Tag Archives: williamsburg

Jimmy’s Diner

This is a great addition to your fried food rotation. I walked by Jimmy’s Diner before a filming gig and had to try the joint based on looks alone.

Turned out to be a great choice. This “Lucky Schmidt” sandwich was awesome. Fried chicken fingers, melted swiss, bacon, jalapenos, chipotle mayo and pickles on a potato bun. Great crispy fries too. Go give it a shot!

JIMMY’S DINER
577 Union Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11211

Salt + Charcoal

Salt + Charcoal overall score: 85

A food Instagram buddy of mine, @NYCFoodFOMO, set up an “influencer” dinner here, so I was able to try a bunch of stuff. I was really impressed with the meats. It was difficult to fit this review into my standard 10-category format, as some sections just didn’t pan out like they would for a larger steakhouse. With that in mind, you should focus more on the flavor category, as well as the specific notes I made about other food items. Base your decision to go here on the substance and “meat” of the review, as opposed to the total number. I really loved every single item that I ate here, and I will definitely be back again. Anyway, check it out:

Flavor: 9

Porterhouse: 8/10. This baby is dry aged for 50 days, so it eats really soft with with a nice outer crust texture for contrast.

The aged flavor was on the milder side, but I really enjoyed it.

Both the tenderloin side and strip side were perfectly cooked and tender.

Miyazaki Sirloin: 10/10. Look at this gorgeous slab of beef.

I mean, it’s rare that you find beef that’s really from Japan, so this is a special situation. They cook and serve this very simply – almost like a sushi dish – with ginger and wasabi.

It packs a lot of flavor, and is incredibly tender. A really nice treat.

Choice of Cuts & Quality Available: 7

You don’t have the biggest selection here (porterhouse, strip, off-menu filet, and wagyu sirloin), but the sirloin is highly marbled Miyazaki; the filet is topped with tons of uni; and the other two cuts are dry aged for 50 days. They are in serious need of a rib eye, however.

Portion Size & Plating: 9

Portions are fairly normal here for the pricing, but the plating is gorgeous. Dishes are served in a Japanese aesthetic.

Price: 8

The prices can get steep. This surprised me for a steakhouse outside of midtown Manhattan. That’s the price you pay for high quality beef, though, and the Miyazaki is actually pretty fair compared to other places I’ve seen it.

Bar: 6

There’s not much of a bar scene to speak of, but the cocktails are certainly well crafted. I had a spin on an Old Fashioned, and I loved it.

Specials and Other Meats: 9

They offer an off-menu filet mignon that’s topped with tons of uni. I didn’t try it, but I’ve heard mixed reviews. I did, however, try their lamb and duck. Both were excellent, and some of the best I’ve ever had. No shame in taking a break from beef to indulge in these two dishes. Hell, they even work as shared apps if you want.

Apps, Sides & Desserts: 10

We tried a delicious trio of apps. First was the wagyu and uni roll. This is similar to the item served over at Takashi, with the accompanying shiso leaf and nori paper.

Next up was the uni shooter with poached egg, salmon roe and truffle oil. Delicious, smooth and decadent. I could slam a dozen of these no problem.

Last but not least, the crab cakes. These were generously meaty with a nice lightly breaded crust. Lovely.

Worth noting here: two of the dishes came with these amazing potato cake sides made of dozens of thinly sliced potato. It was buttery, salty and delicious.

Seafood Selection: 9

There’s a healthy amount of seafood on the menu here, as this joint also serves up some killer sushi. We tried a few rolls and loved them all. No pics though.

Service: 10

The service here is outstanding. Everyone is attentive, yet respectful of your space and privacy.

Ambiance: 8

Beautiful rustic wood tones make for a very cozy, warm and inviting atmosphere. I really liked the open view into the kitchen on the main dining floor. While the restaurant is long and narrow, they make good use of the space. And like a traditional steakhouse, there is a private dining room available downstairs, which is where we ate.

SALT + CHARCOAL
171 Grand St
Brooklyn, NY 11249

Humboldt & Jackson’s Roast or Roasted Steak Battle

I was recently invited out to Humboldt & Jackson to judge round 11 of an ongoing, late night steak battle cooking competition, pitting Chef Courtney Harris of Chef RLI (defending champ) against Harry Rosenblum of The Brooklyn Kitchen (challenger). Both bovine brawlers were given two-bone rib eye steaks that had been dry aged for 60 days after being raised out on Niman Ranch.

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The chefs’ rules were simple: cook it and serve it however you want, to whatever temperature you want, to be judged blindly by 25 ravenous carnivores who lie in wait.

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We cast our votes and the decision was made: steak B was the better of the two preparations. It turned out to be the nice, simple salt, pepper, garlic, thyme and rosemary preparation by Chef Courtney Harris that won the crowd over.

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But that didn’t mean Harry Rosenblum’s steak was bad, by any means. In fact, I really liked the flavors he had going on. He took influence from Japanese preparations, where they use koji rice bacteria and fungus to mimic the dry aging process and flavors. It may sound nasty but it’s not. Check out my article here, where I mention koji toward the bottom. Anyway, he also used citrus like yuzu with miso and fermented bean pastes to make a dynamic sauce. I loved it, and, for me, the decision was tough between the two.

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H&J is doing this for one more week before switching over to lamb battles. Be on the lookout for more!

Bunk Sandwiches; Union Wine Company; Salt & Straw Ice Cream

NOTE: THIS PLACE IS CLOSED!

A food-biz friend of mine, Jared (@foodandcity), invited me to an awesome event that Union Wine Company hosted at his client’s sandwich shop (Bunk Sandwiches) to fire up some press behind their newest wine-in-a-can, a sparkling wine/champagne in a golden can.

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So my buddy invited his food crew, and the PR folks behind Union Wine invited their crew, so this was a big smash up on the streets of Williamsburg with wine being served out of a vintage 1972 Citroën H Van “Tasting Truck.”

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As it turned out, Salt & Straw, an ice cream company out of Portland (in fact the other two businesses also originated in Portland), was also on-site, serving up delicious, unique and inventive scoops.

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So let me take these down one by one. I’ll start with the ice cream, since that was actually the first thing I tasted.

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A table inside of Bunk was serving up five wildly creative flavors.

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I tried them all, and I think my favorites were the marionberry habanero and the gin spiced blackberry jam. The habanero had a great kick of spice at the end, but everything was mellowed by the sweetness of the ice cream. The gin spiced blackberry jam popped with a zing of flavor from the juniper spice and the blackberry added a nice roundness and hit of sweet.

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All of the ice creams are top notch quality and extremely creamy. Even the sorbet was rich, creamy and not icy like you’d expect.

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You can only get this shit in the Portland and Los Angeles areas at the moment, so this was a special treat. People were freaking out to get a taste. Hopefully they will open up shop here in NYC soon.

SALT & STRAW
Various Locations
Portland, OR
Los Angeles, CA

Bunk Sandwiches

The awesome people at Bunk passed around three different food items while we sipped canned wine and sucked the ice cream off of plastic spoons. The first thing I tried was this muffuletta.

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I’ve been searching for a good muffuletta sandwich in NYC since about 2008. I think I finally found it.

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I first became aware of these during a trip to New Orleans, where food history indicates that they became popular among Italian immigrants in the old days. My wife and I passed by some place late at night, and I saw these giant hamburger bun looking things through the window. I thought they were giant burgers!

It turns out they were large Italian sandwiches. To be precise, these are sandwiches made with layers of various Italian meats and cheeses that are topped with an olive salad or olive spread “salsa.” All of this is then assembled upon a type of Sicilian sesame bread called muffuletta. So, yes; the sandwich is technically named after the kind of bread it’s served on. There’s also some contention about whether it is spelled “muffuletta” or “muffaletta,” apparently. But if you’re ever in NoLa, the uncontested, undisputed place to get these is called Central Grocery, and it’s right near Cafe DuMonde, which is famous for its beignets… so two birds.

Okay so Bunk makes an awesome version of this sandwich on what seemed to be a foccacia bread. So delicious. The meats were all good quality, and the olive spread was coarsely chopped with all different colors and styles of olives in the mix. So fucking good. It didn’t matter that the bread was different to me, because the flavors were all well represented.

They also served up some pork belly Cubanos.

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These were both toasty and tasty! The pork belly was sliced really thin so the meat just melted in your mouth.

Last, mole tots! These tater tots were topped with a mole sauce, fresh cheese, red onions, avocado and cilantro.

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Noah, the man in charge over at Bunk, referred to them as “totchos” (tot nachos, in case you suck at life). They were delicious and very inventive, which seemed to be the theme of the day given all of the unique shit I was tasting.

I definitely need to get back here for a real deal meal with my wife, not only for a muffuletta fix, but because their menu is chock full of amazing sandwiches.

BUNK SANDWICHES
740 Driggs Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11211

Union Wine Company

And now for the wine… I tried a few sips of everything they were offering. They had a pinot gris, which was nice and dry, if that’s your thing and you like white wines. They also had a rose, which was mildly sweet, crisp and refreshing. The champagne was fun, though I am not really a champagne guy to begin with, so I may be the wrong guy to ask about that. The pinot noir was pretty good though. It was light, and had hints of cherry. But the wine cooler was actually great. At 6.5% ABV this is like a fruit beer, of sorts, made with several different fruits and herbs/spices. It tasted like blood orange or grapefruit, though those fruits were not used in making the drink.

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Wine in a can is taking off! And I bet the boys from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia are laughing their asses off about it. Their joke is turning into reality. Life imitates art?

UNION WINE COMPANY
19550 SW Cipole Rd
Tualatin, OR 97062

Sauvage

This French and American joint just opened up about three weeks ago in the Williamsburg / Greenpoint area. A preview write-up that I saw recently showed some very promising menu items (I’ll get to those soon), and it just so happened that a friend of ours secured a reservation for us to give it a try.

The first thing my wife and I did was try cocktails at the bar. Both of these were pretty damn good.

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Since these are the same folks behind Maison Premiere, the starter menu is here raw bar -forward, with offerings like uni, oysters and crab. We went with the uni and “queen crab” items.

The uni was very nice, but one of our four pieces was a bit lame in size and lacked flavor – it even had a funky smell to it. In the photo below, that one is on the upper right, slightly out of focus. When we asked about it, the waitress pretty much said that this is how it came out of the shell, and not much they could do about it. Bummer.

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The bigger disappointment was the “queen crab,” which was essentially just a few very overpriced, chilled snow crab legs. Bummer II: The Return of Bummer. Skip this item, as you’re probably better off getting snow crab legs as some kind of cheap-ass, all-you-can-eat Chinese buffet.

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We were excited to see sunchokes on the menu, as these are some of my favorite root veggies around. They weren’t as great as I’d hoped, but I was happy to chow down on some anyway. Son of Bummer: The Vendetta Begins.

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Okay so now that the negative bummers are out of the way, let’s get to the outstanding and overwhelming positives. First, this squid ink garganelli pasta dish:

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This shit was expertly crafted and cooked perfectly. It was dressed deftly with a light, slightly chunky tomato and squid sauce and garnished with celery leaves. Absolutely delicious.

But as a meat fanatic, these next two dishes will have me pining for an inconvenient journey on both the M and G trains back into parts of Brooklyn that I barely knew existed and to which I have no real desire to ever go.

First, this pig’s head confit.

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There are only a handful of places doing this here in the city (one of which is Marc Forgione). This version was completely de-boned, so you can just fork and knife the shit out of this and eat everything you see on the plate. Let no part of the face go to waste! It’s super crispy all over, and underneath the crackly pig skin face lies a soft, tender meat that’s abundantly entwined with a savory and succulent fatty pig jelly. Fuck yeah, you should order this when you come here. It comes with grilled peach and sweet beans.

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Just when I thought I couldn’t be happier about the meat product offerings here, out comes the tomahawk rib eye for two.

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This fucker hails from Niman Ranch and is processed and aged by DeBragga on the east coast. It’s a 52-day dry aged and 32+ ounce hunk of tender, juicy and beefily flavorful steak, the likes of which are nearly unrivaled in all of Brooklyn.

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Now, I do think it is a bit small, being listed on the menu “for two” at $135, however the quality here is definitely worth at least some kinf of upcharge (unlike the steak at Pasquale Jones). For that reason, and for the reason that this is grilled rather than seared in a pan for a better crust, I have to take one point away and give it a 9/10.

We almost had a massive disappointment, however. When the steak first came out it was overcooked. I almost never do this, but as a group we decided to send it back, considering how much we were about to drop on this meal. We were happy to be met with a very understanding staff who agreed with our assessment and went above and beyond to make it right. What came back to us was perfect rare plus or medium rare. I very special thanks to the GM, Julian, for taking care of us on this. He was a fantastic host.

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I didn’t take pics of the overcooked steak, so all the shit you see here is from the actual steak that we ate. I hope the staff got to eat our overcooked steak, or a homeless bum or something. It would suck if it got thrown out. They offered it to us for free, but we didn’t want to taint the experience with a mistakenly overdone steak.

The shameful part was that the table next to us ordered their tomahawk well done on purpose. WELL DONE! What a colossal waste of good, expertly raised and brilliantly aged beef. Too bad we couldn’t have coordinated with them ahead of time. They could have taken our overcooked steak and ruined it a little more so it was to the other table’s liking.

Anyway, the steak comes with a fire roasted onion and some nice woods mushrooms on the side.

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They also gave us a little asparagus salad on the house when the corrected steak came out to the table:

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For dessert, we tried this kind of small “floating island” traditional French dessert. It was very flavorful – just small. Luckily we were pretty full at that point. The best were the little crunchy bits of French toast flavored croutons in there. I want a bag of those to go!

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All in this meal came to $100 a head. My recommendations for you at this joint is to skip the shellfish, get a pasta, and pick a shared entree like the pig face or steak. I did notice some other nice items on the solo entree menu, like a pork porterhouse and a strip steak. Maybe next time.

SAUVAGE
905 Lorimer St
Brooklyn, NY 11222

DeStefano’s Steakhouse

DeStefano’s overall score: 80

DeStefano’s seems to regularly offer Groupon deals in which you pay X number of dollars for Y amount of restaurant credit. Those are always the best kinds of deals. In our case, we had $90 credit for about $50. Our discount, however, was nearly voided completely when the lovely City of New York decided to shut down the L train in both directions due to police activity stemming from the infamous annual “pants off subway ride.” So after $25 in cab fare, we arrived to our destination about 30 minutes late.

Flavor: 8
This joint offers something a bit unique: a rib eye that is cooked with fennel. This highly Italian preparation doesn’t add much sweetness, as you might expect (Which is good), but the resulting “grilled fennel” that comes with the steak has a grilled onion quality, only less salty and more mild. I liked it. While the meat itself was aged (28 days) and prime, I felt that it could have benefited from a slight hit of more salt. The pepper usage was perfect, and the meat was cooked to a very nice medium rare. The only other down side was that the steak was sitting in a pool of butter and/or oil. I don’t mind that too much, but soaking in that will remove any good seared crust that may have developed on the outside of the steak during cooking.

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Below is a closer look at the fennel. The steak comes served on a bed of sliced and grilled fennel (unless you request otherwise).

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I should note here that the porterhouse cuts looked amazing. I saw two come out for other tables and my eyes lit up. You all know that I’m primarily a rib eye guy, so for me to get excited over a porterhouse is kind of a big deal. I’d definitely like to come back and try one of those big fuckers.

Choice of Cuts & Quality Available: 9
You have all your basics here, but the quality is prime and the meats are aged to give the cuts a great flavor. My cut had a good amount of tasty beef jelly fat between the spinalis and the eye. I like that. It’s like marrow!

Portion Size & Plating: 9
My steak was a 24oz bone-in cut, served on a silver platter. Very nice. Sides can be ordered for one or for two, and the sizes are generous.

Price: 8
My rib eye was $58. That is midtown pricing. A bit high, in my opinion, for something that didn’t get full points for flavor, but balance that against the fact that DeStefano’s almost always has a Groupon deal available and it evens out. I also can’t complain too much here because the management generously comp’d our dessert.

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Bar: 5
There is a small three-seat bar beside the host station when you walk into the restaurant. This is certainly not the kind of place you go for, say, a happy hour or to just hang out at the bar. They do, however, make a good martini. My wife’s old fashioned was just so-so, she reported.

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Specials and Other Meats: 8
Our waiter David read off some special apps for us, so there are definitely some off-menu items to explore. For other meats, you have lamb, veal and chicken. Not a bad showing.

Apps, Sides & Desserts: 8
We tried two apps. First was the sweet and spicy bacon. This slab came in just under $5 and was nicely cooked to a soft yet crunchy texture.

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Next up was DeStefano’s version of carpaccio; a shoulder cut of beef that is tenderized and seared on the outside before slicing thin and serving with arugula, lemon and shaved parmesan. This reminded me of my dad’s “steak salad.”

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It went nicely with the sliced table bread as well.

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On the side we tried an order of creamed spinach. This was okay. I’ve had better, and I’ve certainly had worse. The top had a nice crunchy texture from baked breadcrumbs, and the spinach itself was only lightly creamy, which, in general, I like.

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For dessert we had tiramisu. This was creamy and soft, not too boozed up, and very light. I enjoyed it, and it was a good recommendation from our waiter.

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Seafood Selection: 7
There’s grilled mahi mahi and a pair of seafood pasta items on the entree menu, otherwise you’re limited to the app and salad section for your seafood (crab cakes, BBQ shrimp, lump crab, etc). But you’re coming here for steak anyway, so don’t get all bent out of shape over this.

Service: 10
David was an excellent waiter, and all the staff was helpful and nice. Our water was always filled, we never had to wait long for anything, and the management was very generous for comping our dessert. I’d definitely eat here again – especially to try that porterhouse I mentioned above. The table bread is nice – basic, nothing too fancy – and served with extra virgin olive oil and balsamic.

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Ambiance: 8
You’re actually entering someone’s former home when you eat here. You feel like the home owners have cleared out their living room and set up nice dining tables for you to eat their home cooked meal. It’s very charming, and all the walls are covered in family photos going back to the 50’s (perhaps even earlier) and coming up to present day.

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DESTEFANO’S
89 Conselyea St.
Brooklyn, NY 11211

Saint Anselm

Saint Anselm overall score: 77

This small Williamsburg joint has gotten wildly popular among meat aficionados on a budget, due to their highly affordable $17 hanger steak. See how it stacks up below.

Flavor: 8
This was a tough one. My wife and I came here with a friend of ours, so we ordered an “axe handle” rib eye and the well-known hanger steak, to give it all a try. As it turns out, the axe handle was about a six or seven in flavor, but the hanger steak was a nine. So I split the baby here with an eight. The hanger was simply prepared. Salt, pepper, butter and grilled like a mo-fo. It was perfectly medium rare, super juicy and tender.

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The rib eye was a bit overcooked. We ordered medium rare, but it was more like medium to medium well. The flavor was good, nicely seasoned, and not much waste or fat at all. There wasn’t much in the way of fat cap, but the eye was tasty. The main loss of points here was due to improper cooking.

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Choice of Cuts & Quality Available: 6
This place only offers strip, hanger and rib eye. Lack of a filet or porterhouse really cut into the point score here, but the hanger is an excellent and welcome addition to the repertoire.

Portion Size & Plating: 8
Portions here are pretty substantial. the hanger steak is definitely good enough to fill someone, with a side item or app. The rib eye is served in sizes of 39oz, 47oz, and upwards to giganto-portions. We went with 39oz.

Price: 9
The apps and the hanger are nicely priced, but the rib eye is a bit overpriced in comparison to the rest of the menu. At $2.70/oz, that comes out to midtown prices or higher. Anyway here’s the full bill. As you can see the other items all seemed pretty reasonable.

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Bar: 7
This seems like a great place to hang out. However, I don’t think you’re allowed to sit at the bar unless you are getting food (see “service” comments below). I was a little bummed out by my experience on that angle.

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Specials and Other Meats: 8
There were three specials and a substitution menu item (grilled clams were grilled mussels instead, which we actually ordered and enjoyed). They also serve multiple veal, pork, lamb and chicken dishes up in this bitch, so good on them for that!

Apps, Sides & Desserts: 8
I was saddened to see that the bacon item was no longer offered on the menu, but we still had some decent side items. We started with the grilled mussels ($7). These were fantastic. A simple lemon and butter sauce with some bread for dipping. The flavor was clean and crisp, really nice.

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Next we had the sardines. I was glad to see that there were three in the serving, so we could each have our own. These were a little rough to navigate given the tiny bones, but the meat itself was really delicious.

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Last, we tried the spinach gratin. The spinach was nice: not overly creamy. It was on the dry side, which I wasn’t sure that I liked at first, but it grew on me. The cheese on top was hard and didn’t really mix into the spinach too well. It was more of a crust on top.

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Seafood Selection: 8
There’s just as many fish items as any other type of meat, whether it’s pork, beef, veal or lamb. We didn’t try any (aside from apps), but one of the specials was a salmon head that sounded great, as did the wine braised octopus. I’m not positive, but I think I also heard that this place serves dollar oysters as well. WIN!

Service: 7
When the place first unlocked its doors at 5pm, I walked in alone and said that I would be a group of three. They wouldn’t sit me until everyone arrived. I can somewhat understand that kind of policy, typically when a restaurant is very crowded or only has limited seating. But the place was literally empty. Okay. No big deal. I asked if I could sit at the bar. It was about 90 degrees outside and I was sweating. It was cool inside. I was told that the bar seating is reserved for dining customers. I looked around, shocked. I didn’t see any customers. She said she could check for me if it was okay. I said nah. Fuck it. I will wait outside. That shit just put a bad taste in my mouth. Fucking dead empty and I can’t sit at the bar to wait for my other two party members? I totally would have ordered a drink! Assholes. Anyway our waiter was awesome, and we had absolutely no complaints about the actual service during our dinner. By the way: the bar was still empty halfway through our meal. Toward the end, it was starting to fill up, but still plenty of space for one guy to sit and wait for the rest of his party to arrive.

Ambiance: 8
Despite the fact that this is a small, narrow bar type joint, they’ve really done a great job with what they’ve got. Brick walls, olde tyme sigils and banners all over the walls, etc. Very cool. It’s tough to compete with big budget steakhouses in the ambiance category when you’re a mom and pop type place, but this was one of the better mom and pop joints that I’ve been to.

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ST. ANSELM
355 Metropolitan Ave.
Brooklyn, NY 11211

Ramen Yebisu

My wife and I came here with another couple that lives nearby. I read good things about the miso ramen so I was psyched for it.

We started with a round of Orion beers. Love this shit:

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We had a couple of apps too. The pork buns were pretty good, but the meat was more of the stewed variety as opposed to the grilled style. They were self-assembly:

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The gyoza were good too. They were nice and crispy fried flat, and served with black garlic and scallions:

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Okay so on to the good shit. I had the miso ramen with extra sliced pork and a soft boiled egg. The ramen was thick and rich, with hints of seafood flavor. The noodles were wavy egg noodles, by Sun, and perfectly cooked. The scallions weren’t overpowering wither, which I was happy about. Meat quality was pretty good for the most part. I typically don’t love miso ramen but this place was legit.

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My wife tried the house special “Yebisu Ramen,” which they only serve 10 times per day. It’s a seafood based broth, thin and clear. This is a light soup but really deep in flavor. You can tell they simmered that broth in crab shells and seafood husks for a long time. It’s topped with all sorts of goodies like mussels, scallops, shrimp and  crab legs. This is a big winner.

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Biggest loser of the night?  THIS GUY:

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RAMEN YEBISU
126 N 6th St
Brooklyn, NY 11211

Fushimi

This review is for the Williamsburg location of Fushimi (there are two others – one in Bay Ridge, and one in Staten Island). I was recently invited here for a complimentary press dinner.

First, a little bit about the joint: Fushimi is a Japanese and French fusion restaurant that focuses on traditional Japanese items but with a French twist. Why, you ask?

Chef Chul Kee Ko’s parents had a Japanese restaurant in Seoul, where he spent a lot of time absorbing traditional Japanese food culture and techniques. But as a young man the intrigue of other cuisines ended up drawing him to a culinary school in Vancouver to further study his passion for French food. There, he worked his way up through several French restaurants before deciding it was time to honor his roots with a renewed focus on Asian cuisines. After honing his craft at such places as Buddha Bar, and with chefs like Jean-Georges Vongerichten, the fusion of the two food cultures was only natural when Ko came to New York to strike out on his own with Fushimi.

The ambiance at Fushimi is trendy and luxurious, with a purpose to be part of the nightlife scene as the evening progresses. That’s not really my speed, but as long as I can see my food and the music isn’t too loud, it’s all good with me – and it wasn’t loud or dark. We were there until about 9:45pm and I never felt like it was getting too loud, dim, or clubby. I certainly don’t mind if a business wants to cater to a lounge crowd as the evening transforms into night: Actually it’s probably a good idea given the vibrant neighborhood it’s in. And there’s plenty of room for them to do this, between the massive front bar and lounge area, the spacious booth and street-side table seating, and the rear sushi bar.

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There are some really interesting and modern fixtures and decorations throughout, with an amazing tunnel that leads back to an opulent bathroom area:

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Their logo can be seen everywhere, even in large format on the side of the building. Brand recognition:

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Chef Ko selects fresh ingredients daily and, as a result, the menu has a seasonal aspect to it. They offer a variety of dining options (lunch, brunch, dinner, early dinner, specials, parties, etc). Omakase means “I’ll leave it to you” in Japanese. Kaiseki is a multiple-course meal. We had Omakase Kaiseki, which you can figure out (if you are any degree sharper than a dull spoon) means that we left the contents of a multiple-course meal up to the chef. We simply sit back, relax, and enjoy the food without having to do much thinking about the menu. Here’s what we had:

fushimi menu

We started with some drinks. I had an awesome cucumber passion martini that was going down like a refreshing sports drink. I could very easily slam these all night.

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My wife had the sake sangria drink, which had bits of apple, strawberry, blueberry and orange within. It was like a boozy fruit salad:

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Now on to the food:

First was an amuse bouche of portobello mushroom veloute and a crispy risotto ball. The ball was crisp on the outside and soft on the inside. It was tasty and flavorful, with a hint of cheese flavor that kept it moist. The soup was really creamy and smooth: think of the best cream of mushroom soup you’ve ever had, only without the bits of mushroom in it.

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Next up was this kickass wooden tray of assorted appetizers. I loved this because I got to try a bunch of really nice items in one shot.

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There was yuzu gelee with yellow tomato inside. A really nice pop of sweet and sour in one shot.

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I usually don’t like eel very much, but this freshwater variety was light, mild and perfectly prepared. It really shined with some cured peppercorns on top. I think it was probably my favorite from the appetizer box.

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A close second, though, was this thinly sliced scallop with wasabi and shaved radish. So clean and nicely textured.

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This salad contains four different varieties of seaweed from Okinawa. Also very light, but brined with the flavor of the sea.

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The next compartment was fresh raw sea urchin atop a jumbo shrimp tartare. This was really nice as well, and vied for second place neck and neck with the sliced scallop. The uni was top quality shit, and the shrimp was super smooth as well. Everything worked, and the nori slices gave it some flavor and seasoning.

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Last of the appetizer box was the mixed veggies. Semi-raw string bean, carrot, and multi-colored cauliflower served with a sweet glaze. These were great and refreshing.

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As you can tell by now the plating at this joint is immaculate and beautiful. By now I was really excited to see how the rest of the meal was going to look. I pretty much already knew it would taste amazing after that last course. But I didn’t realize HOW good until I took a bite of this Chilean sea bass.

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This was honestly one of the best pieces of fish I’ve ever eaten, and probably our favorite dish of the evening. Lucky for everyone else, this is a very popular dish at the restaurant. I can see why. The top of the meat was crisp and flavorful, and the lower portion was so soft, flaky and moist. Perfect execution. The garnishes of roasted heirloom cherry tomato (sweet), pickled red onion  (sour), and black sesame ponzu puree (bitter and savory) all made for a really complex and well-balanced dish that was ultimately the exact amount of simplicity as well. Chef Ko really knows how to feature his ingredients in a way that makes them stand out as special.

Next was tuna tartare with seaweed paste, onion creme fraiche and salmon roe. I’m not as big a fan of seaweed flavors as other folks, so I felt this dish would have been better without it. However I do appreciate the seasoning added by the paste.  The tartare itself was great quality, same with the roe. I really liked the thick, sweet and savory ponzu sauce, along with the creme fraiche, so I wanted a bit more of that with each bite. The tartare was served with some crispy sliced bread as well.

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This chawanmushi was amazing:

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It was served in a covered bowl (beside a small vase of flowers) and then revealed table-side, so you get to smell that great waft of egg and mushroom in a nice blast of steam.

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Look at the texture – like silken tofu, it was perfectly smooth and velvety. The shiitake mushroom flavor gave it a meaty quality as well. Earthy. Inside were some generous chunks of lobster and shrimp as well, which gave it a slight briney flavor. So good on a cold night.

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As a beef connoisseur, I was impressed by this next course. Filet Mignon with braised orange carrot confit (cooked for three hours in olive oil and orange juice, and then seasoned with cumin), asparagus tips, fig, and crispy fried potatoes. There was a port reduction sauce on top of a small puree of carrot as well, and some black garlic on the potatoes. Even a thinly shaved curl of asparagus as garnish, and a roasted tomato.

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At first glance you may think that there is too much going on here in this dish, but everything works really well together. Although this was a relatively sweet dish, the sweet of the carrot, port sauce and tomato are offset by the bitter of the cumin and garlic. The potato and asparagus gave it a nice texture of crunch, and the port wine sauce added some moisture and a little bit of pungent pop as well. As for the meat: cooked to a perfect medium rare with a peppered edge. Amazing.

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Next was some assorted tempura, served beautifully in a bamboo basket with some fried noodles as garnish.

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The basket included a macadamia-coconut crusted shrimp, green bean, shiso leaf and mixed veggie (squash/zucchini/sweet potato) items. The batter was light and crispy. No grease at all. There was a light soy-based dipping sauce and a small bowl of shaved salt for finishing. My favorite was the shrimp here – it was meaty and big, and expertly fried, unlike those monstrosity “Hawaiian shrimp” items you get at places like Applebee’s.

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Next we had some very lightly flavored brown rice green tea from a teapot that looked like a winking tiger or bear face when looking from top view. What animal do you see?

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Next was the sashimi course. This was a bit tough to photograph because of the glowing blue ice cube that was buried under the ice, but the plating was gorgeous. The fresh wasabi served with this was potent, and lots of little things placed on the ice were edible for balancing the flavors, like the kumquat to get some sweetness, or the shiso leaf for some green peppery punch, and of course the ginger for cleansing the palette.

There was a nicely dressed and fresh Kumomoto oyster sitting upon a little pillar made of ice, with scallions and sweet vinegar sauce.

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There was this yellow tail belly, which was super smooth and delicious:

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My favorite was the king salmon. So soft and flavorful. Beautiful color too:

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And a cured tuna with seared edges, peach sauce and Maui onion, then topped with some peppery micro greens.

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The last savory course of the evening was this delicious bowl of mixed seafood with a really tasty cajun lobster cream sauce. It reminded me of the food we had in New Orleans.

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I feel like each item worked better individually, that the dish didn’t really come together as a whole. But the execution on every item was pretty much perfect, with the small exception of the lobster tail meat. The claw meat was fine, but the tail was just a bit overcooked. Everything else was insanely delicious though, from the sauce to the edible flowers to the sweet corn and even the crispy cheese chip.

Check out this fried, stuffed squash blossom, stuffed with lobster meat, cabbage and ginger. This reminded me of a southeast Asian style egg roll:

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The scallop was something similar to what you’d find on a top rated Italian restaurant’s menu. It was buttery and perfect.

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And the uni was smooth and fresh. I never thought I’d like it warm like this, but it was so delicate and good.

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Perhaps if the ingredients were a bit more integrated, like in a soup or rice dish, this wouldn’t have felt disjointed. But that is a minor point about an otherwise amazing dish. I really loved it.

We tried two desserts. First was a caramel flan that was topped with grapefruit, pineapple and raspberry sorbet.

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I felt like we didn’t need the fruit, but the sorbet seemed to work nicely with the creamy and silky flan.

This bowl of green tea ice cream with sweet red beans on top was delicious.

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I think it may have been a bigger success with some chocolate crunchies or even candied coffee grinds instead of the lemon macaron, which sort of crumbled apart like cake when I bit into it. There was also some citrus from the blueberries and strawberries, but the yuzu gelee took it a little over the top for that flavor element. I know chocolate crunch, fresh strawberry and ice cream sounds a bit boring, but my taste buds were slightly confused by the sour elements. It certainly was interesting though, and the ice cream itself was texturally perfect.

I compliment Chef Ko for his inventive menu items. As you can tell, the plating at this place is really amazing; something to behold. Pictures don’t do the meal justice. You really have to just get over here and see/taste for yourself. There’s definitely something magical happening here at Fushimi. This is probably the best omakase kaiseki I’ve had – it easily beats out Megu, Ninja and other trendy, expensive places that I’ve been to.

FUSHIMI
475 Driggs Ave.
Brooklyn, NY 11211