Archive for the restaurants Category

8 Questions for Steak Club 7

Posted in Food, restaurants with tags , , on December 5, 2008 by travelwizard
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Today at Better Living Through Travel I am trying something new. I am abandoning my pursuit of the best hotels and replacing it with my pursuit of something equally satisfying, savory and delicious; the search for the perfect steak! As a Texan, I found that loving and appreciating steak is already hardwired into my DNA. In maternity wards all across the great state of Texas, baby formula is replaced by au jus, ensuring that the minute you exit the birth canal you get your first taste! Okay -I exaggerate – but the love of steak is not lost on a Texan.  

While I knew there were others like me in this wide world, as of late I discovered an underground group of seven brave men, who have turned eating steak into an art form. They are best know as Steak Club 7, and  it is here you will find post after post describing everything steak related. Although based in and around NYC, they have written about steak from places from far beyond! !I have had the pleasure of personally dining with many of them and their palate for meat could not be more impeccable.

I once saw the founder of Steak Club 7, Reverend Dave Ciancio, do a a shot of beef fat. If that is not hardcore, I don’t really know what is. These guys eat, breath and live steak and I was lucky enough have them answer a few questions on their favorite food subject for Better Living Through Travel. Check it out below for your reading pleasure and ‘beef” up on your steak knowledge: 

1.What inspired you to blog about Steak? 

REV: Fame, notoriety, free steak and the whole “leave Britney alone” thing was already taken. Moreover, we wanted to share the gospel of great steak. 

MEATGOD (MG): Rev’s hard work was a huge factor in taking this from just a bunch of guys hanging and eating steak to a full on group. I think we all take pride in that and believe we’re overly qualified to judge a good steak. 

CMOORE (CM): We want to share our love of steak with the world. 
THE BIG P.A. (BPA): I joined something that was already up and running so I was lucky in that respect. Going forward though, I think the thing that makes the steakclub7.com site worth visiting is that we’re all fans of steak. This isn’t our job; we all pay our hard-earned for an evening out sharing the delights of steak. The opinions you get from us are real and I think people respond to that. I’d rather get a suggestion from a regular dude like me who happens to like the same food over some stuck up foodie critic. 
JOEC: It’s very simple to blog about things you enjoy so intensely. Also, I do not hold much respect for Zagat or other more established review engines like it because frankly, the folks hired to write for them are usually nothing like me or my friends. I wanted to help build a resource for the common man without pretension. This is that site! Honest and frank with no chance of influence from the community. 

2. What are the qualities you use to judge an outrageously good steak experience? 

REV: Personalized service, great vibe, tasty sides and appetizers, a respectable wine list that represents more than 1 continent and of course a delicious and well prepared HUNK-O-BEEF all for an appropriate price. Clean bathrooms with thick walls help too! (Editor’s Note – Um, Gross?)

MG: Great service, good vibe in the restaurant, delicious steak and of course if they have Amstel light and hot fudge sundaes. 
CM: An outrageously good steak experience is near impossible. Someday, I dream of having one. 

BPA: First off, it has to be the meat. Secondly it has to be that it is cooked as requested. That might seem obvious but you’d be surprised how many places get those basics wrong. Assuming both those are in place then I’m fussy about my sides. I’m very basic, hashed brown potatoes and creamed spinach but you’d also be surprised how many places get those wrong. I don’t want spinach drowning in liquidy cream, nor do I want a soft outer shell on my hashed browns. Fussy? Damn right. And I’m paying $100+So I have a right to be. I also expect the service to be attentive yet subtle. Give me career waiting staff. Classy. 

JOEC: Simply put: Food and Service. These are relatively expansive meals, so every little blemish is magnified. I’m not obsessed with ambiance, parking, bar scene…it’s all about the food and service. But those two have to be great. 

3. Porterhouse, Rib Eye or Filet and why? 

REV: I was told choosing is a sin so I thank god for the Porterhouse for 2! No one should ever have to choose with the exception of whom to share with…the Meat God or the Big P.A.? 

MG: I am a Porterhouse for 2 kind of guy. Usually a big cut of meat. 
CM: Rib Eye – bring on the fat! 

BPA: Providing I can get one of the boys to go along with me I like the Porterhouse. There’s a tremendous feeling of satisfaction as the waiter brings out the huge plate with those two cuts separated by the bone. Then sitting there as the waiter puts two or three slices from the fillet and the strip side on your plate. Hugely satisfying. 

JOEC: The NY Strip has always been the ultimate. Nothing can top it when cooked to perfection. A great cut has just enough marbling, a crispy exterior, and unobstructed juicy pink in the middle. Keep the bone on the rest of the cow…this is pure steak perfection. 

4. If somehow tomorrow you were banished to an island stocked only with steak, from what restaurant would you want that steak and why? 

REV: I love the consistency of the Old Homestead in NYC.  But I would give Delmonico’s in NYC  a close 2nd. If my plane to said island left from New Orleans, it’s all about Dickie Brennan’s
MG: I’d say Old Homestead b/c it’s consistently good and never lets me down. 

CM: Craft Steak because they know how to make a steak lover happy. 

BPA: I’d go with Bobby Van’s. The steak always comes as I ask for it and the sides are superb. 

JOEC: Probably one of those 5lb-ers you see on Food Network TV from Texas or something. If I’m on a desert island…I want the biggest piece possible to keep me going! Quality wouldn’t matter so much to me in that situation. 

5. How often do you feel you really NEED a steak? 

REV: Need? Every day. Want? Every meal. But a steak is special and needs to be treated as such. You can’t over due it. It’s the same reason I never became a strip club DJ. Who wants to grow tired of naked women?

MG: Every morning when I wake up. 

CM: Once a month. 

BPA: I get the urge to go out and spend the money about twice a month. Once, obviously, with the boys from Steak Club 7 and one solo mission. Also, if I’m traveling on business and I’m in a town that has a stand-out steak house then I have to try it. 

JOEC: High-end joint? Once or twice a month max. Beef? 3-4 times a week. I love cheesesteaks. 

6. Best steak under twenty dollars and best steak when money is no object? 

REV: Only in Argentina (http://www.parrillalacabrera.com.ar/) can you find an amazing steak for US $20 or less, otherwise, I concur with the meat god. If money is no object, give me one of everything at BLT STEAK. 

MG: Have we had a steak under $20??? I’d go with Carl’s Steaks.  When money is no object, I’d still stick with Old Homestead
CM: Best Steak under twenty: I cook it myself. Best steak when money doesn’t matter: Harry’s. 

BPA: Les Halles does a fairly good one. To be honest though, I’d rather keep my love of steak eating at the high end. No point in diluting the quality. If I’m going to eat it, I want the best. Money no object? Most of the high end joints are pretty similar price-wise. Recent wins have been Bobby Van’s Wall Street and Harry’s Steak, although I’ll take Bobby Van’s over the two as their sides are better. Haven’t tried Kobe Club yet, that’s a LOT of money; maybe I’ll change my tune once I’ve eaten there. 

JOEC: T-bone from the grocery store when self seasoned and grilled in the back yard. I’ve had so many good ones lately I don’t think I can really say anymore on the high end. 

7. Where do you buy your steaks when you make them at home? 

REV: I leave cooking steaks to the professionals, just like you should leave eating steaks in an effort to tell you who has the best ones, to the professionals — like STEAK CLUB7! 

MG: I don’t. 
CM: Niman Ranch – www.nimanranch.com 

BPA: I don’t make them at home. The reality is, a good cut of meat, especially if you’re only buying for two is actually really expensive. Furthermore, my home oven doesn’t go nearly as hot as I’d need for me preferred serving style. I’m spoiled living in New York. I can walk to at least three good steak joints. 

JOEC: Whole Foods mainly. When the selection is there, they are always the best I can find. 

8. Are you currently on your doctor’s shit list for how much steak you consume? 

REV: Are you familiar with Doctor Vinny BoomBats? He is the official Doc of SC7. 

MG: During my last physical, the doctor suggested I cut down on red meat, but I’ve since stopped seeing him. 
CM: I just had a physical and apparently, I need to change a few habits. 

BPA: Actually, no. My doctor told me I had the blood of a ‘marathon runner’.I’ll take that. Everything in balance. Ha. 

JOEC: Not yet. Well at least not as of the last time I saw him in 1989.

 

Thanks for answering my questions men! Here’s to making it past 35!

Gobble, Gobble, Gobble *This post is for Americans only

Posted in Food, restaurants with tags , on November 20, 2008 by travelwizard

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While I’ll be partaking in a more traditional Thanksgiving dinner this year (i.e homemade with all the fixings), for those who wish to skip the countless hours of preparation and dirty dishes, the website Open Table has put together a list of restaurants in the Los Angeles area offering turkey dinner. Check it out here and see if anything strikes your fancy!

Do You know The Way To Santa Fe..

Posted in Hotels, restaurants with tags , , , on November 16, 2008 by travelwizard

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Okay, so I know that that is not how Hal David actually wrote that but I thought Santa Fe replaced San Jose quite nicely. Before making her way to Washington DC, my sister resided briefly in New Mexico. Until then, I had never really found any reason to venture to those parts of the Southwest. During her time there, I had the pleasure of making the rounds of New Mexico and it was then that I fell in love with the beautiful town of Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Like so many others before me, I was taken by the spectacular topography, arts and culture which make Santa Fe a destination that continues to draw people from all over the world. Because of the city’s thriving tourist population, there is no shortage of beautiful hotels and restaurants to explore. Here are a handful of places worth staying and eating upon arrival.

Where to stay:

 

1. Inn of The Anasazi

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This Inn is owned by the Rosewood Group ( the fab hotel group behind San Ysidro Ranch) so you know it is going to be good stuff. Located right smack in the middle of the main square in Santa Fe, you will find no better located hotel if you are looking to be in the heart of it all. Decorated in traditional pueblo style, each of the Inn’s 58 rooms offers luxury amenities and kiva fireplaces. While there is no shortage of great food in Santa Fe, the Inn boasts one of the best and most reputable restaurants in the city, simply called: The Anasazi Restaurant and Bar

2. Encantado Hotel and Spa

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Encantando is pretty new to Santa Fe. It only opened in July of 2008 but it has already garnered tons of well-deserved attention. Encantando is more secluded and resort-like than the Inn of Anasazi so you will need a car to take you to the town’s center. Set in the foothills of the Sangre De Cristo Mountains, this 65 “casita” resort boasts views of the stunning mountains as well as the the Rio Grand River and Valley. (Duran, Duran..eat your heart out!). Wood burning fireplaces, soaking tubs and flat screen adorn each room and there is a great spa on site along with several dining options. If you are looking to have a tad more romance and relaxation, Encantado might be your best option. 

Where to Eat:

Lunch

1. Tia Sophia’s

2. Pasqual’s

Dinner

1. The Anasazi Restaurant and Bar

2.La Casa Sena

3. Coyote Cafe

Here are a couple of other snaps of the city, taken by my o-so talented Brother-in-law, Alex Thorne. He also snapped that awesome pic of the truck in the beginning of the piece as well. Did I mention Santa Fe is home to over 230 art galleries? Just making sure….

 

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Adventures in Eating at Allen & Delancey

Posted in Food, restaurants with tags , on November 2, 2008 by travelwizard

This past trip to NYC, I spent a lot of time on the Lower East Side. Since I was there to attend the music festival CMJ, it made sense that I would focus my trip in that area as all the clubs have been relegated there. The Lower East Side is constantly evolving and in the few short months since my last visit, a whole new crop of restaurants have popped up. One of the standouts is a new eatery called Allen & Delancey. Not surprisingly, it is located on the corner of ..er..Allen and Delancey. Although the name is straight forward, the cuisine is anything but. I haven’t seen this creative of a menu in a really long time. Before I get to that though, I need to spend a minute on the restaurant decor.

Allen & Delancey is exactly the type of restaurant I look for when I go to NYC. It is a perfect ante dote to the busy, bustling and noisy city. The restaurant, which is tucked at the end of Allen street, is really non-descript from the outside. If you blink, you just might miss it. There is no sign to speak of.. just the soft glow of dim lights peeking out behind thick curtains. Step behind those curtains and you enter into a cozy den lit mainly by burning candles. The effect is wonderful- a perfect refuge to escape the madness of the city. We showed up rather late for dinner so we were able to get our pick of tables. We settled on a quiet corner table, settled in and began our eating adventure. 

I was feeling open-minded that night and I feel like that might be the best way to approach Allen & Delancey. The menu is really interesting and in almost every dish, there was one ingredient I have never heard of. There is actually an appetizer which contains leaves. ( I did not order it, I was not feeling like foliage). What I did decide on for a starters was caramelized bone marrow, caviar and shallot puree. It is considered one of their “signature” dishes and I can see why.  It is truly delicious. Each flavor was delicate and subtle and they blended together seamlessly. Neil Ferguson, who  spent a good deal of time under the tutelage of Gordan Ramsey, has really done an amazing job conjuring up a brilliant menu.

For my mains, I moved on to lamb chops with braised middleneck, olives and tomato confit. The lamb was made to perfection and the braised middle neck provided a nice compliment to the lamb. I completed my meal with a delicious Syrah recommended by the fabulous wait staff. I was totally taken by Allen & Delancey. It’s a really, really well done restaurant tat combines great food with incredibly warm decor. It’s a tad on the pricey side but it is worth it..particularly if you are looking for a romantic place to take your significant other. This place is tops. Dinner for two w/ a glass of wine $160.00.

Allen & Delancey – 115 Allen Street. NY, NY 10002

 

Uggh! Update! It turns out that Neil Ferguson has resigned from his post as head chef of Allen& Delancey as of October 28th, 2008. He is moving to the Soho House. Hopefully the restaurant will remain faithful to his delicious recipes. See here for full details on his move.

A Trove Of Culinary Treasures..

Posted in Food, restaurants with tags , on August 24, 2008 by travelwizard

It’s been two days since I landed in London and each day has been busier than the last. Today I got a chance to take a break from work stuff and lunch with the poshest of posh ( and many, many tourists) at the food hall at Harrods. My ex-BF (who is British) would say that only wanker-faces go to Harrods. Well, that may be the case, but I for one am a very excited to be the wanker-face who eats at the Harrods Food Hall. You know why? Because the Food Hall is unlike anything we have in the US. The idea of  luxury gourmet foods mixed with luxury clothing is not a combo we see often. 

If you have never been to the hall, it is difficult to conceive. Before I went there, I always envisioned it as a glorified food court. I was oh-so wrong. Let me try to sum it up for you. The hall combines the freshest vegetables and fruits, the tastiest and most exotic charcuterie, a variety of cheeses and many of the staples of a gourmet market with individual mini-restaurants (all counter -style) that represent a multitude of food styles. You can have everything from oysters and caviar to roast chicken, wood-fired pizza, sushi or dim sum. They even make Krispy Cream Donuts on site. The presentation of each and every section is phenomenal, making it difficult to get out of there empty handed. Perhaps the most stunning of all is the candy secction, which could easilt be mistaken for Willy Wonka’s factory. It’s literally  bursting with sugar filled delights at every turn. 

We made out way around the food hall, admiring the displays and trying to choose our meal. We settled on roast chicken and gratin daphinous from the Rotisserie. I think we made a good choice. The chicken was very tender and the skin was quite crisp and flavorful (the sign of good roasted chicken!)and the potatoes were a perfect combo of creamy and firm and perfectly salted.  While sixty three dollars for a half a chicken and some potatoes may seem extreme, I firmly believe you pay for the experience. Surely, you will never be in a place so ridiculously extravagant as the Harrods Food Hall. You may as well sit down an enjoy it.  I know we did.

And Now For a Few Words On Las Vegas…Drumroll Please!

Posted in Hotels, restaurants with tags , on August 18, 2008 by travelwizard

I promised an update on my Vegas trip last week and I am not one to make promises and not deliver so here goes. A good way to sum up my Vegas trip would be to describe my current health state, which is pretty dismal. It turns out that what happens in Vegas does not always stay in Vegas. After leaving the city that never sleeps, I have taken with me a summer cold and it has stuck with me for the past four days. This has been great for my blogging, but not so great for my state of mind. Anyway, I digress. Here is the skinny:

Like I was saying, I stayed at The Wynn Hotel and after my third stay here, I can still say that it does not disappoint. Upon arrival, I casually inquired about an upgrade and wouldn’t you know,  I got one. I upgraded all the way to the 56th Floor. Normally, the fact that I had landed an upgrade with virtually no effort would make me pat myself on the back but sadly, I am afraid of heights so this so called “upgrade” was really more of a curse than a blessing. Not wanting to seem rude, I took the upgrade, sucked it up and prayed there would be no fire (there was no fire I am happy to report). Since I was a repeat customer, they also gave me one hundred dollars to apply towards entertainment in the hotel. Now, in LV “entertainment” can mean a lot of different things, but I chose to use it for a pedicure in the hotel spa.

The Spa at The Wynn is totally worth checking out. It is insanely overpriced but they do take extra care to make sure you are sufficiently pampered from start to finish. Not only did I get a great pedicure, but my pedicurist, who has worked there for five years, gave me the major lowdown on her celebrity clients. They also carry a great product line from Italy called Davines that is really hard to find. 

In my last post on Vegas I noted that if you have to go to Vegas, you should take advantage of all the good things they have to offer ..like the amazing selection of restaurants on the strip. One that I would particularly like to highlight was my dining experience at B&B ristorante, Mario Batali’s place in The Venician. Despite those atrocious clogs he is constantly sporting, I am big fan of the Batali. Here in LA, I have highlighted  his Osteria Mozza and the Pizzaria Mozza in previous posts…the guy seriously knows how to make amazing Italian Food.

From the minute we sat down to the minute we left, the entire experience was incredibly satisfying. Upon sitting, we were lavished with attention by the wait staff and then promptly presented with a delicious bruschetta topped with chickpeas and olive oil. It sounds boring right? WRONG! It was a perfect plate to whet our appetites for the rest of our meal. For appetizers, I had the most delicate and flavorful Prosciutto accompanied by the sweetest, most perfectly ripe melon. This dish is a staple in Italian cuisine but this was by far the best rendition I have ever had.

The prosciutto was then followed by a a plate of Octopus so tender, you would think you were eating Venison. I have no idea what they did to that poor Octopus, but my stomach thanks them for it.

For my main course, I had spaghetti all’amatriciana. It was just okay but I am am going to absorb all of the blame for that one. You see, I tried to play it safe for my main course and Mr. Batali is not about playing it safe. My co-worker’s pasta (which was much more adventurous) was much, much better. One of them even involved some rabbit. While I am normally against eating animals I used to have as pets, I have to admit, the little guys were tasty. 

Even as we had stuffed ourselves to the brim, we managed to save a millimeter of room for desert. Here we went way out on a limb and ordered a desert that combined heirloom tomatoes with cream, carmel and some sort of ice cream thing. I have never had a tomato in my desert but I am not sorry I did because the combination of flavors was perfectly balanced and the result was a delicately sweet dish that was very satisfying. 

After B&B..we moved on to doing what any other respectable person does in Vegas..gamble. I hate losing money so this lasted about ten minutes and then I was off to the 56th floor..where I drifted off into a food coma, and dreamed about leaving Las Vegas.

Mini Vacations For Your Belly

Posted in restaurants with tags , , , , on July 30, 2008 by travelwizard

Let’s face it. Sometimes, you need a holiday from cooking. As much as I revel in the preparation of a good meal, sometimes, you just want to go out. At the behest of my good friend B. Smith, I have prepared a list of great and affordable restaurants in the LA area. This will be my second installement on a topic I blogged about earlier called Cheap Eats in LA. This post will mostly exist as a quick reference guide to some amazing dining spots throughout Los Angeles as I am simply going to list restaurants without much description. Enjoy and get ready to eat!

For Great Italian food, Go Here:

Terroni

Little Dom’s

AOC

Farfalla

Angelini Osteria

Osteria Mozza and Pizza Mozza

Laconda Venetta

 

For Great Sushi, Go Here:

Iroha

Izaka-ya

Sushi Spot

R23

Sushi Gen

For Great Japanese (non sushi), Go Here:

Yoshi Shabu Shabu

Shabu House

For Great Mexican Food, Go Here:

El Cholo

Malo

Casa Vega

Allegria

For Great Steak, Go Here:

Mastro’s

Cut

Carlito’s Gardel

Jar

For Great Brazillian Food, Go Here:

Tropicalia

Bossa Nova

 

For Gourmet Burgers, Go Here:

8oz Burger Bar

25 Degrees

For Great Vietnamese Food, Go Here:

Pho

Gingergrass

For Great Tapas, Go Here:

Cobras and Matadors

For Great French Food, Go Here:

Cafe Stella

Mistral

Comme Ca

 

For Great Lunch Spots, Go Here:

Joan’s On Third

Taste

The Mustard Seed Cafe

The Overland Cafe (make sure to get the club sandwich)

Cheebo

Barney Greengrass

The Alcove