PEr FYI

July 29, 2017

Minetta Tavern Restaurant and Bar, New York City…The black label burger renders other burgers meaningless

This place opened in the 30’s so it’s wonderful to see the vintage décor of the old saloon-era interior intact. Being a full house, I sat at the refinished oak bar in the front of the room, elbow to elbow with other diners. The vibe is buzzy, exclusive, and properly chaotic.

The food rocks as much as the scene. The US$33 Black Label Burger – selection of prime dry-aged beef cuts with caramelized onions and pomme frites is without question a mind-blowing rivetingly intense experience. Named the best burger in America by CNBC, a continent full of burger connoisseurs, The Daily Meal,  calls it “the stuff of legend.”  The beef is a blend of four different cuts—short rib, skirt, brisket and rib-eye. It’s like eating a dry-aged steak in burger format. The bun was airy but not spongy. There is a chewiness and lushness in the same bite. Each bite of this burger was lingered over and savored. Even the fries were perfectly seasoned, and nicely crisped. It held to the quality of the burger.

This is now my must-go place in NYC, but frequent Minetta too often and I’ll be broke and really fat. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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August 14, 2016

Le Scossa, Paris…makes you go ooh la la

Set on the corner of the busy Victor Hugo Place, Le Scossa is in almost every way an unexpected find. A particularly cosy and beautiful restaurant full of French charm, good food, friendly service, it is also great for people watching.

For starters, I had escargot – they call it Snails XXL on the menu – which was the best I had in Paris on my most recent trip. That and “the real pepper steak, 200gr beef filet” are high points. Both were masterpieces of seething, aggressive flavor. The steak cut was tender, well-marbled and oozed blood-tinted jus. The finesses of the cooking here are shining examples of why the French have for so long led the world when it comes to gastronomy.

A dignified gem, Le Scossa couldn’t feel much more Parisian. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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January 17, 2015

Ngoc Hieu, Hanoi…great no-frills Vietnamese beefsteak

Ngoc Hieu was packed with locals the night I dined there — a good sign for any Hanoi restaurant. This steakhouse offers a different and interesting variation on steak and eggs. The food quality is good, the portions fair and for the price, what you get is a great deal.

The Original Steak is Hanoi beef steak with omelette, beef sausage ball, French fries, green onion, tomatoes served in oil spitting sizzle plates. Best to sit away from the table and wait a minute or two before lifting the lid on the mini-eruption. I see the local diners around me getting their bread to soak up any grease that may have accidentally slipped off their fried meat or fried eggs or fried fries or something. The healthy bit of the meal were the accompanying plate of cucumber pickle and the tomato on top of the meat. The beef pate was minced beef with eggs and original sauces. There’s also French fries, salad mix with ranch and thousand island dressing to accompany. In both plates, the beef was well marinated and somewhat tasty.

Beware — wear shoes that have plenty of traction, as the greasy floors here double as skating rinks. Overall, the workers and cooks are very clean and hygienic (all the cooks wear gloves). The waitstaff are efficient (although very little English) but the menu is in English and Vietnamese so pointing works quite well.

It’s so addicting I wanted to buy some more to go!  This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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