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Posts posted by Mister_Cutlets

  1. I think Marea has the best chance. Four star restaurants have great food, great service, and great design; Ko has no chance of ever getting four stars under any circumstances. Right now Marea is attempting to create something on the level of Le Bernardin. They've got a shot, in any case. Bruni gave Convivio three stars, and Marea is much better in every way. as is Alto. But Marea is the only place right now that has a chance at four, unless he decides to re-review Per Se or something like that.

  2. When I post reviews -- which I primarily do on a board other than this one -- I make it a practice to put "comp disclosures" at the end, to let the reader know when I've received free things from the place in case that affected my judgment.  Many have claimed such comps had a big effect on my love for Ssam Bar, for example -- but it was transparent, for all to see.  (I think I started that after my earlier Ssam Bar write-ups, when I realized the treatment I was getting might have been affecting my judgment.)

    Also, it isn't necessarily clear to the reader that the "professional" blog sites (I'm not singling out any one of them) aren't meant to be "critical".  They all, including Josh's, often post things that read like criticism -- including negative comments about restaurants.  If Josh wants to take the position he takes, he will have to forego posting any negative commentary about places from now one.

    Also, I wonder about how much the choice of whom to tout gets affected simply by who chooses to provide access.  I'm not saying the "professional" blogs are doing anything sinister in that regard, only that certain restaurants "buy" coverage by putting on a show for the blogs in their kitchen.  Readers should be aware of that.  It's not simply a focus on "the best", necessarily; rather, the most accessible.

    This is a reasonable point. I do say bad things sometimes, but only very rarely. Here's the thing: I eat everywhere, pretty much. If you don't see me writing about a place, it's either because I don't like it (Bloomingdale Road) or because I haven't gotten there yet (Apiary under Scott Bryan.) I have access everywhere, but I only write about places that I like. And if I like them, believe me, they give me access, for the simple reason that it's in their interest. (Or, sometimes, because they like me and the work I do.) But if you are looking for a reason to be skeptical, I will say that my experience at restaurants is definitely different from a civilian's. They know me and I make no attempts at anonymity or anything like that. So I'm always getting the soigne treatment. That's the biggest thing -- much more than my having an expense budget account. (Which I do, by the way.)

  3. I think the videos on Feedbag -- and indeed almost everything on Feedbag -- are pure hype.  Josh is simply in those people's pockets.  If it mattered at all (which it doesn't), it would be kind of disgusting:  hype masquerading as journalism (except that it isn't masquerading as journalism:  it's hype masquerading as hype).  (So why do we bother to read it?)

    (I don't mean to suggest that Josh/Feedbag is the only culprit among the "professional" foodblogs.  Only that he's the most naked.)

    Yeah, after seeing that whole burger video he did and his (IMO) shill for Pat Lafreida really turned me off to his site.

    Listen guys, here's the deal: The Feedbag is in the appreciation business. I'm not a critic. I don't write or shoot video about things I don't like. "hype masquerading as hype" means that there is no masquerade. I've been "hyping" things I like since I wrote Meat Me In Manhattan. I'm an evangelist for good food. How freaking hard is that to understand? Example: I liked the fried chicken at Perry Street. You saw it; you tried it; maybe you didn't like it as much. Whatever. It doesn't make me a shill. The same with LaFrieda meat, Mike White's spaghetti, or any of the other things I enthuse about on the Feedbag. The blog is a platform for liking things. That's what I do. Capisce?


    Josh Ozersky

    Senior Restaurant Editor, Citysearch

  4. I think The Strip House is now the best Manhattan steakhouse (disclaimer: I've never eaten at Roberts). Both the rib steak and strip are superior to the other places. Plus the sides (goose fat fried potatoes, truffled creamed spinach, creamed corn with pancetta) blow the other places away.

    The sides in a steakhouse are enjoyable but what Marxists call

    "epiphenomenal." I don't got to a steakhouse to eat spinach.


  5. I'm sorry to hear that. I haven't been there for a while; maybe the owner isn't breaking the bank anymore. I can't blame him. The place isn't hugely profitable, except maybe the bar. As for the S&W experience, it doesn't surprise me. Getting steak at steakhouses like drawing kings or aces in poker -- it can happen, but it's not likely, even at the best of them.


    MR Cutlets - you had me until you mentioned Nebraska steakhouse. I was there a few months ago and it was perfectly mediocre steak. Not bad, but nothing special either. It tasted like a standard prime cut that many supermarkets carry now in styrofoam. I would put Keen's on the list though - with an extra  few points for the classic ambiance and scotch selection.

    Surprisingly, the best steak I've had recently in Manhattan was at Smith and Wollensky. I went in biased because of the chain status, and that I had read many mediocre reviews. In fact, I went in with the intention of ordering the burger (which is also great) but caved in to the steak in the end. It was truly out of this world. More expensive that Lugers I believe. I think I had a NY Strip special possibly - and it was $43. Pricey, but wonderful.


  6. If you want to do the Brandts a good turn, tell your local restauteur about it. It's still not well known. I doubt they could keep the big steakhouses in supply; they only kill about 1000 animals a year. The steakhouses need a steady supply of quote-unquote prime beef, and can't go to artisinal sources like the Brandts to get it. But smaller restaurants can, and should, and if you are or know someone in the business, tell them Mr. Cutlets gives its his meatiest seal of approval.

  7. I am not overly impressed with Wolfgang's, yet another Peter Luger tribute restaurant that shares with its parent a debased level of steak. The truth is that almost none of the big steakhouses now serve really great beef. There simply isn't enough great meat to go around, especially now that there are so many steakhouses in the city. They're all buying commodity beef in boxes from big purveyors like DiBragga and Spitler or Masters, if they're not getting it from Sysco or the Restaurant Depot. Peter Luger supplements their boxed supply with some carcasses, I believe, from old-fashioned full-carcass shops like Walmir. Sometimes.

    The bottom line is that if you want to eat great steak, you are much more likely to find it in a great restaurant like Craft or Daniel than in any steakhouse. The best steak today comes from small farms and specialty ranches -- Brandt, Snake River Farm, the beef sold through Four Story Farm, and etc. Assume that if the steak isn't identified on the menu that it is commodity beef and a crapshoot, dry-aged or not.

    A word about cuts. In any steakhouse, you are much more likely to get bang for your buck in terms of beef flavor by ordering skirt or hangar steak, which now have the flavor you used to find in strips. The ribeye is also far more flavorful, but I have never had the Colorado steak Steven mentions above at S&W. (I've never had a great steak of any kind at any Stillman group restaurant.) My favorite steak meals in the last year have all been cote du bouef for two at good french places like Balthezar or Steak Frites.

    OK, all that said, my favorite steakhouses in Manhattan are as follows and not in order:

    1. Robert's Steakhouse. Yes, the naked women are part of the appeal, but Adam Perry Lang's nose for great meat, and commitment (almost obsession) with the art of dry-aging separate Robert's from the pack. I also believe that his $125 wagyu strip steak is the best I've had.

    2. Sparks. I'm not a huge dry-aging guy myself, and so I love Sparks, which has what I believe is the best beef of all the major steakhouses, even if it isn't dry-aged. I also love the way they serve it, exquisitely brown / black on the outside, perfect inside, unsliced and stark on a plate with no garnish. Also the best hash browns by a country mile, and also the best veal chop by far.

    3. Nebraska (Financial District)

    This place is off the radar, but the owner spares no expense in obtaining great beef and serving it at what is barely a profit, given the size and quality of the steak. The place is not much for atmosphere, but what steakhouse is? The side dishes and appetizers are among the very best of any steakhouse as well.

    These are the places I go to eat the classic steakhouse cuts sucha as strip or porterhouse. For skirt, hangar, and other cuts I will also go to Sammy's (bone-on rib steak, skirt), La Portena (skirt), and Les Halles (hangar).

    Hope this helps. Buy my book!

    Mr. Cutlets

  8. Always glad to see this thread alive and well....

    Steakhouse burgers aren't usually a favorite of mine, as they tend to suffer from gigantism, and rarely use a less-than-obtrusive bun. At their best, though (Wollensky's, Houston's, City Hall) they are wildly enjoyable, if less than exemplary as burgers. Other big burgers worthy of praise include the Manhattan Diner on 57th street, Blue Smoke (a twin of City Hall's burger), and the east side's Soup Burg. The worst of all steakhouse-style big burgers is Peter Luger's, which is always either underdone or overdone, even after multiple sendbacks. They just have no clue how to cook hamburgers there.

    The best new hamburger in the city, for my money, is less than a week old: David Burke's "hamburker sliders" at the new Burke Bar in Bloomingdales. See my essay at:


  9. Gee, I have to go back. I thought it was OK and worth reviewing in Newsday, but not as good as Plataforma by any means, though better than Greenfields. I liked the sister restaurant, sabor tropical, more...for rodizio meats in Astoria, I think Brazilville is better. Have any of you guys tried it? It's just a by-the-pound place that happens to be loaded with brazillian nationals. Really good meat, very cheap.

  10. Well, Hank, that was kind of cryptic.  :raz:

    Pan, First of all what was cryptic about my post?

    Only that you assumed that everyone had read to the end of the review recently enough to immediately understand what you were talking about. No big deal; maybe my brain was working slowly last night. :smile:

    It actually was really dirty. But good! I felt it deserved notice, but

    needed a wake-up call.


  11. The place I am dying to try is the newly opened Adrienne's, on Stone Street, from Nick Angelis of Forest Hills fame. He's trying to do a Umberto / Di Fara style Grandma pie and I want to see what he comes up with.


  12. I did a big bbq roundup in Newsday myself recently, and an even longer definitive one for the New York Law Journal Magazine. I'd be happy to post it as a word document somewhere here if you guys want it. I doubt everybody here would agree with my rankings, and even I have felt the urge to mix it up.

    Anyway, no list of NY bbqs would be complete without the inclusion of Poppa Rick's Fine Foods in Woodbury, NY on the Jericho Turnpike. Among Manhattan's barbecues, Dinosaur, Blue Smoke, and RUB are all in a class by themselves. Somewhere in the middle, but capable of making amazing Q from time to time, is the Waterfront Ale House, both at its Brooklyn and Manhattan locations. The likes of Bone Lick Park and Spanky's are just above the Tony Roma level. On the other hand, it took Blue Smoke at least two years to get to a very high level, so there is hope.

    If I can answer anybody's bbq questions, please let me know. And if are interested in my article in the NYLJ (a forum which I was given by the generosity of Steven, by the way) please let me know that too.


    p.s. I suspect the barbecue engine you guys are talking about is the Cook-Shack oven, a cheap, electric-assisted contraption that "smokes" with only a handful of wood chips and requires no chimney, drafting, or even skill. A lot of places, such as Mo's in Queens, use it, and to ill effect. If you want to find out if a bbq is serious, ask what they are using: it should be a big cooker manufactured by one of the top firms like J&R, Southern Pride, Klose, or Oklahoma Joe's. Of course, Poppa Rick is just using a beat-up old offset smoker -- but he could never get away with that in the 212.

  13. I really think it's pretty simple. Neither Kim Severson, Robt. Sietsema, nor the girl from the Press, whom I've eaten barbecue with, know much about barbecue. It's strange in the case of Sietsema, who loves it and has eaten it all over the country -- probably in many more places than I have. But to claim, as he did, that Dinosaur's ribs lack smoky flavor, or as Severson did, that they lack porky taste, is to betray an unfamiliarity with the most basic elements of barbecue's flavor profile. Everyone I know in the barbecue business who has eaten at Dinosaur agrees that they're legit. Some might respectfully quibble with the dry rub, or the degree to which they're cooked, but to slam them is, in my mind, a sign that the person doesn't really know, or like, the smoky art itself. There really isn't that much variation in barbecue when it's competently cooked. That's why the competition people concentrates all their power on minor variations like sauce, rubs, and the like. When I see somebody slam Dinosaur, it's like somebody telling me that Frank Sinatra isn't a good singer or that Katz's is "disgusting," or that "the jews control the media." You just have to shrug and go on your way. The shame of it is that this lady, who knows nothing about barbecue, and who thinks that pulled pork should be cat food in a vinegar bath, has the power to hurt a place like Dinosaur. For my part, if I give a bad review in the paper, I make damn sure that the place is bad for what it is, not just for what I happen to like or dislike.


  14. Will someone dare to rank and compare the pork ribs at Blue Smoke, Dinosaur, Fink's, Pearson's, Stickey's, and Virgil's?

    [Aside to Jason: Doesn't BS serve both KC and StL cuts?]

    BS does indeed serve both. Thanks for clarifying the fuel question; I guess I outsmarted myself. I thought hickory was the dominant note, but also detected something else, but I guess I was wrong.

    For Q, I think pork ribs go like this:


    Blue Smoke

    Waterfront Ale House


    Daisy May's



    and then the rest...I've never heard of Fink's or Stickey's. I would point out that this list is just for pork ribs. I think Daisy May has the best beef ribs, the Waterfront the best pulled pork, "English Bob" the 2nd best brisket, and so on.


  15. Here is my take on Dinosaur BBQ.

    RUN DON'T WALK if you are interested in real barbecue. I had eaten Dinosaur's off-site product at the New York State Fair, and thought it passable, but unremarkable. I see now that this was an unfair sample. The barbecue being produced up on 131st st (just seconds off the west side highway) is on par with the next-to-top level of barbecue found throughout the southland. Let me repeat that. Dinosaur is good barbecue, not for New York, but on an absolute standard. It's not as good as Kreuz Market or Dreamland; but it's in the same rarefied air. There are some aspects to it that I would change, such as a concentration on hickory wood rather than the oak / hickory / fruitwood mix I think they are using, or the introduction of beef ribs, or the outright abolition of sliced brisket flat; but these are minor quibbles in the face of Dinosaur's achievement. Their bbq is unmistakably redolent of hardwood fumes, and stands on its own with only the most austere touch of sauce. (I am speaking of the sauce they cook and serve with -- the actual Dinosaur sauce, sold in bottles, is worse than Kraft.)The ribs are smoked right up to the point when KCBS judges begin deducting points -- that magic moment when the muscle fibers, now as red as claret, begin to separate from the bone and each other. Judges like to see firm meat with a pink ring, meat that will leave a mouth-shaped indentation after biting. But if you're anything like me, barbecue is best when transformed into a dessicated vessel for melting pork fat and the smell of smoke. This Dinosaur delivers, and in spades.

    Among the lesser entities on the menu, the pulled pork is coarse and juicy, prodigal with the presence of "Mr. Brown", and as far from that cat food-like mincemeat, in its vinegar bath, as a great tagine is from Dinty Moore Stew. Chicken wings are big, and marinated (so sayeth Robby) in cuban mojo; but they are undersmoked, a sad missed opportunity. And the brisket, though moist and completely orthodox, suffers from the aforementioned flat problem. The Hooters-style waitresses are trained well, and even knew what I was talking about when I asked for meat from the "deckl"; but in fact, I got the flat, along with a small saucer of 2nd cut brisket sent by the owner, whom I had pompously informed of my identity. I ended the meal with one of the best pieces of key lime pie I can remember ever eating. I was forced to get a second piece, as what had been meant as a palate cleanser, soon joined the ribs as an (un)controlled substance.

    All in all, Dinosaur was far better than I had any hope of it being, and currently the ne plus ultra of bbq in the northern states. Go there immediately.

    But try to go when it's slow; it gets very crowded.


    Mr. Cutlets


  16. One of the things I miss most about Steven's old fat-guy site was his encompassing steakhouse guide. I learned about a lot of places there. Now I put the call out: Do any of you have 1st class steakhouse experience and experience with outer-borough or undermarketed restaurants? A lot

    of people will tell you that Embers, Jackson Ave. Steakhouse, and so on are

    the very last word in steak and (the magic words) "as good as Peter Luger's."

    Sadly, they might be right these days...but realistically, are there any places

    that compare to Sparks, Christ Cella, or Luger's on its best days? The only

    steakhouses I've been led to that are really of the first rank are Robert's (the

    place in the Penthouse Club) and the late Nebraska, which still has its bronx branch in business, or did the last I heard. I would surely like to know about

    any new ones that I should try...I'm trying to get a revised edition of Meat Me in Manhattan in motion, and need to start researching soon.

    I have to say that I was disappointed with V, MarkJoseph, the Strip House, and most of the other top-end places that opened in the last few years. (The Strip House is the best of these, for my money.)

    signed (his mark)

  17. Arthur,

    Your old pal Mr. Cutlets writing in. Hi! My question -- Do you like the food of North Africa, esp. Morroco, Algeria, and Tunisia? What do they do best when it comes to meat? And is there someplace in the Enn Why See where I can taste a passable version?

    Also, I have ordered your new book from Amazon and am eagerly awaiting it.

    Wishing you the best in wielding both pen and fork,

    your humble servant,

    Mr. Cutlets

  18. Maybe I can help here a little. The primal cuts in many systems distinguish between the brisket / foreshank, which corresponds roughly to the animal's "chest," and the plate, which is immediately below, on the animal's underside, just above the flank. Classical pastrami, as is served in Katz's, is not made from brisket, but rather from navel, which comes from the plate. Brisket is essentially its own primal cut.

    But the question still remains: what does montreal smoked beef taste like? Is it like the smoked brisket you get in Texas? Or is it more like the brisket you get at Katz's when you order a brisket sandwich?

    wanting to know,

    Mr. Cutlets

  19. Heard the other day that DiFara's is opening a manhattan location, in the footsteps of the other outer-borough pizza meccas. I wish it would stay in midwood, and Dom won't be cooking there -- his daughter is apparently opening it up. So the pilgrimage will remain the same, but now more of the undeserving many will have access to at least an approximation of the greatest pizza in American history. O well....it's the american way. The DeMarco family deserves to make a buck if anybody does.

  20. You know, as far as I can tell, there's only one NY mainstream restaurant critic who is an active Egullet member.  Me!  So how come I'm never included in these review roundups?

    I had no idea! I just looked briefly on Newsday's Web site but couldn't find any reviews. Thanks for letting us know, Josh. Now I can seek them out.

    Just search for "ozersky" in the search box. They'll come up. They

    run every other friday, in the "Eats" column. I'm also the restaurant

    critic for the New York Law Journal, but I can forgive you not seeing

    that! :raz:


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