Visited several places this week. Here's a day by day review.
John's pizza west village on Bleecker -- Had mushroom, sausage and onion pizza and the house salad. Pizza slices were like shingles -- crisp, thin, no sogginess at all. I finished a large by myself. Could have used a little more salt, on the other hand there was no full/bloated feeling afterwards.
The salad was super crisp lettuce with fresh sliced mushrooms on top. The vinaigrette was very pungent the way SF and NY do so well. The Coke should have been colder and more fizzy.
Carnegie deli -- I swear when I went here 12 years or so ago it was great. They didn't know what I meant when I said I wanted the corn beef hand sliced. The waitress said I'd be very happy the way it comes. Meat was OK, kind of dense/heavy really. A little dry from the machine slicing. Bread was too small and too hard.
Cole slaw can't hold a candle to the one at the Pantry in LA. Why don't they have green cole slaw in NY? Why is ground pepper a no-no in these sweet, flavorless, wilted slaws?
Bobby Van's steakhouse -- Went here only because I knew I wouldn't get into Pete Luger's on such short notice. Had the porterhouse, house salad, hashbrowns and creamed spinach. They say their steaks are dry aged prime and I was not disappointed.
Probably the most tender steak I've ever had. Flavor was good if a little nutty. I absolutely got the steak craving out of me for a few days after that visit. The steak was so huge that we could not finish it all.
Skip the hashbrowns they were inedible. Creamed spinach was good and the salad was OK.
Although the point was steak, steak, steak I was kind of let down by the side dishes to the point that I have a new admiration for Musso and Frank's in Hollywood. Their steaks are more like French steaks (see below) in terms of flavor and texture but they have that killer hearts of romaine salad and great bread. Their side dish sauces are better and then there's the ambiance that newer places like Bobby Van's cannot provide.
Gramaldi's pizza in Brooklyn -- A lot more crowded than John's. Good energy. Awesome coal oven in center of restaurant. They use a white cheese on the pizza that is high in water, lower in fat. Result is a super non greasy pizza with a great tasting thin crust. The mushrooms did cause the crust to sag a little but each bite still had some crispness in it.
I split a large pizza with a friend and could have finished a whole one myself. They don't serve salads.
Blue Ribbon Sushi -- We waited 1 hour and 45 minutes to eat sushi in a nice looking restaurant with lots of beautiful people. I can't say it wasn't fun hanging out in SoHo but after this one time I'd never go back and wait that long for something that is really just lunch food.
I had the sushi and sashimi platter and was impressed with the amount of food and the selection. The quality was also very good. The problem with sushi is that it's hard to really stand out. There are little places in LA. where you can get this kind of food for less price and no wait.
You have to wonder what this place will be like after the sushi fad dies here in NY.
Service could have been better but it's not for lack of trying, place was just too crowded.
Grade: First time experience B+, food B
Katz's deli -- OK so I found out after my meal at Carnegie that NYers consider this a tourist trap and that it's gone down hill. So sue me I didn't know. They all said "ya gotta go to Katz if you want good pastrami" so there I went earlier today.
The "stand and order" concept is similar to Phillipe's French dip in LA and like Phillipe's this place doesn't quite live up to its reputation.
Had the pastrami on rye, potato pancake, cole slaw. Cole slaw must come from the same commissary as Carnegie's -- sweet, gooey, no flavor. The potato pancake was rather greasy and after it cooled down took on a flourey flavor.
The pastrami was hand sliced and it came on a softer, larger piece of rye than at Carnegie. But like Carnegie the meat was too lean, the only pieces that had that great pastrami flavor were the ones with noticeable bits of beef fat.
Honestly Langer's deli in LA is right up there with Katz when it comes to the sandwiches. Ambiance was great at Katz, felt really old NY.
The surprise was tonight's late night meal at Pastis. I had the "crock" and it was the best I've had in the states -- smelly cheese cooked to an almost crispy top. How did they also get the bread so crisp? The wine was a St. Emillion in a carafe and it was wonderful. But the coup was the steak and fries. The bernaisse was the best I've even had, deliciously light and tangy. What a flavorful piece of meat, beautifully cooked and with the bernaisse to die for. The fries were pretty good too.
Almost forgot the calamari appetizer which was really well done. The tentacles especially were perfectly sized, battered and cooked. No greasiness.
Their steaks have the same flavor and texture as the steaks at Musso and Frank and their bernaisse tastes similar if not quite as good.
I think our Tommy's burgers, In and Out Burgers and Houston's compete nicely with what I enjoyed this week. Then again you guys have Houston's now (but not Bandera!). I have a wicked craving for good Mexican food which I know needs to wait until L.A.
If you guys have any comments let me know otherwise this will be my report to the L.A. foodies when I get back.
Thanks for the advice this week. BP.