BLT Steak

106 E 57th St. New York, NY 10022(212) 752-7470bltsteak.com

blt-steak

I’ve easily been to over a dozen steakhouses in the city and my clear favorite is BLT. Very hip décor. Good waiters- hostesses, not so much. You’d think they were hostessing the Playboy Mansion the way they cop a tude. But petty nits aside, BLT stands for Beef Lover’s Dream as far as I’m concerned. And no, I’m not concerned that I just used a “D” instead of a “T” because they rhyme and that’s not really the point anyway, now is it?

The point is that the food is just awesome. Lunch or dinner, you won’t be disappointed.  Right out of the gate, even the “bread” is somethin’ special- a parmesan popover. So friggin’ good I could make a meal of those alone! But not to be outdone, every cut of every steak I’ve had here is cooked to perfection, crisp on the outside, tender and juicy all over the place on the inside, served with an assortment of delicious sauces to enhance things even further – the red wine sauce is sinful- not that it needs it- sans sauce is just fine too, but if you’re go with one, that’s my reco.

I’ve even had their branzino, which is mighty impressive for a steakhouse. And their kobe steak sandwich for lunch was unbelievable. But you’ll have to take my word for it on that one, because they pulled it off the menu. Cue tears…

And while even the desserts are superb, choose to get nothing and you’ll still end things on a high note with their little, fresh-baked chocolate cookies. Better than most things you’ll find on other steakhouse dessert menus.

Oh, and let’s not forget the wine. A choice selection indeed. Discovered one of my favorite Pinots there, Seque. So good I bought a case from the vineyard when I got home.

5 teeth

Beaudevin

Charlotte-Douglas International Airport 5501 R C Josh Birmingham Pkwy Charlotte, NC28208(704) 359-4318

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For an airport restaurant I would say you would be hard-pressed to find better. The wine by the glass was surprisingly good (Pinot Noir). And the tapas style small plates kept wowing one after another. From the prosciutto & melon to the cheese plate to the caprese skewers, to the bread plate and olives. The only average ones were the shrimp cocktail and the humus. Not bad mind you, just not up to par with their small plate siblings.

And as for the salad mains, I did the grilled artichoke. A solid good. The creamy whipped goat made for a nice complement to the peppery arugula.

Oh, and our server was awesome. Quick, friendly and without writing anything down she didn’t forget a single order from the 6 people in our party.

4 teeth

Cindy’s Backstreet Kitchen

1327 Railroad Ave. St. Helena, CA 94574(707) 963-1200cindysbackstreetkitchen.com

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Hearing that this place was the sister restaurant of Mustards, expectations were immediately high. And those expectations only increased by our extremely effusive waiter who hyped up the menu so high, you’d think he was high.

For example, his gushing recommendation of the oysters bingo, which tasted like something you’d expect to be served at a Bat Mitzvah on Long Island. Same goes for the octopus, which was so flavorless it should almost be illegal to serve in a foodie mecca like Napa. In fact, of all the appetizers we had, and we had all of the appetizers, only one managed to rise above ho-hum, the shellfish pot with jalapenos. The polenta fries would’ve been good too, but they serve them dry and they desperately need something to dip them in. So, if you do order them, please ask for the honey mustard that comes with the burgers, it’s got a nice kick to and makes the fries worthy.

And speaking of the burgers, the duck burger was one of only four highs within the meal, served with a shitake mushroom ketchup, it made for a very unique, Asian take on an American classic. The other entrée that was good was the pork shoulder, but it paled in comparison to our waiter’s presell. What worked about it was the moist, savory pork mixed with the sweet caramelized peaches. What didn’t work was that only about 20% of the peaches were cooked. The raw ones were hard and chewy and tasteless. Apart from those, every other entrée at the table was a big whatevs.

Unfortunately the hit/miss ratio didn’t improve on desserts either. Only one is worth getting if you should still choose to dine here. The Campfire Pie tastes like a s’more right out of the sleep-away camp textbook. So A+ good it made the inadequacies of all of the other desserts on the table that much more severe. But if you must get two, go with the fig tart. It’s no campfire, but at least it’s not a complete waste of calories.

Sorry Cindy, but this is literally the worst dinner I’ve had in Napa. But thank you Mister Sommelier, your recommendation of the Hope & Grace Pinot Noir was wonderful. I just wish the rest of the meal lived up to it.

2 teeth

Via Vanti!

Mount Kisco Train Station • 2 Kirby Plz. Mount Kisco, NY 10549 • (914) 666-6400 • viavanti.com

ViaVanti_Meatball

If you want 4 star Italian or better, this isn’t it. I’m sorry Yelpers, but you must be smoking the oregano if you think this place is that incredible. It’s just okay at best. Granted I thought the service was worthy of 4 stars. But the food is only marginally better than an Olive Garden, with crazy inflated prices. Which is hard to believe that some of you thought it was a great value! I guess compared to NYC, but that’s not saying much.

Here’s the breakdown. I had a glass of their most expensive wine by the glass, basically an Italian Pinot Noir and it was hardly worth $6 much less the $15 they charged. And having just had a glass of wine two days prior at Village Social that was excellent, it only exacerbated the issue for me.

As a starter, we shared the sunflower seed salad with grapes, which was good, best thing we had.

And for entrees, we all had various pastas. The kids had farfalle with meatballs to the tune of $17 bucks each! Does this sound like a cheap place?

I had the Arribiata with Shrimp for $24, which was far from spicy and equally distant from worth it. Granted I like a lot of heat, but this thing didn’t even register on my scale. Tasted more like marinara.

The wife had the orcchiette and that was probably the best of the bunch, but there is a place in Irvington called Mima that makes a very similar dish, but does it about 5 times better.

And as for the gelato, “amazing” it is not. If you want “amazing,” go to Eataly in the city. Then you will know what amazing is. And this is not that.

But I suppose I only have myself to blame. I mean an exclamation point in the name is a pretty big hint that you’re not exactly in for a culinary delight.

Now, before I leave on a down note, I wanted to offer some sage advice; if you truly want excellent Italian at a great price in Westchester, then go to The Cookery in Dobbs Ferry. Sure it’s harder to get into, but that’s because it actually deserves its stars.

2 teeth

The Inn at Pound Ridge

258 Westchester Ave. Pound Ridge, NY10576 (914) 764-1400 • theinnatpoundridge.com

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Having been to a number of Jean Georges restaurants, I know they can be hit and miss. Fortunately my experiences have been more on the hit end of the spectrum, so my expectations were moderately high. And while many of the criticisms of this place thus far would be fair, I still have to say my expectations were met.

First, the décor. It is everything everyone says it to be. Just beautiful and warm and literally transporting, meaning you no longer feel like you are in Westchester, but rather in a remote cabin up in the mountains someplace, where the faint drones of work and screaming kids can no longer be heard. From the lighting to the beams to the wood-burning fireplace you just want to curl up and stay forever.

Which brings me to the first nit… You may very well feel like you’re there forever, because the service, as others have pointed out, is slow. So not the place to come for a quick bite.

But now for the main event, the food. First, the Russian River Pinot Noir by Mara is incredible. Went so well with everything we had. Fish. Meat. Spicy. Sweet. So props on the wine list.

For appetizers, we had the ricotta with mashed cranberries as our “bread” which was dangerously good. Dangerous, because you have to summon a good deal of self control not to fill up on it.

After that, the wife had the Hamachi with dusted pecans. The fish was incredibly fresh and the layer of pecan was a nice touch. That said, it needed a little something else to bring it to that next level. More acidity perhaps? But certainly not bad.

And last- and least, I had the angel hair pasta app with Brussels sprouts and pesto. Sounds much better than it is. I would skip it. It’s not bad. But just not worthy of its surroundings.

As for the entrees, here’s where The Inn shined. Both the Hake and the Tenderloin rocked. But in all fairness, the Tenderloin is simply on an entirely different level. A strong recommend from our server, for which I am eternally grateful. If you like heat and meat, you must get this. The scotch bonnet sauce is so divine I had to ask for more of it to sop up the rest of the buttered spinach.

But then our server led us astray on dessert. Should’ve gone with my gut on the apple streusel, but nooooo, I had to listen to her and get the lack-luster almond cake.

Regardless, I will most certainly be back. And the beauty of the place is that during the week it’s much easier to get in. Plus, you can always just sit in the equally stunning bar area and just grab the burger (which looked very good) and a beer. Oh, and of course I’d get the streusel.

4 teeth