Michelin Star Restaurants

Thank you for calling Rao’s in East Harlem. Currently reservations for the rest of 2017 and all of 2018 are closed. Thanks for calling……

Are you kidding me? You mean to tell me that a restaurant is booked for all of 2018? I mean I could probably get a table at Per Se or that Fish joint on 51st street if I asked nicely, aka….greased the reservation clerk. How in the world can a joint be booked? Welcome to New York and the “Who’s Who” of New York.  Now if you are scratching your heads wondering what I am talking about let me give you a back story.

According to their website Rao’s New York is a culinary national treasure. Widely acclaimed for its authentic, southern Neapolitan Italian cooking and its home-style family ambiance. Rao’s was honored with a Pinnacle Three Stars from New York Times Restaurant Critic Mimi Sheraton describing the cuisine as “exquisitely simple Italian cooking.”

The Joint opened in 1896 and is one of the countries oldest family owned and operated restaurant running in its original location. Handing down cherished Pellegrino and Rao Traditions as its main ingredients.

The list of regulars reads like the “who’s who” of New York cognoscenti, including Woody Allen, Billy Crystal, Rob Reiner, Nicholas Pileggi and Danny Aiello. Legions of politicians, sports figures and matinee idols have jockeyed for a reservation. There, dining at Rao’s is a legendary experience so beloved that getting a seat is only possible if you are a regular and have, “table rights,” or if you’re lucky enough to be invited as a guest by someone who does. In Las Vegas, you are lucky enough to be our guest. From our family to yours, we invite you to sit back and relax while filling yourself with more than food. Cheers!

Sorry I hate to cut and paste so much I didn’t’ want to miss anything. What all that means is what the title of this worthless dribble of a post says – You ain’t getting in there for dinner. That is what is so funny about this place. It is only open Monday through Friday and is closed on the weekends. Who does that? Who can not be open on the weekends and still stay in business? Obviously the Pellegrino family is doing something right.

Now there are those who have gotten tables there. My cousin posted that she had dinner in this 10 table shoebox and I would love to hear the story. Even one of my fellow tour bus ticket sellers has boasted a bet with one of my contemporaries. Yep Amanda Astoria has made it clear that she will get a table (remember – we go in half for a table and I got the wine bill) when she found out that her main squeeze Jimmy Fallon has dined in one of the famous booths.

The guest list of those who “own” tables is pretty remarkable and I won’t spread rumors since you can GTS (Google That Shit) on your own. So who wants to go have drinks at the bar and see if we can get a table?

IMG_0884As you can see the place is very small and quaint. There is only one ‘deuce’ and the rest are either booths or larger tables.

IMG_0886Prosciutto and Peas – This is the dish that Frank and Ina cooked on her show one day. I can’t think of a better marriage.

IMG_0887Frank Pellegrino standing outside his namesake. Sadly Frank passed away this year but the business still runs under family ownership.

IMG_2287Snapped a pic the day I was up in that part of the world. Trust me when I say it is small.

So Muphranks – When are we going?

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You want a burger?

Recall when I went to grab a burger with FZ while the girls were slugging wine like it were their jobs having wine club? I may have found a very good contender to knock Le Parker off the pedestal. Since the Losers Lounge show was starting at 9:30 we decided to grab dinner prior. The restaurant at Joe’s Pub is so-so and very expensive so I told Mrs. Trumpet we would explore the East Village before the show.

We walked down the street and found Paul’s Da Burger Joint on Second Avenue. It was dimly lit, looked like you needed a tetanus shot just to walk in the joint so it was perfect. We grabbed a table and within seconds 2 Bud Lights appeared. Mrs. Trumpet went for the sliders as all the burgers are half a pound. I opted for the “Soul Burger” in memory of that little burger joint on South Main. The “Soul Burger” is a half pound burger cooked with fried onions, cheese and ham, lettuce and tomato are optional. Sorry Rock-Mo and Andy, the don’t have a Greek Burger on the menu.

Let me tell you, the burger is legit! I snapped some pictures of the boys cooking the burgers (it does resemble Ernestine & Hazels) and it did remind me of home. We shall be back.

IMG_1926Established in 1989 – Hell New Jersey Dave was born that year! Its as old as him!

IMG_1927No Seth I am not going to ‘relocate’ this for you. Come up here and steal it yourself.

IMG_1921Mock all you will, I am loyal to those boys in St. Louis!

IMG_1920Looks like the counter was painted by a 6th grade class

IMG_1922You got to love torn up bar stools.

IMG_1923Doesn’t it resemble E&H’s on South Main?

IMG_1924Using the Cake Toppers to cook the burgers, that was unique.

FZ – We can go down there when the girls get their wine on!

 

Pictures of the Week

It was a great week last week and I have the bank statements to prove it!

IMG_1491What this really means is that you should double up on Gold Bond

IMG_1476Friends of ours were in town on Saturday so we met up and had a drink. It was so great seeing them.

IMG_1468Anyone need some Corn? The Farmers Market at Union Square is legit!

IMG_1469We tore it up at the end of Restaurant Week.

IMG_1471Then we tore our livers up!

IMG_1466You can’t tell because of the shadow but “The Water Line” on my pants was up to my knee. The Friday Rain was a bitch!

Have a good weekend folks!

“You mean to tell me that you don’t have sweet tea” sponsored by Lipitor

Hope everyone had a great weekend. We sure as shit did and thankfully my dress pants still fit me as I slipped them on this morning. I am starting to get some hate mail as of late because of our Gastronomic Dining Experiences. This past weekend we checked another one off the list by dining at “The House” as it is known to the food snobs. For those of you wondering, we dined at the James Beard House.

The James Beard House and James Beard Awards are considered the Oscars for the young inspiring chefs. Granted there are a couple of different opinions on the house and the ‘visiting chefs’. I am not going to get into that but bottom line you do raise some money for a charity so at least you can feel somewhat good about yourself as you get stewed drunk in Chelsea. It has always been on my list so when LZ texted me asking if we wanted to go, we were on board. Naturally this was so far in advance I don’t think they had the schedule out so it was a crap shoot. I did inquire after we plunked down the cash for the tickets and was told that it was called “Art Meets Food Meets Sherry.” My first thought was “Oh Fuck, LZ has gotten me roped into one of those put on your bowtie but order a pizza afterwards because you are going to be hungry meals.” I did rock a bowtie and the food was substantial and I was getting excited to try what Chris Curren from Fulton Market Kitchen in Chicago had to offer. The menu was paired with Spanish Sherry from Antonio Flores and even though I am not a big fan of Sherry, it was a great pairing.

Now I have known some great friends and chefs who have cooked in the Beard House so we were excited to try this and see what it was all about. The house, yep it is really his house, is still preserved as it was when James Beard was alive. You dine on the second floor and although it is a little tight it really is a great evening. The staff is on point and busily plates and busses the silverware with ease and no interruptions. Granted you are getting crocked on high alcohol sherry but hey, why not have a little fun on a Friday night. Ok enough words, lets get down to the menu and some food pics (Ha right!)

Passed Appetizers included;

  • Oyster Shooters with Chowder emulsion and Tabasco
  • Foie Gras PB&J with Fois Gras Mousse and Strawberry-Rosemary Jam (that one of our guests could not taste the rosemary) *I could eat this for days*
  • Smoked Trout Brandade Cromesquis with Caper Aioli
  • Lamb Tartare with Egg Yolk Jam on Grilled Sourdough
  • And Naturally Tio Pepe Cocktails

Dinner Service Started with;

  • Glazed Nichols Farm & Orchard Carrot with Honey-Whipped Goat Cheese and Smoked Pistachios
  • Squid Ink Corzetti Pasta with Baby Octopus, Pickled Pearl Onions and Bone Marrow Emulsion (My favorite)
  • Sturgeon with Smoked Celeriac Puree, Dill, and Salmon Roe (Least Favorite)
  • Venison with Pickled Wild Mushrooms, Salt Roasted Root Vegetables, Blackberries and Juniper. (melted in your mouth good)
  • Apple Cake with Salted Caramel, Pecans and Pine Ice Cream
  • Ph’s Birthday Cake!!!

Oh and there was a different Sherry Pairing with each course. Or as one of the guests at our table told us; “Be careful, they give you full portions of wine but half portions of food. If you don’t watch out you may have a hangover tomorrow…….” #bitchplease #whydoyouthinkIwork

02-17-curren-chris%20resizedChef Chris Curren of Fulton Market Kitchen in Chicago. Don’t mind the tats, the man puts out some good plates. Hey Buckley – Put this one on your list, it is good!

img_0355Here is my picture of my place setting after the first course. *CBT is not a big fan of pictures of food. Except if it is bacon, then I will always put up pictures of bacon*

img_0356This is what I like about the Beard House. The back of house staff eats the same meal that we do in-between courses. You have no idea how many times back when I was putting on the black waiter pants that I would sneak food from the line.

img_0360Every once in a while you have to put on a bowtie and go eat a fancy meal. Friday night was that night.

Again, thanks to LZ for the invite and Happy Birthday FZ. Next cigar is on me!

 

 

 

Pictures of the Week on a Thursday

Here are pics from this past week in no particular order. Yes this is normally on Friday but I am moving up production a day earlier. Friday we are busy and there may not be a post.

img_0055There is where the Magic happens on the 3rd floor of the Time Warner Building

img_0046Ironically also on the 3rd floor of the Time Warner Building is Chef and Owner Masayoshi “Masa” Takayama’s Masa. This is considered the best Sushi in the world.

img_0049Cappuccino and Donuts and no this wasn’t from Duncan Donuts either.

img_0058Again, great evening spent with great friends. Apologies to the Lady Barrister who when I posted it to my Instagram page, it cropped her out. I since took it down after I realized my error.

img_0057“You know what I like to do? I like to go have an fine meal and then follow it up with drinking a bunch of Bud Lights!” Mr. 3 First Name

img_0005Who knew there was such a need and even a company here in NYC. I am told that some mannequins are worth over 10K

img_2222She survived her first semester of NYU and is hoping to get initiated in her sorority the first week back in the spring semester.

Have a good day!

You may be a Nobel Laureate but can you take the top of an egg off clean?

If you have lived south of the Mason Dixon line for any amount of time you probably have heard of the expression; “Well if you have gone to the trouble.” This saying rings very true anytime that I go to a restaurant that has on the menu a dish that is a pain in the ass to make, prepare and repeat consistently. Don’t know what I am talking about? Go ahead and make yourself a Soufflé and serve that sucker before it dies. The dishes that I am always in awe of may include; lamb chops that have been Frenched from the bone and served at the perfect temperature. Have you ever served a Turducken or had one that was overcooked? Ever get tennis elbow from whipping Béarnaise Sauce? How many of you have almost burned down the house making a Baked Alaska dessert?  To me, the hardest would be to serve Beef Wellington and not overcook the damned thing.

One dish that should be added to this list is Thomas Keller’s award winning French Laundry’s  Amuse-Bouche of White Truffle Oil-Infused Custard with a Black Truffle Ragout. *Oh wait did I just lose you? Let me back up. First WTCBF is an Amuse Bouche?

An amusebouche [aˌmyzˈbuʃ] (plural amusebouches) or amuse-gueule [aˌmyzˈɡœl] is a single, bite-sized hors d’œuvre. Amusebouches are different from appetizers in that they are not ordered from a menu by patrons, but are served gratis and according to the chef’s selection alone.

Now that we have determined what an Amuse-Bouche is, I am sure that there are a couple of you who wondering who hell Thomas Keller is and why is he doing laundry for the French? Ok, that was a little bit funny. Anyway here is a proper back story on Keller’s joint called Per Se that is on the West Side of town. On the menu that the kitchen serves is a very simple and very French dish of Egg Custard with a Black Truffle Ragout. It is served in the same egg shell that once held the yolk. Friends let me tell you something….it is ethereal and worth the price of admission.

If you call yourself a foodie and are worth your weight in sweetbreads you have to appreciate this presentation. The egg shell is perfectly cut at the top and is the daunting responsibility of the junior chefs in the kitchen. Remember cartoons growing up of the army private peeling potatoes? The job of cutting the top off of the egg is the equivalent of that in the kitchen at Per Se. *Ok, I will come clean, we ate there this past weekend and it kicked ass! When this dish was served again this past Saturday, it really got all of us talking about the presentation. Homeless Tim as luck would have it, happens to “know a guy” and inquired about how this job was performed. He further negotiated that since we all were a little short asked if we could help out and chop some egg shells in payment for our dinner.

Now before you start to think that the kitchen staff gave us knives and a dozen eggs let me stop you right here. The ‘egg topper cutter off-er’ is a little cup that sits on the top of the egg and you pull a plunger like a morse code machine. To keep us from stealing all of the chocolate candies (Yes I am looking at you MC Hammer) they brought out 2 eggs and the showed us how to crack the egg. Let me cut to the chase, it is harder than one would think.

2010_04_the_french_laundry-54Served it is a very simple and very French Dish. The story is that Keller over ordered eggs for the restaurant and since he didn’t serve breakfast he had to come up with something quick. Notice how all great menu items start as a solution to a kitchen problem?

egg-custardNotice how the top of the egg is cut clean? Try that ish the next time you make eggs for breakfast in your BVD’s.

img_0053Close up of the Egg Top Cutter Off’er

img_0052Schroeder working her magic on the egg.

img_0051Tim you had ONE JOB! I am kidding, trust me when I say that this is no easy task and we figured that Per Se holds roughly 75 seats in the main dining room and the private room so some poor Shmo in the back is breaking at least 100 eggs a day to make service.

img_0054Yes I stalk the Instagram of the French Laundry and Per Se. I love the quotes or remembrances that are on ‘the pass’. My all time favorite is still after they won another 3 star Michelin award that read “Work Hard, Stay Humble”

img_0056In case you were wondering a gastronomical orgasm happens to each patron who dines there behind those doors.

Don’t hate the player, hate the game. Oh and it will take us a year to get the money to pay for next years dinner. *if we make the cut.

Thanks to a great dinner and great conversation again. Merry Christmas