I used to go to steakhouses quite a bit.
At the very beginning of my career, I was easily entertaining 2 or 3 nights a week at either an upscale Italian or an old-school NYC steakhouse.
The Italian joints offered a little more variety, but that weekly "slab bacon, seafood tower, porterhouse for 4, creamed spinach, and hash browns" got monotonous after a couple of years (and 40 plus pounds).
That's why I eat so much weird shit today... My distaste for eating at the same dozen steakhouses led me to ask customers to break away from the norm and try something different.
So I went from taking my hedge fund "buddies" to The Palm (or Lugers, or Wolfgang's, or Smith & Wolly's, or Sparks, or The Strip House, or Del Frisco's. or Gallaghers, or Bobby Van's, or Old Homestead, or Mastro's) and then a Ranger game, to taking those same buddies to a Brazillian restaurant and then for a Brazillian wax.
("Now flip over.")
And I was pleasantly surprised with how many customers jumped at the chance to try NYC's best hiza nankotsu at Yakitori Totto as opposed to trying (once again) its best veal parm at the now-closed Ecco on Chambers Street.
Fast forward to the beginning of last year's pandemic (which has quickly become this year's pandemic as well) and I am talking to a steakhouse owner who was also tired of steakhouse fare.
And that is where this week's I WANT YOU INSIDE OF ME comes in…
Last year, from April to July, a very talented young man named "Booze" and I created a video series called MIND YOUR BUSINESS.
(not as good as the IWYIM logo, but not bad either)
Each week, Booze would stay behind the curtain and I would interview small business owners that were pivoting their models in order to stay alive.
I thought their stories would be inspiring to other small businesses and the owners that I spoke to jumped at the chance to be on our platform (for free) to promote their goods and services.
The series came and went because I thought we were coming towards the end of the pandemic AND the lack of cross-promotion for this obviously noble cause led me to believe this company did not care in the least about the fates of small businesses.
Boy, was I fucking wrong.
Instead of being towards the end of the storm, we were simply in the eye of the COVID-19 hurricane, and Barstool has since revealed itself as a company that has helped more business owners than FDR.
So I have come to terms that Barstool wasn't uninterested in the charity end of MIND YOUR BUSINESS, they just didn't care for me.
But that is water under the bridge.
In one of the episodes of MYB, I had the pleasure of sitting down with a gentleman named Stratis Morfogen.
Stratis is currently the Executive Managing Director of Brooklyn Chop House. He was also a founder at Phillippe Chow and has owned and operated numerous restaurants in Manhattan and the Hamptons (that I may or may not have done cocaine in) since the early 90s.
He comes from a family of restauranteurs and has worked from busboy to chef and, eventually, to owner.
Stratis was in the headlines in early-May after calling out fellow restauranteur, Danny Meyer, whose Shake Shack restaurants applied for (and eventually got $10 million worth of) emergency loans from the federal government even though that money was earmarked for small businesses. Other big chains like Potbelly and Ruth’s Chris Steak House also got tens of millions of dollars while many smaller restaurants walked away with nothing.
So Stratis and I shit on Danny Meyer even after Shake Shack (with its 189 outlets and nearly 8,000 employees in the US) acknowledged that the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program had been carried out unevenly, and pledged to return the $10 million it had received.
Outside of that, we talked in detail about an automated dumpling shop Stratis is building from the floor up (which I will highlight at a later date because the technology in the place has led fans to call it both the "future of casual dining" and the "Tesla of dumpling shops") and also what he is doing at his biggest restaurant- The Brooklyn Chop House on Nassau Street in downtown NYC (it is called "Brooklyn" only because it is directly across from the Manhattan side entrance to the Brooklyn Bridge).
It is there, that Stratis has decided to mix up the traditional steakhouse experience by offering a Large Format option (for 5 or 6 people) called the LSD.
The "L" is for LOBSTER… A four-pound combo of salt & pepper and ginger & garlic lobster.
The "S" for STEAK… A 55-day prime dry-aged 48 oz Porterhouse steak.
And the "D" for DUCK… A seven-pound slow-roasted Peking Duck.
And it is AWESOME.
I visited Brooklyn Chophouse this past week with 3 other people… My smoking-hot wife, my moderately attractive producer, Pat, and a glowingly beautiful young pregnant broad named Kate. It was our first night out since my wife and I went into COVID quarantine 3 weeks prior. It was Pat's first meal in months that wasn't delivered. It was Kate's first big ol' fancy meal since she got the news that her life is about to become a WHOLE LOT more expensive… And it was a helluva way for the four of us to come off the bench.
The evening turned into a food orgy as Stratis lit us up with appetizers through desserts, but I am here to talk about that signature dish, so here goes.
"L"- Next time I go, I might opt for only the salt & pepper lobster… The ginger & garlic option was very good, but the S&P was extraordinary.
I've gone sour on lobster lately. If I order it either broiled or steamed in a restaurant, I look forward to the next morning's lobster and Kraft Single omelet almost as much as the dish laid out before me.
--- And you can scoff at that omelet, but only because you never tried it… Leftover lobster and those chemically-induced-to-perfectly-melt-individually-plastic-wrapped Kraft Singles served with a dollop of creme fraiche and a tiny spoonful of caviar on top?… That's fucking living. ---
That is why stuffed lobsters or any Asian preparations excite me exponentially more than straight forward presentations with drawn butter, and the S&P Lobster fits the bill for me perfectly.
And it's served next to what looks like a champagne bucket filled with fried rice… Which is better than giving me a champagne bucket filled with a bottle of champagne, TBH.
I should've mentioned this earlier… I am going to use stock photos of the food that were either provided by the restaurant or ripped off of their social page only because the outdoor seating involved much-needed overhead heat lamps that gave off an orange glow which made iPhone pics look like they were shot through Donald Trump's beautiful and naturally apricot-colored hair.
Now, on to the steak!
Sourced from Pat LaFrieda. Dry-aged. Cooked to a perfect medium-rare. Served with sauteed onions and mushrooms, a side of fries, and a tower of onion rings. Simple. Perfect. Delicious.
Cooking a perfect steak is not rocket science, but enough places can't pull it off… Stratis pulls it off.
Purists might ask, "Is it better than Luger's?" (or wherever their ribeye loyalties lie), and I would answer, "Maybe."
In the same way, you might be able to get ginger&garlic lobster made exactly the way you like it at some hole-in-the-wall Chinese joint in your hometown, or your steak cooked perfectly by your cast iron skillet at home, Brooklyn Chop might not live up to either of those high bars.
I haven't even talked about the duck, but I can assume some asshole will comment how he had a tea-smoked Peking Duck with skin that shattered like glass at a restaurant just south of the Temple of Heaven in the Yongdingmen District of Beijing once.
And I get it.
But my point is that BCH gives you all 3 dishes… Cooked fucking perfectly… At the same table. So you don't need to bring the chef from that hole-in-the-wall and your cast iron to Beijing to get your palate triple-teamed by these culinary delights.
Memo To Self: When you image search "triple-team", you need to be more specific… Looked through 100 images before I found one where the participants were actually clothed.
Plus, with COVID still lurking behind every mask, who the fuck wants to fly to Beijing?
(Other than Donnie, of course.)
The Peking Duck is usually carved and fanned-out on a platter table-side, but COVID ruins everything, so the meat is sliced and fanned in the kitchen and then brought to the table flanked with warm Chinese pancakes, hoisin, sliced scallions, and cucumber.
You wrap all that shit up like you would a half-dozen soft tacos on any given Tuesday, and then pop them like aspirin… They are delectable.
And that's it.
That's the LSD at Brooklyn Chop House… A meal that was thoroughly enjoyed by an old couple of Wall Street has-beens that have been to arguably too many free meals, a gay guy who, when asked how he preferred his meat, proudly responded, "Hot and in the can.", and a pregnant woman who left to stretch her legs twice during dinner but returned to the table both times smelling like she tongue kissed the Marlboro Man.
The drinks are inventive, the desserts were delicious, and the dumplings are going to eventually get their own blog.
But staying solely with this main course, I can tell you that while it is not a cheap meal (NYC steakhouse premiums apply), I can promise you it is a perfect option for a small group of friends (plus me?) that want an elevated and diverse dining experience in an upscale setting that can be ordered by simply uttering three letters… Followed by another 5.
Pat never said that, and Kate never smoked.
There was a rumor that The Beatles' Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds was written about LSD…
Same with Jefferson Airplane's White Rabbit…
Not sure if either is true, but this blog definitely was.