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Franny's: Worthwhile?

Franny's is great. Really, really good pizza. Just look at the prices on their online menu. Given what they're trying to do and what they've accomplished, I just can't understand why people complain endlessly about their prices. If it were in Manhattan, it would be mobbed. To answer the original poster's questions: I've never experienced any attitude or service problems, so I would say it is definitely worth trying.

Jul 05, 2008
banquo in Outer Boroughs

Chengdu Heaven -- the best Sichuan food in a tiny basement stall at the 41-28 Main St Mall, Flushing

Went here for the first time last night. Sichuan is probably my favorite cuisine of all, and I've tried all of the main contenders for the best. I went armed with Joe MacBu's translations (thanks!) and things went smoothly--at first. The two of us ordered many things, but unfortunately (as we, and they, came to learn) they could only serve us items from the 'cold menu'. I didn't understand why, but the male owner kept pointing at the pots (I think) and shaking his head. Oh well. At any rate, what we had would inspire me to return: cold cucumber 'salad' and Tian Fu Chicken (recommended by the owner since they didn't have any rabbit). The chicken came first, topped with what looked to be a medley of red peppers. I braced myself for the face-melting heat, but none came. Miraculously, it wasn't that spicy. Rather, it was an exceptional balance of sweet, tart (from the vinegar), spicy and salty. From my limited understanding of Sichuan cuisine, this flavor profile is unique in New York. The chicken itself was very much like the rabbit I've had elsewhere: a lot of bones and an occasional meaty portion. I don't mind the bones, but the skin on the chicken was rather tough and thus difficult to eat. I suppose the idea is to suck on it and delight in the flavor of the sauce. The cucumber salad had a similar flavor profile, but it was milder in the heat department. The cucumbers were crisp and the dish was very refreshing despite the imposing looking red color. When we were signaled that nothing else was available, I was obviously disappointed. I will definitely return though. We skirted over to the Xian booth and I ordered a lamb sandwich. Yum. For $2.50, I'd order that everyday. A subtle lamb flavor profile and cumin overtones (although not too overpowering). The 'bun' was delicious: sweet and fluffy. The owner was there and he speaks English, so that facilitated matters. That area of the food court is more capacious and comfortable, so I will definitely go back there to try some of their stuff.

Because of the unhappy ending, we headed over to Little Pepper to get our fix. I won't say much, since this isn't the right thread, but while we liked it (I've been there before), I don't think it alone would be worth a trek from Manhattan, given what's available there. In several respects, for example, Szechuan Gourmet in Manhattan is superior. Incidentally, Little Pepper serves hot pot. The table next to us was going to town. I've never seen four Asian women eat so much. Bravo!

Jul 02, 2008
banquo in Outer Boroughs

Grand Sichuan 7th Ave. Report

Went here last night. The interior of the place is, in comparison with the other Grand Sichuans, modern, clean and pleasant. There about 5 window tables and they are nice to watch the foot traffic, although a window design forces one to duck a bit to get a clean visual.

The food here, unfortunately, is not (yet) on a par with the former glory of the 2nd Ave resto (now under new ownership). In my opinion, that was the best sichuan food in the city, including the places in Queens. The former cashier from there is now part owner of the new resto, and she is delightful.

We ordered the following: ox tongue and tripe, dan dan noodles, diced potatoes in Kung Po sauce, live sliced with in spicy hot broth, and dry sauteed soft shell crab (off menu). The ox tongue, as it was at the 9th Ave. resto, is fantastic. If I'm in a sichuan restaurant, I always order it, and I think they have the best recipe. Explosive flavors. Yum. Evidently (gathering from the owners comments on his website, thegrandsichuan.com), they are trying to use more health conscious recipes. This approach hurt them, I think, with the dan dan noodles. The dish I got was seriously lacking in heat from chile oil and the pork was equally flavorless. Most disappointing dish of the night. The potato dish is new to me. Potatoes are diced into cubes the size of sugar cubes, fried (pan or deep, I couldn't tell) and then sauced with the kung pao sauce. The latter is really flavorful, but the texture was too sticky, especially when the dish cooled down. The sauce also affects the texture of the fried potatoes. Good but not great dish. Probably wouldn't order it again. The soft-shelled crab dish ($18.95) is off menu (it used to be on the 2nd ave. menu), and I requested it from one of the waitresses. If you can describe a dish from the menu of either the 9th or 2nd Ave restos, it seems like they are perfectly willing to make you whatever dish you want. It arrives with a very generous portion of soft shelled crabs. It is battered and fried and then a heap of dried chile peppers is added. Very, very fine dish, although not quite as good as the original. A touch too sweet and the batter a little too heavy (they didn't use batter at all when they first served this at 2nd Ave. Maybe it's a seasonal thing). Nevertheless, I am definitely ordering it when I go back. The fish in chile oil is on every standard sichuan menu. What distinguishes the GS version is that they (at least this is my conjecture) smoke the fish. Wow. The broth itself is not the best, but the fish is incredible. It's cooked (how?) so that it's almost gelatinous in texture and with the smoky accents, we had there the best morsels of the evening.

Service was very friendly and helpful. No service glitches as far as I can tell--but I'm generally easy to please. The food took a bit longer to come out (compared to other Chinese restos), but about on a par with other high end places in town. Given the complexity of the dishes, I'm not complaining.

All in all, a quality start. Prices are surprisingly low and the food is quite good. It is not (yet) the best sichuan in Manhattan, that would be Sezchuan Gourment, but I'm very happy to see GS empire reemerge. Incidentally, they are still BYOB. I saw a little bodega a block or so north of the resto (on the West side, I believe) which sells Belgian Ales, so you can jump over there if you forget to bring something.

Jun 18, 2008
banquo in Manhattan

Grand Sichuan 7th Ave. Report

That is truly tragic. Did they have a 'new sichuan cuisine' part of the menu like they did at their 2nd Ave. branch?

I'm going tomorrow. Hopefully, they've fixed what they need to fix. Will report back.

Jun 16, 2008
banquo in Manhattan

Big Apple BBQ

Good luck. Good thing we have Fastpasses, otherwise it would be genuinely courageous to stand in line for who-knows-how-long in 95F+ heat.

Jun 07, 2008
banquo in Manhattan

Where to buy dry-aged prime ribeyes /steaks (other than Lobel's)?

Florence Meat Market is very good. I bought a 4-rib roast from them for Christmas and it was incredible. The marbling was out of this world. They age 3 weeks, but might have longer, so you should ask.

I've had success with Fairway in Harlem. In fact, one of the best steaks I've ever cooked came from there, but it was a porterhouse. Not as marbled as Florence, but really beafy flavor. They age 3 weeks as well.

Lobel's would be the only place I know which standardly carries beef aged longer than 3 weeks. I think they claim 6 weeks on their porterhouse. FWIW, the only time I've been there I got a giant rib eye and it wasn't that great. But to be honest that might have been more my incompetent cooking than the product itself.

May 22, 2008
banquo in Manhattan

Lunch near MOMA under $15?

If you like Japanese (ramen, tonkatsu, and that kind of thing), you could try Sapporo at 152 W 49th St. It's dirt cheap and reasonably good.

May 07, 2008
banquo in Manhattan

Cardoons & the City?

I don't know about the seasons, but I saw some very nice looking ones at the Chelsea Market (the vegetable market inside) about 3 weeks ago.

Apr 14, 2008
banquo in Manhattan

Hot Pot at Szechuan Gourmet

Thanks for the report. I've always wanted to try this. And now I will!

Apr 13, 2008
banquo in Manhattan

Misono Molybdenum Steel Series No.512 chefs knife

Among your choices, I'd get the Tojiro DP. Has harder steel than the Misono, and is cheaper (although the difference in shipping might eat the difference up).

Mar 24, 2008
banquo in Cookware

If you were moving out of NY, where would you eat?

In my opinion, Franny's is better than Mozza by a long mile.

Sadly, I've been contemplating the same thing as the original poster. This is a helpful thread.

I was thinking:

DiFara's
Masa
Jean-Georges
Barney Greengrass (never been there, despite living here for 4 years)
Adour (just to go to some Ducasse place)
Ssam Bar (or hopefully the new Momofuku Ko)
Katz's
Franny's
Peter Luger's
Cocktails at PDT, Pegu and Death and Co.

No Chinese since I'll be moving to So. Cal, and I believe the Chinese there is superior.

Mar 07, 2008
banquo in Manhattan

Good delivery food around W 59th and 10th

Route 66 just completely renovated itself, so now it's even less a diner than before. It seems to want to compete with Eatery, for it has that mildly upscale vibe. Can't say if the food is any different though.

For Thai, Wondee is pretty much the only game in town. I feel you get better food if you eat in. Haven't found a decent Indian place in Hell's kitchen, but I gave up trying about 2 years ago. There are good Mexican places that will deliver: del Valle and Huitzlacoche. Well, the latter delivers for sure; I guess I've never gotten delivery from the former, but they are a block apart, so...

Mar 06, 2008
banquo in Manhattan

Toloache

Went there last night for the first time. This place is really good. Had two margaritas, one with grapefruit and some carbonated soda and the second was a more traditional one with cointreau and lime. Both delicious. Fruit guacamole was delicious, nice textures. Had a peculiar small plate called sopes de requeson: corn cake with chorizo and quail egg(?) and cheese atop it. That was really interesting and unexpected. And of course tasty. How could it not be with those ingredients? The standout was the entree. Braised beef rib in a habenero (I think) inflected sauce reduction with pomegranate seeds. The heat was present but not overpowering, kind of like a Jean-George dish. The beef was, of course, melt in your mouth, and the seeds provide nice texture and sweet/sour balance to the heat. Outstanding dish. Service was great and the room (we ate upstairs) was nicely appointed. I hated seating on the banquettes though. They are too soft and are about half a foot lower than the chair opposite. So, I was looking up at my friend the whole time. But that's a minor quibble. The price is not exactly cheap, but well worth it. In my opinion, a nice addition to the dining scene.

Mar 06, 2008
banquo in Manhattan

Grand Sichuan at St. Marks?

Get one of the whole fish preparations. There's one where they smoke, deep fry, and then braise the fish. Incredible the 3 times I've had it. Look at the detailed descriptions they give at the back of the menu. Well, at least they used to have them. I haven't been to the St. Marks branch in about a year.

If you want good Sichuan, the place to go now would be Szechuan Gourmet in Midtown. I've been going there of late, and it's very good. In my opinion, the best in Manhattan right now.

Feb 27, 2008
banquo in Manhattan

grass-fed beef

Toloache, a new Mexican place in Midtown, serves, at least according to their menu, a grass-fed skirt steak.

Feb 12, 2008
banquo in Manhattan

Where is the Best Dim Sum in Manhattan? [Moved from The Best board]

I don't know about Hong Kong, but I went to Vancouver last year or so and had dim sum at Kirin (both in its Vancouver proper and Richmond branches) and I don't see any resemblance between what they served and what Dim Sum Go Go serves. I'm not a DSGG hater but, like fourunder, I don't get the (in my opinion) excessive praise it sometimes receives. By the way, the dim sum at Kirin is outstanding. Regarding the consistency at Oriental Garden, I'll take that to be a truth, but in the 5 times I've gone I've never had anything bad, let alone really bad. From your comments, I'll just take myself to be fortunate.

Jan 26, 2008
banquo in Manhattan

Koreatown help

My favorite place for stews was Yang Pyung Seoul and its a true loss for K-town.

Went to Ma Dang Sui tonight. The place smelled of well aged beef, and I was pretty excited. However, upon ordering the 4-6 week aged prime rib eye, they merely shrugged and said it wasn't available. They had other prime grade meats, but we decided upon a seafood stew--and it was really mediocre.

I guess that serves us right for ordering a stew at a BBQ place.

At any rate, the place is quite loud and packed. And the service, in addition to the shrugging, was pretty bad: a couple was seated before us by mistake, soup was spill all over the table, we were charged for a bottle of soju we didn't order. It became comical.

Having said that, the beef smelled great, and it might be worth returning to try it out. They claim to use natural charcoal, although that wasn't evident at the table we were sitting at.

Jan 25, 2008
banquo in Manhattan

Where is the Best Dim Sum in Manhattan? [Moved from The Best board]

Can this be right about Oriental Garden? Last time I went a couple of months ago, I thought it was fantastic. I prefer their menu system over carts, as there is no question of being lucky. If that is what frozen dim sum tastes like, then I guess I like it.

Jan 25, 2008
banquo in Manhattan

Best Korean Barbecue in Koreatown

In my opinion, Chung Moo Ro has the best BBQ pork belly. Don't forget to ask for the dduk (rice cake 'wrapper') to wrap around the pork belly.

Jan 15, 2008
banquo in Manhattan

where to find fresh kaffir lime leaves in nyc

Really? In what area of the store?

Jan 06, 2008
banquo in Manhattan

Spiciest Thai (or other) in Manhattan?

Too late now, but for future reference. The fish fillets in spiced chili broth at Szechuan Gourmet will seriously burn your face off.

Jan 05, 2008
banquo in Manhattan

where to find fresh kaffir lime leaves in nyc

I've purchased them at the Thai restaurant in the Chelsea Market before. Haven't done so in a long time, but they probably still have them there.

Jan 05, 2008
banquo in Manhattan

prime rib (mini) disaster [Moved from Manhattan board]

After reading countless posts, articles and books, I cooked my first prime rib tonight. It didn't go well, by my standards. For a first timer, there is a considerable amount of mystery (and cost) involved in roasting a prime rib. Sourcing the cut of meat is the first hurdle. There are numerable good to excellent butchers in NYC, and choice is not easy. I eventually picked Florence Meat Market, and it was an excellent choice. They are very accommodating, and cut my meat right in front of me. Quite a delight to see a well butchered cut.

After weighing the many different ways of cooking the meat, I decided on the high heat/ medium heat option: 450F for 30 minutes/and then 325 for there on out. Sounded like a good idea, but the temperature readings were erratic. The initial browning worked well enough (although I would prefer a browner crust--I would try an a stove top browning next time). But the remainder of the time proved mysterious to me. I had a remote thermometer which I used, but I didn't quite trust it. A rib roast (like my 4 rib) is larger on loin end than the shoulder end, so I worried about reliability of the thermometer reading. I stuck it on the small (loin) end, ]I checked the roast and it read 118F. I checked the large end, it was at least 10F lower. Not wanting super rare meat (stupidly, as it turned out), I stuck it back in the oven. When that read 118, I took it out. 118F is below the medium rare I wanted. However, I let it rest for about 1 hour, but probably more (not intentionally, but that's how the dinner went) and the final temperature was about 136F! Too well done for my taste. It was still pretty medium rare in the middle but the remainder proved over cooked. From all that I had read, I had not expected an 18F degree rise during resting. I had brought the roast to room temperature for 4 hours, so that should have been alright.

The best I can see it is to take the roast out at 110F (read on the small loin end) perhaps even lower, to make sure the roast is well cooked (rare to medium rare). Otherwise, one is risking (mini) disaster. In the end, I would much prefer a porterhouse or individually cut rib eyes. For the purposes of posterity, the roast started was 13 lbs, aged 3 1/2 weeks, left to room temperature for 4 hours, and seasoned 1.5 hours before roasting.

Roasting takes practice evidently, and the oven I was using (not my own) proved erratic (get an oven thermometer to ensure readings!) For a first timer, my advice is better safe than sorry: take it out on the rare side, for you can always cook it more, but you can't fix an overcooked piece of meat. I learned that the hard way.

Dec 25, 2007
banquo in Home Cooking

Sushi Yasuda report

Can you elaborate on the 'funky creations' you received at Shimizu? I'm thinking about going there tonight.

Thanks.

Dec 23, 2007
banquo in Manhattan

Where to buy a prime rib on UWS?

I called Florence Meat Market (in the WV) today. They quoted me $160-200 for a 4-rib roast (about 10 lbs they said). They insist you make a preorder for Christmas. Meat is aged 3 weeks, I was told.

Dec 19, 2007
banquo in Manhattan

Where to buy a prime rib on UWS?

Thanks for the reply. I just looked at Citarella's website. It says that a 4-bone rib roast is 14-16lbs?! And costs $335! At ~$22/lb, their price is just above Fairway's, which is $19.99/lb (I called them last week). Not much of a difference if you're correct about the quality difference. But how can a 4-bone roast be 14-16lbs? I'll call them tomorrow; I assume this is a mistake.

Dec 18, 2007
banquo in Manhattan

Where to buy a prime rib on UWS?

Does the comparison apply to the Fairway in Harlem as well? I was planning to buy my aged prime rib roast up there in a couple of days. However, if people think Citarella's is superior, then maybe I'll give them a try.

Can you say more about why Citarella's is better? I take it they have aged meats.?

Dec 18, 2007
banquo in Manhattan

Standing Rib Roast...

I'm looking to do this for Christmas as well. I called Fairway yesterday and they quoted the following: $12.99/lb for prime; $19.99/lb for aged prime. I think they said something about choice as well, but I didn't pay attention.

Dec 13, 2007
banquo in Manhattan

Best/most interesting cheese plate?

Casellula is small and cozy, and has a good selection. It's on 52nd and 9th, so might be too far, but...

Check it out:

http://www.casellula.com/index.html

Dec 06, 2007
banquo in Manhattan

Duck Fat

Where do you get goose fat in NYC?

Dec 02, 2007
banquo in Manhattan