For something a little different today, let’s talk NYC restaurant reviews. After all, man cannot live by golf alone, frequently there must be dinner…and a beverage. That and I guess I’m channelling a little Patricia “Golf Girl” Hannigan today.
On Saturday, Becca Schack and I did our best “Tom Brady and Gisele Bundchen” imitation and went to dinner at Butter. (OK…she’s Gisele Bundschen, I’m more Bobby Brady…).
Butter is the Manhattan restaurant/night spot where Brady and Bundschen were seen partying the week before the Super Bowl, but it’s best known in Manhattan circles for being a models and rockers hangout. The in joke about the place is “good food served with a side of attitude.” Both Becca and I had been to parties and had drinks at Butter, but not dinner. I had a hankerin’ for a steak, so we decided to make a night of it.
The service – widely tauted as the shortcoming – was, in fact, outstanding. They were on top of everything and there was hardly a snap, snipe, or sour note from the staff. They were absolutely accommodating. Moreover, the decor and digs at Butter are outstanding as well. Polished blond wood lines the walls and gorgeous, sexy red lighting sets the mood for intimacy.
The food, however, was merely “good;” which means it was a little overpriced. I ordered the $35 steak. It was a good size and particularly tender. The problem was the mushroom sauce was rather pedestrian, mulling the natural flavor of the beef and suppressing the overall success of the dish. I would recommend instead a spicy au poivre sauce or a more natural au jus. We also sampled the mushroom linguine, ($20). Once again, the sauce was the shortcoming, being a little heavy and bland. Again, the overall effect on the dish was not one to ruin the experience entirely, but it just didn’t soar to the fresh, flavorful heights of masters such as Bobby Flay. Finally, the tuna sashimi in orange sauce ($13), was an interesting spin on a menu staple, but you only got four bite sized pieces and a little salad. For drinks, we sipped sensuous blackberry margaritas ($13.00 each), which were delicious and perfectly mixed.
Nevertheless, the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. “Look Jay, you really don’t go to Butter for the food. You go to Butter for the whole experience -being pampered, being in a really nice atmosphere that’s fun and sexy, but not too clubby, and for the hot clientele” said former Polish model, Katarina Zsivasda. She’s right. Moreover, some of the appetizers are delectable (try the risotto balls) and people rave about the venison. I would think that they might want to offer just a few more diverse entrees as there was only one type of each dish to choose from, for example one salmon dish and one beef dish and one pasta dish, etc., so that choices were limited for finicky eaters.
Food: Five stars – (all ratings out of seven). Some dishes were really great, others were merely mezza-mezza.
Decor: Seven stars. Dark and sexy, sleek and refined, cultured, yet trendy, this is one of the best rooms in Manhattan.
Service: Six and 1/2 stars. Maybe the days of the “side order of attitude” are a thing of the past…
Value: Four stars. Everything was high-end, but also feature a high-end price tag. So it’s merely “average” in terms of value.
Overall: Five to Five and 1/2 stars. You really should go party and eat at Butter; it’s a long time NYC institution and deservedly so. Sure, you would get tired eating there every day, but it’s a totally civilized weekend spot when compared to the meet market super clubs just a few blocks west and north. Smaller, more intimate and with better music to boot, Butter is a legit place that won’t gauge you and won’t force you to tolerate whatever flotsam or jetsam comes rolliing up with the tide to hit on you or your date. Do it…but dress to impress.
415 Lafayette St.
NY, NY 10003
Q THAI BISTRO (Forest Hills)
Forest Hills gets voted the best section of New York City year in and year out. This charming yet vibrant oasis of old-world grace is the perfect place to find solace amidst the hustle-bustle of NYC. Great shopping, great restaurants, great neighbors, golf, tennis and easy access of L.I. through both the Throgs Neck and Whitestone make it a great location to call home.
One of the old standbys on Ascan and Austin Street is Q Thai. The Thai recipes here are so inventive, you would think they were the creation of James Bond’s expert gadgeteer.
***Insert Q’s Voice*** “OK, now pay attention 007, this ordinary looking hamburger actually has a basil and curry infusion making it’s kick more powerful than your Walther PPK, so proceed carefully…”
Indeed, inventive spins on old favorites is the order of the day at Q. Their “Beef Roti” dish ($12.95), blends filet mignon with green curry and an Indian pancake. The wonderfully presented whole fish “Baked Striped Bass” ($22.95), comes with a savory, pungent yellow panang curry, asian herbs and bok choy. The Thai B-BBQ Chicken is marinated in a plum-chili sauce and served with veggies and curry rice.
For the less adventurous, the Pad Thai, ($16.95), Drunken Noodles, ($16.95), Thai Beef salad, ($10.95) and Tom Yum Goong (hot and sour shrimp soup, $7) are all favorites.
The restaurant also has a long golf pedigree as their Southampton location (now sadly closed), served the likes of Vijay Singh, Todd Hamilton and Michael Campbell during the 2004 U.S. Open at Shinnecock Hills. “We’re huge golf fans and love playing” said a smiling Joey and Jean Gmerek, the brother and sister team behind Q Thai. “It was such a joy to have the players come and have a lovely time. We partied with Todd Ham ilton and then he went and won the British Open at Troon the next month! We were so excited” Jean added. Joey, his wife Vesna, and Jean can all be found at Bethpage, Shinny, and Long Island National.
Food: Five and 1/2 to Six stars. There’s something for everyone here and it’s all good.
Decor: Five and 1/2 stars. Fun and laid back, the pictures of Desmond Llewellyn (he was Q), Twister boards, golf photos and articles about the restaurant grace the small, but relaxed digs.
Service: Six and 1/2 stars. They love you here, period.
Value: Six and 1/2 stars. great food, great price. That’s the secret to NYC. Who needs Thai that’s half as good and costs twice as much?
Overall: Six Stars. Make a day of it, come out to Forest Hills to walk the dogs, exercise, shop and have a great meal. Tell Joey, Jean, or Vesna, Jay sent you…and go visit their NEW restaurant, My Kitchen a few blocks away on Metropolitan Ave.
Q Thai Bistro
108-25 Ascan Ave
Forest Hills, NY