NY: Bar dining

Rhodes North Tavern: Sloatsburg, NY

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Representatives from the t:e organization found themselves at Rhodes North Tavern in Sloatsburg, NY, recently, and boy were we impressed.

If you're like me, you've probably driven past this place a bunch of times, and thought "hmm, looks like an interesting biker bar," but then never pulled the trigger.  That was a mistake on my part, and on yours as well.

Our first impression when pulling into the parking lot was "woah, this place is packed."  Thankfully, it's quite a large space, and all of those people from those cars found their way to some place other than the large, square bar, where we gleefully set up shop.

Right from go, we felt as if we were in another world.  While Sloatsburg is only a few miles from the New Jersey border, there seems to be a, umm, cultural difference from your average Bergen County restaurant.  In a completely good way.   Was it due to the country pop music playing over the sound system?  Hey listen, I hate country pop as much as the next guy (although I loves me some Big & Rich), but when subjected to it on a Sunday afternoon, you just can't help but think you're on vacation.  Like in South Carolina or something.  In a completely good way.  

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Burgers: Dry-aged

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Also check out my new, less expensive approach to dry-aged burgers here (click me).

The inspiration...

One of our recent semi-regular meals at Blue Smoke led to meeting a friend at Landmarc in the Time Warner building, where yet another burger was ordered, and critiqued.  Having just had the Blue Smoke burger a few hours prior, I wasn't all that hungry, but forced down half a burger.  I do this, for you.  While I didn't think the burger was off-the-charts fantastic, I did detect some minerally flavors, flavors that I'd associate with dry-aged beef.  This is not to say that I think Landmarc is using dry-aged beef for their burgers, but, it did plant the idea in my head that I should seek out someone who does...

I (and pretty much everyone) know that Peter Luger serves an awesome burger a lunch, made from scraps of their dry-aged beef.  It was a burger without peers for a very long time.  Eventually came Minetta Tavern (well, it was around for a very long time too, but only recently reborn, and now known for its burgers) with their burgers  made the LaFrieda "Black Label" beef, which has that dry-aged beef that I'm on about.  Wanting nothing to do with trying to get into Minetta Tavern (even the t:e organization doesn't have that kind of pull), I figured I'd give it a whirl at home.  For a second time (my first attempt some years ago didn't work out too good).

The meat...

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Morton's Steakhouse: and their blog and silly claim

Morton's Steakhouse now has a "blog".  The blog is called "The Best Steak Anywhere", which is their (new?) registered trademark.

Really?  The best steak anywhere?  It kinda makes you wonder if they've ever been to Peter Luger, or Florence.  

I suppose they are guided by the same principle that so many are:  if you say it enough, well then it just has to be true.  They lie.  It's not.  How am I so sure?  

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A Mano in Ridgewood: back on track

As soon as t:e reader "Ev" tipped me off that A Mano's original pizzaiolo, Roberto, was coming back to train the staff, I had visions of A Mano returning to its past glory.  Under Roberto's command, A Mano was producing wonderful Neapolitan style pizza.  The place was a treasure, and a great addition to the area's mostly cookie-cutter restaurant scene.  After Roberto's departure, however, the place slipped quite a bit.  This was evident in the service (which was never stellar to begin with), the management, and most importantly, the pizza.

Roberto is/was indeed back, if only for the short term.  From what I can tell (and I'm not a reporter, so I don't generally ask owners or managers many questions on this stuff), A Mano is now part of Associazione Pizzaiuoli Napoletani, which is one of the several professional organizations whose goal is to preserve and promote Naples' prized product.  Part of A Mano's association with the associazione involves training, and I'm guessing Roberto was sent back to sort them out.

And sort them out he did...

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The bun: as important as the meat, and a thank you to the Spotted Pig

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Clearly I like burgers.  Clearly.  It's a beautiful thing, the hamburger is.

Since most restaurants have no idea how to make a good burger, I spend a good amount -- probably an unhealthy amount -- of my time thinking about and making hamburgers at home.  I never buy pre-ground beef (except from Fair Lawn's Swiss Pork Store, where they grind to order), use only high-quality interesting cheeses (most of the time at least), really good bacon, rarely ketchup, tomatoes only when in season or Campari tomatoes if not.  And as for the bun?  Well hell, I'm not a baker, and we don't have many options in north Jersey for fresh baked buns or brioche.  So I have to concede and use store-bought mass produced buns. 

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Rosa Mexicano: Hackensack, initial impressions

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We took a walk by the chain restaurant trifecta that recently opened at the Riverside Square mall

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There's a Maggioni's or something like that, whose awning claims "PRIME STEAKS."  Plural, as far as I can tell.  I took a look at their menu, and only one steak is "prime", and it's not even suggesting that it's USDA Prime (it also claims "aged", which I assume means that it was sitting in a Cryovac wrapper for a while.  Yay).  I guess what they meant by "PRIME STEAKS" is that they have several of those steaks. 

There's also PF Chang's.  I couldn't get past those enormous concrete horses.  I'm sure I'm missing some sort of cultural significance, once again illustrating the depth and breadth of my ignorance. Seriously, they're kidding, right?...

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...and then there's Rosa Mexicano.

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