Bedford 234

635 Old Post Rd. Bedford, NY 10506 • (914) 234-5656 • bedford234.com

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Brimming with potential, Bedford 234 still has quite a few kinks to work out, mostly in the service department. Well, to be fair, it’s more of an issue with the kitchen than the servers, because the waiters were keeping up. It was the kitchen that failed them. Not in terms of food, however. It was a matter of speed, or lack thereof. They simply can’t handle their own success, having to hold off on seating tables because the kitchen is so behind. A nice problem to have if you’re the restaurateur, but as a customer, not so much. That said, a word of advice to the restaurateur, to help solve this problem moving forward, perhaps you should consider taking reservations? That way you can manage the kitchen’s workload accordingly. Shocking concept, right?

Hopefully they figure it out soon, because everything suffers because of it. Patrons get annoyed, packed in like sardines trying to get a drink at the teeny-tiny bar as they wait for a table. Diners get annoyed by the noise level spilling over from the bar into the dining room. Bread baskets get forgotten and entrees get overcooked.

So now that I’ve told you what’s wrong with 234, here’s what’s right. For starters, the décor is very cool. Rustic cool, with an artistic vibe about it. Lots of energy too. Feels like something you’d expect to see in the city. And the outdoor seating is equally impressive with its brick arches and strung lights. A good place to sit with a drink if you need to wait for your table, which you will if it’s a Friday or Saturday night between 7:00-8:30pm.

In terms of drinks, the rosemary and cucumber margarita with Sriracha salt is very potent, which helps you forget about the wait. But sadly, all of those interesting ingredients don’t really come through and it ends up tasting like a normal, everyday margarita, which isn’t the worst thing I suppose.

For our appetizers, we shared the lobster knuckle escargot (pictured) and the warm mushroom crostini and both were very good. The former is pretty much what it sounds like, roughly half a dozen yummy chunks of lobster served in an escargot dish, each chunk nestled in a cup of buttery, garlicky paradise. The latter is comprised of warm, marinated hen of the woods and enoki mushrooms, along with melted leeks, all smothered in red beard cheese and placed over their house made bread, which is pretty tasty just with the olive oil, so you can imagine how fungalicious it is with this stuff stacked to the gills.

For entrees, the quinoa and rice bowl is surprisingly good, loaded with grilled veggies, avocado, kale, red spinach and spicy lemongrass yogurt all tossed in a citrus, chipotle vinaigrette. The dish is primary made by the freshness of its ingredients, but that little touch of heat is truly what keeps it interesting. Also, I recommend adding king salmon to it for a few bucks more. It really completes the dish. Unfortunately it was a touch overcooked though, but even so, I still found myself enjoying it.

Wifey, on the other hand, didn’t fare so well with the chimichurri grass fed bavette steak, which was delivered three temps over the request of medium rare! I mean, c’mon! I get the occasional medium fuck up, because the kitchen is busy, yada yada yada. But to try and send out a well done cut of meat and pass it off as an attempt at medium rare is borderline unforgivable. Shit, you could probably strap a flamethrower to a jackhammer and set it off in a room next to a piece of meat and get it closer to medium rare. So naturally she sent it back, leaving me to eat alone (Don’t worry, I’m okay). Then, some 15 minutes later, they rushed a second steak to the table, but because they didn’t give it time to rest, the thing bled out all over the plate, ruining the fries served with it.

We asked to speak to a manager about this, but apparently there wasn’t one that night (shocker). That said, the hostess did the right thing and comped wifey’s glass of wine. Not to mention dessert. Now normally you’d think they should’ve comped the steak in this situation, but once I tell you about dessert I think you’ll agree it was a win.

This winning dessert is the best damn coconut cake I’ve ever had. Served as a behemoth under glass, this towering mountain of Ultimateness was so irresistible we managed to put away a good three quarters of the slice. Now I realize that doesn’t sound all that impressive, but keep in mind that the slice started out the size of an adolescent Jack Russell Terrier. Also, waste not, want not was in full effect come the next day, when that final quarter made for a rather tasty stroll down memory lane, post lunch.

My advice, go there on less crowded days or at less crowded times and I would imagine you will be thoroughly pleased as punch.

3 teeth

Pig & Khao

68 Clinton St. New York, NY 10002 • (212) 920-4485pigandkhao.com

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I have only eaten at the Madison Eats representation, but what I had while respectable, was also not quite as worthy of the praise it’s been getting on the street.

The Bahn Mi is solid. The meat perfectly moist and the roll very nice in texture. But the flavors from the rest of the toppings just didn’t seem to cut through, so it ended up tasting like meat, bread and Sriracha. Granted there are worse things I suppose, but there are also better Bahn Mi sandwiches.

And as for the spring rolls, while delicious, they are so damn oily I couldn’t help but feel I was drinking a bottle of Soul Glo from “Coming to America.”

But to judge them by such a myopic sampling seems a touch unfair, so please take this review with a grain of oil- er, I mean salt.

2 teeth

The Ultimate Grilled Cheese

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Greens – San Francisco, CA

As vegetarian places go, Greens is way up there for me. And a huge part of the reason behind that is this sandwich alone. It is so damn good we bought the cookbook right there on the spot, just so we could replicate it at home. It’s fontina with marinated cremini mushrooms and harissa on a bread that knows how to be the man behind the man.

Beecher’s – New York, NY

Figs, honey and cheese are like the Three Musketeers of deliciousness. And Beecher’s puts them together in proportionate perfection on a raisin walnut bread that only adds to the party. I know it sounds so stupidly simple that you could even make it home, but as I have said more times than you would probably care to hear, simplicity is the root of greatness.

Melts – Armonk, NY

Similar to Beecher’s, this place is a treasure trove of grilled cheese greatness. But once you sift through all of the treasure you will come upon the Hope Diamond of grilled cheeses, The Heat. Made with home pickled jalapenos to get that perfect level of spiciness, cherry peppers, Sriracha and muenster. It will melt your heart, along with your tongue.

Koji BBQ

Azul Truck • Los Angeles, CA(323) 315-0253 kogibbq.com

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I know that Koji is supposed to be one of the originators of the whole food truck craze, but Ford was the originator of the automobile and I think it’s safe to say that others have since improved upon the concept significantly.

Well, after eating Koji’s Pacman Burger (pictured) I can say unequivocally that Koji ain’t what she used to be. Perhaps due to a slide in Koji’s own performance or a testament to how many other food trucks have stepped into the ring, upping the game? Whatever it is, Koji is now a featherweight amongst heavy hitters.

Let’s just take Korilla BBQ in NY as a Korean Barbeque comparison or Cinnamon Snail as a kimchi burger cohort- both EASILY send the Pacman, well… packing.

So unrefined is the Pacman, tasting exactly as it sounds, “packed,” with 10 pounds of shit in a 5-pound bag. Three different meats, two salsas, sesame mayo, jack and cheddar cheeses, salad and some crispy things on top, ya know, because why wait to have a coronary when you can die today?

But heaviness is most definitely not why I am getting all over Koji’s case. It’s because the burger tasted like nothing more than a bunch of greasy slop on a bun. No separation between textures or flavors. In fact, if it weren’t for the Sriacha, I probably wouldn’t have even made it halfway through it, which is about as far as I got. Not because I was full, but because I was worried about the gastrointestinal repercussions that might ensue. Fortunately the “retaliation” was milder than expected. My review, not so much.

2 teeth

Cinnamon Snail

Chelsea, Midtown West- New York, NY 10001 (862) 246-6431cinnamonsnail.com

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It’s pretty rare to see something get a FULL 5 stars on Yelp. And even more rare when there are over 400 reviews to back it up. Well, here are five knives to go with them.

Granted I was VERY skeptical the first time I stood there in line, but as soon as I got a peek through that window at one of their Gouchujang Burgers (pictured), my skepticism was washed away by a tidal wave of salivating anticipation.

This burger, topped with kimchi and sriracha, is a spice lover’s dream! And as far as veggie burgers go, easily the best I’ve ever had in my life. By a wide margin. And man is it filling. You won’t even miss the beefy absence for a second. Even the bun is exquisite. Just awesome.

But a one trick pony they are not. The maple pecan rice crispy treats are also killer! Probably the best rice crispy treat I’ve ever had.

There are few misses however. Their créme brulée donut pales in comparison to The Doughnut Plant. And while some of their other sandwiches are solid, nothing is at the level of the burger. Also, one small gripe. They charge $3.00 for squirt of lemonade that is essentially served in a small coffee cup. One of the cheapest beverages to make on the face of the Earth. That said, it wasn’t bad, but definitely not worth the money.

Consequently, I’d gladly pay double for the burger, because it is THAT good.

5 teeth

Le Colonial

20 Cosmo Pl. San Francisco, CA 94109(415) 931-3600lecolonialsf.com

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It’s hard to get excited about Le Colonial, only because this is the third one I’ve been to. Granted, all three were good. Obviously New York, the original. LA, the sequel. And now this one. And it’s been about 15 years since I ate at the first one. So, it’s menu and concept have been copied in droves ever since.

But all that aside, it still holds its own. And while I find the decor in the other two to be a bit more refined, this one was my favorite. The way in which you enter is such a transformative experience it sorta reminded me of Spice Market in NYC. Granted nowhere near that level, but because you go from a sketchy alley in the Loin into a French Vietnamese palace, the shift is quite dramatic.

As for service, we had a very large party and they handled it like pros. So kudos there as well.

And as far as food goes, most of it was a solid good, with a few highlights. Those being the duck spring rolls (ask for Srirachi). The ribs. The beef stew with Scotch eggs- perhaps my favorite thing of the night. And for dessert, both the chocolate cake and the banana spring rolls were money.

So hats off to keeping up the standards for 15 years and two sequels later. But unfortunately there are a lot of other games in town that make it hard to give you more than 3 knives.

3 teeth

Melts

144 Bedford Rd. Armonk, NY 10504(914) 219-5995meltsny.com

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Melts is on fire. Only three weeks old and this baby is already walking. And by walking I mean kicking- of the ass variety. The brain child of two brothers who obviously loves themselves a good melt, they manage to pack a very tight menu with so many damn good sounding options I  didn’t know which two to split with the wife so I asked one of the owners. He recommended The Heat and The Wisconsin Patty Melt.

He was right. Both were excellent, but apples and oranges apart. The Heat, aptly named, was spot on. Taking it right to that threshold where flavor spicy ends and painful spicy begins, but without crossing it. So what’s in it? Well, first they pickle their own jalapenos specifically so they can control the aforementioned spice. Then there’s cherry peppers and Sriracha mayo- oh and cheese, of course. Munster to be precise.

The Patty Melt on the other hand is basically a burger in disguise, who are we kidding. That said, it’s one bitchin’ burger with smoked Wisconsin cheddar, apple wood bacon, BBQ sauce and crispy fried onions. One of the best burgers- er, melts in the area.

But speaking of superlatives, let’s take a moment to reflect on the tater tots. Yes, this newcomer just dropped an Ultimate like it was nothin’ but a thang. So deceptively simple, yet so unique at the same time. Crispy on the outside, almost creamy-mashed-potato-like on the inside and sprinkled with salty parmesan. So good we devoured them before they even had a chance to cool down from mouth-burning-hot.

The only misses for me, and by that I just mean “eh,” would be the desserts. The kids obviously horked them down, but to the more discerning palate the Rice Crispy Treat, chocolate chip oatmeal cookie and the sugar cookie don’t hold a candle to the rest of the show.

As for décor, it’s in a charming little house just off the main drag in Armonk. And as you step inside, you are instantly hit with even more charm. From the cheese grater light fixtures to the do-it-yourself old-fashioned icebox in the corner for some refreshing Arnold Palmers, you just can’t help love the cheese whiz out of this place.

And what’s especially nice, is that the owners are nice. Two great guys with a great concept on their hands. I sincerely hope they soar. And that I can still get a table.

P.S. Upon return I tried the namesake “Melts” and it is very close third of awesome. Whereas the Philly Cheesesteak, while good, is a distant fourth. Planning to go back several more times, so stay tuned for the rest.

4 teeth

L & W Oyster Co.

254 5th Ave. New York, NY 10001(212) 203-7772 • landwoyster.com

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I literally hate writing this review, because the more praise this place gets, the harder it’s going to be to get in.

But, I have to give credit where credit is due, and man is it due. LOVE this place (hard to believe it’s related to Almond, which is an ugly step sister compared to to L&W). The decor is quaint, yet contemporary. Fun, with a touch of cool. Service is usually great. And the Lobster BLT is insanely good. Possibly the best sandwich in the area, and that’s saying a lot with so many great sammys in the Flatiron. I think it’s the Sriracha. The Short Rib sandwich is also good, but only with addition of hot sauce. Otherwise it falls far shorter to its lobster brethren. Too much of one note. Oh- and even the little side of mustardy cous cous with dried cranberries is excellent.

On other visits I have to say they do some pretty incredible salads as well. Like their fried oyster salad and an inventive take on a Caesar, using frisee and brussel sprouts as opposed to romaine- just awesome.

They also do a great job of serving up some wonderfully fresh raw oysters. And at dinner they have a killer octopus app with saffron that I highly recommend.

The beer on tap is solid. Granted a small selection, but solid nonetheless.

The only hiccup they have going is dessert. The apple cobbler is soggy- zero crunch, which is a cobbler must IMO. And the chocolate brownie was just eh, quite literally Pret’s brownie blows it away. That said, at dinner they fare much better. The sorbet and sticky toffee cake are both pretty good, but they are still not at the level of everything else.

So close to five knives, but my advice to you, skip dessert and you’ll be VERY happy. My advice to L&W, hire a new dessert chef.

4 teeth

Takumi Taco

27 N 6th St. New York, NY 11211(917) 710-4757takumitaco.com

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I’ve only eaten at their stand at Madison eats, so don’t hold me accountable for things like décor and service.

The food, however, is pretty, pretty tasty (to be read like Larry David). I ordered the Bento Box which came with my choice of two Asian inspired tacos a side salad and my choice of side. As a result, I went with the Spicy Tuna and Short Rib tacos and the Charred Corn side.

Of my choices I went 2 for 3. The Spicy Tuna is very good, served in a rice-based taco shell.

The charred corn was also a solid good, mixed with edamame peas, chives and peppers, then tossed in an Asian vinaigrette.

The short rib taco, however was extremely dry, necessitating a healthy dose of Sriracha to bring it back from the dead.

And the side salad really isn’t even worth mentioning. That said, the Japanese Arnold Palmer is. Done with a very nice floral green tea.

Looking forward to another box, sans short rib, of course.

3 teeth