Tag Archives: tartare

Fig

For our final meal of the trip to Charleston, we went to the often difficult to reserve Fig with a couple that I’m friends with who live nearby. I managed to score a last minute reservation at 9:15pm, and we ended up closing down the joint at close to midnight. It turned out to be our overall best meal of the trip. Let’s get into it…

We started with a bunch of items that we all shared. Broiled oysters aji dolce, chicken liver pate, raw hogfish (similar to snapper) with rice and popcorn (crazy!), lamb bolognese ricotta gnocchi, and wagyu beef tartare.

These were, each of them, all-star level dishes, and I am hard-pressed to pick a favorite among them. I would order each of them again in a heartbeat, but I think I was most surprised by the hogfish. It was so unique, and I’m a sucker for popcorn. The gnocchi was definitely meant to be a main dish, but we shared among the four of us.

For mains, we also went heavy with five dishes. Baked wreckfish, sautéed flounder, mustard crusted swordfish, Berkshire pork milanese and lump crab spaghetti with lemon and bottarga.

Again, everything really incredible. I think, though, what stood out the most to me was the swordfish. The capers and mustard crust really paired beautifully with the medium-rare cooked fish. Loved it!

For dessert, we went with these lemon curd cream puffs, which were really nice.

I highly recommend Fig if you’re in Charleston. Absolutely delicious!

FIG
232 Meeting St
Charleston, SC 29401

Centurion

First, check out my kickass Ride & Review video HERE:

If you haven’t heard about this place, it’s a very exclusive Amex Black card-holders joint. You CAN get access to it you have an Amex Platinum card, which my wife has. We were able to snag a reservation for 6:30PM on a Friday, and the experience was incredible. Seriously – watch the video above for the full effect.

We started with some cocktails that we really enjoyed. The stand out for me was the incredibly beautiful and delicious Carbon Martini, made with squid ink!

Our apps were a pair of tartare dishes. Table side wagyu beef tartare, and tuna tartare. Both incredible!

Next, we shared a wagyu burger. This was perfect. Thin slices of tomato, onion, pickles and just a single leaf of Bibb lettuce. Crispy bacon. Melty cheese and a special sauce. Perfect cook temp.

For entrees, we had lamb loin and aged strip steak (Snake River Farms). Both beautifully plated. The strip was 45-days aged, and 10oz.

I think we both liked the lamb slightly better. It came with a killer lamb sausage meatball wrapped in spinach (watch the video). Steak 9/10. Lamb 10/10.

For dessert we had a Lebanese pistachio milk flan called mouhalabieh, and a vanilla eclair. Both great.

Excellent table bread and butter here.

Some of the incredible views:

If you ever have the opportunity to dine or have drinks here, I highly recommend it. It’s definitely worth throwing on your bucket list.

CENTURION LOUNGE
1 Vanderbilt Ave
55th Floor
New York, NY 10017

Cornelius

Cornelius is a new French and American style joint in Grand Central. My wife and I came in to give it a try, as the menu looked pretty incredible.

We started with some cocktails, all of which were killer. My favorites were the Sazerac (not pictured) and the caviar martini. If you have some time before you start to eat, grab the espresso old fashioned. That also works well with dessert too though.

We started with this foie gras terrine, which wasn’t on the menu. This is basically delicious meat butter, and it would also pair well with their cheese plate. We had that for dessert.

Next up was the beef tartare. This is made from hand cut prime tenderloin, but the bump of caviar is extra/not standard. I really loved this, and it’s definitely large enough to eat as a main course.

We shared this beautiful 28oz, 30-day dry aged NY strip/shell steak on the bone.

The sauce is a velvety and mild Hollandaise, and draped over the bone is a nice portion of sautéed broccoli rabe. On top, shaved Perigord black truffle. 9/10 – very tender, well rested, and great aged flavor coming through on that evenly browned crust.

Of course we didn’t stop there. These two dishes were both beautiful and well executed, but the winner of the night goes to the duck leg confit. The lamb collops of tenderloin were perfect, it’s just that the duck was masterfully prepared, The meat was so tender and well seasoned/balanced. And with a huge bed of lentils underneath, it was filling as well. Make sure you order that!

For dessert, along with the cheese plate up above, we had these incredible dolce de leche donuts. WOW! I was actually shoving some of the currant jelly into the hole to make them even more decadent.

This place is crazy good, and I really can’t wait to go back to try the chateaubriand for two and a few other items that look great.

CORNELIUS
89 East 42nd Street
New York, NY 10017

Ramerino Italian Prime

I was recently invited into this place for a media dinner, complimentary in exchange for posting content on Instagram. Here’s what we had:

The Good

Perfect espresso martini. And I mean perfect!

Awesome pappardelle with porcini mushrooms. Pictured here is a half portion size. They split the dish even though I asked them not to.

 

Octopus with chic pea puree. This was on the upper side of okay, just about at the good level.

The Bad & The Ugly

Complimentary plate of cheese and meats. Meh.

Steak Tartare. This needed salt/seasoning. I also didn’t like the burrata cream on the bottom, but the sun dried tomato was a nice, unique  topper. It was ugly though, and I had to add some crumbled parm from the plate above to give it a pop of flavor.

The porterhouse was overcooked, under seasoned, dry, and tasted as if it was a plate of leftovers that was re-heated in a toaster oven. If you’ve ever done that, you know exactly what I mean. It was noted as being dry-aged, but I didn’t taste it. There was little to no char on it either. 4/10.

We skipped dessert since it was starting to get late. The service was slow toward the end of the meal (busy overcooking the steak, perhaps). I kid. The restaurant did get pretty full and busy later on. The restaurant is in the back of a Hyatt hotel lobby, which is weird. I wonder if that’s where they serve the complimentary breakfast in the morning.

I probably won’t go back, but if I did, I would definitely stick to the pasta selections and the wine/cocktails.

RAMERINO ITALIAN PRIME
16 E 39th St
New York, NY 10016

Corner Bar

This joint opened recently and is connected to the 9 Orchard hotel. There’s a lot I want to try here, but on this first trip my wife and I just stopped in for a couple of cocktails and some snacks.

The cocktails are great. I had a Gibson that used basil syrup in the mix. Very herbal and unique.

I also tried their amari-based old fashioned, which was really strong at first. But as the ice mellowed it out, it was perfect.

We had the Oysters Rockefeller, which were quite expensive at $24 for four. They were delicious, however, and reminded us of the flavor profile of escargots.

We also had an order of their perfectly cooked fries, which come with ketchup, mayo, and dijon. I love that they give you dijon automatically. It’s my favorite condiment.

Based on this trip, we will definitely be back to try more of the menu. Stay tuned for updates!

UPDATE 10-15-2022

On a second trip, after a LOT of hype in the food media world, I noticed a decline here.

First off, the nice ice cube in the old fashioned is gone now, and they replaced it with a bunch of small regular ice cubes. Bad move!

We started with the steak tartare, which was fairly good although it was very heavy on the onion and vinegar. The parm crisp on top was nice though.

The burger is no longer on the menu. I was excited to try it but they had a steak on special, so I went with that.

$185! Get the fuck outta here for 32oz!

It was just okay. Cooked perfectly, nice crust. But the meat itself was pretty dense and tough in places, and a good amount of connective tissue that was inedible. The best parts were along the bone, and edges, where some aged flavor managed to creep in. 6/10.

My wife’s duck was better, but parts of the dish were insanely salty.

The bread and butter here is fantastic, and complimentary. Get it.

Fries were still great, so there’s that.

CORNER BAR
60 Canal St
New York, NY 10002

Essex Pearl

This place is incredible!

My wife and I have been dying to come here ever since we saw them setting up shop at Market Line soon after we moved in. It’s a beautiful seafood bar, done up really fancy as a place you’d love to just sit and have a cocktail, but also with open view to the kitchen and prep stations for all the delicious food.

We tried a lot of shit, so let me get right into it.

Raw littleneck clams topped with crispy shallots and a fish sauce mignonette. Perfect way to open up the meal. Pair this with their pickled ginger, shochu and gin martini.

Dry aged rib eye tartare, coarse cut. So tender and flavorful! The shrimp chips make for a perfect vehicle for mouth entry, and they add a great textural crunch.

Cumin lamb belly skewers. I really loved these. If you love cumin lamb noodles at places like Xian Famous, you need to try this. It’s LAMB BACON!

Tiger prawns. You’ll want to drink the sauce! This item was the whole reason my wife wanted to go, and it really delivered. It was her favorite dish (along with the hamachi collar).

Crispy baby octopus with Thai lemongrass curry and fried Thai basil. Ask for a small bowl of rice so none of that curry goes to waste!

The grilled pork jowls were next. This was probably my favorite of the meal. It comes with a lime pepper sauce that acts like a Carolina style vinegar BBQ sauce, almost, but Asian style as lime and pepper are common in places like Vietnam and Cambodia. It cuts the fat of the jowls so perfectly I can’t even describe it properly!

Turmeric dill hamachi collar. This is so delicious and large, it’s enough to share among two people. Light, flavorful, and amazingly aromatic.

Laotian ginger pork sausage over garlic noodles. WOW! The sausage is made in house and it’s so fucking good!

We washed it all down with this watermelon and lychee slushee. So refreshing and just the right amount of natural sweetness.

I can’t wait to go back and try the rest of the menu, especially their surf and turf!

ESSEX PEARL
88 Essex Street
Cellar Level
New York, NY 10002

Hawksmoor

The high-end English steakhouse chain Hawksmoor has finally landed here in NYC. I’ve been looking forward to trying this place since I heard the rumors of its opening, pre-covid. It recently opened its doors, and I was able to try it out before the holidays (after which I’m assuming NYC will go into lockdown mode again over this new Omicron variant).

Anyway here’s the review – that’s why you’re here:

Hawksmoor overall score: 88

My wife and I came here for a quick meal before catching a flight to Spain. She had a credit for something like $56 so that covered the steak.

Flavor: 9

As far as steaks are concerned, we only tried a 40oz aged rib steak that they had as a special for the night. It was great, although a little bit under seasoned. In fact, a few items throughout the meal needed salt, but otherwise excellent. The steak had a great cook temp and a nice charred crust with good aged flavor throughout.

On a second visit I had the steak frites, which they offer for lunch.

This cut is aged rump (sirloin), and I’d say it’s around 5oz. It’s a bit tougher than most steaks, so cut it thin and in small pieces when you eat it.

That’s perfect for a lunch sized portion. It comes with deliciously crisp fries and absolutely amazing roasted bone marrow with caramelized onions. 8/10.

We also split a cheeseburger as an app, which I thought was great. I typically don’t like brioche buns for a burger, but this one help up nicely. The meat was cooked perfectly.

Choice of Cuts & Quality Available: 9

There’s a good selection of cuts here, both boneless and bone-in, staple cuts and irregular cuts (like rump), prime and aged. But they may need to beef up their availability, because by 7pm they only had two 30oz porterhouse steaks left on a Thursday. I know it’s the busy season, but this shouldn’t happen at a steakhouse. I had to take a point for that.

Portion Size & Plating: 9

Portion sizes ranged from 10-40oz, and nicely plated on Staub cast iron pans. Other dishes were sufficiently fun, yet elegant, without being stuffy, which matched the whole ambiance of the place.

Price: 7

The pricing here is definitely on the high end when you compare it to other steakhouses in NYC (especially the ones that are part of larger chain ownerships). On the flip side, Hawksmoor touts a “natural beef” program, so that niche market of steaks is expected to come with a price tag premium.

Bar: 10

The bar is a great place to sit and eat (which is what we did), and they offer some inventive house cocktails in addition to an impressive selection of bottles behind the bar. One negative: the martinis are small, but at $12 for Beefeater 24 it’s a more than fair price. Michter’s 10 year is $28, and the 20 year is $118 (we had some of that deliciousness).

Corn & Corn & Oil

Specials and Other Meats: 8

I would definitely come back to try the veal, but I was a little bit surprised at the lack of pork and lamb options on the menu of this English chop house. Other than beef, they only offered a chicken dish by way of alternative meats. Nonetheless, the 40oz rib steak that was on special was awesome, and I can respect a steakhouse that’s LASER focused on beef.

Apps, Sides & Desserts: 9

We tried a bunch of stuff, and all of it was great. The aged rump steak tartare with pickled shiitake mushrooms was unique and had a mild sweetness to it, along with a gorgeous orange egg yolk.

I really loved the bone marrow roasted oysters. Top notch, and a must order!

The potted beef was good but needed a little bit of salt. Awesome onion marmalade and Yorkshire to go with it.

I would pass on the triple fried “chips.” They had a good crisp on them, but overall they lacked personality and seasoning (though they were much better on a second visit).

That little red bottle is actually the surprisingly good tomato-based steak sauce. Give it a shot!

The desserts that we tried were both masterpieces. When you go here, make sure you get either the Meyer Lemon Bomb or the Sticky Toffee Pudding. Wow!

Sour cherry cheesecake – awesome!

The tribute bites, however, while beautiful and tasty: I would pass on those next time.

Seafood Selection: 7

The oysters were awesome, but we didn’t try either of the seafood mains that they offered on the menu (lobster and halibut). Maybe next time, but likely not. Again; only two offerings, but I respect the focus on beef here.

On the lunch menu they offer a whole baked sea bream. This is pretty good – nice and light. A little oil and white wine, that’s all. And a fennel salad.

Service: 10

Our bartender was incredibly knowledgeable about both the food and drinks, and she made excellent suggestions when we asked for recommendations. Everyone in the front of the house was really nice and helpful.

Ambiance: 10

Both the bar room and the main dining room here are beautiful. Elegant, steakhousey, bustling, fun, and energetic. And good music, too, not too loud.

Here’s something from the dining room that was very apropos – seems like both are being diminished lately.

 

I can’t wait to go back and try more of the menu.

HAWKSMOOR
109 E 22nd St
New York, NY 10010

The Ten Bells

This nice wine bar in the Lower East Side has an awesome happy hour deal that includes $18 carafes of red, white or rose along with dollar oysters in three varieties, every day from open until 7pm. On weekends they open at 3pm so my wife and I popped in to try a bunch of stuff. We were the first ones at the bar. This is what one side of it looks like:

The wine was delicious.

And so was this tomato flavored brandy:

For bites, we did two dozen oysters (eight of each variety, all nicely cleaned and fresh);

Steak tartare (this was really nicely prepared – one of the better tartares I’ve had);

And boquerones/anchovies.

Everything was great, and I can’t wait to go back for more.

THE TEN BELLS
247 Broome St
New York, NY 10002

Life Rooftop

Life Rooftop took over the space formerly known as the Viceroy at the top of Le Meridien hotel, near Central Park. The views are spectacular.

The cocktails are excellent.

And the food, which is more along the bites and small portions angle, is really delicious. The seafood tower is impressive. It comes with lobster, king crab, langoustines, shrimp, clams, oysters, caviar, tuna tartare and hamachi crudo.

The lobster roll is pretty packed full of meat too.

The stars of the meal for me, though, were the deviled eggs with caviar, and the wagyu tartare.

Their dessert sundae and churros were really great too. I’d definitely eat here again.

LIFE ROOFTOP
24 W 57th St
29th Floor
New York, NY 10019

Balthazar

In all my years in NYC, I never tried Balthazar until last night. I had heard all the great stories: awesome steaks, awesome fries, awesome bread. Only one of those is true, but there are other things worth noting.

My wife and I stopped in for a quick meal at the bar. We started with some nice stiff cocktails, and a pair of apps: escargots and steak tartare. BIG FRENCH.

The escargots were awesome. We crushed them quickly. The tartare was average to good, but the slices of toasted bread were awesome. In fact, the Balthazar bread is so good that other restaurants use Balthazar bread for their bread service.

For our mains, we had the burger and the steak frites.

The burger was really good. Nice crust, great flavor, ample cheese coverage.

The steak, however…

… was Applebees level trash. It was cooked nicely, but the quality was average at best.

I can make anything look good, but this was a 5/10 or 6/10 at best. At $42 this felt like a rip off, and I think it was either flank or flatiron. Not strip as I was kind of expecting. The fries were very good, but not quite at awesome level. Go across town to Raoul’s if a killer burger and steak frites is what you’re after. Here, I would stick to the bread, the burger, and the snails. And yes, the fries are still worth trying if you haven’t already.

BALTHAZAR
80 Spring St
New York, NY 10012