Tag Archives: octo

Suprema Provisions

This joint has been getting a lot of love on Instagram ever since my buddies from the Gotham Burger Social Club rated The Suprema Burger as their best, awarding it 9.3 out of 10 points.

So what makes this burger so good? Perhaps it’s the iberico jam, the black garlic sauce, or the aged cheddar cheese sauce. Maybe it’s the perfectly cooked patty, or the roasted grape tomatoes on top. Whatever it is, it’s the perfect union of flavors. And, I mean, come on… look at this fucking thing.

Everything about it just works.

My readers know me, though: I always want a crunch element, and that’s the only thing that was missing in my eyes. But this is nearly perfect, and definitely has a spot on my top five list for restaurant burgers.

Interesting quirk: the burger comes with roasted Brussels sprouts rather than French fries. I didn’t see any fries on the menu, but they’re not very popular in Italian cuisine anyway. Perhaps some fried polenta would satisfy the starch pairing/craving for this burger though. In any case, this burger kicks a whole lot of ass.

But the burger isn’t the only thing that kicks ass at Suprema. Check out this menu and see what items cause your undies to bulge.

We tried a bunch of shit when we went, in order to help promote for the restaurant. Cheers to that.

Realistically though, ever since Gotham Burger Social Club posted their review, the restaurant has seen a big influx of customers. They’re doing just great without my pictures. But here we go…

Braised Octopus

This had a great green olive tapenade and more of those delicious roasted grape tomatoes. The octo itself was super tender, crispy, meaty. On the bottom is a pair of black crispy fried polenta squares. Perhaps they’re colored with squid or octo ink, or maybe even the black garlic that we saw in the burger. Either way – tasty.

Crab & Uni Fettuccine

This was my least favorite of the night. But since it was still a good dish, that’s not a knock in the slightest. For my taste, it was a bit fishy (likely from the warm uni) and lacked a bit of salt. The crab was excellent, however, and the pasta was perfectly cooked.

Photo Credit: Mike Puma of Gotham Burger Social Club

Lasagna

Braised pork, bechamel sauce and ricotta are layered into this shit, and everything is baked into individual cast iron dish-pans. The very bottom was a bit watery and didn’t “set” properly, but that’s nothing a few minutes of waiting will cure before diving in. We savaged the fuck out of this very quickly. Excellent dish.

Meatballs

These are pretty great, and I’m a harsh critic when it comes to meatballs. It’s tough to beat mom’s. Firm, but not hard. Tender, but not mushy. Rich with flavor and properly cooked. A little bit of crusty sesame Italian bread to sop up the delicious sauce here, and you Paisans out there are all set.

Roasted Chicken

Most people like me would cringe at the idea of ordering chicken at a restaurant when there is clearly a pork or beef option available, as well as shitloads of salumi. But I, and those like me, would be missing out at Suprema if we ignored the chicken. This shit was fantastic. It’s brined for many hours, so the flavor penetrates deep to the bone. Not only is the flavor good, but the meat is juicy and tender – like Kim Kardashian’s ass cheeks, only less fatty. The skin is rubbed with a spice mix and roasted to a delicious crisp. Even the tit meat is on point, and not even one bite was dry. This fucking dish is mint.

This joint reminds me a lot of the salumeria spots in Italy that I loved so much. I’m sure I will be here a lot in the weeks to come, taking advantage of the delicious Summer cocktails they mix up, and enjoying the open air but shaded tables along 7th avenue in the West Village.

In summary, get the fuck over to this place as quickly as you can. Go. Don’t be an asshole.

SUPREMA PROVISIONS
305 Bleecker St
New York, NY 10014

Vai

We scored a Gilt City deal for this place: $79 gets you two cocktails, two apps, two entrees and a shared dessert.

We started with the charred octopus and veal tartare. Both were well executed and tasty.

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The octopus had a great snap to it, yet it was still very tender.

My wife picked the pork tenderloin for her entree. I thought it could have had a third medallion of pork, but since it came with some shank meat and belly meat, I guess it wasn’t a big deal.

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I had the roasted skirt steak (Creekstone Farm), though I could swear it looked and tasted more like a hanger steak. It had a great outer crust from the roasting process, and it was cooked to a perfect medium rare inside. However, both this and the pork entree lacked salt. Luckily there was a small bowl of flake salt at the table for adding. 8/10.

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For dessert we shared this chocolate mousse cake. Very nice.

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As it turns out, the general manager remembered me from when she waited tables at Vic & Anthony’s. That earned us a complimentary glass of bubbly! So nice.

VAI
429 Amsterdam Ave
New York, NY 10024

Kefi

UPDATE: THIS PLACE IS NOW CLOSED

One of the very first flash deals my wife and I ever tried was here at Kefi, many years ago. We seem to recall liking it. Occasionally they still offer the same deal: one appetizer, two entrees, a side and a dessert. So we picked up the deal and went there this past weekend.

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I sampled a pair of Greek brews over the course of the meal. Both were good. The first was a lager and the second was an unfiltered wheat beer. The wheat beer, $3 more at $10, was the better of the two in my opinion, but the Keo was refreshing, like a Yuengling.

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We started the meal with a classic Mediterranean and Greek staple: grilled octopus on a bed of beans (chic peas and black eyed peas).

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This was fantastic. The char added a great crisp for texture and a lightly ashed flavor to the outer edges of the ‘pus. The meat was tender with no chewiness to it. Coated with a generous to borderline over-the-top amount of lemon juice, parsley and scallions, it was bright with flavor.

My entree was a complete let down, unfortunately. I went with the hanger steak.

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It looks good enough, but the meat was so fucking tough that I had to actually spit several bites out onto the plate. Gnawing at steak is not cool. On top of that, the steak actually had a bitter flavor, from the copious amounts of lemon and the soaking contact with the broccoli rabe beneath.

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I managed to get a good amount of the steak down my gullet by sawing at the hard grain across the bias, furiously shaking the table in the process, and focusing mostly on the overcooked bits that were on either end of the steak (they were easier to cut). Very disappointing. In sum, it was under-seasoned, bitter, over-cooked in some parts, under-cooked in other parts, and tough as fuck. This was actually the worst steak I’ve eaten in all my years of dining in NYC, and I’ve even had steaks at Tad’s! I’m giving it 3/10.

On the plus side, the steak did come with a split and grilled sausage, which was pretty decent, and sort of fulfilled my desire for meat.

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My wife had the better entree: braised lamb shank with orzo.

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The meat was super tender and had a rich stew-like flavor to it. Luckily, she wasn’t able to finish, so I had a good amount of this to tide me over from that lame steak.

On the side, we shared this order of roasted cauliflower. Nothing to get too excited about, and nothing to complain about either.

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For dessert we shared this chocolate mousse with sesame ice cream.

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Eventually, the chocolate flavors overpowered the light sesame flavors in the ice cream, which was unfortunate because I really enjoyed that sesame ice cream. The first few bites, when combined, reminded me of halvah. This dessert could be a huge hit if they pump up the sesame flavors or tone down the chocolate flavors to strike a better balance.

So, in conclusion, I suggest sticking with the staple Greek proteins – octopus and lamb – if you dine here. Those two dishes were great.

KEFI
505 Columbus Ave
New York, NY 10024

Balzem

I was recently invited to a press dinner at Balzem, a little Mediterranean spot near the corner of Mott and Spring in Nolita that opened in the Spring of 2014.

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The dining room is rustic, with an airy 12-foot beamed ceiling, old mirrors, iron hanging light fixtures, and lots of reclaimed wood.

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The surprisingly roomy bar offers a wide selection of Mediterranean wines (40 different wines!), imported beer, and even some wine cocktails like the Hot Cab Manhattan, the Balzem Fizz, and the Ginger Ride. I tried the Efes beer (Turkish pilsner), which was nice, light and refreshing.

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The bar crowd definitely picked up at around 8:30pm, and it was actually getting pretty crowded by time we left at 9:30pm. Also worth mentioning here is the fact they they offer happy hour specials EVERY DAY OF THE WEEK from 5:00pm-7:00pm, where they have $6 Mediterranean wines, $5 beers, $1 oysters and $5 tapas/mezzes. That’s freaking amazing! I’ll definitely be back on weekends, for sure.

Here’s a quick shot of Mehdi (left), wine director and general manager, and Balahan (right), owner and executive chef.

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The menu features lots of tapas and mezzes, even some pizza, in addition to a smaller selection of entrees. Here’s the tasting menu we had for the press dinner, along with the wines that were paired with each course:

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The table bread was a nice crispy-on-the-outside, soft-on-the-inside, country style loaf, sliced and served with olive oil (with a variety of olives swimming in the dish):

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The chicken breast and orzo soup was really tasty. Made from a light tomato broth with Turkish red pepper paste, it packs a great flavor that you can accent with a squeeze of lemon. This dish was based on a family recipe that Balahan’s mother used to make.

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That red pepper paste, by the way, is not made from bell peppers, but a different kind – more like a Cubanelle – that’s red instead of green. It’s something that Balahan made as a kid growing up in Turkey, when his family would retreat to the mountains to cool off during the hot months. There, they made red pepper paste, pastries and breads. Sounds like a great way to spend the Summer – sign me the fuck up!

Next were the prosciutto wraps, which was my favorite item of the night. The meat was thin and perfectly cured. It was soft, and not too salty. The burrata cheese was perfection as well. High quality ingredients presented in a very un-fucked-with manner so that they shine.

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Basil leaf, balsamic reduction drizzle and some roasted red peppers is all they added. The green you see beneath the wraps are actually flattened pieces of pepper. Very nice, especially when paired with the clean rose we were served.

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We jumped out of order here to try the other cold dish; the branzini ceviche. This was really mild, despite being cured in lemon vinegar. This is the first time I’ve seen branzino prepared in a ceviche. I really liked how it wasn’t a soupy bowl of tart citrus, like you get in most joints. It was cleanly presented with some arugula and dill.

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Next up was the grilled shrimp dish. These were beautifully presented on a slice of grilled zucchini with parsley and garlic dressing, and accompanied by an arugula salad with tomato and lemon vinaigrette. There was a swipe of chipotle sauce too, so this dish was spicy. The sweet white wine we had with it was the perfect compliment to balance out the spice levels.

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The shrimp were cooked just right.

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My next favorite dish, after the prosciutto, was this octopus fucker. It was braised for 45-50 minutes in white wine that was spiced with lemon, bay leaf and black pepper. Then blasted on the grill for a nice charred and crispy outer edge, and finished in butter. So soft and light, yet meaty and satisfying.

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These zucchini pancakes were fucking great. Part of me wanted a more crisp texture, but when I got down on them a little more I didn’t mind. They’re made with feta, mint, scallions, parsley, dill, eggs and flour, then topped with a yogurt cream sauce. I could actually go vedge (vadge) with food like this. Awesome.

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Last of the small plates, and my least favorite of the small plates, was the Italian meatballs dish. The garlic tomato sauce was nice; velvety, smooth, sweet yet tangy and spicy… but the meat was a little dense for my liking, and I wasn’t a big fan of the pine nuts and raisins within. The ball itself was made from good quality veal, worked with thyme and basil. I just have a very picky sense when it comes to meatballs: it’s very difficult to compete with my mom’s. I did really like the sleepy-time red wine that was served with the meatballs (Nero D’Avola, Mortilla 2013).

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Now for the entree – lamb skewers with flat bread and some sauces. Yes!

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The sauces were mint, parsley, garlic, oil and vinegar (left) and yogurt (right).

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The lamb was cooked perfectly. It was light, flavorful and soft. No overly gamey flavors, no chewy sinew, nothing. Nice and simple, but well executed.

We sampled three sides with the entree. First, and by far the best of them, was the truffle mac and cheese. It wasn’t over the top like some “truffled” items are these days. This was a gentle and proper use of the truffle, with perfectly cooked fusilli pasta and quality cheeses.

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Same goes for the presence of truffle in the potato gratin side – not too aggressive. I liked this dish too – it just needed a little pinch of salt as you went down into the deeper layers of potato.

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The last, and least liked of the sides (and probably our least favorite overall) was the wheat and veggie rice. It had good texture, but the flavors were a little flat, it was a bit dry, and it just didn’t seem to go well with our entree.

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And just when you thought you tried too much food, along comes dessert. All ye fat men rejoice, for there is chocolate ahead in thy future:

Chocolate layer cake (this ended up being my favorite of the three despite my usual hatred of chocolate cake). The cake itself was a slight bit dry, but the hint of salt really made it work in terms of flavor.

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Chocolate mousse cake. Nice texture, creamy and flavorful.

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And finally, tiramisu. You could taste the rum in this bad boy, but it wasn’t overpowering. It was moist and flavorful. The others liked this dessert the best (I was outnumbered).

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That about wraps it up for Balzem. Highlights of the meal were definitely the prosciutto wraps, the octopus and the ceviche. Those would be absolute must-try items, especially if they’re only $5 a pop at happy hour. That shit’s a no-brainer. The ambiance is also killer here. Really nice inside. And when you go (you will), you should chat with Balahan and Mehdi. Both guys are really awesome, friendly, and hands-on. In fact, the service in this joint is top notch and classy. It makes a great date spot, a great pre-game spot for food and drinks, and it has that amazing happy hour. I will definitely be back as a paying customer. Most likely I will head down for happy hour, but the brunch menu looks enticing, as well as the lunch deals ($12 for soup/sandwich or soup/salad).

BALZEM
202 Mott St.
New York, NY 10012

Sik Gaek Seafood Hot Pot

Me, my wife, and some of our friends went to this pretty crazy Korean restaurant in Woodside called Sik Gaek. Good luck reading the website if you can’t read Korean. However the pics are nice under the “Delicious Table” drop down menu. They have some nice looking meats and fish.

I say “crazy” not to be judgmental of other cultures, but rather to demonstrate the purely subjective boundaries which I needed to cross to actually partake in the ingesting of food here. It’s crazy for ME, in other words. I typically eat my food cooked (with the exception of sushi, ceviche, shellfish and tartare). Not only that, but I usually eat my animals and fish AFTER they are good and dead (again, with the exception of shellfish). Also – my food usually isn’t MOVING. As you’ll see below, these western culinary conventions are thrown out the window at Sik Gaek. And that’s a good thing.

This place (the Flushing location rather than the Woodside spot we went to) was actually featured on an episode of Anthony Bourdain’s show on the Travel Channel called “No Reservations.” The show is now off the air, as he has moved to CNN with “Parts Unknown” (it’s essentially the same show). In the “No Reservations” episode clipped below, he was in the midst of doing a tour of various “hidden” Asian food and culture spots around Queens with renowned chef David Chang. Watch as he eats still-moving, live, marinated and chopped octopus:

It makes me think of a shocking scene from the Korean film Old Boy, which has one of the most fucked-up twist endings ever, and is one of the most fucked-up but excellent movies of our time. No doubt this film will garner even more attention when Spike Lee fucks it up upon the release of his remake later this year, starring Josh Brolin:

Anyway… on to the actual food that we ate. It turns out there was a huge disappointment. They were out of live octopus. So after all that babble above, I didn’t really get to test the limits of my culinary tolerances. We did enjoy some delicious food though, and some of it was still moving while it cooked in the hot pot. Check out the pics below.

First, the drinks. Two types of beer, two types of soju, and a watermelon full of vagina juice (watermelon punch):

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Almost forgot the Psy shot glass:

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Next, the starters. First up, eggs and veggies:

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Then rice cakes and tofu skin with spicy sauce, along with some pickled items and dips:

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Then we had some thick cut pork belly:

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Then we moved on to the seafood hot pot, which contained lobster, blue claw crab, shrimp, clams, mussels, razor clams, abalone, baby octopus, squid, udon noodles, bean sprouts, and cabbage. They even give you a trash bucket beside the table to throw all the shells in.

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And YES – the lobster was still moving at our table while it cooked:

Since they knew we were there for the live octopus, and we had made the reservation and tried to reserve a ‘pus for the table way in advance of getting there, they felt bad and gave us a plate of bacon wrapped mushrooms on the house:

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One of the best parts of the meal was using the broth pan to cook fried rice. Packed with flavor, and nice and crispy:

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Two more shots – one of the restaurant space, and one of a little kitchen flood:

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SIK GAEK
49-11 Roosevelt Ave.
Woodside, NY 11377