Black Barn

19 E 26th St. New York, NY 10010(212) 265-5959 blackbarnrestaurant.com

black-barn

A unequivocal upgrade from SD26 (RIP), Black Barn slaps you in the face with energy the moment you enter, with its lively bar up front, adorned with sleek décor elements done in such a way that honors both the country and city, making the Osmonds proud. Especially in the main dining room in the back, where they really embrace the mix of design elements, complete with a framed out “barn” looming overhead. The only thing taking away from the vibe in a pretty big way is the tablet-style cocktail and wine list. It just cheapens the experience right as you sit down, making you feel like you’re in one of those iPad airport restaurants.

In terms of service, it was a bit spotty, proving to be noticeably lethargic on the bookends with both the cocktails and desserts taking an eternity. Then there’s the matter of our waiter forgetting all about delivering us a bread basket, probably because he was too busy delivering his table-side theatrically, obnoxious Shakespearean presentation of “The Menu.” This guy was so over the top we felt like we were being waited on by Charlton Heston in the Ten Commandments.

Fortunately for Charlton the cocktails were very good. The winner of the two I tried was The Bad Seed, made with Buttered Corn American Whiskey and cayenne pepper dust. It was spicy and buttery in all the right places. Yes, it’s good to be bad. The other cocktail was the refreshing Cider House Cup, served in a copper mug, which seems to be all the rage as of late. Made with Apple Jack, fruit and lime juice. It’s a nice yin to the yang of The Bad Seed.

For starters the Beau Soleil oysters were oysters. Fresh, but nothing spectacular. Served with all the usual suspects from lemon to vinegar to cocktail sauce. The seared foie gras with green apples was also just okay, missing the broad side of a, well, barn, with a dish that should’ve easily been a layup had they just given it that hit of sweetness that is normally so germane to the dish. But weakest of all was probably the pumpkin salad, which was so unimpressionable that it might as well have never even been served to us and I doubt anyone would’ve ever noticed.

On the plus side, the mushroom toast with tallegio was good. Not what I would call it incredible, but amidst the losers it was served with, it was a beacon of hope. And speaking of hope, we finally held out long enough for that forgotten breadbasket I mentioned earlier. But once it arrived, it quickly became apparent as to why they had forgotten. Because it’s pretty forgettable. Although I will hand them the award for the most conflicted spread ever served with bread. A pat of butter topped with balsamic vinegar, sitting in a pool of olive oil, surrounded by roasted garlic cloves. Yes, all of that and yet it still failed to wow.

Sadly, the entrees didn’t fare much better. The scallops were just okay, only made mildly better by the potatoes they are served over. But compared to the amazing scallop dish at The Clocktower across the park, I wouldn’t wipe my ass with these. Not that you should ever wipe your ass with mollusks, that’s just gross, not even sure why you brought it up?

The rib eye with chimichurri was also just okay. The meat itself was nothing special at all, so it was in dire need of something to submerge it in, hence why they serve it with the chimichurri, I suppose. But even that wasn’t enough to mask the inadequacies of the dish. Nor was the cayenne popover, which was a nice touch, props for that one, but it’s obviously a borrowed concept from BLT and not quite at the same level, nor size. Still, I appreciated the effort.

And just when the barn was about to be set fire, the best entrée of the night came in to save the day, the sweet potato ravioli with bacon. Not only was it good, it was crazy good. Then, they followed that up with two killer desserts, the rum soaked bread pudding, which was my favorite, as you can imagine, and the other were the salted caramel ice cream sandwiches which were pretty dope as well, to use a horribly dated expression that I’m hoping to bring back into style. The weakest of the three desserts were the warm chocolate brownies. They’re not exactly bad per se, but when you can get a better brownie at Pret, it kinda makes it seem ridiculous to pay over 10 bucks for something inferior.

Such a shame. I had higher hopes for Black Barn. Sure, it had its spots of brilliance, but they were lost in a sea of too much darkness. Or should I say “blackness?” Yet I still stand by what I said at the beginning. It’s definitely an upgrade from the previous tenant, even if the misses outnumber the hits.

2 teeth

Sammy’s Roumanian Steakhouse

157 Chrystie St. New York, NY 10002(212) 673-0330

Vodka

By and large there are two types of steakhouses in the city, the old school types like the Strip House, Old Homestead, Gallagher’s, Smith & Wollensky and Peter Luger. And the newfangled types like BLT Steak, BLT Prime and Quality Meats. And then there’s Sammy’s Roumanian, in a class unto istelf.

And by class I sort of mean the absence of class. You see, there is nothing about Sammy’s that anyone would ever mistake as “classy.” Cheesy perhaps. Schticky for certain. But definitely not classy. And the thing is, Sammy full on knows this and makes zero attempt to avoid it. Rather they embrace it full on, diving head first into an experience that feels like a three-way between The Wedding Singer, Tony & Tina’s Wedding and beef.

The festivities begin with a bottle of vodka served in a block of ice, placed directly on your table. No shit. Check out the picture above. So when it comes to your alcohol tolerance, bring your A game. Especially if you’re a smaller party.

Thereafter, you will be entertained by a Bat MItzvah-type emcee who looks like he stepped out of the 80’s, armed with a keyboard, a microphone and an arsenal of vaudeville puns that will have you cringing from ear to ear, so much that it somehow becomes smiling. Call it magic. Call it vodka. Whatever it be, it’s fun. You simply just can’t have a bad time here. I don’t know why. Because every fiber of your being would tell you otherwise. But it is the genuine nature in which it is pulled off that keeps it pure. It is the spirit and vibe of the place that keeps it light. And it is the originality and novelty of experience that makes it a fresh departure from its comparatively stuffy cohorts.

So what about the food? Well, it’s not quite up there with the best, but Sammy does have its moments. The meat, while garlicky, is still pretty good, granted you shouldn’t expect an array of beef cuts to choose from. However things like chopped liver with schmaltz, smashed potatoes with onions, stuffed cabbage and an egg cream dessert will all make up for whatever is missing with a coma-inducing chicken fat hangover. Bon appetite!

4 teeth

Resto

111 E 29th St. New York, NY 10016(212) 685-5585 • restonyc.com
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What a nice find. Met a friend here for lunch and I have to say, it gave a strong showing.

Right out of the gate the decor is charming and cool at the same time, with great touches like the inventive “drink menu.”

For an appetizer, we split the deviled eggs, which were heavenly. Sorry, couldn’t resist. But seriously, best I’ve ever had. Granted they are a twist on the classic, but so incredibly creamy it was like eating a pillow of delicious.

For an entree, I had the special rib eye sandwich, which was also very good. But not quite at the level of the eggs, and not quite as good as other steak sandwiches such as BLT Steak’s or even Mangia’s Shortrib Scicciata.

The brussel sprout side was also good, but compared to Illili they are just okay.

And the biggest miss for me was the salted caramel sundae for dessert. Just eh.

The kitchen is also a bit slow. And by “a bit” I mean very. We were one of only a handful of tables and yet it took 90 minutes for our meal, and that was only because we ordered the dessert and the check while still finishing our entrees, otherwise it would’ve been easily two hours for lunch. What is this, Mad Men?

But net, net… I like. And if I did half knives I’d probably go 3.5. And I’d also probably go back in a second, if someone asked me (hint to friend).

3 teeth

il Buco Alimentari e Vineria

53 Great Jones St. New York, NY 10012 • (212) 837-2622 • ilbucovineria.com

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This is a tough review for me to write, because I was treated by a dear friend and fellow foodie. But, if I start letting things like that influence me, then I wouldn’t exactly be a Ferocious Foodie, now would I? So, hopefully he understands, but I’m guessing next time will be my treat. 😉

So, here it goes… Not unlike its sibling Alimentari is a great looker. Quaint and charming. But as we all know, looks aren’t everything. And once again I found myself wondering why so many other reviewers keep touting this franchise. Maybe it’s me?

This is not to say that we are in diametrically opposed camps. I mean, it’s not like the place is terrible by any stretch. But it’s not exactly amazing either.

For starters, we had the crispy artichokes, which are good. Served crispy, just like the description says. But yet something held them back from amazing. Under-seasoned would be my main guess. That, or simply not the freshest, most incredible ingredient to start with, enough that it could stand on its own.

As for the bucatini, this was a bit more obvious. It was blatantly undercooked. Not al dente. More like Undercookede. That said, I very much enjoyed the peppery prep. But because it was so hard and chewy I couldn’t get on board the love train.

Next came the sandwiches of which we split two, the short rib and the porchetta. The short rib was the clear winner. A very solid good with its caramelized onions and tender beefiness. But it pales in comparison to the steak sammy at BLT Steak.

And speaking of paling, the porchetta is so far beneath my Ultimate (Rocket Pig) I wouldn’t even bother. That said, the kale sandwich passed by our table and I found myself wishing we had gotten that instead. Not a very good sign for porchetta, either that or a great sign for kale.

Anyways, the point is still the point and that point is Alimentari is very elementary. Meaning basic. Meaning basically skip it.

2 teeth