Tag Archives: octopus

Barcelona & San Sebastian

Here’s a run down and guide for all the food I had in Barcelona and San Sebastian. If you followed a link here for a specific restaurant, just scroll down until you see the restaurant name in bold – I did a bulk review here for all of them. In summary, here are my top dishes of the trip:

  • Mountain and Sea Fideua; Xiringuito Escriba (BCN)
  • Grilled Prawns; Xiringuito Escriba (BCN)
  • Roasted Piquillo Peppers; Lomo Alto (BCN)
  • Mussels in Tiger Sauce; La Mejillonera (SS)
  • Ham, Cheese, Sardine & Candied Pistachio Pintxos; Txalupa (SS)
  • Ham & Mushroom Sailboat Pintxos; Karrika Taberna (SS)
  • Cheesecake; La Vina (SS)
  • Potato Tortilla; Bar Nestor (SS)
  • Cream Puff; Izar Pasteleria (SS)
  • Iberico Pork Shoulder; Kokotxa (SS)
  • Suckling Lamb; El Asador de Aranda (BCN)
  • Suckling Pig Tacos; Hoja Santa (BCN)
  • Vanilla Custard Filled Churro; Random Churro Truck (BCN)

You might notice that the reviews go from BCN to SS and then back to BCN. Very astute of you. That’s because I wrote these in semi-timeline order. We travelled to BCN first, then spent a few days in SS before returning to BCN to finish the trip. In any case, read on and salivate.

TAPAS SIN FRONTERAS (BCN)

We ate here, which was across the street from our AirBnB, to kill some time before check-in on day one of the trip. We got some paella, salumi, and anchovies. Everything here was just mediocre. Not the best way to start the trip, but at least there was some jamon iberico involved.

XIRINGUITO ESCRIBA (BCN)

This beachside paella joint was slammed! There’s a great open-air dining room that overlooks the beach along the Mediterranean Sea, and, as you might imagine, the seafood here is amazing.

The “mountain and sea” paella was visually the star of the show here. Check it out:

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Johnny Prime™ (@johnnyprimecc) on

But the version that’s made with pasta (fideua) tasted better and had better texture.

We also had some ceviche, guacamole, “pan con tomate,” Galician style octopus and grilled head-on prawns to start.

The prawns were amazing, and one of my top dishes of the entire trip.

The ceviche was just okay, but the guac, the tomato bread and the octopus were all excellent. In fact, that octopus was a close contender for another top dish of the trip. This place was just incredible over all.

Another standout starter was the jamon “air bag.” The crispy cracker-bread pillow gets broken and you eat the ham with it. Awesome.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Johnny Prime™ (@johnnyprimecc) on

The highlight of dessert was the pistachio cake with orange sorbet. So delicious!

The other selections weren’t too shabby either, one being a multi-layered combo of dolce de leche and tiramisu, and the other a classic puff pastry and cream combo.

In sum, Xiringuito Escriba is a “must go” spot if you’re looking to eat at the beach in Barcelona.

LOMO ALTO (BCN)

I came across this spot in my research for all things meaty in Barcelona.

This place is all about the beef! Dry-aged, “vaca vieja” (old cow) to be specific. The old cows, some as old as eight years at slaughter, are dry aged for months here, on site. Typically this type of meat is turned into burgers in the US, but here in Spain it is a sought after delicacy.

They offer 12 different breeds of beef to choose from.

Pro tip: say no to the bread. They will automatically bring out bread portions for each person at the table and then charge you upwards of four euro per head at the end. We got them to remove the charge since it was pretty much all stale and we barely touched it. The olives, however, were awesome.

We started with some very meaty items. Tartare, carpaccio and beef tongue. This was a great way to get to know the flavor of dry-aged dairy and old ox meat, which is what these were prepared from. Bold, savory, unique. I really liked all of these, and they came with a pair of nice spiralized potato chip things.

The croquettes were nice as well.

The steak we had was a rib chop from an 8yr old dairy cow that was dry aged for 90 days:

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Johnny Prime™ (@johnnyprimecc) on

Here’s a quick video of the presentation and slicing:

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Johnny Prime™ (@johnnyprimecc) on

Some scraps left after eating:

This had some of the most interesting and unique flavor from the dry aging. It tasted like blue cheese. The texture was a little bit aggressive – not tough, but more chewing involved. Some folks love that. Over all I’d say this was an 8/10.

The steak came with roasted piquillo peppers, fries and a salad. The best part of this entire meal was the dish of peppers! They were amazing, and oddly enough a top dish of the trip.

This place is heaven for folks who love dry aged beef, and who also love Spanish beef. A definite must try if that fits your bill. I personally like US beef better, but “when in Rome” … (or, in this case, “when in Barcelona”).

VARIOUS PINTXOS & BARS (SS)

La Mejillonera

This San Sebastian pintxos joint specialized in mussels and served them something like five or six different ways.

The door handle is even a mussel.

We arrived just as they opened, and as a general matter I found that this is the best way to eat pintxos: Get there early, before the crowds and while the pintxos are freshly made and not collecting bacteria as they sit out on the counter, sans sneeze guards and subject to all kinds of touching.

We tried two mussel dishes: Spicy “tiger” sauce, and wine/herb sauce. Both were incredible, but the spicy tiger sauce (orange/red) was a bit better. Great for bread dipping.

We also had fried calamari two ways: one with shishito peppers and one with a bravas style spicy, creamy sauce. Both excellent.

This unique place was the first and one of our best stops in San Sebastian. It’s definitely worth a stop on your pintxos crawl.

La Vina

At this place, you need to focus your attention on the cheesecake.

It’s fantastic. Rich, creamy, and delicious.

One order gets you two slivers, so if you’re planning to hit a bunch of places for tapas/pintxos, you can just get a single order to share among two or three people.

Bar Martinez

This is one spot that every guidebook will tell you is great.

We enjoyed it, but it was mostly more of the same type stuff that you see at other places. In my opinion, it can be skipped.

Txalupa

This joint had one of my favorite bites of the trip: A ham, cheese, sardine and candied pistachio crumble pintxos bite. It blew me away.

Izar Pasteleria

When you need a sweet fix, hit this little shop and get the cream puff. I picked the one that looked like a hot dog shaped bun. It was one of the best bites of the trip.

These pine nut clusters were great as well.

Loco Polo

If you need a cold sweet fix, this is your place. They have various flavors of ice cream pops, and you can have them dip the pops into various flavors of chocolate and then sprinkled with various toppings. I went with an oreo ice cream pop, dipped in dark chocolate and then hit with crushed waffle cone bits. Awesome.

Karrika Taberna

We hit this spot on a whim before lunch on our last day in San Sebastian and tried a handful of pintxos that looked unique and different from the standard pieces we kept seeing all over the place. Turned out to be a great decision, as that sailboat looking thing (ham and stuffed mushroom) turned out to be one of my favorite pintxos of the trip. Also a great place to have a spritz.

Kutixik

This little spot is essentially a deli/meat shop with some dry goods products for sale as well, but they have a window on the street side where they sell meat cones and sandwiches.

Of course I picked up a cone of ham to walk around with and snack on. The aged flavor was immense on this ham! So good.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Johnny Prime™ (@johnnyprimecc) on

Urgulleko Polborina

My new favorite bar in the world sits on top of Monte Urgull in San Sebastian and overlooks Santa Clara Island and Bahia La Concha. The walk there is half the fun, and the bar itself is in an isolated nook of the castle/battlements of Castillo Monte Urgul. Take a look:

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Johnny Prime™ (@johnnyprimecc) on

Bare Bare

Talk about AVERAGE! Everything here was just meh, but this place is always on pintxos lists for tourists. Pass.

MARINELA (SS)

We ate dinner at this seafood joint along the docks.

This was a mediocre meal, but there were a few highlights that were good. This side of asparagus was not fresh. It was canned or pickled.

The grilled octopus was one of the highlights here. It was cooked nicely and had some spicy flavored potatoes with it.

The grilled squid skewers were okay. Nothing special, but not bad by any means.

These prawns were good as well, but not nearly on the same level as Xiringuito Escriba.

The bay scallops were pretty, but a little overcooked.

I enjoyed the baked langoustines though.

BAR NESTOR (SS)

This place is iconic in San Sebastian for all of the main items they serve. Get there at 11:45am and wait to reserve your slice of potato tortilla at 12pm, when Nestor opens the window and starts taking names (they only have 12 slices a day).

It’s one of the best things I ate on the trip. Crispy, gooey, delicious.

Come back at 1pm when they open and sit for a meal. You can reserve a table or spot at the bar when you give Nestor your name for the tortilla. Once seated, they’ll bring out a pair of steaks for you to choose from.

Say yes to the tomatoes; they’re fucking amazing.

Say yes to the peppers; they’re great, too.

The steak itself is 8/10. There’s not as much dry-aged flavor as Lomo Alto in BCN, despite the restaurant and street smelling intensely “dry-agey” and beefy-delicious. That aroma – that Spanish “vaca vieja” – is unique and intoxicating. It doesn’t always translate to flavor, but this cut was more tender and had a better crust than Lomo Alto, so it evened out.

Two slices of potato tortilla, tomatoes, peppers, steak, and two glasses of wine: €63.80.

What an experience! Here’s a short video of the process.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Johnny Prime™ (@johnnyprimecc) on

KOKOTXA (SS)

We did the market tasting menu at this Michelin-starred restaurant. It started off with some fancy breadsticks.

Then a trio of snacks – seaweed cake, creamy fish puff and a relatively flavorless bite of something that I can’t seem to remember at the moment (the orange thing).

This white tuna ceviche was fresh and delicious.

I really enjoyed this grilled calamari dish as well.

Kokotxa means cheek in basque, and this hake cheek was a delicious bite for the restaurant namesake.

The crispy skin hake filet was great as well – probably one of the best bites of the meal.

But the star of the meal for me was the iberico pork shoulder, and it was mainly why we chose the market tasting menu instead of the chef’s tasting menu (it wasn’t on that menu). One of the best dishes of the entire trip right here. I wanted three more plates.

The two desserts were both good, and both featured interestingly flavored and balanced sorbets.

Petit fours for the finish:

I definitely recommend Kokotxa if you are in San Sebastian and looking to change up the diet from pintxos. It’s one of the cheaper Michelin-starred places in the area too.

TXULETA (SS)

Our final meal in San Sebastian was this chop house. We started with foie gras, lomo (cured pork loin) and roasted piquillo peppers. The foie and peppers were mediocre but the lomo was outstanding.

Another “txuleta” (chop/steak in basque, and the restaurant’s namesake) was consumed here as well. This one had less aged flavor than both Bar Nestor and Lomo Alto, but it was nice and tender. In fact, it was more tender than both of the others, so we evened out again at an 8/10.

Having loved the hake cheeks from Kokotxa the night prior, we went in on two styles of them here as well. Bad move. Should have gotten more meat. The fried ones weren’t as battered or seasoned as I expected, and they were also a little soggy (not crisp). The sauced ones were even worse – they were slimy and seemed almost undercooked.

DINNER AT HOME (BCN)

One of my favorite things about travel in Europe is just hitting the local supermarket (Mercadona) and snacking at home for a meal. High quality stuff for very cheap!

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Johnny Prime™ (@johnnyprimecc) on

EL ASADOR DE ARANDA (BCN)

This place specializes in suckling lamb, as well as beef chops. We went big on a feast here so let me get into it right away.

Excellent marinated olives and gherkins came to the table.

This beef bresaola with arugula, tomato juice and truffle was awesome.

The roasted piquillo peppers were just okay – not on the Lomo Alto level.

Awesome cheese platter – hard to choose a favorite among four great selections.

This crispy blood sausage was incredible. Awesome texture and crunch, really nicely cooked, and not greasy like many tend to be.

This fried egg dish was fun as well, though I didn’t eat much of it. I was saving room for all the meat.

Hot stone beef!

This cut comes out sliced thin and ready for searing. If I had to guess, this was some part of the chuck.

The meat sizzles away and creates an awesome aroma at your table.

A nice crust develops. 8/10.

Check out the video:

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Johnny Prime™ (@johnnyprimecc) on

We also got an extra strip steak just for fun… Another 8/10.

…And some lamb ribs as well. These were incredible! I would have called this the best dish of the night if it weren’t for the next one…

The real star here was the 1/4 suckling lamb; a leg:

This crispy skin, fork tender beauty is fall-off-the-bone soft. Simply put, it’s the best lamb I’ve ever had. This dish is reason enough to book your trip to Spain. Skip the vaca vieja and get this!

For dessert, us adults decided to eat some of what was meant to be for the kids. Ice cream in the shape of a dick, and some chocolate cake with whipped cream and ice cream.

This bottle of sweet licorice flavored amaro type liquor came out with the bill. Very nice digestif.

What a meal! This place is a must on your trip to Spain.

HOJA SANTA (BCN)

Hoja Santa customized a tasting menu for us based on a handful of things we were interested in and pointed out to the waiter on their a la carte menu. This Michelin-starred restaurant ended up being the best all-around meal of the trip.

Here’s what we had:

Trio of snacks: gastronomic/spherized olives and peaches, along with a Caesar salad tostada with chicken skin.

Trio of solid cocktails: michelada, mezcal and margarita foam ball. So cool.

Corn tamales.

Ceviche with catch of the day white tuna and octopus.

Trio of tacos: conchinita pibil taco puff, beef brisket taco with jalapeño tortilla, and bone marrow with sesame tortilla. All awesome, but the brisket with jalapeño tortilla was incredible. One of the best bites of the meal.

Foie gras mole with thin crispy bread and some sort of quinoa meatball things.

Arabic lamb tacos with tomatillo, avocado and sour cream sauce, radish, limes and crispy flour tortillas. These were incredible, and almost shaped up to be the best bite of the meal if it wasn’t for the final savory dish.

Check out how tender this meat was!

One of my lamb rib tacos:

The final savory bite, and best part of the meal – possibly even the best dish of the trip – were these suckling pig rib tacos with cilantro cream, herbaceous pig drippings sauce, pickled cabbage, lime and fresh corn tortillas with pig stamps on them.

Here’s a video of the process.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Johnny Prime™ (@johnnyprimecc) on

THAT CRISPY SKIN! You can actually hear it…

Dessert was a frozen orange foam with amaranth, custard and some kind of tahini-like sesame butter.

And finally, and most impressively, corn ice cream with goat cheese, caramel and chocolate truffles. One of the better sweet bites of the trip.

I highly recommend Hoja Santa – you should definitely hit this spot on your trip to BCN.

RANDOM CHURRO VENDOR

These stuffed churros from a churro cart by the famous Gaudi park “Park Guell” (near the Alfonso X metro stop) were awesome. One vanilla custard (best), one dolce de leche (second best) and one chocolate.

Holy fuck I think that about does it! What a ridiculous amount of great food. I hope you take some of my recs if you ever make it over to BCN or SS. Salud!

Karvouna Mezze

Karvouna Mezze is the new Greek tapas (“mezze”) joint and meat house that just opened on the Bowery, headed up by the former chef from Merakia, Giuseppe Scalco.

I came in with a group of Instagramming bastards to try out some dishes and to feature our favorites on our profiles. Here’s what we tried:

Peinirli (Greek Pizza Boat)

I like the idea of this, I just wasn’t a fan of the flakey, dry dough. The fillings (bacon, herbs and cheese) were all great though.

Octopus

This was nice. As a mezze portion, this is actually pretty sizable.

Baked Eggplant

Generally I’m not a big fan of eggplant, but this was great. I really liked the presentation in a scooped-out and halved eggplant. You can even still see the stem on the top end. Great Mediterranean flavors on this; semi-Italian and semi-Middle Eastern.

Greek Salad

This was simple and delicious. A must order. Perfect and fresh.

Pork Belly

This was tender and flavorful, but I found myself going after the stewed greens underneath more than the actual pork belly. The ouzo and honey marinade was interesting though.

Lamb Ribs

These are amazing. I loved them at Merakia, and I love them here. They’re perfect as a mezze snack with three to four ribs per order. Great spice on them, expertly cooked, nice fat and tenderness levels.

Kleftiko

This was a bit of a let down. I really enjoyed the Kleftiko at Merakia, which was served like a stew in a bread bowl. Here, there was just too much bread and not enough of that stewed sauciness. It came off a bit dry, unfortunately, and the bits of lamb inside just weren’t tender enough to recall the stew format of the traditional dish.

Short Rib

This was awesome. So tender and flavorful, and sitting on a bed of braised greens and lentils. I could eat this every day.

Mixed Grill For Two

This was a lot of fun. I really enjoyed the pork and sausage. It comes out on an actual grill, though you aren’t really cooking anything since it isn’t hot enough. It’s more of a show piece and meat warmer.

This is great for a group meal to share. Even the veggies on there were tasty, and it comes with some nice lemon potatoes too.

Red Velvet Halva

This was my favorite of the three desserts we tried. But don’t expect the texture and flavor of halva just because halva is in the name of the dessert. This tasted more like a gelatin or stiff mousse. Really delicious.

Baklava

A beautiful and tasty take on the classic dessert. A nice balance of sweet and savory, and it comes with a slab of rose jelly, which looks invisible in the pic above.

Chocolate Covered Digestive Cookies

This was like a chocolate covered biscotti. Interesting, but not something I would get again. I just didn’t love the flavor combination. A nice thing to have with coffee though, for those of you who are into it.

I would definitely go back here for the eggplant, ribs, mixed grill and short rib. Go give it a shot! I should also note that when we were there, the health inspector gave a surprise visit and fucked up the entire flow of the kitchen for a good hour or hour and a half. This place is brand new and the chef is very talented, so I have no problem recommending this place to others.

KARVOUNA MEZZE
241 Bowery
New York, NY 10002

Barn Joo

I recently had a meal here when celebrating a friends birthday party. Here’s a quick rundown of everything I tried:

This chicken with peanuts dish was really tasty. Nicely fried morsels of dark meat.

These fried beef dumplings were better still. I could have eaten a dozen.

While I’m not a huge tofu guy, these fried cubes were pretty tasty. I’d eat them again, but definitely not over the other two apps above.

Next up, beef noodles. These were ultimately pretty middle-of-the-road. Nothing stand-out about them.

The star of the show, however, was this pork belly dish. So much nice quality belly, with some chiccharones and a great spicy bean curd dip to boot. Awesome.

The octopus was perfectly cooked and had a great crunchy texture on the outside, but there was just something about it that bugged me. It had a flavor that reminded me of the smell of dried fish food. Perhaps it was something added on top for seasoning.

Lastly, their pickles and kimchi items are superb here. Some of the best I’ve had.

I would definitely go back here again.

BARN JOO
35 Union Square W
New York, NY 10003

Banzarbar

Banzarbar is a tiny speakeasy on the second floor of Freeman’s.

Behind a sliding wood door lives a dark, cozy bar with a handful of small tables. The food menu is slim. A handful of apps, an entrée or two, and a small tasting menu. The specialty cocktails are truly special. My wife and I tried three:

Shackleton’s Urn: old tom gin, navy strength gin, Jamaican rum, green chili, aperol, passion fruit, cinnamon, peach and lime. This one comes to the table on fire.

Arctic Willow: whiskey, tangerine-hibiscus tea, oloroso sherry, cherry, almond, ginger and lemon.

Tour Through Khari: tequila, mescal, vermouth, turmeric, curry leaves, ginger and lemon. This one is dusted with flammable spices and ignited before your eyes at the table.

All were excellent, really well balanced and both beautifully and uniquely presented.

We decided to forego the tasting menu. We ordered four appetizers:

A half dozen oysters, braised pork belly, baby street corn and 40-day dry-aged beef. As you can see from the photo, the beef app is a bit pathetic for the $22 price tag. Four measly slices. While it was tasty, I liked the pork belly the best, and felt that it was a much fairer value at $15. The oysters and corn were both delicious despite being a bit overpriced as well.

We had The Kraken for our meal. This is a whole tempura fried octopus, accompanied by a yogurt sauce, roasted potatoes, pickled and pickled red onion.

This is easily one of the best dishes I’ve had all year. This joint is owned by the same folks as Le Turtle, just around the corner. They, too, have an incredible octopus dish, so it’s no surprise that they nailed it here as well.

The flesh was tender but meaty. The batter was crisp and well-seasoned. It was truly amazing. I highly recommend this dish, but a pro tip: make an early reservation if you plan to order this. There are only a few available each night, and they sell out very fast.

The staff was really kind. They brought us out two complimentary small drinks, and a plate of three dessert chocolate bon bons as well.

My wife and I plan to go back to try the tasting menu soon, so stay tuned for more on this spot.

BANZARBAR
Freeman Alley
New York, NY 10002

Mannino’s

Mannino’s is a local Italian joint near my parents’ house on Long Island. It’s gotten a lot of buzz in the last few years, and the food is pretty great. I’ve been there several times, but this time I decided to document the meal.

We started with octopus salad:

Stuffed and fried zucchini blossoms:

And an order of fried calamari:

The fried calamari was a bit on the small side in terms of portion size, but if you’re taking it down all by yourself, then it’s probably just the right amount. The squid was fried to a nice crisp, but still tender on the inside.

The zucchini blossoms were stuffed with ricotta and were a little more dense than I expected, but still tasty nonetheless. I wished there was four in the order, since we had a table of four. We made it work, however.

The octopus salad was good. The squid was tender, and the acid from the citrus cut nicely across the dish.

For my entree, I had pork parmesan. I’ve been dying to dig into some of the incredible looking bone-in chicken parm dishes I’ve been seeing lately in NYC, so this pork version was the perfect way to get my fix.

The meat was incredibly tender, pounded flat and fried up to a crisp. Good cheese coverage and melt, and the sauce was delicious. Great dish.

My wife had the beef braciola. This is beef that’s pounded flat and rolled up with cheeses, pine nuts, cured meats and raisins. Really nicely executed.

Get over to Mannino’s if you live in the area and haven’t been there yet. And keep an eye out for their tomahawk steak for two; they have it on special some nights.

MANNINO’S
1575 New York 27A (Montauk Highway)
Oakdale, NY 11769

Death Avenue

I’ve been meaning to check out Death Avenue because I was always intrigued by the name. Death Avenue was the notorious nickname given to 10th Avenue due to all of the railway deaths that occurred there in the old days, when trains ran vertically up and down the avenue to service the warehouse and meat packing districts.

In any event, the joint is Greek-inspired, but also had some classic American staples like burgers and BBQ.

The cocktail list is excellent.

I tried the Banana Bourbon, which was light and smooth, and definitely banana-infused. My wife tried the Mastiha Mint (Mastiha is a kind of tree – its sap or extract is used in the drink). It was refreshing like a mojito.

We started with fried pickles. Pretty basic. The dips were interesting: a BBQ cause, tzatziki and some kind of hollandaise-isa sauce. The pickles were tasty, but the batter slipped off too easily.

My wife ordered the 8 Hour Octopus app as her entree. This was pricey at about $26, but it was tasty and somewhat substantial enough to eat as an entree if needed.

I had the Feta Burger. This was stacked way too tall, but overall it was a decent enough burger to satisfy my cravings. The oregano fries that came with it were great.

I’d say this was a great place to have a few drinks and snacks, but I’d skip making a whole meal out of it.

DEATH AVENUE
315 10th Avenue
New York, NY 10001

Soba Noodle Azuma

THIS IS MY 500th RESTAURANT REVIEW!

Not really a big deal, but I figured I would mention that just for the fuck of it.

My wife and I noticed this joint while walking around the ‘hood, and since we are always interested in trying new noodle joints, we figured we would give it a shot.

We started with an order of fried octopus balls – not ‘pus testicles, but, rather, fried spheres with a creamy octopus-based filling.

These were excellent. Super tender on the inside and crisp on the outside. Hot though, so careful when you pop these balls into your mouth.

I’ve been on a Japanese fried chicken kick lately, so the next thing we tried was their fried chicken appetizer. For just $6.50 this was a great deal. Lots of good, juicy, tender thigh meat with an excellent golden crisp batter on the outside.

The way to go here is ordering their combination platters. My wife got this combo deal that came with soba noodles, sashimi, tempura and some other nice bits.

You can choose hot or cold soba (she picked hot), and small, medium or large orders are all the same price (S=100g; M=200g; and L=300g). Pictured above is a large.

I ordered a combo that came with soba noodles and a chicken and egg rice dish.

I, too, ordered large and hot.

I think, though, the noodles weren’t the star of the show here, as odd as that seems. All the stuff AROUND the noodles was better. Maybe because we picked hot/soup style? Perhaps the best way to go is cold noodles or tsukemen style (you dip the noodles into concentrated and flavored broth/sauce).

One last pair of things to mention: the desserts. My wife’s combo came with a scoop of ice cream. They were out of black sesame so she picked green tea. It was good but not quite sweet enough for my tastes. I generally dislike all things green tea, so take that assessment with a grain of salt.

That said, I was intrigued by the idea of a green tea tira misu, so I had to order it.

It was amazing. The green tea wasn’t bitter – it was sweet. And when we combined the tira misu with the whipped cream and sweet red beans in one bite, the flavors were outstanding. I highly recommend this for dessert.

SOBA NOODLE AZUMA
251 W 55th St
New York, NY 10019

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

Antique Bar & Bakery

Antique Bar & Bakery is a new joint in Hoboken. I know what you’re thinking: Fuck Jersey! But for real, everything at this place is absolutely amazing. And I can’t in good conscience fuck with Jerz: I’m from Long Island, and everyone knows that LI, NJ and Staten Island are all retarded cousins from the same demented family.

Anyway, when you walk in, you feel like you’ve entered someone’s home. It has an old school feel to it. There are a few nice nooks for seating, and a great bar with really nicely fashioned cocktails.

In the back room, you’re basically IN the kitchen, which is really fun to experience. The skylight overhead illuminates the room with a nice, pleasing natural light.

The back wall boasts an insane coal oven that cranks up to over 1000 degrees, and then to the left of that, there’s a cooler area (about 500 degrees).

On the side wall is all your normal kitchen gadgetry like a gas oven, burners, sinks, expediting station, etc.

Okay but enough about that – let me get to the food. Chef Paul Gerard is doing amazing things here. Everything has a sense of familiarity, but also a sense of “newness.” He’s accumulated aspects of Soul Food, Cajun/Creole, Italian, American and French cuisines and balled them up into a delicious, enveloping and immersive experience: especially when you sit in the back near the kitchen (a must-do if you’re anything like me).

We started with a snack of blistered shishito peppers and pickled watermelon. The peppers go into the hot coal oven and finish up really quickly – like within a minute. It’s pretty neat because you can feel the capsaicin in the air once they get cranking. If you sit close like we did, you may sneeze or cough a bit. That’s how IN the kitchen you are. So cool. It makes you feel like you’re part of the staff.

Raw Fennel Salad with Burnt Orange Marmalade: All the burnt items are done right in their crazy oven. They add a great natural bitterness to the food (and cocktails), which cuts the fat and sweetness of any complimentary ingredients. This salad was awesome: crisp, fresh and satisfying.

Hot Oil Shrimp: Incredible dish. Really nice heat from the peppers, and the shrimp retain a lot of shell flavor from being blasted in the oven. Perfectly cooked.

Rice Balls: I mean, these guys even managed to make rice balls interesting, new and fun. The outside is really crisp and the inside is soft and gooey from the provolone fondue. You need to try them.

Fresh Mozzarella: This shit is made to order, right there at the prep counter. You can watch the guy stretch and pull until its ready. It’s topped with some cracked pepper and a few cherry tomatoes. Eat this quickly while it’s still warm, otherwise it can firm up a bit and lose its softness.

Burger: The only slight I will make about this entire meal is that the burger was a bit overcooked for our liking. But the flavor was off the hinges, even though our burger was medium-well. It gets some dry aged fat (carved right off the steaks), some chuck and some flank in the grind – made in house, obviously.

It’s topped with shredded cheese, spicy fries and pickled chili peppers. Despite the shape of the burger being spherical, it really was formed well: Loosely packed and not overworked; hollowed out top bun so it isn’t too tall and unwieldy. This burger has real potential to be one of the best around. I need to come back and try it again, and make sure the temp is pink through the center. Don’t shy away from ordering it just because mine was a bit over.

Whole Octopus: This is a special menu item, which you can order as a half or whole portion. The octopus is treated in a similar way as the shrimp, but it is tossed in an olive puttanesca sauce that really blew me away. It was cooked very nicely too: snappy to the tooth, but not chewy. Great char flavor from the oven.

Whole Fish: This was black bass, and it was really damn delicious. When you cook seafood hot and fast, you retain all that great juiciness in the flesh, so that nothing ever dries out. That’s what happens with the fish here. You can’t go wrong.

Fish Photo Credit: @NYCFoodFOMO

Whole Chicken: Absurdly delicious, and I’m not even really a chicken man. This is plenty big to feed the table.

Dirty Rib Eye: I was amazed. I watched as Chef Paul went through the entire process, and I even got some good video.

First, he broke down a 28-day dry aged rack of ribs that the restaurant got from DeBragga Meats. Antique Bar & Bakery has its own shelf in the DeBragga dry-aging room.

The steaks are allowed to come up to room temperature so that they cook better.

Once they’re ready, they’re coated with coarse salt, slapped on a cast iron skillet, and then popped into that ripping-hot coal oven for about five minutes. This hell-fire licks every square inch of surface area on the meat, giving it a great outer crust.

The steak is then pulled out of the crazy oven, placed onto a bed of herbs, hit with some drawn butter, and then finished in the other oven until the center comes up to the proper temperature.

Finally, it rests for a while before being sliced and plated – sometimes up to 20 minutes. While resting, it gets brushed with more herbs, so you really get that great herb flavor with each bite.

Alright here’s the video. I made you suffer through reading all of that first before linking it, because I’m a dick.

The herbs really make it. In fact, they have herbs drying and hanging all over the back room. It was pretty cool, and reminded me of my dad’s garage, which always seems to be decorated with dangling peppers and herbs from his garden.

Needless to say, this steak is an easy 10/10 for flavor. It’s really unbelievable. I suggest you get out there immediately to try it.

Hard Herb Hanger: Perfectly cooked, great crisp on the outside, and wonderful flavors from the herb roasting process in the ovens. This is a great option for those who aren’t willing to go big with the rib eye but still want to eat beef. Just $23? Awesome. 8/10. We actually had this come out alongside our desserts and we still devoured it instantly. Haha!

All entrees can be consumed with a variety of available sauces. We tried them all, but I really liked the herb puree and puttanesca the best. As for the steaks? No sauce needed. There’s so much flavor on those babies already.

Okay let me address some of the fantastic sides we tried.

Charred Kale with Pickled Chilis: Really nice acidic punch. This is similar to something like collared greens in Soul Food cuisine, only with a new twist.

Blackened Beets with Goat Cheese and Walnuts: Awesome. This is my new favorite beet dish. And if you’re one of those weird bastards that doesn’t eat meat, then this is the way to go for you. Very satisfying, satiating and fulfilling.

Fava Beans: Holy shit! Traditional French styling here with butter and shallots, and finished with mint, but so great. I kept going back for more of these green delights. Probably because they’re served with Spring Brook Farm Reading Raclette, a raw cow’s milk cheese.

Fingerling Potatoes: As I said above, Chef Paul is making things in a new way here. These babies are roasted with dried, aged, shaved Bottarga fish flakes (similar to what you might see being used to make dashi broth, but more specific). It might not sound that appetizing, but it adds such an amazing earthy flavor to the potatoes. Trust me. And with a topping of cheese and that awesome crisp from the hot oven, this side is not to be skipped.

Now on to the desserts. We tried a few, and all of them were excellent, just like every-fucking-thing else in this meal.

Lady Ashton’s Dirty Chocolate Cake: Served family style in a large cast iron skillet, this is one of the best chocolate cakes I’ve ever eaten. I’m not huge on chocolate either, but I loved this.

Frozen Cannoli: This is essentially a cannoli in sundae form. Incredibly tasty, and equally beautiful.

Dandy’s Decadent Cookie (with sweet milk ice cream): This baby is baked to order, and it is a massive, soft, delicious cookie with ice cream on top. This is my kind of dessert.

Burnt Lemon & Marshmallow Pie: I have a weakness for this type of stuff. It was a great twist on lemon meringue pie.

TCB Sundae: This is based on the Elvis sandwich. Burnt banana bread, caramelized banana, peanut butter ice cream, candied slab bacon, milk chocolate covered potato chips, and all of it draped in gold! Just like Elvis would want it baby! Chef Paul rocks harder than Elvis, if you ask me.

Holy shit. Is that everything? I’m dying to go back here. Get your ass out to Hoboken ASAP. You will thank me.

UPDATE!!!

This place just keeps getting better. Not only was the Dry Rib Eye even more heart-stoping than last time, but this time there was a new burger being offered. Check it out:

That’s right – he takes a whole 40oz rib eye and grinds it up right there for you. This makes four burgers and is off off menu, so make sure you call and ask for it ahead of time with a group.

That’s a dry-aged rib eye with aged cheddar cheese sauce, fresh herbs, garlic puree, chilies, pickles and a house made bread. The fries are cooked in beef tallow. Awesome. This is my new favorite steakhouse style burger. Nothing comes close.

We also tried some pasta dishes:

Excellent hot oil shrimp:

Pork cheek parm! Beef cheek is also available sometimes as a special, and with an egg on top for the brunch special.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Johnny Prime™ (@johnnyprimecc) on

Some incredible fucking bacon (brunch):

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Johnny Prime™ (@johnnyprimecc) on

And these ribs, called “Buried Bones” – there bad boys are wrapped in banana leaves with spices and buried under hot embers from that monster oven. Slow cooked for 8hrs they are insanely tender. The best ribs I’ve ever had.

And just for shits and gigs, lets look at that steak progression again:

ANTIQUE BAR & BAKERY
122 Willow Ave
Hoboken, NJ 07030

Flame

Flame is a pretty large hibachi joint on the upper west side. I was recently invited in for a hibachi meal with a bunch of lunatic foodies.

They put on a great show here, I must say.

We started off with a pair of shrimp.

Then some fried rice and veggies.

And then the steaks came out!

Very simply prepared, and nicely cooked.

As far as hibachi goes, this is one of the best I’ve experienced. But that’s not where the action stops. They also serve a variety of nice dumplings, sushi and other seafood.

Everything was great; especially that miso octopus tentacle. I highly recommend this joint. There’s a lot of space, really beautiful tables and decor, and even some really nice mixed cocktails.

FLAME
100 W 82nd St
New York, NY 10024