frozen, to go, to fire up at home!
And the escargot is executed with perfection:
Garlic bacon frisee salad: amazing. Tangy and delicious.
Beef Bourguignon: hearty and soul-warming.
DECKLE FOR FOUR
This is probably the greatest thing you can eat. The deckle for four is the spinalis part of the rib eye, wrapped and rolled into a pinwheel. It gets quickly seared for crust on the outside, and then finished low and slow like a roast. Call two days ahead for this to reserve it.
Crispo is a gorgeous Italian joint down on 14th Street near 8th Avenue. My buddy and his girlfriend have been coming here for years. I had never heard of it, but when he told me about it, I knew we had to try it out together as a group.
We started with a bunch of apps. For that reason, and because I knew we were also going to eat pasta and steak, I took it easy on the delicious and generously portioned table bread.
First, we had a sampler app trio of speck, aged goat cheese and mozzarella rice balls. The meat and cheese came with dried fig and an apricot/fennel jam. Both the speck and the cheese were great, top quality products.
The rice balls were addicting. You can easily catch yourself popping a bunch of these in a row without even realizing what’s going on. They were perfectly fried to a golden crisp on the outside, and the inside was both firm from the rice yet oozing with delicious melty fresh mozzarella cheese. Not heavy, salty or greasy, which is the opposite of what you sometimes get when these are done wrong.
The next app was a nice, simple fried calamari. This also came with fried zucchini. There was a cornmeal aspect to the breading here, which made for a nice crisp crunch. That’s fried parsley on top, too.
Our favorite app was this crispy pork belly topped with a melted gorgonzola-stuffed fig. Underneath the pork belly was crispy polenta, and a drizzle of olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
This was one of the most tasty apps I’ve had in a while. In fact, I think this could be an incredibly successful entree as well if just magnified in proportion. Seriously, I could eat this all day. The fat is cut with the acid, and the funk of the cheese takes the flavors off onto a ride that’s more wild than the fucking Great Space Coaster.
So after all of that, we were finally ready for some pasta. This place seems to be somewhat famous for two pasta dishes in particular: the Spaghetti Carbonara and the truffle ravioli. I know what you’re thinking. “Spaghetti Carbonara? I can get that crap at any halfway decent Italian joint.” But here’s the rub: most Italian joints fuck up their Carbonara with cream, making a dense, salty and overly-heavy pasta eating experience. Real Carbonara, from what I understand, doesn’t have any dairy, other than the cheese you grate over the top! The creaminess is achieved via egg yolk.
Break the yolk, mix it around a bit, and you’re ready to rock. Just sprinkle in a green veggie and some crispy pig bits. I must say, this Carbonara was divine, and like none I’ve ever really tasted before. Not only was the pasta cooked just right, but the ingredients were well-balanced, and nothing was too salty. A big problem I usually have with Carbonara is sweating like a pig while I eat, because of all the FFFFFFFFFFUCKING salt that’s usually in it…
The hand made truffle ravioli were nice and al-dente, served in a simple brown butter type sauce, and the portion was large for a very reasonable price. I was expecting like six somewhat large ravioli in the bowl, not a dozen.
Now to the meat. My wife and I shared the New York Strip steak, which was simply grilled and then topped with a mound of red wine reduced onions.
The steak was cooked perfectly to medium rare.
While I wasn’t a huge fan of the onions (I’m a purist), I did find myself going into them every so often out of an enjoyed curiosity. The meat itself was nice, tender and flavorful. 8/10.
The steak also came with parmesan herb fries. These were really crispy, and the parmesan acts as a cheese-funk seasoning that replaces the standard salt. Very nice.
Last, we had some creme brûlée, pot de creme and pistachio gelato. I didn’t snap the gelato pic for some reason, but I did pull the trigger on the cremes (the two come in one dessert order – bonus).
I was blown away by the quality of the food here, the service, the ambiance and decor, and the portion sizes. I’m ashamed that this place never made it onto my radar in all its years in operation. But not just that: the prices are really fair. All of the food described here, plus about two or three alcoholic drinks per person (wine, cocktails, beer, after dinner drinks), plus a round of coffee for everyone with dessert, only came to $105 per person, with tax and tip included (we had four people at the table total). I was shocked.
Needless to say, I’ll definitely be back here, because there is a lot of shit on the menu that I want to try (like the pork shank).