JohnnyPrime's Recent Reviews
Jubilee is a gorgeously decorated midtown east French restaurant that was founded by Eric Macaire, and is co-owned with Chef Luc Holie and his spouse Ilda. When you step into this joint, you feel like you've entered someone's home, and are dining in their living room. Not only is the decor and atmosphere inviting, but the staff is very warm and friendly as well.
Jubilee is known for offering a variety of fresh steamed mussels in delicious sauces. There's even a special, separate menu that's dedicated to just mussels! If you're like me and you can't decide between the nine sauces, you can get a trio of mini pots to try. I suggest going with a group of people, that way you can get three trios to share as an app; you'll be able to try all nine varieties!
My wife and I had the dijonnaise, curry and truffle chicken sauces. All were excellent but we liked the truffle chicken the best. What's cool about the trio is that they remove all the mussels from their shells, so the juicy bivalves are swimming in pure flavor. And there's a LOT of them in each cup; don't be deceived!
A full size order of these will come with shells on, in a pretty metal pot. That's more traditional. But I think the trio is a better value.
They also have some excellent prix fix offerings, both for lunch and dinner. For example, the dinner prix fix includes two courses and a beer/glass of wine. Not bad at all, considering they don't cut corners on the selections or portion sizes. I'll take mussels, a hanger steak with fries and a beer any day for under $30. That's great!
Speaking of steak and fries, they serve up a pretty great boneless "cote de boeuf" rib eye frites here.
That's a lot of fries! And they are perfectly golden crisp, to boot, and well seasoned. The steak is about an inch thick and 14oz. It had a great sear on the outside but maintained a perfectly pink medium rare on the inside. 8/10. Better than many midtown steakhouses.
Add the complimentary green peppercorn or bernaise sauce on top and you're in heaven. Those sauces are great for fry dipping too.
Speaking of dipping, I couldn't stop myself from dipping the fresh country style table bread into my wife's platter of escargot that she got for her app. The buttery, garlicky, herby sauce was addicting!
And speaking of the bread, it was served with a smooth, spreadable soft butter. I hate when the butter is hard!
But I can't forget to tell you about my app: the foie gras terrine. It was so incredibly smooth and flavorful, and so incredibly velvety and decadent. I highly recommend it.
We also sampled the grilled leek salad, which comes topped with a pair of fried quail eggs for good measure. I'm typically not a fan of leek texture - a bit too woody for me - but these took on an almost braised quality, and, as such, were super tender and flavorful.
Not only was the food good here at Jubilee, but it was also beautifully presented and plated. For example, take a look at this sea scallop and orzo dish.
Absolutely stunning, not to mention the perfect sear on those babies. And that sauce you see around the risotto was an earthy truffle and porcini blend that was drinkable.
No French meal would be complete without some house made French desserts. For me, creme brulee is an old standby that never disappoints. Here, it was smooth, rich with flavor, and perfectly caramelized on top.
But, rarely seen on menus is a Paris-Brest. I was excited to see it here. It was so light and airy, yet it still packed a walloping punch of flavor. That might have been my favorite of the desserts. It was really pretty, too.
And finally, warm chocolate cake with ice cream. Pure decadence. It was so soft and chocolately inside. It was kind of hard to pull away from this and eat the other stuff.
Dessert also came with these tiny little soft lemon cookie/cake hybrids. There's a fancy French name for them, but a big, doofy, arrogant, proud American ogre like me doesn't know it off hand and is too lazy to go looking for it.
In any case, this place is one of my favorite French restaurants now. They have weekly specials mapped out for the entire month. Right now is coq au vin, and later in the month there's a beef bourgignon. I may have to go back very soon! I hope you go as well.
I was recently invited to Oro by the owners to try out some of the classic and modern Italian fare that they serve at their spacious, beautifully appointed Long Island City restaurant.
Oro means "gold" in Italian, and the food equivalent of gold is just what they're serving you here, especially when you indulge in some of the highlights that I mention here in this review.
First off, there's an excellent cocktail menu. I went with a blueberry and bourbon drink that was really nicely executed. My wife went with a selection from their Moscow Mule menu. Also excellent.
The waiter will bring out some fresh house made bread next. Its toasty warm and served with a dish of EVOO and vinegar.
We started with two nice, fresh and delicate apps: scallop crudo with crispy prosciutto in a grapefruit sauce, and charred octopus. Both were perfect. The scallop crudo was really fresh, light and crisp. I wish we ordered two!
The octopus has a great flavor and still kept a slight firmness without being too soft or too chewy - a sweet spot middle ground.
We shared the duck bolognese pappardelle pasta:
And the 28oz tomahawk ribeye:
That blob you see is an herb butter, which added a green-tasting freshness to each bite.
The meat itself hails from Snake River Farms, which is not only a purveyor of fine meats, but also American Wagyu. The owners of Oro are friends with the people at Snake River, so you know the cuts will be of high quality.
The cut itself was a slight bit over from what I would have preferred, being more towards medium than medium rare.
But no matter. The flavor was still good, and the fat cap was delicious. Not to mention that at a price of $52, you're saving big money and you're just one stop into Queens from midtown Manhattan. At a place like Cut downtown, that Snake River Farms steak is going to run you almost $100. Crazy discount here. And this can be shared with a second diner, so even better. 7/10.
The steak selection here is pretty impressive. As soon as next week, as a matter of fact, there will be even more of a "butcher's block" selection here, which will include a 36oz porterhouse as well as what's already on the menu (filet, strip, tomahawk, and pork chops).
On the side we had some arancini, or fried rice balls, which were fun and tasty.
We also had the sweet potato creme brulee. I didn't think I'd like it when we were told about it by the waiter. As such, we didn't order it. But the waiter brought it out for us to try anyhow. It turned out to be my favorite item of the night!
It was sweet without going overboard, and the brulee crunch and marshmallow topping was just thrilling. I even remarked that if you plop a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top of it, it would make for a perfect dessert. Do yourself a favor and get this when you come here. It is unbelievable.
For our proper desserts, we tried the fig panna cotta and nutella bread pudding with homemade fluff. Both were incredible, but I give the edge to the panna cotta. So silky smooth and light, but packing a big flavor punch.
Japanese Brasserie ROKI Le Izakaya held a soft opening this past weekend. The menu features some really great stuff.
We tried pretty much everything that you see on the menu above, except for the veggie ramen. It sounds pretty good, though, and I’d like to go back and get it soon.
Canape are small bites of proteins set atop a bed of fried sticky rice. Each one is like an amuse, or hors. I tried three: uni (sea urchin), kani (crab) and ahi poke (dressed tuna). All were excellent, especially when eaten with the shiso leaf, but my favorite was the uni.
The quinoa salad with crab meat was the only menu item that seemed a bit out of place. It had a cumin spice to it, and it felt more middle eastern than Japanese. It was still very good, however.
Next up was the amberjack carpaccio. This was so clean and flavorful. t was perfectly dressed. I could eat this all night!
The duck chasiu was intense! And when the waiter came over with shaved foie gras on top, I knew I was in heaven.
Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow…
Shrimp gyoza were next. These were tasty and perfectly cooked.
A big crowd pleaser, though, was the pork buns item.
They were decadent and so tender. I mean look at that meat!
The star of the night, for me, was the ramen. I typically don’t get down on shoyu broths. I prefer a tonkotsu (which they will have on their full menu – this was just a soft open with a limited menu selection). But this shoyu broth was deep and rich! I loved it.
The toppings were also really fun. Fried lotus root, bamboo shoots, arugula, fresh pepper, fried crispy baby shrimp and char siu pork. Oh and of course, that perfect egg…
I can use a bowl right now, actually, as I sit here writing this review.
The roasted white sesame seed ice cream was awesome! It was just right for dessert – not too sweet at all. It was coated with a nice crisp, and then topped with a sesame and honey cracker. And drizzle that thick sauce on top to bring it home!!!
I will definitely be back here soon. This was a fantastic meal!
As many of you know, I occasionally gather with various friends to devour entire carcasses of animals. We call ourselves The Carcass Club. This latest "meating" went down at a joint aptly called Feast.
A buddy of mine, NYCFoodFomo, organized this as an Instagram influencer meal. It was on the house, given that we were going to glaze Instagram's face with our "cam-shots" from this "pork-fest."
I used "quotes" there so that you knew I was actually referencing cum shots and fuck fests with my innovative use of language. It's a metaphor that aligns eating with fucking. Get it? Good. Let's move on, shall we?
Here's what you get at Feast, for just $75/pp:
Flat bread with fried egg, smoked gouda, arugula and horseradish cream.
This was nice and crispy, and the arugula is even lightly dressed, which was very nice. This dish would make for a great breakfast, actually.
Brussels sprouts with lap cheong sausage, creme fraiche, grain mustard, dried cranberry and cider vinaigrette.
The sausage really works perfectly with the sprouts. Instead of the typical bacon, this swap for lap cheong was smart, because it has a similar meaty sweetness.
Suckling pig with gravy.
I was shocked at how well the flavor of their 24-hour brine penetrated the flesh of this 28lb pig. The meat really took on the peppercorn flavors. And one of their secrets is to use the whey byproduct from their homemade cheese making process as a tenderizer in that brine. So awesome.
They break the pig down for you and plate it into sections: head area, shoulder area, rib area, and ass/legs area. Apologies for not getting a shot of that stuff for you. It wasn't super pretty, but it was pretty cool to see piles of meat and a pig skull.
Chicharrones with lime.
They also give you a bowl of the crispy fried skin, which some would say is the best part of the suckling pig.
Kabocha mac n' cheese with gruyere and toasted pumpkin seed.
The sweetness of the pumpkin in this dish threw me off a bit. Perhaps I just needed to be in the Thanksgiving holiday zone to fully appreciate this one. Nonetheless, it was tasty.
Taro fries with miso aioli.
It's always a challenge to get taro fries good and crispy. The sauce was excellent, but the fries themselves were more like mashed potato logs. Not a bad thing: just not crispy like a French fry.
Smoked mushrooms with a soy glaze.
These were fucking incredible. The smoke added such a great woodsy flavor to an already earthy and woodsy mushroom (oyster). This was my favorite item of the night.
I'm generally not a huge fan of ratatouille, but this had some nice robust and savory flavors.
Chef's seasonal selection, which, during this visit, was a caramelized apple cobbler with cold maple whipped cream and pomegranate seeds. I think there was even some diced up zucchini mixed into this unique dessert.
That about does it. I highly recommend giving this feast a go. You'll need a minimum of eight carnivores to take it down.
There's a very interesting little concept restaurant on the upper east side called Maroni Hot Pots. The joint is mainly aimed at providing delivery service, but there's still a handful of tables set up inside the beautiful little space. So what makes this concept unique? The pot.
Many of their dishes are served (and delivered!) in really nice keepsake metal pots. Yes - you get to keep them.
I'm not sure how useful they'd be on your stove top, but they're definitely not cheap, crappy items by any means. At the very least you can use them as planters.
Okay, but enough about the pots. I was invited here by my buddy Jay at The Dishelin Guide, who organized a group of instagrammers to come in and shoot some pics to be used as promo material by the restaurant's PR group. That being the case, we were able to try a lot of different items.
First up, pizza bread. This is more like a garlic bread with cheese and sauce topping as opposed to your standard NYC style pizza. A more puffy, doughy pie.
It's served in a nice glass dish and it's seasoned generously, topped with herbs as well. Essentially, it's like a Sicilian pizza.
I should say now that the cheeses here are all incredible. They don't harden after a few minutes - they stay nice and stretchy. I shot this probably 15 minutes after the pizza came out:
The fresh mozz caprese salad also exhibits stellar quality cheese, and the diced tomato, dresed with a nice balsamic, was a nice change of pace.
Throw that on top of a lightly breaded chicken cutlet, and you pretty much have their delicious chicken milanese dish.
But one starter they have become known for is their million dollar potato chip. A thick cut, fried potato crisp, topped with fresh cream and caviar. Very tasty.
And it's not often that you see baked clams dishes use high quality little necks like they do here. Most baked clam dishes use giant bait clams, with minced up meat inside. No thanks. These were whole little necks, nicely breaded and stuffed, and then baked to perfection.
Okay now for the pasta dishes. We tried a bunch. I'll start with my favorite, the penne a la vodka.
What i liked about this sauce was that it was more buttery than typical vodka sauces I've had in the past. The pasta was cooked perfectly in this dish too.
Their cacio e pepe is nice, but having just come back from a trip to Italy, I was a bit too spoiled to truly appreciate the dish. Cacio e pepe in Rome is just insane. Nothing quite comes close. I did, however, get a bunch of nice pics. As you can see, they used a penne pasta here as well.
One specialty they're known for here is their cognac sauce. They hit their tomato sauce with some cognac, burn it off, and simmer it down. What they're left with is a nicely sweetened sauce. They serve that with rigatoni and a generous glob of ricotta for mixing into the sauce. Amazing. This dish has even been features on local news stations. I highly recommend it.
Last pasta dish: spaghetti and meatballs. This classic tasted great.
And while nothing beats mom's homemade meatballs, these were pretty tasty. We had an order sans spaghetti as well.
Like any Italian meal, there's always more. We also tried their chicken parm and gagootz (zucchini) parm. The last time I heard that word was probably when my grandfather was featured in the news for growing the biggest one in Long Island history out of his backyard garden, which, at one point, was more like a small farm.
The word "gagootz" is a dialected, faster way of saying the word "cucuzza" in Italian, which is a kind of squash. The word "gagootz" is typically used by Italians to refer to all types of squash, though, including zucchini, as is done here at Maroni Hot Pots.
Both were excellent, and both essentially looked the same as served, so I'm just using the one picture to showcase them.
The beatles are all over this joint, by the way, and the music is a great mix of classic rock. Anyway, I really enjoyed the gagootz parm. I'm not an eggplant fan, so swapping that out for zucchini is a great idea. The skin is much more pleasing, and the texture of the vegetable's flesh itself is firmer and more snappy.
I was so full at that point that I put my camera away, thinking we were done... but Italians... Bless our hearts, and stomachs...
So dessert came out. Chocolate mousse with a toasted marshmallow topper, cannoli and tiramisu. All excellent.
The Maroni family also owns a high-end, multi-course "tasting menu" style restaurant in Northport, Long Island. I've heard amazing things about this place, and, from what I understand, a reservation has to be made a month in advance because it is so well received. I plan to visit soon with my cousins. Stay alert for updates!