First, check out this badass Ride & Review video HERE:
My wife wanted to check this place out for their pork and pasta dishes, and I was interested in their artichoke and rabbit dishes. We tried all of it. Here’s how it started:
Two lovely cocktails, a classic negroni and a martinez, for me.
Vitello Tonnato was on special, carpaccio style. I had to try. It was great!
We also had their grilled artichokes, which were amazing. I don’t think I’ve ever had them grilled before, but I’m a huge fan.
This stracci pesto pasta was like a pile of lasagna noodles.
Fucking fantastic! I absolutely loved it.
This pork dish was belly, roasted and then grilled, with a tangy plum BBQ sauce, of sorts. Very unique.
The fried rabbit was incredible. Perfectly seasoned, and it came with a big hunk of fried sourdough. This could easily replace chicken and waffles if served with some whipped ricotta and a spicy Calabrian chili honey.
For dessert, a perfectly executed tiramisu.
We will definitely be going back for the fried calamari/fritto misto and fried zucchini. The plates coming out looked nuts!
I finally made it over to Ernesto’s! I’m happy this place is really close to home. Check out my Ride & Review video HERE first, and then read on below.
Firstly, the cocktails here are excellent! A bit pricey at $18, but worth it for the skill and flavors.
We tried a bunch of starters. Everything was excellent, but the stand-outs were the croquettes, the squid, the anchovies and the tripe.
They didn’t have the txuleta (vaca vieja) special on this trip, so we went with the rabbit rice and the blood sausage. Both were great, but we preferred the blood sausage out of the two. It was light and refreshing, which was a complete surprise to us. Blood sausage is usually so heavy!
For dessert we had flan and Basque style cheesecake. Between the two, the cheesecake was the winner.
I will definitely be back here to try the steak when they have it on special again.
As soon as you walk into Rezdora you’re hit with the sharp, pungent odor of fresh garlic. Another thing you might be hit with is a plate, as waiters scurry to serve the handsome stretch of bar and tightly packed tables in the front of the restaurant. The small and crowded space would normally have pissed me off, but my wife and I managed to get seated across from each other in a corner spot in back with a circular table that was slightly larger than the almost microscopic rectangular tables for two nearby.
I had heard about and seen great things from this place. The chef, Stefano Secchi, had trained under Massimo Bottura, at the Michelin three-star “Osteria Francescana” in Modena; a place that has been crowned the best restaurant in the world a few times, if I recall correctly. Needless to say, I was not let down.
We started with some nice aperitif style cocktails and a few bites of an amuse that consisted of toasted bread with fresh ricotta and a nice Modenese balsamic. We opted to skip the appetizer menu completely. Instead, we shared three pasta dishes and two entrees.
The first pasta was a garganelli-like macccheroni with duck ragu. This was absolutely delicious. Just the right amount of salt, al dente pasta, and a really hearty sauce with properly cooked duck meat well-dispersed throughout.
Next up was my favorite dish of the night, and probably the best pasta I’ve had all year if not in all of my life. “Apertivo in Reggio-Emilia:” Doppio tortelli filled with prosciutto, parmigiano and “erbazzone” greens. These pasta pouches were pleasantly packed with prosciutto. I could eat these by the bucketload. I strongly suggest getting your ass in here ASAP to try these, because from what I understand, this particular pasta item will change with the seasons, whereas some of the others will remain the same if not similar.
The third pasta was the spaghettoni with clams. Spaghettoni is just longer/fatter version of spaghetti. The clams in this were more like cockles (in the oyster family, from what I understand) as opposed to the Little Neck variety. At first we were concerned that there would only be three clams in this dish, based on the shell count, but the sauce was riddled with these little fuckers, sans shells. This pasta was cooked extra al dente. From what I was told, this is the only pasta that isn’t made in house. I’m not sure why that is. In any case, it was our least favorite of the three pasta dishes we tried. But don’t take that to mean it was bad in any way. This was still better than most other Italian joints that sling this dish.
For the first of our mains we shared the braised rabbit leg, which came with rabbit sausage and sweetbreads, as well as a parsnip puree and some roasted baby zucchini. The leg was deliciously tender, falling apart and peeling away from the bone with just the slightest pull of a fork. The sausage was light, yet robustly flavored with spices and herbs. Almost porky but without the grease. The sweetbreads were creamy and crispy at the same time. A beautiful contrast. I highly recommend this dish.
Our next main was the “steak for two.” They offered 60-day bone-in Pat LaFrieda rib eyes in two sizes: 28oz or 32oz. Now, I know what you’re saying: “That’s for two?” Yeah – I agree. That’s small for two. They’re charging $99 for the smaller size as well, which is borderline crazy. However, I was really happy to see that it came with two sides (we chose zucchini and sautéed greens), and was prepared in such a uniquely Modenese way that I felt transported.
Okay so what makes it uniquely “Modenese?” On the bone there is a “Modenese Pesto,” which consists of pork lard, rosemary and spices. It was like sausage butter. Adding a smear of that on a bite of steak here and there made for a real treat. But the meat itself was rubbed with dried mushroom before cooking to give it a uniquely earthy crust. I also detected a hint of finishing balsamic on there as well, as I understand it is common in Modena to eat cooked steak with balsamic (I usually just use it on cold or raw meat salad type dishes). The only spots that had any real dry-aged flavor (a definitively different taste than the mushroomy crust) was along the bone, where less of the pellicle must have been trimmed away during butchery. In any case, that balsamic cut the fat nicely, and the mushroomy crust offered a very unique “steaking” experience on a perfectly cooked and tender cut of beef. 9/10.
This place is a must try for anyone who enjoys good Italian, especially pasta dishes. If you’re adventurous, get the rabbit as well. Now that Summer is over, that is a perfect dish for the Fall. Good luck getting a table though! From what I understand it’s pretty hard. We lucked out and someone gave us theirs (even though my wife had already gone once a few months ago).
This place slings some really nice food that mostly takes inspiration from the Puglia region of Italy. Everything is really nicely crafted, from the mains and apps to the bread basket (with ricotta and focaccia) and cocktails.
We started with the grilled octopus with fennel, and the stracciatella (fresh mozzarella with tomato, kiwi and prosciutto). Both were awesome, but the stracciatella really stole the show. Amazing balance of flavors.
Next we had a pair of pasta dishes. First was a saffron and sausage pasta called Malloreddus. These were like a cross between cavatelli and gnocchi.
The other was Cappellacci with sunchoke, crab and jalapeño. I didn’t get that much of the sunchoke or jalapeño flavors, but the pasta was perfectly cooked and the crab was fresh and delicious.
The main courses were nice. First was the pork collar milanese.
This was perfectly breaded and crisped. I actually enjoyed eating this with some of the leftover ricotta from the bread basket.
The roasted rabbit was really nice as well. It was almost like a parmesan dish, but with some potatoes as well.
For dessert, we had apple strudel, which was beautifully presented like a beggar’s purse, and pumpkin bread with flan. Both were really nice and unique, but we liked the apple strudel best.
I highly recommend this place, and I plan to go back to try the rack of lamb very soon.
Although I was interested to see them in action, I felt like those babies were all over Instagram already, so I wanted to try some stuff that no one else has reviewed.
Crab Cake: Beautifully presented and packed a lot of great flavor.
Tom Yum Soup: Easily one of the better versions of this Thai classic that I’ve ever tried. Tangy and robust.
Rabbit & Noodles: Perfectly cooked and tender. The batter is thick – puffy and soft on the inside, but crisp on the outside. A big winner.
Fried Ribs: Excellent. This is a must-have dish when you come here. They’re crispy, juicy and tasty. Also a big winner.
Squash Curry: As a meat man, I was surprised at how much I liked this squash dish. It was filling, satisfying, and packed with delicious Thai style curry flavors. It’s also incredibly beautiful.
Dumplings: These babies are so colorful and tasty. Veggie and peanut filling, topped with coconut and chili oil. Colors and fillings may change daily.
Thai Basil Scrambled Egg: So simple but so perfectly executed and delicious. I highly recommend this for the table.
Pumpkin Donuts: These are great for sharing at the table as well. They’re heavier than classic fried donuts, so they will chip away at your hunger and satisfy you.
Pomelo Salad: Tart, refreshing, and well balanced, this is a great way to open up your taste buds or cleanse your palette between courses.
Pad Thai Carbonara: This is hands-down the best Pad Thai I’ve ever had. There are chunks of thick cut bacon and a raw egg yolk to mix in. It really works! And the presentation is fun too. We picked shrimp as our main protein.
Chocolate Chili Souffle: I’m not a huge chocolate enthusiast, but I liked the hit of chili on top. It made this dessert pop.
Pumpkin Flan: Very smooth, and really nice flavors. I liked the candied pumpkin seeds and crispy squash on top as garnish.
I think that about does it. You should definitely get over here for the rabbit, the ribs, the squash, the soup, and especially the Pad Thai. You won’t be disappointed.
THAIMEE AT MCCARREN
160 N 12th St
Brooklyn, NY 11249
Beatrice Inn is a cozy West Village chophouse that’s headed up by Chef Angie Mar, who made her bones under April Bloomfield and other big time chefs before striking out with her own meat-centric restaurant. Actually, you may recall an earlier experience I had with her food at Meatopia last year. She was roasting wild boar that day, and it was delicious.
Just thinking about the fucking awesomeness of that day again gives me a chubby… If you haven’t seen it, jump out to that link above and scroll through some of the pics. It was a meat eater’s heaven.
Anyway I’ve decided to treat this review as a kind of “sneak peak,” since I know with a high degree of certainty that I will be back again in the near future to try other items, and also to make sure my wife tries what I consider to be one of the best dishes in the city (I hope the suspense is killing you).
Another caveat I will mention here: I was struggling with whether to categorize this as a steakhouse or just a standard restaurant that happens to be very meat-centric. You’d think that after rating over 100 steakhouses and 60 steaks at non-steakhouses, I’d have a better grip on this shit. But Beatrice Inn is a different kind of joint, and it threw me for a loop because it’s not just about the beef; it showcases a shitload of variety in terms of animal proteins. It may not matter to avid readers who actually pay attention to my words over the numbers, but squeezing this review into my ranking system yields an artificially low score due to the constraints of my imperfect ranking system. Another reason I decided to treat this as a steakhouse is because what Chef Angie is doing is pretty unique, and she’s kicking some serious ass in a world that’s heavily dominated by male chefs. Now, you know me: I’m not one to get all “women’s lib” when talking about female chefs, but aside from Ruth Fertel (founder of Ruth’s Chris), she’s really the only other woman that comes to mind who owns/operates a restaurant that is almost 100% meat, steak, animal carcass, etc.
Last caveat: I was dining with a large group of people when I came here, most of whom I did not know very well, so I would have felt awkward taking my time shooting photos of everything the way I normally do. No one wants to eat cold food! Next time I will make sure the photos are more numerous and better quality.
So let’s (finally) get down to business…
This flavor score is an average score between ONLY the two cuts of beef that we tried; the 60-day dry aged cote de boeuf, and the 20-day dry aged wagyu hanger steak. It does not include the other items we tried, like the duck and pork shoulder, which I discuss below in the “other meats” section. Once I return to try more beef items, this score is likely to shift upward, since I saved one item that I really want to sink my teeth into for when I return with my wife (the 127-day whisky dry aged tomahawk rib eye, as seen on The Meat Show).
But anyway, back to the delicious shit we actually did try.
First the cote de boeuf:
This was served with roasted garlic, marrow, blistered blackberries, charred prawn butter and thyme. It had a really unique woody, smoky, charred flavor to it that grew on me as I continued eating. I had never really tasting anything like it before. It was well-rested and cooked to a beautiful medium rare with minimal grey-banding and hardly any myoglobin “bleed out.”
Since we shared this with a table of seven, we asked the kitchen to slice it up, which they gladly did for us.
While there wasn’t much spinalis dorsi (fat cap) on this cut, I didn’t really expect it due to the long dry-aging time. Remember: dry-aging beef causes it to lose nearly 30% of its weight, and then you have to trim the bark off, which, unfortunately, sometimes happens at the sacrifice of some cap meat.
The real star of our beef entrees was this 20-day dry aged wagyu hanger steak. It seems that this was the table favorite for the beef.
Dedicating less time to aging this cut is smart, since the hanger itself isn’t very big to begin with; any longer and you may risk having to trim off too much bark. Also, with a cut like hanger, which is normally pretty well-marbled to begin with, you are really doubling down on the intensification of flavor that you get from the dry aging process. The result for this cut is amazing. It’s one of the best hanger steaks I’ve had. It was super tender and juicy, and perfectly cooked. The beef flavor really stands out here as well, since it was wisely prepared in a more simple manner, with shallot butter and thyme. After all, they don’t call this cut the “butcher’s steak” without good reason!
Choice of Cuts & Quality Available: 7
Take this number with a grain of salt, as it skews low due to the limitations of my review categories. Beatrice doesn’t necessarily fit perfectly into the “steakhouse” genre, but since they offer so many wonderful animal proteins, I had to include it as one. While Beatrice only offers one traditional steakhouse cut (rib eye, in two forms) and one “other cut” (hanger steak), they really knock the shit out of the “quality” aspect to this section as well as the “other meats” category below. Most of the beef, from what I understand, comes from Pat LaFrieda, who is a standard bearer for high quality beef, especially in the Northeast. No filet. No strip. No porterhouse. I probably wouldn’t order those anyway, given all the other goodies that grace the menu here.
Portion Size & Plating: 10
Portions are generous and plating is beautiful without getting into the pretense of tweezers and excessive plate-wiping. It’s exactly what you want from a nice meal of this type.
I think our table enjoyed a bit of a discount since one of the people we were with is best friends with the chef. In any case, given the pricey location of the restaurant and the high quality of the menu items, it’s only natural that this place can be expensive. Luckily there are lots of “for two” or “for the table” items available that can be shared to defray costs. And the hands-down best item I tried (see “other meats” below) is a mere $27 entree. So there’s really something for every budget here. Even the high rollers can enjoy truffle- and duck egg-topped burgers for $90, or a whisky dry-aged steak that’s about $600 for a 50oz tomahawk.
This joint was jumping even as we were leaving after 11pm on a Wednesday. The bar is ground floor level and feels like a speakeasy. There are some seats in a lounge type spot by the windows, and a warm fireplace at the end of the bar. In fact there are fireplaces all over this joint! I love it. The cocktail menu is really special too, with lots of unique takes on old classics.
I recommend the smoked Manhattan, which fills the room with a really woody aroma every time someone orders it. If you want something more refreshing and crisp, try the Big Poppa, made with truffled gin, citrus and egg whites.
Specials and Other Meats: 10
There aren’t enough points available to award here. Only 10? Here’s a list of the other meats on the menu: applewood smoked rabbit for two, milk braised pork shoulder, lamb wellington for two, chicken for two to four people, roast duck flambe for two to four people, beef cheek, braised oxtail, and whatever other specials the chef is working on in the kitchen that day or week. It’s fucking amazing.
We tried the roast duck flambe. Here’s how it comes to the table:
It had a really nice smoked flavor and is served with cherry jus, fingerlings and lyonnaise.
Once the presentation is made with the flames, they take it away and chop it up for easy consuming.
The absolute best item we tried, and what I submit to be one of the best pork dishes I’ve ever had, is the milk braised pork shoulder with jasmine rice soubise, hen of the woods mushrooms and sage.
Chef Angie has been making this dish since she was 15yrs old, so by now it has been perfected to perfection, or whatever status is even more perfect than perfect. It was bright, savory, juicy and soul-satisfying. You really need to get it when you come here, and I’m really fucking sorry that I didn’t shoot it.
We also tried the game pie, which contains wild boar, lamb, venison, pearl onions and fingerlings inside. But the suet crust is something I’ve never experienced before. It’s essentially a pie crust made with rendered beef fat, so it’s crispy and meaty, harder than a normal pie crust and a shitload more satisfying to eat. It should also be noted that the entire pie is formed around a marrow bone for good measure. Because why the fuck not? I didn’t snap a pic of this but a friend of mine who went there recently got a great shot. My description begs for an image, so I’m sharing her pic here:
Apps, Sides & Desserts: 10
I apologize for only shooting the fries and tartare, but I’ll get on it next time. Everything we tried was amazing. We started with the chicken liver pate.
It was smooth and creamy, served with a blackberry sauce and whole grain mustard that were the perfect pairing for the pate when spread onto delicious toasty bread.
The lamb tartare was really nicely executed. It was mild and had none of that gamey flavor that you might expect. Dotted with blueberries, it had just the right amount of acidic pop to it.
The truffle fries were cooked to a perfect golden crisp, and went well with our aged beef selections.
For dessert we shared an apple “croissant” (for lack of knowing the exact term) that was topped with vanilla ice cream and a foie gras caramel.
It was really amazing. The croissant was crispy but soft, warm and delicately “appled.” I was really tempted to get their famous bone marrow creme brulee as well. Next time!
Seafood Selection: 8
Beatrice Inn offers halibut and branzino by way of the sea, which we didn’t try on the first trip (see update below). But we did start with some west coast oysters that were crisp, creamy and fresh. They came with a really interesting horseradish sauce that had a kick of spice to it, perhaps the same kind of smoked spice flavors you get in something like nduja or chorizo. It was wild. Anyway, while that was technically an appetizer, I figured I would talk about it here since I didn’t try any seafood entrees.
Top notch, really great service here. Everyone is dressed in classy, old-fashioned attire, like you’d expect at a legit steakhouse. Water glasses are filled promptly, the food comes out at the right pace and temperature, and waiters/waitresses are attentive and know their shit forwards and backwards.
I described the bar area up above, but the rest of the joint is just as impressive. There are two rooms off the bar. One is a large dining room and one is a semi-private elevated area with a massive fireplace and a skylight. You feel like you’re in an inn or old fashioned town home, but laid back and comfortable as opposed to stuffy.
I highly recommend trying this place ASAP. It’s been a hot, trendy spot for a while now, but I can certify that it’s with good reason. It’s not pretentious like other places that trend hard in the food scene, and the food is “fuck you” delicious – every damn bite of it.
I went back twice since the review above. One the first visit, we kept it simple and got a burger. It was great, but I think it needed a crunch element to make it really pop. The 45-day dry aging process really does impart a great flavor to the meat, and the use of a mild brie for the cheese is genius.
On the third visit (yes, I like this place a lot), we tried a nice variety of new shit. To start, we went with these deep-fried dates that were stuffed with cured ham. Really fun and delicious.
We shared a few entrees as well. First, the branzino en croute. So nicely cooked. For one diner, this was the favorite item of the meal.
Yes, its a fish cooked inside a bread crust. So good.
Next was this braised rabbit for two. This was enough for three or four, for sure. The meat is so plentiful on this, which surprised the shit out of me.
We also went with the 30-day dry aged rib eye, since I wasn’t super stoked about the 60-day last time. This was perfect.
I only took a point off because it was a bit on the thin side. But the texture, flavor and cook temp were all remarkable.
We also had this roasted squash on the side. It had a sweet flavor profile, so I was wishing we added a scoop of ice cream to this and ate it for dessert.
We did enjoy the bone marrow creme brûlée for dessert, however, it was a bit light in terms of the portion size. I’d say that you get about two or three tablespoons worth of custard inside the marrow. I wanted at least double or triple that amount for the price we paid.
In the end, I took a point back for price (dropping from 10 to 9), and gave a point back for flavor (rising from 8 to 9).