Holborn Dining Room

 

Rosewood Hotel • 252 High Holborn London WC1V 7EN United Kingdom • +44 20 3747 8633 • holborndiningroom.com

Behold! The answer to the age-old question. You heard it here first folks. The world’s first definitive proof that the egg came before the chicken. Well, at least as it pertains to the chronology of my meal.

For my starter I had an amazing scotch egg of Ultimate proportions. Served over a bed of mushroom risotto to sweeten the deal, and by that I mean savory. The only dish of its equal for me would be The Rumpus Room in Milwaukee.

To follow, I ordered the chicken (obviously) pot pie with mushrooms served over a bed of English peas. Sadly, the presentation outshined the flavor, but it was still a solid good. Just an awfully steep step down from the egg that preceded it.

For dessert, the chocolate volcano with ginger ice cream is a really strong get, made with really strong ginger, like sushi grade. Not that sweetened cutesy stuff. It’s real McCoy and it makes the dish shine.

The other thing that shines is the exceedingly cool and expansive industrial décor. Every bit as tasteful as the food- after all, it is a Rosewood hotel… in London. Regrettably the service lacks the energy of the crowd, at least in terms of speed of service.

*** In a follow up visit, the fish and chips also proved damn skippy. That’s Yankee for good.

Brendan’s

42 W 35th St. New York, NY 10001(212) 564-5405brendansbar.com

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Normally I would’ve never given this place a second glance, but apparently fate had other plans in store for me, as my intended destination, a somewhat hidden sushi joint across the street named Mew, sprung a leak due to a ruptured pipe. So, we quickly searched for an alternate route, and there, located in the Gregorian Hotel was this seemingly run-of-the-mill bar and grill. But run-of-the-mill it ain’t, because the moment you enter you realize you’re not in Kansas anymore. And by Kansas I mean Herald Square.

Behold, the diamond in the rough! Aladdin, eat your heart out. From it’s grand bar at the entrance to its vaulted ceilings, crown moldings, stained glass and elegant chandeliers, you feel like you’re in an embassy as opposed to an eatery. In fact, even the clientele up the vibe, with most of them donning suits for their power lunch attire.

In terms of the menu, I did the unthinkable and ordered a pasta. A spicy lemon penne topped with shrimp, broccoli rabe and a healthy dose of parmesan. Now normally at a bar & grill I would be like you and go with something safer, like a burger or fish and chips, but the setting somehow lulled me into thinking that perhaps this B&G was different than all the rest and so I crawled out on that limb with the best of intentions and sure enough, my bet paid off. Not that it was incredible by any stretch of the imagination, but it was shockingly good in light of expectations.

So take this review for what it is, a rather minute sampling. But I full well intend on returning, because there’s a shepherds pie with my name on it. So check back, because I will adjust the review should my first impression be too low or too high accordingly.

3 teeth

Cock & Bull

23 W 45th St. New York, NY 10036(212) 819-1900 • cockandbullnyc.com
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Before I jump right into this review, let’s take a moment to really appreciate the name. I mean really take it in. Cause the way I see it, we’re talking truckloads of confidence (or money… or both) it must’ve taken to name this place what is essentially synonymous with bullshit. A name most people wouldn’t exactly flock to as a draw. But, on the other hand, a brilliant play toward lower expectations, because if you wind up having a shitty meal or terrible service, well what did you expect? It says bullshit right on the door!

Name aside, Bullshit fashions itself quite faithfully after your typical British Pub with its dark wood walls, Guinness on draft, a healthy selection of scotch and rugby on the telly. And contrary to my theory above, the service is pretty attentive and on the ball.

In terms of food, one must first calibrate themselves in reality, after all, it is bar food, and worse still, British food. A culture known for such culinary contributions to the world as shepherd’s pie, pot pie and fish & chips. So, now going in fully calibrated I would like to start with a major shout out to the fish sliders, done “fish & chips style” with batter-fried cod on little buns with slaw and nicely seasoned wedge fries- er, I mean chips on the side. In fact, they were so good I much preferred them over the regular fries which you can also order by the basket or with a burger.

The only misses for me were the deviled eggs. As in the devil himself was missing. No heat. No spice. No seasoning. No bloody anything other than mayonnaise as far as I could tell, making them way too creamy and not all that tasty. Oh and in case you’re wondering what in the hell that dish is in the picture above, that’s bacon wrapped meatloaf ladies and gentleman. Talk about devilish.

Come drinks, the Guinness was good, poured like it should (look, I’m a poet), nice and smooth. And while the bourbon selection is a little light, the Bulleit Rye is always a crowd pleaser, so box checked on hooch.

In general a solid choice for a drink and a bite with friends before hoping on a train at Grand Central and slipping into a food coma.

3 teeth

ABC Kitchen

35 E 18th St. New York, NY 10003(212) 475-5829 • abckitchennyc.com

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After such incredible hype I’m afraid my expectations were virtually impossible to meet- damn you hype!!! That said, I did find the restaurant to be very good, just not worth all of the pomp and circumstance to get a rezzy.

For example, we went during Snowmageddon figuring there would naturally be cancellations and we could slip in.They did slip us in, but the “only” time they had available was 5:30pm. Let’s just say that less than 50% of the tables were filled during the entire duration of our meal which ended around 7:45/8:00. Hardly “booked.” And it’s this fake, manufactured- self induced-hard-to-get-into bullshit that I hate about places like this in NYC.

But beyond that, the decor is really quite something. Jean-Georges really does know how to jazz up a place. Casual and cozy, yet modern and hip. You feel like you are in a country barn that was renovated by a contemporary architect. The lighting alone is worth the visit.

As for the food, I did extensive yelping before going and I have to say that my fellow elites let me down a bit. We had the roasted carrot and avocado salad, the crab toast, the pizza special, the fried chicken and the sundae- all of which came highly recommended by multiple yelpers of the elitie variety. Of the dishes, the toast and the salad were good, the pizza was just okay and the sundae was a complete waste of calories and money. That said, there was one stand out- the chicken. Yes, chicken. I know it’s practically a cardinal sin to order chicken when you are out, but I am damn glad I did, because it was stellar. Far and away the best thing we had. Best fried chicken I EVER had. Almost done like fish and chips. But unfortunately, it was the ONLY thing that lived up to the hype.

Fortunately (for them), I went back for lunch and I have to say, what a difference a mealtime makes. They are SO much better at lunch time. I would seriously consider upping them to 4 stars, but if you can only do one meal time well, are you really a four star restaurant?

That said, everything we had, from the spinach salad to the pizza to the portobello sandwiches yielded not a single miss. Maybe they just get too tired of being awesome come dinner time and they start slacking?

3 teeth

The Ultimate Fried Chicken

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ABC Kitchen – New York, NY

The South has nothing on this bird (pictured). Prepared in such a way that seems more derivative of fish and chips, the chicken winds up coming out like a juicy, poultry breaded bag of bliss. The other thing that winds up happening is you make everyone else at the table jealous they didn’t order the chicken.

 

Maharlika – New York, NY

Prior to Maharlika I really didn’t get the whole chicken and waffles thing. And yes, I tried it, so don’t get all Green Eggs and Ham on me. And what’s weird about it is that I love both dishes independently, just not together. Well, maybe that’s because no one else was doing it right. So leave it to a Filipino restaurant to show me how Southern cooking is supposed to be. Go figure. Gotta love New York though. So what’s so great about ‘em? I’m not entirely sure to be honest. I mean the fact that the waffles are purple is aesthetically unique, but I doubt that’s the reason. Moistness is, however a huge part of it. The waffle wasn’t dry, which is my usual gripe with this dish. The other plus was sweetness, again, a miss with so many other posers. I mean on a philosophical level, isn’t the purpose of this dish the contrast of savory and sweet? Well, Maharlika gets it. And now so do I.