Tag Archives: terrine

Frenchette

Frenchette has become a very popular place to eat since they scored some critical acclaim from the NY Times. Reservations are difficult to come by, but if you just walk in early and ask for a table by the bar, you should be fine. That’s what my wife and I did over the weekend.

We started with a pair of apps: the terrine and the mortadella.

The mortadella is $9 for about 3 slices of mortadella, placed atop a soft dinner roll and then hit with some shaved parmesan and black truffle on top. This was good, but a bit overpriced (and the truffle wasn’t really that flavorful enough to justify the cost).

The terrine was incredible. Probably one of the better terrines I’ve had. It came with toasted slices of baguette and jars of gherkins and Dijon mustard. A perfect way to start the meal.

They even still give you a bread basket with some nice butter for the table as well. We used that with the terrine as well.

Next up was the 100-day dry aged Masonic Farm rib eye.

That’s a garlic and herb butter you see there on top.

This was pretty good. Lots of really nicely tenderized meat, and tons of edible fat that tasted like meat jelly. The dry aged flavor came through in parts, but not in a wallop. I say this is about 8/10 on my flavor scale. Too pricey though at $135 for what was essentially a steak for one, even though they market this as a steak for two.

We didn’t stop there. We had to try the duck frites.

This was pretty good. While a few bites were sinewy, overall it was a nicely prepared duck breast. I’ve had better, but this is a really affordable and fun version of steak frites from the fowl kingdom.

I had high hopes for this last dish. Artichoke and couscous tagine.

It was bland. But not only that, there were hardly any pieces of artichoke in the dish. In fact, there was only ¾ of one artichoke in it. About eight olives, one or two small carrots, and a few strands of fennel. What a waste. At least I didn’t count on this being a main item.

Overall this was a good meal. I might consider going back for their beef steak frites or au poivre, but I think I’ve pretty much covered everything else that I wanted to try. If that frites doesn’t wow me, then there is no reason for me to come back other than for cocktails at the bar (they make some really nice stuff).

Some of the stuff here is good, but I’m not sure I agree with the NY Times critics who are losing their shit over this place. It’s just above average.

FRENCHETTE
241 W Broadway
New York, NY 10013

Bistro Pierre Lapin

NOTE: THIS PLACE IS CLOSED

Dining at Bistro Pierre Lapin was probably one of the best French culinary experiences I’ve ever had. Everything I ate was either good or bordering incredible. The meal began with a “slice” of pate, a plate of butter, olives and herb truffle goat cheese, and a basket of small French baguettes that were really hard to stay away from, even though I knew I was about to indulge in a massive and decadent French feast. This may be the best table bread in the city.

Next up was a foie gras mousse, which was silky smooth and one of my favorite bites of the night.

These little guys are pig’s ear pinwheels stuffed with spicy sausage. Really nice.

This head cheese incorporated a boiled egg in the middle. The flavor and texture on this was incredible. This is a must try.

The deviled eggs were great, getting a great pop of texture and flavor from the bacon and pickle additions.

This is a bunch of pig head meat that was deep fried into a delicious patty. Awesome.

This was probably the most unique preparation of escargots I’ve ever seen. They were served with a sunny side up egg, peas, fava beans and a garlic-butter sauce.

The frog’s legs here are the best I’ve ever had, and was one of my favorite dishes of the night. If you have never eaten frog’s legs before, get them here so that you are forever spoiled.

They offer two styles of burger here. The first is a simply grilled burger with foie gras on top, sandwiched between two slices of Texas toast.

They also have an American style burger here as well, with the traditional fixings.

I preferred the American burger over the Texas toast burger, but both were very tasty.

Speaking of toast, this preparation of cognac flambe mushrooms on brioche toast was delicious. I could see this going over really well with the NYC brunch crowd.

These tortelloni are stuffed with rabbit and served with sweet peas in a carbonara sauce (you can see the yolk).

One of the best dishes I tried here was this “Shake N Bake” style breaded pork chop, served with an au poivre sauce. There’s a great story associated with this dish that goes back to when Chef Harold Moore’s mother used to cook pork chops at home. Apparently she used to overcook regular pork chops, but when she followed the instructions on the box for “Shake N Bake,” they came out perfectly every time. So Harold came up with his own breadcrumb mixture here, and the dish is a tribute to his mother’s Shake N Bake dinners at home.

The chicken for two is a great way to go if you’re looking to share:

But I would recommend the leg of lamb if you are going with a group:

This beauty is deboned, stuffed with herbs and spices, rolled back onto the bone, covered with sauce and roasted for hours.

The result is a prime-rib like texture and some dangerously tender and delicious meat. You have to request this a day in advance, and it will feed four to six people with ease.

As for sides. I tried both the clarified butter fries and the truffle fries. Both were excellent, but I think I preferred the truffle fries.

Both the potato gratin and the potato puree were delicious. Between those, I prefer the gratin.

The broccoli was pretty good too. That brown plate at the bottom is actually foie gras stuffing for the roast chicken dish. That stuff is crack.

I will definitely be back here to try more dishes from the entrée menu, and most certainly the artichoke salad. And don’t forget to try one of their tasty and beautiful cocktails. This is their French margarita:

BISTRO PIERRE LAPIN
99 Bank Street
New York, NY 10014

Felix

I’d been to Felix a few times for drinks in the nice weather, but I never actually sat down to eat until yesterday. I was invited in to take photos of the food and post some stuff to Instagram, so my wife and I went for dinner and tried some good French classics.

First, the foie gras terrine.

This was incredibly smooth and creamy. It was served with toasted bread and some caramelized shallots. Highly recommended, but I actually liked eating it better with the table bread than the toast.

I had to get the beef carpaccio, just because, you know, beef.

It was beautifully plated with arugula and shaved parmesan. Also really tasty, and also recommended.

My wife went with the cassoulet.

This baby was packed with a massive assortment of meats: chicken, duck, pork and two types of sausage.

Very nice.

I went with what was described on the menu as both a cote de boeuf and an aged 40oz prime rib for two. However, what came out was more like a traditional steak as opposed to roasted prime rib.

It also felt like it was a little smaller than 40oz. Perhaps maybe 32oz.

I ordered somewhere between rare and medium rare. Some parts were spot on, and others were over. But the flavor was pretty good at a solid 7/10. It also came with a nice vegetable medley of string beans, carrots, mushrooms and baby Brussels sprouts. The fries were really great too.

The three sauces that came with it were Bernaise, peppercorn and blue cheese (and a small dish of dijon for the fries). My favorites were the peppercorn and the blue cheese, but I was going into the peppercorn more because the blue cheese sauce was strong.

For dessert we tried the apple tart (tarte tatin).

This had a great texture on the outer edges of the tarte, with a soft and tasty apple inside. A nice pairing with some vanilla ice cream.

FELIX
340 W Broadway
New York, NY 10013

Tanner Smith’s

This joint is home to some really excellent cocktails.

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I had been eyeballing the place for a while, and when a buddy was in town and staying at a hotel nearby, we decided to go in.

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Our bartender, Albert, mixed up the absolute, hands-down best Old Fashioned I have ever tasted. On the menu it is called a Winona, and is made with a few flourishes to the standard ingredients, the most impressive of which is its delivery in a smoke infused bottle.

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Watch as the smoke billows out and creates a nose for the drink as you sip it:

I’m not big on the whole “mixology” thing. Mixing drinks is cool but I still call it bartending. Bartending with interesting ingredients doesn’t require a scientific-sounding name. It’s all about pairing flavors, and that’s what any good bar tender should be able to do. Albert is one of those people who takes pride in what he does. He isn’t afraid to try new things and come up with new drinks. I even told him about the Germain Scotsman. His initial reaction was “mixing peaty scotch with anything is blasphemy,” but he embraced the drink with an open mind and found that he actually liked it! It works on many levels.

Anyway, after another visit here for drinks with ANOTHER friend who was in town and staying in midtown, my wife and I finally made it over to try out some of the food.

We started with the scotch eggs. These seem to be made with quail eggs, so the ratio of egg to breading is a bit off. While they tasted really good, had good seasoning and crunch, the egg just got lost a little bit in the breading.

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The dry rub chicken wings had nice flavor. If I had to guess, it was some kind of mild jerk spice rub. Very interesting. Good crunch on the outside and nicely cooked inside, and served with a celery and jicama slaw.

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We also dug into the pork terrine. The meat was a bit more solid than I expected. When stuff like this is served with toast, I expect more of a spreadable texture. The taste was nice, however, and paired nicely with the mustard and jicama, pepper and cabbage slaw.

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Our last savory course was the burger with blue cheese.

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I ordered medium, and that seems about right to me on the inside. Perhaps just a bit over?

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The pickles, bun, lettuce, tomato and cheese were all on point, but the meat was a little grainy in texture. I think maybe the beef was over worked after it went through the grinder to become a patty. It also could have used a bit more seasoning.

Fries were shoestring style – like McDonalds (a good thing).

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For dessert we tried the blueberry upside down cake. This was essentially three small muffin sized cakes served with fresh blueberries (both in the cake and as garnish), tangy orange/lemon curd, whipped cream and basil.

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The flavors worked really well together, and the cake was warm and fresh. Even my wife, a baker, gave it her seal of approval.

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I’ll definitely be back to try a few more items from the food menu, but it seems like the drinks are really the star of the show here. Nicely done!

UPDATE! IMPROVED BURGER & SECRET BURGER, SAME GREAT COCKTAILS!

TANNER SMITH’S
204 W. 55th St.
New York, NY 10019

Top Chef Premiere Event

My wife was able to score some VIP tickets to the Top Chef Masters Season 5 Premiere Tasting Event.

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With heavy hitters like David Burke and Bryan Voltaggio on the roster for this season’s competition, we were both really psyched to try their food. We were a bit disappointed to learn that Voltaggio would not be in attendance (he just had a baby), but we still had the pleasure of eating some of the best bites of food in the biz.

The way it worked: we were tasting the dishes that were presented in the elimination challenge at the end of the first episode.

I’ll start with what was by far our favorite dish of the evening, which has ended up being the feature of this article. It was masterfully created by Jennifer Jasinski, Executive Chef and Owner of Denver’s Rioja, Bistro Vendome and Euclid Hall Bar & Kitchen, and her sous chef Jorel Pierce. Check out the pics below and let your mouth water like a hungry, rabid dog.

Jennifer and Jorel: best of the night!
Jennifer and Jorel:
best of the night!

They prepared an orange and ginger caramelized skirt steak with roasted mushroom-fregola salad and preserved lemon yogurt.

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The citrus really popped when you bit into the meat, giving it a bright contrast to the usual warm and earthy flavors you associate with good skirt steak. The caramelization gave the meat a nice crunchy and savory element, almost like a course sea salt, which contributed great textural dynamics.

I was curious, though, as to how the meat was butchered, because each piece of steak was sliced to a perfect little round circle, which is not normal when you think of skirt steak (usually sliced in strips on the bias). When I had the opportunity to speak to Jennifer and her sous chef Jorel about how the dish was prepared, they explained that several skirt steaks were “meat-glued” into a terrine form and shaped to look like sausages, then the terrines were cooked to a perfect medium rare before slicing into rounds (I think with a sous vide bath). I was blown away. I had seen this terrine technique used before, but never with skirt steak, and never had I seen it executed so perfectly and elegantly.

terrines of skirt steak
terrines of skirt steak
note they are set up to still be sliced on the bias
Jorel plating the slices of skirt steak terrines. Look at those juicy pink medallions!
Jorel plating the slices of skirt steak.
Look at those juicy pink medallions!

After watching the first episode, I realized that she sincerely took the judges criticisms to heart, because their critique was that her original dish was too clunky with large unshapely pieces of steak taking away from the dining experience. So by forming the steaks into terrines and slicing the newly-formed meat into perfect bite-sized rounds (and still cut on the bias), she and Jorel erased that problem completely. I guess that’s what happens when an expert chef has the luxury of using a kitchen and a sous chef. In the first episode she had to cook outdoors with a very basic set of tools, all by her lonesome, so making a terrine or using a sous vide machine was out of the realm of realistic possibilities.

Bravo Jennifer and Jorel, for impressing this carnivore connoisseur with a really amazing dish!

Another highlight of the evening: a Vietnamese style pork dish whipped up by chef Sang Yoon. This was the only other dish that I kept eating more and more of. It was sweet and pungent with the familiar, fresh, herby and spicy flavors commonly associated with Vietnamese cuisine (chili, cilantro, fish sauce, etc). Plus it was nice and juicy as well.

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 And, finally, here’s a little photo dump for all you bastards out there who want to see more:

fish and thinly sliced rare beef
fish and thinly sliced rare beef
Chef Sang Yoon and sme judges
Chef Sang Yoon and some judges
Gale Simmons
Gale Simmons
James Oseland
James Oseland
Curtis Stone
Curtis Stone
The Cake Dealer and David Burke
The Cake Dealer (my lovely wife) and Chef David Burke
spices on a bed of bay leaves
spices on a bed of bay leaves
Sous chef Nick Lama
Sous chef Nick Lama
slicing the pork
slicing the pork
sous chef Vinson Petrillo plating the fish
sous chef Vinson Petrillo plating the fish
a curry-like clam dish
a curry-like clam dish
prepping
prepping
Saluggi's Pizza - grabbed a slice of my favorite pizza in NYC to cap off the evening
Saluggi’s Pizza
I grabbed a slice of my favorite pizza in NYC to cap off the evening