Tag Archives: theater district

Marseille

My wife and I went to Marseille in the Times Square / Hell’s Kitchen area to help them promote a special menu for Stinky Cheese Week.

We started with some drinks, and then had a few more. They were all good. Coffee old fashioned, Stinky Cheese Week special negroni, Lillet spritz, and some champagne.

In fact I really liked the bar here as well.

I also really liked the bread and butter they served us with dinner.

We started with the Stinky Cheese Week special French onion soup. I enjoyed the cheese, and the beef broth had a pretty good flavor.

I’ve had better elsewhere, but it was certainly satisfying.

The escargot were a bit light on flavor. I was able to pick up the herb flavors easily, but the garlic and butter application was much less than what I’m used to. In fact it may have been an oil instead of a butter. At least that’s the concensus my wife and I came to. I didn’t dislike them, they were just very light and unexpected.

My wife ordered the duck, which had an interesting preparation. It struck us as more German than French: It came with boiled potatoes as opposed to gratin (menu said gratin). And it also came on a bed of sauerkraut, which seemed to throw off the flavors and compete with the duck.

Unfortunately the duck itself was tough and overcooked in parts.

I had the steak frites. While I ordered it medium rare, it came out at about medium well or well done. It had decent flavor though, despite the awful sin of overcooking, and the fries were actually great. 5/10.

Continuing with the Stinky Cheese Week theme, we shared the blue cheese ice cream profiteroles for dessert.

I kinda liked it. It was like eating a cheese plate in profiterole form, as the ice cream had the cheese in it, the cream puff represented the toast, crackers or bread, and the apples and honey came in the form of a sauce for pouring on top.

It was very interesting, but admittedly not for everyone. In fact stinky cheeses in general would fit that chatacterization, but what can I say: I love some stinky cheeses.

MARSEILLE
630 9th Ave
New York, NY 10036

Becco

My wife and I decided to finally give this joint a shot after a manager at a different restaurant mentioned the porcini dry-aged rib eye to us when we were discussing steaks. That particular cut wasn’t available, unfortunately, since we came here for lunch (dinner menu only). But I was still able to get a good beef-filled meal into my belly nonetheless. Check it out:

I started with the bresaola. I always jump at this when I see it, because it’s not very common on menus anymore. No one wants to cure filet mignon – they want to cook it. But the cured preparation is so amazing!

It was sliced nice and thin, and was so incredibly tender.

Seriously. You need to come here and order this. It’s topped with lightly dressed celery leaf and endive.

My wife had the unlimited pasta trio. Of these, the veal bolognese was the best (spirals), then the tomato and basil (chitarra spaghetti), followed by the chard-stuffed ravioli.

I had a nicely charred hanger steak on a bed of polenta with fried leeks – drizzled upon with a really nice balsamic.

This baby was perfectly cooked and was so tender that you could pull the meat apart rather than cut it with a knife.

An easy 9/10 for flavor. Great portion size and price point too, at around $30 for the composed plate.

See that purple balsamic?

I definitely recommend giving this place a shot, and I’ll be back for that porcini aged rib eye ASAP.

BECCO
355 W 46th St
New York, NY 10036

Bann

I picked up a Groupon deal for about $12 that gave me $40 to spend here at Bann. Pretty solid bargain. My wife and I started with a pair of apps; steamed buns and wings.

The buns contained marinated thinly sliced beef rib eye and spicy daikon. There were pretty good, and I liked the sauce, which was based on spicy bean paste, only a little thinner.

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I liked the wings a lot, though I wish the honey chili glaze made them a little spicier. In any case they were hot, crispy, tender and tasty. And that’s ultimately all that fucking matters.

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For our entrees we went with a noodle dish and a rice dish. First, the rice dish: steak tartare bibimbap with a raw egg yolk.

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This was pretty great, served cold, of course, with a side of spicy bean paste. The greens there are spinach, and there are some other shredded veggies and mushrooms in the bowl as well.

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Our noodle dish was very similar to a pork belly lo mein.

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It was pretty good, but had I known it would be similar to Chinese food, we probably would have selected something else.

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LIFT!

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BANN
350 W 50th St
New York, NY 10019

Le Rivage

My wife picked up a Gilt City deal for Le Rivage, with which we shared a 62-day dry aged, bone-in Creekstone Farms/Pat LaFrieda New York strip steak, two sides, a bottle of wine and a dessert for about $100. Pretty great deal, especially if you can use a discount when buying the flash deal.

Anyway, Le Rivage is a cozy French joint in the theater district on 46th Street between 8th and 9th Avenues.

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They gave us some nice table bread with whipped butter to start:

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And the wine was an 80%  Merlot 20% Cabernet blend that was actually pretty good.

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Chef Paul Denamiel cooked our steak to a perfect medium rare.

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The long, 62-day dry aging process imparted a bit of nuttiness and funk to the flavor of the beef. This baby was masterfully prepared. It definitely can hang tough with some of the best steakhouse cuts in the city. Get your ass over here and try it, if it is still available on special. I give it a 9/10. Why not the full 10? I felt like it needed just a hint more salt, maybe just some finishing salt even, but not much.

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The steak came with two sauces, so dipping into these added some of that saltiness that I was looking for from the seasoning. The sauces were a wine reduction and a peppercorn:

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Our sides were actually very abundant. We ordered broccolini and fries, but they brought out two dishes of fries, one dish of broccolini and one dish of carrots. We had lots to bring home.

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I’m a big fan of broccolini, and I cook a mean broccolini at home quite often. I was impressed with it here. It was simply treated with seasoning, garlic and oil. The carrots were buttered and slightly sweet-glazed, and the fries were nice and crisp.

For dessert, we went with the chef’s recommendation, which was a Jacques Torres chocolate chip cookie and a sweetened, spiked milk.

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So simple, yet so tasty. After chatting with the chef for a bit, we learned that he is best friends with Pat LaFrieda, and that Jaques Torres is his godfather! That’s a serious pedigree, and it shows in Chef Paul’s abilities. He did a great job on the steak, especially.

I definitely recommend giving this place a shot, especially if you like to take advantage of Gilt City deals (not sure if this one is still available), or even just their regular three course price fix specials, which are offered daily for between $25 and $40. Very reasonable.

UPDATE – 6/30/16

I went back to Le Rivage to try Chef Denamiel’s award winning French Onion Soup Burger today. Holy fuck, people. This thing is absolutely amazing. It’s not a surprise that he won the “Judge’s Choice” award in New York City Wine & Food Festival’s 2013 “Burger Bash” with this baby, beating out the likes of burger master Chef Capon in the process.

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His patty grind is usually between 60/40 and 70/30 lean/fat, and the beef also comes from Pat LaFrieda, just like the steak I reviewed up above. He seasons the patty with salt, pepper, drawn butter and brown sugar before it hits the grill. After the first flip, he puts on a slice of a Swiss gruyere type cheese called Emmenthal, which melts around the patty to seal in the medium rare juices. This then gets placed onto a butter-toasted sandwich-sized English muffin, and then topped with cognac-reduced confit onions, and then a bechamel cheese sauce for good measure. The top bun is placed on top, and then the French flag toothpick with roasted cocktail onion and gherkin gets popped on. Viola – perfection.

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This is definitely one of my new favorite burgers; it really is unique. I walked out with a full belly, but I was still craving another one. Pretty sure I will be back again very soon, especially because the place is close to both work and home.

UPDATE 12/8/16

Burger still on point:

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Even my maniac food photographer homies agree:

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Croque Madame is stellar!

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Quiche is the best I’ve ever had in my life:

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You can even buy it frozen, to go, to fire up at home!

And the escargot is executed with perfection:

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Garlic bacon frisee salad: amazing. Tangy and delicious.

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Beef Bourguignon: hearty and soul-warming.

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Grilled Salmon:

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Flan:

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Peach Melba:

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DECKLE FOR FOUR

This is probably the greatest thing you can eat. The deckle for four is the spinalis part of the rib eye, wrapped and rolled into a pinwheel. It gets quickly seared for crust on the outside, and then finished low and slow like a roast. Call two days ahead for this to reserve it.

LE RIVAGE
340 W 46th St
New York, NY 10036

Chutney Kitchen

I’ve always said that Indian food is probably the least photogenic food out there. It’s probably the most flavorful cuisine, in terms of raw power, so it’s kind of a weird dynamic. Anyway, this joint is sort of like Indian food meets American grab-and-go lunch.

For example, take a look at this “Board Meeting” wrap, which has roti, chicken, rice, tikka, cucumber, tomatoes, chickpeas, kale and a cilantro chutney. I was hoping for a bold-flavored sandwich. Unfortunately it was a bit on the bland side. Perhaps it relied too heavily on the rice and not on the chicken and tikka.

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My wife got the “All Sunshine” salad, which was the better of the two items. It had rice, lentils, cucumber, tomatoes and date chutney with cilantro. It may look like shit, but it tasted pretty nice for a salad.

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The real star of the meal, however, was the order of fries. They were spiced with a little bit of curry powder that made them pop. They were crispy outside and soft inside. Delicious.

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CHUTNEY KITCHEN IS CLOSED

House of Brews

This place has a huge selection of beer, including one of my favorites: a 15%ABV Goose Island Bourbon County stout that will fuck you up in no time. Tonight, however, my buddy and I sampled some stuff from this brewer, who was offering free pints to patrons that were interested in their shit (the Imperial Stout was legit):

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The main reason for our visit was burgers. Of course my puss-bag friend went with a turkey burger because he’s watching his girlish figure, but I took down the Brew Burger with American cheese and jalapeños.

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It stacked up nice: not too tall, and easy to wrap your mouth around. Kinda like Peter North, for all you ladies out there.

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It was cooked to a perfect medium, and the bun held up under strict scrutiny. No soggy bottom, and, despite the toasted under-portion of the top bun, there was no flaking or crumbling.

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Fries were pretty solid too. Nice and crispy. I’ve had better at several places, but for a $12 base burger (served WITH fries) this is a steal.

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Wednesday night happy hour has 2-for-1 Bluepoints and $5 select drafts to boot. Not too shabby.

HOUSE OF BREWS
302 W. 51st St.
New York, NY 10019

Nippori

This little Japanese joint opened up in April of 2014. My ramen-master buddy found it while perusing a Yelp search for ramen in midtown west. He has tried nearly everything else in the city, so this was a new spot for him.

It was a pretty nice little place. Inside, there’s lots of space – not your typical jammed-up ramen joint with a line out the door and no space to lift your fucking elbow from the table. The bar and table seating is spacious, and there’s a second bar in the back for sushi.

When we walked in, I saw an awesome looking grilled squid dish. I wanted it badly, but I mistakenly ordered the sautéed squid item just above it on the menu. It was okay (slightly chewy for my liking), but it had a good spicy flavor from the jalapeños:

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We also tried the fried chicken thighs (karage). These were good. Juicy and crispy. Gotta love the thigh meat.

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For ramen, I tried the tonkotsu that came with miso flavored pork belly. it was okay. The broth was a little light and the pork was a little chewy (I like the belly to be fall-apart soft in ramen). Also, I expected the belly to be a thick cut, as opposed to thin bacon style. The noodles were good: thin, straight, firm … like Quagmire’s erect cock (that’s a pure guess – I’ve never seen it).

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My buddy has been to nearly every ramen place in the 5 boroughs. He said this bowl of tan tan men was good and recommended; I believe a possible 3.5 out of 5 on his very difficult scale. I though thought the broth was robust and flavorful, just the right amount of spicy. Perhaps I would get it with straight noodles, knowing now that it is served with wavy egg noodles.

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All that said, this is a rare spot that serves up a full Japanese food menu in addition to some decent ramen. It’s not just a ramen shop by any means.

On a second trip I tried some other items. First, the grilled squid. This was pretty good, nicely cooked, etc.

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My wife ordered the salmon saddle, which was really flavorful and perfectly fried. The fat from within the layers of fish flakes was really delicious.

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I tried the signature Nippori ramen, which was coconut milk-based with chicken, cilantro and red onion. I liked it a lot but I think the similar style at Tabata was a little bit more to my liking. The wavy egg noodles were nicely cooked, the egg was soft and delicious, but I think this bowl would benefit from some sliced jalapeños.

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My wife ordered a soba dish but we got this skillet fried ramen dish instead. The pork in the dish was similar to the kind in my first bowl of ramen, up top. It was a good dish, but totally not what we expected from an order of soba.

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For dessert we tried two items. First was the espresso and chocolate coffee gelato. This was really tasty, and I would definitely recommend it.

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The key lime cheesecake was okay. I wasn’t blown away by it. It did the job, but that ice cream / gelato was way better.

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NIPPORI
245 W. 51st St.
New York, NY 10019

Smokey Burger

Smokey Burger is a little organic burger shop on 44th Street between 8th and 9th Avenues. I found out about it through a Living Social deal.

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I went with the signature “Smokey Burger” which involved cheddar, grilled onions, mushrooms, and chipotle sauce. This was an above average burger. The bun (I chose white) was supple yet durable. No ripping or tearing. The meat was properly cooked to medium and pretty nicely seasoned. Looks gorgeous, right?

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But my wife’s “Cabana Burger” was the winner. It was topped with a sunny side up egg, and had a little bit more of a robust kick to it from the pickles and turkey bacon. Why not real bacon, you ask? This place happens to be halal, for you practicing Muslims out there.

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On the side we had an order of onion rings and an order of fries. Both were a little bit limp or soggy, but nevertheless tasted good because they were well seasoned.

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I also had a vanilla shake, which was incredible. For $6 it is well worth it, though I wish it was double the size. Very tasty.

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SMOKEY BURGER
339 W 44th St
New York, NY 10036

Ippudo (west side)

I’ve tried almost everything here except for the Hakata classic, which I definitely need to get down on at some point soon.

First off, this place has an excellent selection of Japanese beers and cocktails. I have a photo somewhere… let me see if I can find it:

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Next, a great assortment of apps and small plates to get the belly ready for ramen. We had some octopus items (Tako & Eringi Karaage), some fried fish, and spicy bacon shit (Pork Teppan).

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Now on to the ramen. First is spicy Karaka-men with added pork belly. This was a great bowl of food:

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Akamaru. A little thin on pork meat in my opinion, but tasty.

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Torishio. My wife had this; a bit thin for my liking, but had good flavor and was light.

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Yup. I even tried the veggie ramen. Definitely a soy sauce base with mushroom flavor, and small portion size.

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IPPUDO WEST
321 W 51st St
New York, NY 10019