Category Archives: Burger Joints

Nolita House

People don’t like being placed in awkward positions (unless you’re the Dos Equis Most Interesting Man in the World), and the same goes for those that work in the restaurant business. While dining out at Nolita House my friends and I were placed in such a predicament and things started to get a bit testy. No thanks to the Yelp app for telling us the restaurant was only open at 4:00pm for dinner and not informing us about their earlier lunch time menu, we decided to wait until 4:00pm to head to the restaurant for an early dinner. But to much chagrin, we quickly noticed they served a similar cheaper lunch menu. After being seated and handed the lunch menus, our server quickly swooped in and removed them from our hands and replaced them with the pricier dinner menu and informed us that the kitchen was in the process of switching between lunch and dinner menus, we obliged since we were there for the dinner anyway. We placed our orders at 3:52pm on the dot and ordered a few BOGO happy hour beers excited to see our neighbors thoroughly enjoy their custom made burgers and fries. My friend had to be at work at 5:00pm, so we had to eat fast!

4:30pm hits, still nothing. Our server comes by to apologize saying that they’re still switching out the back end and that our food would be out in jiff. He presented us with a few complimentary beers that simply masked the hunger frustrations. But wait, are the cooks really cooking our food, because we see them all pow-wowed in front of the kitchen having social hour.

4:45pm: Apparently our dishes are now being plated and will be served up any minute now. We glare back at the kitchen, frustrated, waiting and hoping every desperate minute to see our dishes magically materialize, but still nothing.

5:00pm: My friend calls into work saying that she will be a bit late because she’s finishing up her dinner (that was a lie). They always say never shoot the messenger, and we did feel a bit sympathetic to see how genuinely apologetic our server was, but they’re just toying with our patience now.

5:03pm: The first dish arrives and it’s my BBQ Baby Back Ribs.I’ve got to say, I’ve had better ribs at Chili’s than the one served at Nolita House. The ribs came absolutely cold and had the mystique that it was just zapped in the microwave (which they did a poor job of) and brushed with a bit of BBQ sauce. Even though I was utterly disappointed, the sheer hunger that engulfed me fueled me on to consume the dish.

5:05pm: The second communal dish arrives, Nolita House’s “Famous Baked Macaroni and Cheese” with Bacon.This thing should’ve been made out of bologna, because that’s exactly what it is. $8 for this POS?? Plus an extra $1 for the bacon?? I’ve enjoyed EasyMac more than this dish. The filling was watered down and you don’t ever get the sense of it being warm and hearty that mac and cheese is famous for. To quote one of my favorite movies, F&F Tokyo Drift, “0 for 2, cowboy.”

5:05pm: My friend’s smaller plate of Ribs arrive and it’s completely inedible. It’s cold and absolutely pathetic, he sends it back to the kitchen.

5:06pm: The accompaniment to our rib dishes finally come out. The Serrano Skillet Cornbread. Now don’t let the picture or the name fool you, this thing was donkey crap. I would have rather they go out and run to Boston Market for me and bring me their cornbread instead of serving me their dry, tasteless object that they try to pass off as cornbread. And to think that they put it on the menu as a side order for $5 is a complete outrage.

5:07pm: Finally the last dish appears:A so called salad takes the longest time, go figure. Their Watermelon and Crispy Pork Belly was actually pretty decent. But at $13 and making each of these bad boys roughly $4 and change, I can think of many better things that I would rather enjoy, such as the Hirata Buns at Ippudo. My friend finishes just one as she has to jet for work.

5:15pm: After talking under our breath for a while saying that they should at least serve up a full sized portion of rib, Nolita House delivers and presents a now warm and full plate of their BBQ Ribs. What could have been.. what could have been. At least the meat falls off the bone this time.

What I find absolutely hilarious is that this was my first time at Nolita House, and upon leaving, I guess the manager comes out to greet me, saying that I look familiar and if I’ve been here before. I run with it and say that I have. He tells me, “yea, you definitely look familiar and I’ve seen you around.” (Is it because I’m Asian? And you’re just mistaking me for all the other Asian faces in Chinatown?) He tells me his name is Kyle, shakes my hand and guarantees he’ll help me out better next time. We’ll see about that.

Nolita House Scores:
Food: 1.5/10 – This is only because they came back out with an edible form of ribs towards the end

Restaurant Environment: 4/10 – It just feel’s like your basic pub, but I didn’t like seeing the cooks standing around not cooking.

Service: 0/10 – This was a tough one for me, but in the end Nolita House did not deliver upon their initial service no matter how sympathetic or how many beers they give me.

Value: 2/10 – Although the prices were fairly reasonable for New York standards, this directly correlates with the terrible food that was served.

Overall: 1/10

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The Hat

Who doesn’t enjoy a nice hearty batch of Chili Cheese Fries on a beautiful California day?When I’m in New York, some days I pray that there was a location near me so that I could just pig out on their Chili Cheese Fries. There’s even been an instance where I swear I saw a little kid carrying a beverage cup from The Hat. I was so dumbfounded and elated that I ran home to search for the location, but to later find that I was tricked.

Get this baby double dipped in their au jus and top every bite with mustard, and you have a wonderful experience. However, I used to think that the Pastrami at The Hat was the best in the world. That is until I moved to New York. You can put me on record, New York Pastrami > The Hat Pastrami. Sigh. I’m teary eyed right now. The nostalgia behind devouring a full serving of Chili Cheese Fries (that I usually top with onions) and washing it down with Orange Bang. Now I have a tradition that I will share with everyone. Every fry that is covered with a good amount of chili and cheese is drenched in ketchup before it is eaten. (You have to see how many ketchup packets I use). For those stragglers that are left uncovered....they get to take a bath in the gravy pool! So not only do you get Chili Cheese Fries, but you get Wet Fries as well! Call me an uber fatty, but I know how to eat things right. Sometimes I get a little wild and dunk everything in the gravy.

Don’t forget you can also top your Chili Cheese Fries with a juicy layer of Pastrami. What?! But that’s a story for another day.

The Spotted Pig

I love star gazing. Let me rephrase that, I love gazing at decadent offerings of Michelin Star restaurants. The Spotted Pig was actually a restaurant that I wanted to come to since I first moved to New York, but have unfortunately never made it into.

My old roommate had come to town, so I decided to treat her to a marvelous lunch at Spotted Pig in Greenwich.Another dish from Food Network’s Best Thing I Ever Ate. I might consider creating a checklist and making it my life goal to complete it, but for now the Deviled Eggs will have to do. These mini devils are packed full of flavor and albeit I don’t eat much deviled eggs, it’s definitely something I can get used to. Hold your horses though! At $3 a pop I wished it was the size of an ostrich egg instead.Now I was really craving a Cuban Pressed Sandwich before I got to Spotted Pig, and when I saw it on the menu, I knew it was mine. The tender well seasoned pork, smooth creamy cheese, and spicy peppers added with the crunchiness of the bread. Sigh. I love Cubans (is it sad that I prefer the sandwich over the cigar?).Now onto the piece de resistance. Now it doesn’t have a catchy name like Minetta’s Black Label Burger, but the Chargrilled Burger with Roquefort Cheese can hold its own. It actually makes me wonder. The best burgers that I’ve ever eaten are the most simplest ones ever, never more than an extra component besides the patty and bun. The burger is cooked to medium rare perfection. Boys and Girls, these aren’t your everyday ground beef patties that you get at your local grocery. Steak quality beef is ground and formed into heavenly little juicy tender patties. The burger does come up a little short when compared to the Black Label Burger, but coming up second in this race is still something to be extremely proud of.

Spotted Pig Scores:
Food: 9/10 – Even with a clouded judgment of high expectations, The Spotted Pig and its dishes still left me with a sense of jubilation and satisfaction.

Restaurant Environment: 6.5/10 – Now it definitely takes a hit, because of the inability to grab a seat the past couple of times I’ve been there, but the tavern-esque restaurant theme is also getting a bit old.

Service: 8/10 – Maybe it was because I went on a weekday afternoon and it wasn’t too busy, but the service wasn’t too shabby either.

Value: 6.5/10 – Now compared to the $26 BLB, the $17 Spotted Pig Burger is a bargain, but then again you’re spending $17 on a burger.

Overall: 8/10

Meatball Shop

Specialty shops are one of New York’s, well, specialty. Whether it’s mac and cheese, soup, or dumplings, whatever you’re craving, most likely you can find it somewhere around the city.

One late night after work, I was craving a meatball sandwich. Low and behold, appears Meatball Shop in nearby Lower East Side. 

The Meatball Shop was very dimly lit so taking pictures was quite a chore. I took a seat at the bar, marked my order on their ordering sheet, grabbed a beer, and sat patiently for my meal. Again sorry for the terrible picture, I was so hungry and so eager to eat it. The Meatball Smash that I created was a tremendously awesome combination of beef meatballs, provolone cheese, spicy meat sauce, sandwiched between 2 pieces of brioche. Each bite was buttery soft and full of meaty, delicious, perfectly seasoned meatballs. Oh yea, it’s also served with a light Arugula and Apple salad with a mellow vinaigrette that provide a short recess from the beefy euphoria. At $8 for the whole dish, it was a New York bargain, that unfortunately lasted for a New York minute. That’s why I was a fatty and brought another one back!! Go me!Getting another one, also gave me a chance for another photo op. The hero is an extra dollar, which will get you more quantity, but sacrifices the quality of the bread. The Meatball Shop also has a huge selection of other dishes that contain meatball, including spaghetti, risotto, mashed potatoes, and polenta. The possibilities are endless!

The Meatball Shop Scores:
Food: 8/10 – Sorry Subway, those $5 footlongs just can’t compare.

Restaurant Environment: 7/10 – Let’s all dine in the dark! You can barely make out the beautiful retro decor.

Service: 8/10 – I sat at the bar, so it was mostly bartender service, but from what I saw (Usual’s coming in and having their order up) it was pretty stellar.

Value: 8/10 – Dishes in the single digits?! An outrage!

Overall: 8/10

DBGB

What kind of food blogger would I be if I did not partake in dining at highly touted restaurants? Keeping that in mind, I had to sample the offerings of one of the most decorated Michelin Star restaurateurs/chefs in the world, Mr. Daniel Boulud. And can I say, Mr. Boulud, I left with a lingering feeling of disappointment.The exterior facade as well as the interior walls of DBGB are completely covered from ceiling to ground with quotes by famous people that have influenced the culinary industry.Undoubtedly the name DBGB is a reference to the historical, now-closed, CBGB landmark that resided a couple of stores down. The bar area was actually very quiet when we first arrived at around 6:20 on a Tuesday night. The shelves of the restaurant are lined with copper cookware donated by Boulud’s so called culinary “friends.” The giant copper pot in the middle was donated by Anthony Bourdain. The famous list of chef’s go on, which include the modern day chef diety Ferran Adria. The workers at DBGB are all dressed to mock Ted Mosby from HIMYM (sorry I couldn’t get a picture). Dark brown v-neck sweater over a white crew, with a pair of jeans on. Wait a minute, they’re mocking me!Call me a duck serial murderer, because I will kill as many as it necessitates to obtain this creamy gem. Hands down the best dish of the night was what we started with, which probably lead to high expectations and the eventual demise of the dinner. Anyways back to the dish. The Housemade Foie Gras Torchon is paired with a Spiced Kumquat Confit over a stream of honey-like Jaggery Gastrique. But wait it gets better.Each is served with a perfectly toasted slice of buttery Brioche to create..If you ask me what angels in heaven eat, I have your answer. Each bite is an all out assault on your taste buds with the sweet nectarous confit, the herbaceous greens, the savory creamy foie gras, the honeyed gastrique, and buttery bread. I can die a happy man.A nice little sauce caddy that they bring to you when you order the Hot Dog that I don’t believe I used.DBGB is well known for their impressive sausage selection, but Ill save the Spicy Blood and Pig Head’s Sausage for next time. I turned into a culinary pansy and ordered their self named DBGB Dog. The All Beef Hot Dog was topped with Sauteed Onions and Mustard Ketchup with 299 Relish (in case you were wondering, their address is 299 Bowery) and served with an order of fries. Boy that’s a spicy hot dog (reenact that with a heavy Italian accent). The snappy beef wiener (stop giggling) and the spicy, almost horseradish-like sauce are a perfect match. The slaw also adds a crispy element.

The fries tasted just like In N Out fries, but had a deeper color and for some reason were all extremely short. When it comes down to fries, size does matter, and these tiny things just don’t satisfy.

Usually I never ask for waiter recommendations, unfortunately I did this time. He advised us to order the Pan Roasted Monkfish. And by the way Mr. Waiter, I know what Monkfish is, you don’t have to condescendingly explain it to me. P.S. It was terrible. The Pan Roasted Monkfish is served over a bed of Spaetzle (which were similar to little doughy pieces of chinese rice cake), Hen of the Woods (a type of mushroom), some smoked bacon (that had the texture of rock hard dog treats) and some red wine au jus. I forced myself to eat every bite, almost bursting out in tears. Save my dinner Frenchie Burger! The tiny 6-oz patty is constructed with Confit Pork Belly (mmm), Arugula, a Tomato-Onion Compote, Morbier Cheese, on a Peppered Brioche Bun, with Cornichon (small pickled French cucumbers) and Mustard and also served with their miniature fries. I read reviews criticizing DBGB about their portion size, and I would have to agree. The meager sized burger (barely the size of Shake Shack at 5 times the price), was dusted with pepper and salt.

Every bite made me crave and wonder what my dinner would’ve been like if I went to Minetta Tavern instead. The Black Label Burger was only $5 more, but worlds better (better fries too).

DBGB Scores:
Food: 7.5/10 – Started off with great flavor, but tailed off. My Recommendation: Serve American sized portions in America, not this tiny French crap.

Restaurant Environment: 6.5/10 – Loud, Loud, Loud. Can’t even have a decent conversation.

Service: 7/10 – Besides treating me like a brain-dead child, everything else was spot on.

Value: 3/10 – Again, what’s with the tiny portions? I’m paying for it aren’t I?

Overall: 6.5/10

This Little Piggy Had Roast Beef

Armed with a witty name, a spectacular pedigree (from the creators of Aritchoke), and most of all a great sandwich, This Little Piggy Had Roast Beef is destined for success. Even a rainy day didn’t stop customers from filling up the small restaurant to get their roast beef fix. The location is about the same size and has a similar ambient feel to Artichoke. The menu is simple enough. 3 items. This Way (with Cheeze Whiz and Au Jus on a Roll, $4.50), the heavier That Way (with Mozzarella and Gravy on a Hero, $7.50), or a Pastrami. There’s also a small menu for the sides that include house made french fries, potato salad, and macaroni salad ($3.00 each). Baby if that ain’t heaven I don’t know what is. This isn’t your neighborhood Arby’s Beef and Cheddar with Arby-Q sauce and Horseysauce. This is a bonafide Roast Beef Sandwich (This Way). The roast beef is ultra tender, and is paired with a surprisingly sweet Au Jus that only makes it better. The Cheez Whiz complements the sandwich with its unctuous texture and sharp flavor. The only downside about the sandwich is that I believe they need to find a bread that could hold up the Au Jus without getting overly soggy. The House made Potato Salad was also a shocker. Upon first glance, it looks like your average potato salad that you purchase in the giant 3-pound container from Albertsons and share with your college roommates and devour it within a couple of days (or was that just me). Anyways, this potato salad is so much more. It’s surprisingly light yet still full of flavor. However, I can’t see myself spending another $3 for it.

This Littly Piggy Had Roast Beef Scores:
Food: 8.5/10 – The Roast Beef Sandwich might turn into one of my secret pastimes.

Restaurant Environment: 6/10 – A small cramped area to grab a bite and leave.

Service: N/A – They just give you a sandwich how hard is that? But they did offer to cut mine in half for my friend and I.

Value: 7/10 – $4.50 for the sandwich, a NY steal! $3 for the potato salad, I got robbed.

Overall: 7.5/10 – Just go there for the roast beef, and you won’t be the little piggy that had none.

LA: In N Out

No words necessary, I just miss In N Out. 😦

If anyone is coming to NY, please bring me a Double Double with both kind of onions and extra toasted bread. Thanks 🙂