Dirty French

Ludlow Hotel • 180 Ludlow St. New York, NY 10002(212) 254-3000dirtyfrench.com

Dirty French

It is with great pleasure and relief that I submit to you a review of the restaurant Dirty French, who actually lives up equally to both its name and its hype (which is written in some shockingly eloquent Yelp reviews). And while Carbone and Torrisi can do no wrong in my eyes, I was still a little worried going in with such high expectations.

So, overcoming healthy doses of skepticism from Wifey and I, we arrived for our annoyingly early reservation of 6:00 pm, because nothing else was “available.” I use air quotes because the place was 90% empty when we arrived, leading me to believe that they save the normal times for people with connections, either that or they just hold out on decent times to build the allure of dining there.

But as annoyed as we were, the tides turned quickly when our host managed to accommodate us sitting in the back garden even though it is technically reserved for hotel guests and VIPs, of which we were neither. Not that there is anything wrong with the main dining room. It’s pretty traditional bistro décor, done well. But the garden is much more charming with its exposed brick walls, greenhouse ceiling and an eclectic array of pendants dangling overhead. Granted it’s much quieter and not as lively, so if you’re looking to see and be seen, I recommend staying up front.

The other tide-turning surprise was our server, Kenny, from Croatia. Such an infectiously positive spirit, born with hospitality coursing through his veins. We couldn’t help but smile at his enthusiasm about each dish. He was quick to offer tastes of different wines by the glass or even cocktails. Spot on with recommendations and just as deft with conversation.

Speaking of cocktails I went with the Pigalle, a bourbon based drink with nice balance to it, artfully blending elements of heat (chili) and refreshing citrus (orange and lemon) with just a touch of spice, between the bitters and cinnamon stick. Wifey had the Ludlow Gimlet which I can only assume was good since she finished it and didn’t even offer me a sip, hording it all for herself. But I forgive her. After all, it was her birthday.

And a happy one it was with stunning dishes like the lamb carpaccio (pictured), spread across the plate like an edible Chagall. It is handily an Ultimate across two categories, Lamb and Carpaccio. Seasoned generously with herbs, spicy chili oil, medallions of marinated eggplant and tiny dollops of yogurt. This is then accompanied by several slices of grilled bread upon which you are to spread your carpaccio like paint across a canvas, paying homage to the work of art it truly is.

Another mighty impressive dish in the raw camp is the tuna tartar, dressed in the same spicy chili oil as the lamb, also seasoned with plentiful herbs, including a healthy dose of Thai basil, which truthfully makes the dish- all sidled up next to something they call a crepe indochine.

Not even close to done showing off, the chef keeps the wows coming with a Foie gras terrine wrapped in a crispy phyllo brick, filled with jam and placed over a burnt lemon cream, which all coalesce in your mouth with such dexterity that you could swear you had a tiny, little conductor in there, waving his baton around so that the lemon knew just when to come in and brighten things up.

For our entrée, we split the hanger steak au poivre, which was once again a “dirty,” a.k.a. “unfaithful,” take on the classic French dish, made unique with an Asian twist on the sauce, more Thai basil (apparently the farmer’s market was having a sale) and lime cornichon. And as for the steak itself, it was cooked a perfect medium rare, allowing the meat to melt into the sauce like a dream.

In tandem with the steak, we also ordered a highly unnecessary side of pommes frites, which went perfectly with the steak. Sliced thin almost potato chip style with just enough fluffiness inside to contrast the crispiness. And in lieu of ketchup or mustard, they serve it up with a creamy remoulade that makes them hard to resist, even though you are about to pop like a child’s balloon being filled by a fire hose.

So obviously we skipped dessert, right? No way. Are you crazy? That’d be like a pitcher walking off the mound in the 8th inning of a no-hitter. You gotta see it through. So wifey and I hunkered down and toughed it out with an order of the beignets to see if this meal could truly end flawlessly. Well, landing stuck like Kerri Strug. These fritters were ankle-breaking good, and I don’t even know what that means. What I do know is that they are definitely an Ultimate with their clever hint of chicory, adding a light, floweriness to the otherwise heavy dough dipped in caramel.

Then, last but not least, Kenny, our Croatian master of ceremonies, surprised us with an assortment of birthday gelato on the house. One strawberry, one watermelon and one was coconut. The coconut being the best of the three, but compared to those beignets, I wasn’t about to blow out an internal organ over them, so if you’re deciding between the two yourself, there’s really no contest. Beignets all the ways.

Now, going back to the beautifully written Yelp reviews I mentioned earlier, it pains me that they still averaged out to be a mere 3.5 stars, which is ridiculously inaccurate. GOD, I HATE YELP! It’s so bad that it goes beyond subjectivity and lands squarely on the face of uselessness. When you have people sandbagging things with one star because a server was bad or 3 stars because they wouldn’t know their ass from their elbow pasta it waters down any value the site has to offer. It’s 5 stars people! FIVE!!! Or knives, as the case may be on this site. Okay, I need to go take a Xanax.

5 teeth

Parm

1 E 161st St. Bronx, NY 10451 • (212) 993-7189 • parmnyc.com

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Being that I am a big fan of Torrisi and Carbone, it became a moral imperative that I try Parm. Not the one in Brooklyn, unfortunately. The little stand in Yankee Stadium. Now I’m sure that the actual restaurant offers a significant bump in experience, but ideally if you are going to put your name on anything, from a food truck to a concession stand, it should live up to that name. So, yes, I am going to judge Parm by my very myopic sampling.

Now, one might start to presume from my opening that I am about to open a can of whoop ass on Parm, but one might also be wrong.

I must admit, however, when I first saw the sandwich on a burger-style bun I was a bit disappointed. After all, isn’t the hallmark of a parm to be on a long roll? And the fact that the egg parm was served cold was another blasphemous decision according to staunch egg parm tradition. Things were definitely not looking good.

But tasting good was a different matter. Shame on me for ever doubting the prodigal sons, because this parm is parmfection. Bone simple with on point ingredients that don’t hide behind mounds of melted cheese. It’s just magically sautéd eggplant, spicy marina, fresh mozzarella (not melted) and an almost brioche like bun. And together, it’s Wonder Twins activate! Form of a killer egg parm!

3 teeth

Torrisi Italian Specialties

250 Mulberry St. New York, NY 10012(212) 965-0955torrisinyc.com

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Torrisi is what I love about New York. These small places that don’t get noticed by their grand facades, exorbitant prices and inflated reputation. They simply keep things modest, focused and excellent. And those three words pretty much sum up our experience, with a few minor transgressions- enough to cost it a knife, but 4 knives in my book ain’t too shabby.

So, first, the décor. The place is TINY. I guess it’s ironic that I made the word “tiny” big, but it was for emphasis. There are maybe eight tables total. Half of those being two-tops. So don’t even think of having a large party here. Also, with so few tables, you can imagine that even with a reservation, you will most likely have to wait for your table, like we did.

The service, while good, was a bit odd. Our waiter was great in helping us narrow down between two wines (the one we chose was superb “Latittia Domaine Reserve 2009 Pinot Noir”), but then, when it came to ordering a few extras off of the prix fixe, he became quit rigid, and almost pushy on the lobster dish. But, we were already doing the short rib special with sweet corn polenta, on top of the crazy food-a-palooza that was already coming. And in the end, we were glad we didn’t order the lobster- of which he was asking us to order four (one for each of us), which would’ve been a colossal waste of money, because we were stuffed going into dessert as is.

Which brings me to my only other gripe. Dessert was pretty lack luster. And they served four different ones! Not one of them was worth its salt, or should I say sugar? Must be something with this dynamic duo and sweets, because dessert sucked at Carbone as well.

Oh, and one of the appetizers was also a miss. The fluke ceviche. Way too fishy. Scallops were just “eh” as well.

But everything else, the fresh mozzarella with toast, the heirloom tomato salad, the veal wrapped in bacon with foie gras and peaches, the pasta Bolognese, and the short rib with sweet corn polenta were all outstanding.

Such a great place for an intimate date or a nice meal with good friends. Granted, probably no more than two friends or you’ll never get a table.

4 teeth