Tag Archives: steak

Butcher & Banker

Butcher & Banker overall score: 93*

I was invited into Butcher & Banker for a special preview dinner with a group of people from Instagram. This joint has taken over the previously unused space in an old bank vault on the ground floor of the New Yorker Hotel. I was really excited to try out some items from their impressive menu. Check out the details below.

Flavor: 10

I tried two different cuts of steak here. I’ll start with the big boy; the tomahawk rib eye (individual flavor score: 10/10).

This beauty was big, juicy and flavorful.

It was cooked to a perfect medium rare with a really great crust.

While there was a good amount of fat on this chop, the fat was the high quality kind that you can eat like beef jelly. I was loving it. And the generously sized cap was absolutely incredible.

Next up was the smoked strip steak (individual flavor score: 8/10).

This thing was beautifully presented on a circular, hibachi style steel mesh grate that sat atop a cast iron grill pan which was covered in rosemary (that’s where the smoke comes from – firing the herbs up). This, too, was perfectly cooked, juicy and flavorful. However I was only able to try a small piece, and I think I got one of the “lesser” slices that remained, as we shared two cuts among about 10 or 12 people. As such the 8/10 score is tentative, and I’m reserving full judgment on this cut until I can try another during my next visit. What I did have was great, but I imagine a slice from the center would be a perfect score, just like the tomahawk.

I’m giving the overall score for flavor the benefit of the doubt here and awarding full points for flavor. Despite the individual scores averaging 9/10, I just know. Trust me.

Choice of Cuts & Quality Available: 10

Chef Scott Campbell sources all of his beef from Pat LaFrieda and a state of the art facility out on Long Island (apologies – the name escapes me at the moment). The cuts available here range far and wide: long bone short rib, tomahawk rib eye, porterhouse, rib cap, coulotte (top sirloin cap), hanger, strip (corn fed or grass finished), filet mignon, and cowboy rib eye. Insanity. And there’s definitely some dry aging going on here – they just didn’t print out the number of days for each cut.

Personally, I don’t care about the number of days as long as I can taste it. Lately I’ve had some dry aged beef that claims to be aged for so long, but the time didn’t translate into flavor. It really all depends on the aging room. Whatever the case may be here, I was able to taste it, and that is a win to me.

Portion Size & Plating: 9

Portion sizes here are pretty generous, and the plating is artful without being too fancy.

Price: 10

Since my meal was free, I have to award full points here. However, the prices are fair for the area, and reflect normal pricing for a midtown Manhattan steakhouse. There’s a variety of cuts available for the discerning carnivore, ranging from $32 for the budget savvy to $63 for the big spenders (per person).

Bar: 8

The bar is cozy and interesting. Being down in an old bank vault, it can be out of the way or an effort to get to, as it isn’t a visible spot from the street. But I really liked the vibe.

The cocktails are great here, and they reflect a modern twist on the art deco design of the New Yorker Hotel.

Raffles Singapore Sling:

A Proper Manhattan:

Our Bountiful Martini:

Specials and Other Meats: 10

There’s plenty to go around in the “other meats” department. The menu boasts a duck steak, veal, lamb and chicken. But the big star of the non-beef items is the Kan Kan Pork.

The menu description of this dish – “a grand arch of double loin chops, belly and cracklings” – doesn’t quite do it justice. Order it and you’ll know what I mean when you see it come to the table.

It’s garnished with caramelized Catskill apples, and served with an apple cider reduction. There is no other pork dish like it in the city, and nothing even comes close to it. This is meant for two at $41/pp.

I’m not sure if the waiters will be reading off-menu specials each day, but when you have stuff like this on the menu, what else can possibly be “special” in comparison?

Apps, Sides & Desserts: 9

We tried a bunch of apps and sides, so I’ll just rattle it all off and let you know my thoughts about each.

Banker’s Bacon Double-Thick

As you know from following this website and my Instagram account, there are very few bacon apps that can compete with my top five list. This Banker Bacon was delicious though – no doubt about it – and definitely worth getting as an app.

Short Rib Taquitos

I didn’t see these listed on the menu, but they were great. Super tender stewed style beef with a hit of cooling avocado cream inside a crispy shell. Can’t go wrong.

Colossal Shrimp Cocktail

Delicious and big. The fresh shaved horseradish on top was killer.

Calamari, Rock Shrimp & Shishito Fritti

These come with a great wasabi cream dipping sauce and a little bowl of curry salt for personal seasoning. That salt is really something else, and I love the flavor combinations when you dip into the wasabi cream and then finish with a pinch of curry salt. Perfectly crispy and lightly battered, and the shishito is a great touch.

Three Minute Diver Scallop Ceviche

Really light and well balanced. The scallops were meaty and delicate, and the bright yuzu and grapefruit dressing made them really pop.

Crisp Piri Piri Oysters Rockefeller

These were excellent. I usually don’t like cooked oysters very much, but these were almost like just the outside was cooked, with a crispy fried shell encasing the juicy, creamy oyster inside. Perfect with that dollop of creamed spinach underneath.

Roasted Wild Mushrooms

A great blend of fungi, simply treated with butter, herbs and seasonings – and looking beautiful.

Homemade Gelato

I didn’t get a shot of this stuff, but the texture was so rich and creamy. It was awesome. Chocolate, vanilla and bourbon pecan (incredible and unique).

Seafood Selection: 8

I didn’t try any fish entrees, but all of the starters I tried involving seafood were excellent. I’m not sure when I’ll get around to ordering a seafood entree, as there are still so many meat items I need to try when I return. In any case there are scallops, salmon, shrimp and tuna in the seafood entree department – a fair showing.

Service: 10

The wait staff is on top of their game. They know the cocktails inside and out, and they can explain everything on the menu with precision.

Also worth mentioning here is the homemade skillet bread that comes out to the table with a pair of different butters.

Light, airy, and fluffy inside with a buttery and savory outer crust. One of these days I’ll write up a top five table breads list, and I’ll certainly be considering this as a candidate.

Ambiance: 9

What else can be said about an old bank vault? The details in this place are all original and completely stunning.

And the modern touches from the renovation to turn this place into a steakhouse are elegant, yet still warm and inviting.

The space itself is divided into three locations: the vault, the bar/lounge, and the bifurcated dining room. It’s not a large restaurant, but they really made the best of the space. It feels like it belongs, and I can’t wait to go back.

BUTCHER & BANKER
The New Yorker Hotel
481 8th Ave
New York, NY 10001

Merakia

Merakia overall score: 88

Formerly Kat & Theo, Merakia is a Mediterranean and Greek inspired meat house in the Flatiron district. I was invited in as a guest of Instagram influencer @NYCFoodFOMO to take pics and sample the menu. Here’s the breakdown:

Flavor: 7

We had the porterhouse. This baby had a great seared crust on the outside that was nicely charcoal flavored and charred. I enjoyed that aspect of it – you could taste the garlic that was rubbed onto it, as well as the variety of fresh Greek herbs. The meat itself was tender and juicy as well. It was dry aged somewhere between 28 and 32 days, and hailed from either DeBragga or LaFrieda (there was some confusion about this between what management said and what the chef said). The main pitfall for this delicious hunk of beef was that it was under seasoned.

Choice of Cuts & Quality Available: 8

As you can tell from the menu, there is a pretty nice selection of beef on this otherwise lamb-heavy Greek meat house menu. I was impressed.

Portion Size & Plating: 8

Portions are all on par with similar steakhouses.

Price: 10

Since I ate for free, I have to designate this as a 10. The porterhouse was priced at $120, which isn’t too steep for 32oz, but could certainly be a bit lower. Other steaks are priced a bit high, close to the top end of the normal range at expensive midtown steak joints.

Bar: 9

This joint offers some really unique cocktails.

I really enjoyed the “Metal & Dust.” It even came with a small triangle of home made strawberry fruit leather.

The bar itself was really nice, and I would definitely hang here for drinks any time.

Specials and Other Meats: 9

Lamb is the way to go for non-beef meats. This is a Greek joint after all, and they do it well. We tried three different lamb items.

Lamb Ribs

Avid readers of this website will know of my affinity for lamb ribs. I absolutely love them, and I even sell them. Merakia nails them! Perfectly seasoned, nice balance of crisp lean meat to fat, and nice with a squeeze of lemon and some tzatziki. There are enough to share between two people in one app order (five meaty ribs).

Lamb Chops

This is an entree, and it comes with four nicely sized chops. These were a slight bit overcooked for my liking (more like medium to medium well), and also under seasoned. But damn were they good quality. I still recommend them.

Kleftiko (“mountain thief” lamb stew)

This was the star of the night. If you eat here, you must order this. It is a 200 year old family recipe that the chef has carried down for generations. The story behind this traditional dish is that thieves would steal a lamb and cook it in the mountains, covering it underground in the process to conceal the smoke and aromas. It makes for a nice concentration of flavors. Mixed in with the stewed lamb meat are peppers, herbs, spices, and Greek cheeses. It is served in a sourdough bread bowl.

Apps, Sides & Desserts: 10

I mentioned the lamb ribs just a moment ago. Those are top notch. Based on that, I’m giving full points here. We were too full for dessert so we skipped.

Seafood Selection: 8

There are some nice looking fish entrees and apps on the menu. We didn’t get to try them this time around, but we will certainly be back for them.

Service: 10

Amazing people are running this joint. Very attentive but not in your face all the time. Eager to make your dining experience excellent. Chef Scalco is very friendly and enjoys talking about his family recipes and the history of the dishes. If you’re into that sort of thing, you will love this joint.

This is what your table bread will look like: nice toasty bread, high quality olive oil and tasty olives.

Ambiance: 9

I was blown away by the interior of this restaurant. Tin ceiling with awesome beams and Edison bulbs up front:

And a cozy, rustic brick-walled and beamed-ceilinged rear dining room with a fireplace.

I highly recommend giving this place a shot – especially for the lamb ribs and kleftiko.

MERAKIA
5 W 21st St
New York, NY 10010

Benjamin Steakhouse White Plains

Benjamin Steakhouse (White Plains)
Overall Score: 85

Guest Review by “Hungry Dad” Hugh Gallon
www.HungryDads.com

As in my prior guest review for BLT Steak in White Plains, it’s important to start by saying that I am not qualified to properly review a steakhouse – at least not when compared to the Carnivore Connoisseur himself. But with steak, as with art, I know what I like. For context, my favorite steak place is Peter Luger, which has a reputation for being overhyped with respect to the steak (but is appropriately hyped with respect to its atmosphere). Also, it’s important to note that my reviews are often through the lens of a parent dining with children, as is the case here. So certain priorities differ from Johnny Prime’s. Nonetheless, I can use Johnny’s well-conceived ranking system as a structure for my ill-conceived opinions.

I wanted steak for my birthday, but a babysitter doubles the price of a steak dinner right off the bat. And a trip into Manhattan with the kids is a suicide mission unless the destination is kid-centric. So my favorite NYC steak joints are just not as convenient as they used to be. I was almost resigned to visiting the local diner for an order of steak and eggs. But then I found brunch at Benjamin Steakhouse in White Plains – owned by the same folks as Manhattan’s Benjamin Steakhouse and Benjamin Prime.

Flavor: 9

Benjamin’s rib eye was great. A nice salty crust and medium rare to my liking. I picked this place because it was close, but also because Benjamin has some genetic history with my beloved Peter Luger, as its owners came from Lugers.

I ordered the rib eye hoping to get plenty of fat and juice, knowing that the NY sirloin or filet minion would be too lean for my tastes (I learned such basics from Johnny’s outstanding Meat 101 and 102). The ribeye was juicy with a nice edge of fat. I would have actually welcomed a thicker strip of fat. I love the fat. When I was a kid, my dad said eating the fat put hair on your chest. Based on the veritable forest I have there, he must have been right.

Side note: I have to remember to ask Johnny if it’d be appropriate to ask a steakhouse waiter for a “fattier cut,” or if that’s weird or stupid in some way. Is a big strip of fat technically bad? It is less meat after all. When I go to a BBQ joint, I always ask for burnt ends of the brisket – which are viewed as inferior by some. But the burnt ends are my favorite. I think asking for burnt ends makes you look like you are “in the know,” with BBQ, but without being too big a douche. I wonder if there are any such questions appropriate for the steakhouse with respect to fat.

Choice of Cuts & Quality Available: 8

We ended up at Benjamin for brunch, rather than dinner. Fortunately, Benjamin still offered their full menu in addition to a brunch menu. For guys like me, stuck in Westchester with kids, who still want the full steak experience on their birthday, this was a godsend.

The menu offered porterhouse (for two, three or four), NY sirloin, filet mignon, and a rib eye. No wagyu. The steaks are “Chef Selected, Dry Aged in Our Own Aging Box” as per the menu. Johnny discussed these cuts in his review of Benjamin Prime better than I ever could.

I would have loved a porterhouse. Unfortunately, I am almost always eating steak alone. My wife and kids would rather eat salad and breadsticks. So they can have their birthdays at Olive Garden if they want. I should have manned-up and just ordered the porterhouse steak for two and eaten it alone ala “John-Candy-in-The-Great-Outdoors.” But my wallet talked me out of it.

Portion Size & Plating: 8

My ribeye was handed over on a heated dinner plate and I was pleased to see a very generous portion. I had thought perhaps they would send their dinkier cuts up north. Plus, I was there at brunch-time. But this was a nice big steak to satisfy my birthday hunger. I was so relieved when I saw that hunk ‘o meat. My birthday steak quest had ended. And it ended nicely.

I do prefer a “sizzling steak presentation,” which I think may be reserved for the porterhouse. Lugers, for instance, delivers your steak already cut, sizzling, dripping with juices and butter; and the plate tipped up slightly so the juices run into a puddle. I know, I know. As Johnny has taught us, that this can result in overcooking and doesn’t allow your steak to rest. I guess I don’t mind sacrificing some taste for a little razzle dazzle, plus I do like steak a little more on the done side anyway. (See, I told you I lack the credentials to review steak).

Price: 9

The prices were fair for a high-end steak place, albeit on par with Manhattan prices (which is to say expensive). I thought perhaps the non-Manhattan real estate would bring some savings to me. But, I am sure I am paying an upcharge on steaks imported all the way from Manhattan. Also, steak is probably a “prestige pricing” type of item. A place like Benjamin isn’t looking to compete on price. If anything, it probably wants to match Manhattan prices as to convey a match in quality.

Bar: 8 (officially un-reviewed. But to complete the cumulative score, I’ll give it an 8 based on Johnny’s review of Benjamin Prime’s bar, which I assume is of similar quality.)

I’m not a huge drinker. It was brunch. I was with two kids. Suffice to say I didn’t even see the bar. If I was offered a drink menu, I didn’t notice. I was busy keeping my kids from coloring the cloth napkins and sneezing onto the next table.

Since I can’t talk about the bar, I’m going to use this space to describe how great Benjamin brunch was for kids. Make no mistake, Benjamin is not “family friendly,” in the marketing meaning of the term. Benjamin is not “for kids,” in any sense. There was no kids menu. They did not have cups with lids or coloring pages and crayons (we came with our own crayons and paper as per the standard parent eating-out survival kit).

Before we left the house, I called Benjamin with a sincere inquiry as to whether bringing kids was okay. Albert (who answered the phone) said it was fine. I clarified that my kids can strain the limits of polite society. Albert again said it was fine. And God bless him, he was clearly sincere in his reassurance, which meant a lot.

The waiters at Benjamin were pretty formal and proper; as one would expect from an upscale steakhouse. But even the most uptight waiter smiled sweetly when our kids offered obligatory, parentally-mandated “pleases,” and “thank yous.” I observed another table, with a baby in a high chair, who was keeping busy by dropping his toy on the floor every thirty seconds or so. The table was in the path to the kitchen. Waiters, time after time, without issue, happily picked it up and handed it back to the kid without so much as a mild eye roll or subtle grimace.

The food came fast, which is perfect when dining with kids. The check came fast. With the ticking time bomb of children in a restaurant, this is ideal. We did not feel like we were being rushed. Rather, I think Benjamin boasts an astute service staff who recognizes that a quicker meal pace is needed for a family with young children – as opposed to a romantic date, which should take more time.

Towards the end of our dinner Albert came by as my son was writing out his alphabet. Albert kindly chatted us up and made a deal with the kids (after getting our permission). Albert said that if my son got to “Z,” in the alphabet, he’d bring out ice cream sundaes. My son immediately skipped from “G” to “Z.” (True story. He’s his father’s son). We made him finish the whole alphabet, and as promised, two wonderful sundaes appeared, on the house. And truth be told, we got a third, on account of my daughter’s nut allergy (so I got hers when she got her nut free version!).

All of this, and we never even told them it was my birthday.

Again, this is not a kid’s restaurant. It’s a nice place. So I’m not sure you would want to bring any toddler during primetime dinner hours. But for brunch, Benjamin staff was beyond a class-act for us parents – on edge about bringing their kids to a nice restaurant. Benjamin brunch wasn’t too busy and turned out to be a genius birthday plan. I was able to spend that babysitting money on a good steak, without letting my kids ruin a nice Saturday night out for folks just looking to dine in peace.

Specials and Other Meats: 8

The brunch menu was pretty brunchy with pancakes, eggs benedict, chicken ceasar salad, a frittata, and not a lot of meat offerings. A burger and thick cut bacon were the most substantial choices. The full menu does not include the burger, but adds rack of lamb and a veal chop, (double thick, extra heavy cut).

My wife’s burger, ordered medium, was just okay. Perhaps I expected too much. Burgers aren’t on the regular menu. So if a place is only cooking a few burgers a week for a brunch crowd, it’s not likely to be an outstanding item.

Apps, Sides & Desserts: 9

While I am a self-proclaimed novice at steaks, I can confidently speak about sides and desserts. Here’s what we had:

Fries – Benjamin’s fries were good. Thick cut, but not steak fries.

Chocolate chip pancakes – We got these for the kids. They liked them but did note that the dark chocolate chips weren’t their favorite. Naturally, as good parents, we followed up that healthy lunch with some ice cream.

Schalg – To my surprise and delight, the kids did not care for the schlag that came alongside the pancakes. Schlag, for the uninitiated, is a whipped topping, pretty much like whipped cream, but not very sweet and perfectly thick – much thicker than your average Cool Whip. I first got this stuff at Peter Luger and it is my absolute favorite. I ate it alongside my steak as to enjoy fresh. No regrets. To me, a great combination.

Ice Cream – Nothing fancy, but pretty much perfect as far as ice cream sundaes go. Fudge, nuts, and a cherry on top.

Seafood Selection: 8

We didn’t try any seafood. Brunch offered a good number of seafood items including tuna tartar, lobster bisque, crabcakes, and oysters on the half shell. The full menu had Chilean sea bass, grilled Norwegian salmon, grilled yellowfin tuna, 3 or 4 lb. jumbo lobster (broiled or steamed), and lobster tails.

Service: 10

In addition to the outstanding “kid-centric” service discussed above, Benjamin service was top-notch all around. The waiters were proper and distinguished, keeping the service mostly as an official, arms-length affair. Not unfriendly at all. Just appropriately formal. They entertained my wife’s questions, substitutions, and indecisiveness without flinching. Meanwhile, Albert roamed the floor gregariously, making sure everyone was happy. The food was delivered in a flurry by at least three or four well trained servers.

Ambiance: 8

When we got to Benjamin, I had my doubts about Albert’s assurance that it was cool to bring little kids. By all appearance, it’s a place for grown-ups who are looking for a nice quiet, classy meal. White tablecloths. Black bow tied waiters. Big leather-bound menus. Darkly lit. It’s a nice place with all the ambiance of a classically nice steakhouse. Meanwhile, my children can turn Tasmanian Devil in an instant. Strategically, we decided to sit outside. There was no waterfront table or rooftop view. But my kids could be a little squirmier without worrying about upsetting the normal folk.

BENJAMIN STEAKHOUSE
610 Hartsdale Road
White Plains NY 10607

NYC’s Best Steakhouse Desserts

Don’t worry. I’m not losing my balls and sprouting a vagina because I’m talking about dessert here. It’s just that I’ve come across a pack of five amazing sweet dishes during my meat escapades that I felt the need to share them with you all. These are the five best NYC steakhouse desserts I’ve ever tried, in no particular order.

Del Frisco’s Double Eagle

Yes, yes. Everyone knows how amazing the “off menu” lemon cake is here (on the right below). But the on menu butter cake is fucking obscene (on the left below).

I guarantee you’ve never tasted anything quite like it. Just trust me and order it. So good I forgot to take a pic of it by itself before I started destroying it.

It’s like a glorious cross between regular cake, buttery crumb cake and satisfying pound cake. The edges are crisp and the inside is soft.

Ruth’s Chris

Okay this is an odd fucker, but so good. Ruth’s Chris serves a sweet potato casserole dish as a side item for your meal. I generally hate sweet potatoes. Even the wanna be, knock off French fry version of sweet potatoes. But the trick here is to get it as dessert with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top.

Once you do that, you transform them into a sweet treat, much like candied yams (only better).

Delmonico’s Restaurant

The baked Alaska is really something to behold here.

They invented the fucking thing for fuck’s sake, so I guess it better be good. It involves walnut sponge cake, apricot compote, banana gelato and toasted Italian meringue. Eat it. This is a part of American history, and it’s delicious to boot.

The Capital Grille

This dessert is really what set me off and inspired me to write this list, because I was blown away by it. Coconut cream pie.

Whatever short cake or sugar cookie crust they’ve got on the bottom is like fucking crack. And the cream is so nice without being overpowering or too sweet. Awesome.

Ocean Prime

Carrot cake might be my favorite cake ever.

This is 10 layers of the shit, with the classic cream cheese frosting in between and on top, and garnished with a kick-you-in-the-ass pineapple sauce that you wouldn’t think makes any sense, but it works so well.

An honorable mention here would be Peter Luger’s strudel with copious amounts of schlag. I haven’t tried the strudel, but I can vouch for the schlag (bowl in background below).

So why does it get an honorable mention if I haven’t even tried it? I’ve heard great things about it from trusted sources, and, well, because I really do love the schlag. I could eat it by itself, spoonful after spoonful.

I guess we do owe Luger’s a bit of gratitude anyway. If it weren’t for Luger’s, the “American Steakhouse” concept might not exist here. Yes, Delmonico’s was the first restaurant in the country and it’s a WAY better steak joint now, but the Luger’s proprietors brought the idea of a “meat hall” over from their family traditions of Austria (Vienna), and that just wasn’t really here before then. So, thanks Pete. Nice work. Keep at it. You might eventually get the steaks right someday. Hayooooo!

Meet Your Meat: “Suzy Sirloin” Strassburger

Like all great businesses, there’s usually a great story behind the success. Let’s take Strassburger Steaks, for example.

A girl brings her father a homemade sandwich to the family’s beef plant in the Bronx – I’m guessing roast beef with horseradish sauce on a nice crusty roll. There, she meets her future husband, who is working as her father’s right-hand man. Over 150 years later, that family still prides itself on the traditions of dedicated daughters and great steak.

Suzanne “Suzy Sirloin” Strassburger and her sister Andrea work with their father, who has passed down to them five generations of work ethic along with a successful and well-respected business. In the story above, the father is Suzy’s great-great grandfather, and the daughter is her great grandmother.

Suzy and Andrea’s own father, Peter “T-Bone” Strassburger, is an innovator and leader in the industry. He started boxed beef in New York (wholesale cuts of beef, like rib and loin, individually packaged and placed into boxes for shipping), and he educated many steakhouses on the virtues of aged beef. In fact, his family was the first to install an aging room in their plant.

Strassburger is no joke when it comes to quality. The company supplies meat to several of my top ranked steakhouses, including Angus ClubKeen’s, Quality Italian and Quality Meats. You may have seen the name gracing menus all over the place. Their brand is worth featuring.

The Prime Rib at Keen’s Steakhouse

But in addition to supplying prime, dry-aged beef to high-end NYC restaurants, Strassburger also sells steaks online at the consumer level. And now Suzanne is also promoting her brand “Suzy Sirloin” to grocery stores around the city. With this venture, she is moving pork and all natural, hormone-free beef as a way to diversify. Smart!

The Porterhouse at Angus Club Steakhouse

She has a knack for marketing, too. It’s not often you see a woman walking around Manhattan in a big straw cowboy hat, but that’s Suzy’s signature accessory, and it’s even featured as part of her “Suzy Sirloin” logo.

She has said that she wears the hat as a sign of respect to all the hard working ranchers that produce the beef she sells. Right on! I can get on board with that.

Suzy is also a fellow Masters of Beef Advocacy graduate and Top of the Class trainee, like me, so we both like to blab about the benefits of beef, both for society in general and as part of a well-balanced and nutritious diet. You can check out her blog here, but she also founded The Sirloin Report, to which I’ve linked in the past.

I had a chance to interview her on the phone. We started from a string of 10 questions, and chatted from there. Read on below and enjoy! I’ve done my best to distill our conversations down to all the best bits of information.

1) When did you realize you wanted to work in the meat business? Was it something you always knew you wanted to do, or did it take some time to grow on you?

I knew immediately that I wanted to work in the business from the age of three or four.  I always thought it was cool that when I asked my dad what he did, he’d respond that he worked for Poppa [Suzy’s grandfather]. Any day off that I had from school, I would be at the family meat factory helping out, answering phones, anything I could do.

Suzy went to college and started working professionally at the company around age 24. She worked literally every job in the business; putting together boxes, packing the boxes, you name it. This allowed her to really understand the challenges faced by each employee. She even worked beside guys in the cooler who had been there since her grandfather was running the place.

Suzy talked a lot about her family’s five and six generations in the meat business (both of her dad’s parents had beef industry families), and a lot about her dad.

Suzy has had some great success, but she says that her dad is a tough act to follow. He had eight plants out west that produced 10 million pounds of beef per week. He was the first wholesaler to box beef and to dry age beef in NYC. He’s still working today at 78 years old, and he always encourages Suzy and her sister to work hard and keep learning. In fact, Suzy went back to school this year and is enrolled in a program at Harvard business school. She’s always staying current and continuing to learn.

2) What is a typical day of work like for you from start to finish?

My work changes from day to day depending on where the business needs me. Some days I’ll be buying, other days selling. I’m also the business’ problem solver, so I have to make sure that everything is coming together and running smoothly.

3) What are some of the challenges and rewards you experience working in this business?

While the work was more challenging when I was younger, assembling the right team and having the right people around really helped. My sister runs the most challenging aspect of the business, which is collections. As for the most rewarding aspect? Enjoying a delicious steak at a client’s establishment.

4) I know you supply one of my favorite restaurants, Keens, with its beef. Do you also supply them with their legendary mutton?

Suzy does not supply Keen’s with their mutton. She deals exclusively in beef.

5) How do your foodservice clients choose their beef? Do they rely on your selection, or do they choose the cuts themselves?

Both. Some clients wish to choose everything, while others have developed long and trusting relationships with my family and rely on our expertise.

Suzy also explained that this loyalty and trust goes in the other direction too, from her to her beef suppliers. When times get tough and beef is hard to come by or expensive, Suzy has long standing relationships in place that allow her to still get her hands on the best supply.

6) Do you find that your clients and customers are well versed in beef nutrition, safety and the various niche labels, or is that something about which you constantly have to educate?

Suzy is constantly educating people about beef. She and I both went through the MBA and Top of the Class programs with the NCBA, so she, like me, is constantly providing useful information to people, both client and consumer alike. But there’s one thing she likes to say about food safety:

Buy it cold, serve it hot and keep it clean!

7) Is there a particular region of the country or breed of cattle from which you like to source your beef? I know food trends are pushing hard for “local” products, but doesn’t the best quality beef come from the Midwest and Texas?

Suzy supports ranchers and farmers from all over. She tries to make sure the client is happy. Whatever the client wants to serve at their restaurant, she will help to make it happen.

8) How often do you interact with farmers, ranchers, and other producers before the beef gets to your operation?

The reason Suzy wears her cowboy hat all the time is because she believes that beef and her business is ultimately all about the ranchers and farmers. She visits ranches and farms often, and many of her close friends are ranchers, farmers and butchers. She surrounds herself with people who are working with the animals daily. Not only does Suzy understand what goes into beef production, but she respects the process and doesn’t take for granted what these hard working families do for the American food supply.

9) I’m a big fan of dry-aged beef. Do you find that any particular cuts take to this process better than others, and are there amounts of time that are too long or too short for producing good flavor?

We dry age middle meats like shells [bone-in strip loins], short loins [porterhouses and t-bones], and ribs. We typically age them for three to four weeks, but it really depends on what the customer or client wants.

After we chatted for a bit about her family’s important role in the world of dry-aged beef, Suzy astutely pointed out that no two aging rooms are alike. The way the beef turns out all depends on how often people walk in and out of the room, the air circulation, the lighting, temperature, humidity, etc.

10) What’s your favorite cut of beef and why? Grilled, smoked, or seared in a pan? And how often do you eat beef in any given week?

A grilled, prime, boneless New York strip steak is my favorite. And I eat beef 14 times a week.

WOW! Now that’s impressive!!!

180 Years of Awesomeness

If you don’t already know about Delmonico’s, then you’re missing out. For over a decade, I’ve gotten pissed off every time I’ve seen TV shows or news articles about steakhouses (both in NYC and throughout the country) that discussed a whole bunch of mediocre places without Delmonico’s even so much as being mentioned. I’m happy to see that trend is finally changing, and people are waking up.

Not only is this joint serving up some of the best steaks in town, but they were first. Yeah. That’s right, Peter Luger fans. This place was the first fine dining restaurant in America, opening its doors in 1837. They invented the “Delmonico” Steak (a boneless rib eye) and Delmonico Potatoes, obviously. But they also invented Chicken a la King, Baked Alaska, Lobster Newberg, Egg’s Benedict and Manhattan Clam Chowder.

It’s one thing to be first or to have been around a long time, but it’s quite another to be consistently top notch. While I’ve only been getting down on steaks for this blog for about six or seven years, I can honestly tell you that they’ve always been a top choice favorite of mine, sitting comfortably in my top three to five steakhouses for the entire time. Right now they are first on the leader board, at 97/100 points. The 45-day dry aged rib eye is one of the best steaks I’ve ever eaten, and their bacon is hands down the best in the city. My full review base on several visits is HERE.

But anyway, on to the point of this article.

This month Delmonico’s is celebrating its 180th year in operation. Starting on 9/14 they’re offering 180-day dry aged bone-in rib eye steaks to mark the occasion. They’re being served on keepsake plates that you get to take home, featuring the artwork of New Yorker cartoonist John Donohue.

The steak is about 28oz of bone-in rib eye, and it’s magnificent. I was invited in to try it with some other steak connoisseurs.

It has a deep nutty and earthy funk to it, while still remaining juicy and tender. Chef Billy Oliva really nails it. This cut is being offered at $380 and is easily shareable, since you also will need to try some of their signature apps, sides and desserts when you go.

But that’s not all. The restaurant has also invited a bunch of well known chefs to create dishes that celebrate Delmonico’s 180th. This special tribute menu is available from 9/14 through 10/14.

I was able to try a few of these items as well (I focused mostly on the beef-centric dishes, though I did try some others). My favorites were as follows:

Chili Rubbed Rib Eye with White Corn Pudding, by Michael Lomonaco, Porter House.

This steak is in the vein of those cajun rib eye steaks you might see at Greenwich Steakhouse or Smith & Wollensky. It is truly delicious, and I highly recommend it if you’re not springing for Chef Billy Oliva’s 180-day dry aged rib eye.

Tournedos Rossini, by Paul Liebrandt, two Michelin starred chef, author and consultant.

That’s a massive, tender and juicy filet mignon sitting on a potato pancake and sautéed spinach, all topped by some foie gras. This is 100% pure decadence. Awesome dish.

Lobster Shepherd’s Pie, by Danny Meyer, Union Square Cafe.

Nine Herb Ravioli, by Daniel Boulud, Daniel.

Beef Wellington, by Harry & Peter Poulakakos, Harry’s Steak & Cafe.

Paris Brest Profiteroles, by Dominique Ansel, Dominique Ansel Bakery.

I really suggest you get down here between 9/14 and 10/14. I know I’m going back at least two more times this month to try more shit. Get on it, people. This is a rare opportunity to try a wide variety of amazing dishes and steaks. Tell them Johnny Prime sent you.

Nice Matin

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.

Tapenade:

Mussels:

Squash Blossom Beignets:

Onion Tart:

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.

NICE MATIN
201 W 79th St
New York, NY 10024

The American Dream

The American Dream is a package I put together for the 4th of July weekend, but since it was so popular, I decided to keep it available for a bit.

What You Get

1) Two dry aged Duroc pork chops, weighing in at 20-24 oz each;

2) A pound of thick cut bacon;

3) A pound of dry aged tenderloin tails;

4) And a 16oz Wagyu New York strip (my favorite steak of all time).

The Price Tag

Just $125 for about 88-96 ounces of delicious, high quality meat. I’ve marked this package down from $165, so get on it while I’m still feeling patriotic!

ORDER HERE

Sunday Sirloin Roast

This past weekend I went all in and made a Sunday roast out of some Strassburger Steaks sirloin that I butchered myself at a butchery class. I had it netted/trussed so that it held its shape during the cooking process (that’s why it has lines on it).

First I rubbed it with some delicious Botticelli extra virgin olive oil. I really love that stuff. It’s the best olive oil I’ve had, and it doesn’t take on a bitter taste like some extra virgin oils do.

Then I seasoned with kosher salt, pepper and garlic powder. After that, I sealed it up in a sous vide bag with a few sprigs of rosemary. I left it in the bath overnight for 12 hours, set to 128 degrees.

After I pulled it from the bath, I poured out any meat juices into a cup for using later.

I let the meat cool own to room temperature before searing it in a pan with some butter and the rosemary. I spooned the excess butter over the top as I cooked it, and ensure that I got a good sear on all sides.

Always let your meat rest before slicing. I rested this roast for about 15 minutes. While you do that, you can pour the meat juice into the melted butter that’s left in the pan and reduce it gently into a brown gravy sauce.

I served with a big salad and some roasted potatoes. But man, oh man. That beef was so delicious.

Oh and speaking of Botticelli Foods, they happened to send me and my wife a nice package of stuff to try out here at home.

I just used the EVOO with my roast, but my wife used almost everything here and baked these awesome little farfalle muffins – a take on my spaghetti pie, but with prosciutto cups, bow tie pasta, roasted red peppers, mozz, eggs, parmesan cheese and spinach. Insanely delicious.

 

Ichiban Nom Nom

I had the opportunity to head to Chef Joe Conti’s test kitchen prior to the open of his yet-to-be-named Japanese omakase restaurant downtown. The great thing about this meal is that I was able to taste a lot of different cuts of A5 Wagyu beef. The highest marbling score there is. Unreal. Since there were a bunch of courses, I’ll get right down to business.

Torched mackerel with pickled daikon.

Fried river fish, uni and river crab.

Giant shrimp/prawn carabineros. Simply seasoned with salt, but their insides cook into a naturally spicy and fatty butter-like substance that will provide you with wet food dreams for the rest of your life. It coats your tongue like a rich prosciutto almost. For real, this is one of the best things I’ve ever eaten in my whole fucking life. They get to about a third of a pound each in weight, too, so they’re substantial. Favorite part of the meal – even better than the beef!

Wagyu skirt steak (8/10) and pork skirt steak. Amazing. Here, the pork out shined the beef just because it was so unique to see this cut here in the states. I want more of it!

Wagyu sirloin (9/10), tenderloin (10/10) and rib cap (9/10). All amazing, but my favorite, oddly, was the tenderloin. It was so buttery soft and tender that it would be impossible to compare it to anything else that came across our plates.

Here’s the tenderloin up close:

Italian panko Parmesan breadcrumb “gyu katsu,” aka deep fried beef strip loin. Amazing. 8/10.

Eel with shiso.

Cold udon noodles.

Ice cream: chocolate, green tea with chocolate chips, and salted caramel. Still some refining to be done here, but over all a great closer plate.

I can’t wait until this spot officially opens. I think it’ll be in the West 4th Street and 8th Avenue area. Keep an eye out! They’re already booked solid for the first few months after they open.