Salvation Burger

230 E 51st StNew York, NY 10022 • (646) 277-2900 • salvationburger.com

If you’ve been following me for any length of time then you probably already know that I’m not a big fan of the burger at Spotted Pig. Which probably has you scratching your head as to why I would ever come here, well-knowing that this is the same chef.

To which I respond, “fair.” But isn’t our country built on second chances? From Robert Downy Jr. to John Travolta to Anthony Weiner- okay well almost on that last one.

So how’d it go? Just okay. The Salvation Burger is definitely the headliner here for a reason, and while it’s not the best burger I’ve had in the city, it might just eke its way into the top ten. I do recommend getting it with the Holy Cow beer that is brewed specifically to go with the burger, and while it does indeed live up to the mission, it’s not all that drinkable on its own.

The Classic Burger is also good, but because of its thinner patties the meat gets overwhelmed by all the other things going on and winds up tasting a lot like a more refined Big Mac.

Fries are good. Pickles are good. Apple pie is just okay (done like the Classic Burger, a fancy version of a McDonald’s staple)  and service is a train wreck. Also, the food is insanely overpriced for what it is. Don’t think I’d ever go back, because if I’m gonna drop that kinda coin on a burger that will supposedly “save me” I’d rather get the Black Label at Minetta or the Duck Burger at Elan. Now those are some soul-saving burgers right there!

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Redfarm

529 Hudson St. New York, NY 10014(212) 792-9700redfarmnyc.com

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I think there should be a law mandating that places take reservations. I mean how absurd is it that by 6:30 pm you could already have a 90-minute wait? Oh sorry, that was Spotted Pig around the corner, which we gave up on and walked right in to Redfarm, who also doesn’t take reservations mind you, but at 6:30 pm it’s nowhere near as bad as The Pig. By 7:30, however, you’re fucked, so still try to get there early if you hate waiting, which you will if you try to do it at their minuscule bar that’s smaller than most powder rooms.

As for the dining room itself, it’s also pretty small, yet they manage to pack a lot of farm-like fun into it, with wooded beams and pipes overhead adorned with hangers carrying everything from chopsticks to plants to menu highlights. And while there are a few smaller, more intimate tables along the sides, most of the seating is taken up by large communal tables in the middle, so not the best place to discuss your brilliant start-up idea that’s gonna make millions.

Fighting the vibe of the décor, unfortunately, is the very rigid staff, who demands you order everything at once, which zags greatly from the dim sum norm. And my other big gripe with service is that there is zero thought put into the chronology and flow of your meal. Meaning, they bring you the dishes without any semblance of rhyme or reason. Some starters came after dim sum. Some of the dim sum came after our entrée. Heavy dishes came before lighter ones. And it definitely effects how you enjoy each dish.

So to help you forget about such annoying things, I recommend one of two cocktails, either the Le Club Hot with jalapeno infused tequila, smoked sea salt and cucumber- It’s spicy, smoky and goody. Or the refreshing Shiso Cucumber, which is a bit more typical with the whole gin and cucumber combo that you now find at every restaurant under the sun except McDonald’s, although it’s probably coming soon considering Taco Bell just started serving booze. Granted they do zazz it up a bit with shiso leaves, agave and lemon. The one drink to avoid, however, is the Bee’s Teas. It ain’t the knees. It’s disgusting. Made with chamomile infused bourbon, fig and basil. And while it may sound pretty good to you, it tastes like one of those herbal tonics you get from your acupuncturist, which are more painful to drink than falling off of the table and landing needle-side down.

Among the edible winners of the night, the best thing we had was a starter that actually came fourth, and should’ve been first or second, the kumamoto oysters with yuzu and meyer lemon ice. They were phenomenal! I could’ve downed a dozen of those without batting an eye.

My second favorite thing of the night might’ve been an Ultimate the more I reflect on it. The crab and eggplant bruschetta was just awesome. A twist on the typically boring crab toast, this one is served slightly warm and very complex with its nuanced blend of flavors and textures coming from things like kohlrabi slaw.

The waiter’s resounding recommendation, however, was the weakest dish we had, the spicy crispy beef (pictured). A total miss for me. And while it checked two out of three boxes, spicy and crispy, it left out the all-too-important third box, beefy! I felt like the little old lady from the Wendy’s commercials long ago. Where’s the beef? Because all I tasted were fried clusters of batter in Szechuan sauce. Tisk! Tisk!

Another dish I loved was the egg roll stuffed with Katz’s Deli pastrami, served with a spicy Asian mustard. Granted it’s probably the inner Jew in me talking, but oy was it good!

One of the most interesting dishes was the shitake, corn, jicama and roasted red pepper dumplings served with a chive shooter that when used as a chaser made each and every bite explode with contrast, not only of texture and flavor, but even temperature.

For our entrée, Wifey and I split the sautéed lobster, egg and chopped pork, which is easily enough for two people, and that’s about the only thing easy about it. Eating it is not. It’s messy as all hell and there are droves of chipped shell pieces in almost every bite, make it a bit hard to enjoy without looking like a Neanderthal. That said, the favors in the dish are very good, especially when you combine the egg, pork and lobster all in one bite, which is also easier said than done.

Come dessert we decided to lighten things up a bit (while also still getting dessert, because I’m a very weak man), opting for the key lime pie with key lime sorbet, which is good, but not great. The pie itself is a little too sweet for a key lime, so lucky for them, the sorbet is tart and refreshing enough to balance things out. The key (get it?) is to combine both so that it tastes like a key lime pie actually should. Or, if that’s too much work for you, then I recommend heading to The Dutch in Soho, instead, for what I would say is the epitome of Key lime pie perfection.

3 teeth

Harper’s

92 Main St. Dobbs Ferry, NY 10522 • (914) 693-2306 • Harpersonmain.com

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I think, like, the term “farm-to-table” is, like, getting to be more overused than the word “like.” Pretty soon McDonald’s is going to come out with a farm-to-table offering at this rate. This is not to dispute the fact that Harper’s might very well source its ingredients from a nearby farm in the tri state area, but I sincerely doubt that they are solely affiliated with that farm to the point where the entirety of its harvest winds up on your plate. I’m also pretty skeptical that ALL of Harper’s ingredients come from farms period. Sure, I would imagine some does, maybe even the majority, but isn’t that technically true of most places. I mean it’s not like the other places are using suppliers who are growing tomatoes right on their trucks. Or cultivating carrots in test tubes. They ALL come from farms at some point. And there’s zero regulation on the whole farm-to-table claim to begin with. So what does it even mean, really, unless you’re like Blue Hill at Stone Barns?

But shelving that gripe for now, I really do like Harper’s a lot. It has a great vibe about it with it’s cool, dark, yet extensive dining rooms (big enough that you can forgo the rezzy and pull a walk-in), each with its own rustic contemporary pub-like personality. And speaking of personality, the servers were all very warm and friendly and most importantly for a Sunday family brunch, good with the kids. They even have an outdoor seating area in the garden at the back of the restaurant which was frozen over when we went, but judging by the taste level of the interior, I’d be willing to bet it’s nicely done as well.

Switching over to the food, the bread is excellent, as is the butter, which is such a rarity in this country, mainly because it actually tastes like butter! Okay, so maybe the butter came from a farm…

For my entree I had the chocolate chip bread pudding French toast, which just sounded killer as I read it on the menu. Almost as if they knew the shortcut to my heart. And while it was definitely good, they screwed it up a hair by serving it up on the burnt side. Thus, Wifey had me bested with her baked eggs and proscuitto, which was so well balanced the way the salt of the meat brought out the flavor of the egg- and together with that bread? – I was such a wonderful thing I was bouncing around like Tigger. I also wound up trying my son’s scrambled eggs, which were pretty damn good too, considering how basic they were, which leads me to believe that perhaps the eggs also came from a farm. Okay, so that’s two things, but I will eat shards of glass if you prove to me that the chocolate chips in the French toast came from a friggin’ farm. I mean c’mon!

3 teeth

Mythos

Symi Harbor 85600, Symi, Greece • +30 22460 71488
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We went here on a recommendation from our hotel, which claimed that the chef at Mythos was the “most consistent” in Symi. Well, we assumed he meant consistently good, but from what I could see, consistently chatty is more like it. He is perpetually fluttering from table to table like a social butterfly, meanwhile, his kitchen is churning out turd after turd.

Eleven courses we endured through the chef’s meze tasting, explained on the menu as the best of his best, and out of all eleven we only bothered to finish two. That’s not to say that all nine of the remainders sucked, but most of them did, with a few mediocre stragglers.

Of them, the spinach pie was by far the worst I have ever had. Like something you’d expect to find in a high school cafeteria. So soggy and lifeless his citizenship should almost be revoked for such a blight on Greek cuisine.

Next, a half notch up from shitsville was the shell stuffed with slop, or as they called it, shrimp and cheese. But it was so bland and over-cheesed that you could barely find the miniscule frozen shrimps hidden within in its mediocrity. Needless to say this was another one bite and done dish.

Working our way further through the chef’s tour de farce, we had a underwhelming mousaka and an equally prosaic lamb with rosemary.

Even the bookends of the meal were tragic. The bread was a touch stale, the salad was limp and over-dressed and both desserts tasted like bricks of cream. One marginally flavored with lemon. The other with banana.

But to be fair, the eggplant dish with sweet potato and berry jam, as well as the seafood risotto, were both relatively good. Then again, McDonald’s is relatively gourmet when you are relatively starving in the desert.

The only things that rose to a level of great were the rooftop setting, which has a pleasant view overlooking the harbor, the wait staff who was friendly and attentive, the kalamata olives, which the chef obviously doesn’t make, but rather purchases and then pulls out of a jar to serve and finally the lamb kebab with a spicy sweet sauce and tzatziki. Congratulations. I guess in Stockholm he learned that if you throw enough darts at the board eventually one of them is bound to hit. That said, even the kebab was dry and overcooked, but fortunately the sauce covered it up.

1 tooth