Friday, April 27, 2007

Chophouse Review: Smith & Wollensky

After an eight week grind of 20-hour days, no booze, bad beats, and thousands of Howrudoins, the Heads-Up Poker team went out for chops to celebrate the end of the post-edit. Luckily, thankfully, I was not involved in the post-production. Did it last year, and I knew something was wrong when I started drinking coffee staight from the pot and blood began seeping from my eyeballs. But since I was in Vegas for the shooting of the show, I got an invite.
The dinner was at Smith & Wollensky in midtown Manhattan. Not only was it the first time in eight weeks that I'd be able to see some of my friends who sold their lives to the show, but it just so happened that Smith & Wo's was next up on my chophouse list. Steaks on the peacock? Sold.
So Wednesday night, a group of us walked the six blocks up 3rd avenue to chomp. Using the Bruce System of Chophouse Rankings, here's what went down...

Location: Tough to beat 49th and 3rd in Manhattan. Just a tad off the path from a subway is the only down here. SCORE: 9 (out of 10)

Ambiance: The inside of the joint screams chophouse. The classic decor, the red-faced waiters, the boisterous buzz, the sounds of sawing. Like John Amechi, it's packed in pretty tight on both floors, but it's gotta be that way to service the many clientele. SCORE: 9

Bar: Average bar here, and the lack of a plasma on the second floor hurts the cause. That Sabres 3, Rangers 0 score would've looked nice in HD, I'm not gonna lie. SCORE: 6

Bread, Appetizer, Salad: Quite a variety in the bread basket, so there's no way someone like BCSmut33 could refer to it as stupid. Granted, nothing in there came close to the popover bread at BLT Steak, but what could? After surveying some of the bread, I tried out the breadsticks, which basically look like flattened everything bagels. They tasted good, but I got a little nervous when my pal The Glaze, a staunch liberal, started busting my balls for eating hippie food. Several seafood platters were brought out right away, which, while extremely classy, was torture for someone with a vicious shellfish allergy. As is my habit, went with the Caesar Salad, which certainly fell above the 50th percentile of Caesars I've had. Croutons left a bit to be desired, but a good amount of cheese and dressing made up for it. SCORE: 8

Sides: The creamed spinach looked a little too much like pesto sauce and tasted a little too much regular spinach to come anywhere close to the Cap Grille Popeye Standard. Dabbled in the asparagus, but the lack of seasoning/sauce wouldn't have made Jeff a happy chomper (see below). Can't complain about the hash browns though. So good job right there. Didn't bother with the broccoli, and was kicking myself for not asking for a side of wild mushrooms. SCORE: 6
Conine wouldn't have been happy with the asparagus.

Chop: Disappointing. Went with the regular sirloin, which was a bad job on my part because I probably should've gone with the bone-in NY strip (poor recommendation by the waiter - more on him in a second). Cooked to a perfect medium, but slightly under-charred, which is a baaaad job. Of the 14 oz, I'd say only 10 was meat; the rest fat and gristle. And the taste just wasn't there. Lack of spices, lack of flavor. To top it all off, the plates were unusually small - very difficult to cram the sides on the same dish. SCORE: 5

Dessert: The the cheesecake had too much lemon flavor. I'm looking for a cheesecake, not a meringue pie. Small break, please. I'm told that the peanut butter chocolate cake was good. SCORE: 6

Crowd: Boisterous class all around. Obviously sitting with good peeps from work - Margee, The Glaze, White, Dru The Divine, Boss Moose, Missus Moose, Chocolate Boy, Don Gotti, Mush, DByrd, MikeD, Ro, and Eddie C - and despite the abundance of females, it made for an enjoyable chomping experience. The Boss Moose impersonations were flying around as usual, everyone was busting balls, and you can't imagine how damaged souls are lifted when there's a free meal in the air.
But there always needs to be a celebrity sighting to get the perfect score here. And Smith & Wolly's had it Wednesday night (and probably every night). Sitting in the adjacent room was a party from the Mets organ-I-zation (in honor of hockey players, I'm pronouncing it that way from now on), including Tom Seaver and Keith Hernandez. I was born in '81, so forgive me if I can't get all pumped up about Seaver. I only know him as a washed up Red Sox and as one of the worst baseball announcers this side of Joe Morgan. Seaver has always been a classic FIGJAM: Fuck, I'm Great, Just Ask Me. When you win 300 games in the majors I guess you're entitled to that, but whatever, the guy drives me nuts. Still cool to see a Hall-of-Famer though. Keith, on the other hand, was a tremendous sighting. He was sitting next to a broad that looked eerily like Elaine Benes. And it took all of my inner fortitude to refrain from shouting out "Reeeee-jec-ted!" when he tried to play airplane with her food and she failed to oblige. I kept waiting for him to look over at our table, see Margee and The Glaze and yell out, "What's that?! No women at the steak table!" SCORE: 10

Service: My boy forgot my Caesar, failed to acknowledge three requests for another round of Amstels, and continuously knocked into The Glaze as he was serving the food. And she's got a pretty small dome, so it was easily avoidable. Just a salty demeanor all around. Baaaad job. SCORE: 5

General Class Factor: You feel like you're in a classic chophouse at Smith & Wo's. They handle mind-blowing numbers of chompers every night, and manage to be classy throughout (except for the occasional surly waiter). SCORE: 8

Final Score: 72. Kind of a skewed score here. No doubt a classy place, and arguably the most well-known chophouse in the city. And I know that they treat my boy the Mayor awfully well. But overall, a satisfactory meal. Ranks just below the 75 turned in by Cap Grille Las Veags, but the food itself wasn't that close. Kind of like a team down by five who hits a 3 at the buzzer to make the score respectable.

Friday, April 6, 2007

The Best of The Blade

"Guys, it's one thing to suck. It's another to suck and not be able to bunt."

"Not only are we not good, we're stupid. Not good and stupid. That's just a bad combination."

"The first kid, he's got good stuff but he's a gagger, alright? Things don't go his way he's gonna shit down his leg."

"This guy is a decent hitter, but he can't run or throw. Either one. Can't run...or...throw."

"Todd, I don't know what you did, and I know people make mistakes. But I have no earthly idea how a human being could do something like this. You're gonna have to owe anywhere from 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 hundred dollars, plus the cost of Coach McGrath's hats and gloves."

"You've got a girl Bob? That's funny, I had you pegged as a rumproaster."

"Whoa, whoa, whoa, Matt, step out of the box. Did he just call that a strike? Wow. That's alright, he's a good ump. He'll give that one back."

"Guy's got no move now. No move."

"Jesus, he looks just like Garbatini. Who's your father, the milkman?"

"Very picturesque day. I'd write a poem if I could. Just don't have the time. Alright let's go get 'em."

"At some point, it ceases to be amusing."

"You need to have a plan at the plate. If you don't have a plan, you won't be able to get a hit unless you have extraordinary ability. Which none of you have. If you did, you wouldn't be here."

"If you cant hit the proper way by the time you are 18,19,20 years old, you need to find another vocation. I dont care what it is, but it cant be playing baseball. Some of you have aweful habits and it is too late to change them. If you were any good you wouldnt be here."

"Gone." - Blurted this out when our pitcher Hamm-Bone threw a chest high fastball to the nine hitter on M.I.T. He said this as the ball was halfway to the plate, and the kid hit it out.

"Amherst and Wesleyan are our big rivals in the Little Three. Amherst tends to have more prep school kids than we do. That's probably why we always beat them."

"Step left Austin. Step left Austin. STEP LEFT AUSTIN!"

"Matt, I like the way you pitch. You throw strikes. I know that if I put you out there during the week you're not gonna gag. But to be honest, if you try and bring that 75-mph express to NESCAC hitters, they're gonna hit it out every time."

"Jesus." - Junior year, when I stepped on the scale and it read 195. For the record, I weighed in at 165 my freshman year.

"Hey Matt, you pushing two spins again this year?" - Right before stepping on the scales senior year.

"Now Sean, I know you've got the better receiver on that side, but he's going against a four-year starter. Hell, I would've thrown at the kid with the beard."

"And there'll be no bench jockeying. Every year there's one freshman who starts running his mouth - usually a hockey player, they're dirtbags. They like to poke each other with their sticks. Vandalzie the hotel, breakin' shit. Anyway, there'll be none of that."

"Hey Mark, I know it's a ball, but just hit that out of the park, right? If he hangs one like that, just hit it out."

"He's got speed. I'm assuming."

"Hope you didn't take my advice on the Tigers. If you are going to bet you have to know more than I know. That's why I don't bet games. For instance, I didn't know that the guy who throws 100 and the guy with the tattoo on his forearm with the outstanding stuff are both like the Amherst pitcher."

"Two-man crew move! Two-man crew move!"

"We don't have many rules guys. Only two things. One is be on time. I don't care what you do the night before, drink yourself into a package, whatever. Just make sure you're on time, on the field, with your uniform clean, ready to play the next day. And the second rule is give 100%. Or treat other people with respect, either one. I'd say treat others the way you like to be treated, but some people like to be treated strangely."

"There is no WAY a woman of Italian decent from Maine could POSSIBLY have a perfect score on the SAT. No way."

"Watch it!"

"Watch that!"

"Brent, I hear you were rolling kegs down Spring St. Brent, we have no team policy against rollings kegs down Spring St., so you're fine."

"10 points, hit a WUFO. WUFO."

"Some broad on the softball team bitched to the administration about Indian runs. We will now commence the Native American trot. 1 mile Native American trot. Native American trot."


"Coach McGrath, the guy in the red shirt can't bunt."

"We gotta do this in a CLANDESTINE fashion. Clandestine fashion. Can't raise any money around here, just gotta sell all 20 T-shirts to your parents or whatever. Clandestine fashion..."

"Guys, You need to be mentally tough. Like Martina Navratolova once said, You got to strap it on one more time."

"All this guy's got is a spinner and a ball. A spinner and a ball."

"You don't have one kid on your team who could get into Williams with a cro-bar." - Said to the Skidmore coach before walking away chuckling.

"Pitchers get your running in. Infielders take your positions. Outfielders will be in cage, servicing themselves."

"Get a ball and throw it. Get a ball and throw it."

"You Texas guys and standards. Don't understand. Go ugly early."

"So you guys still do the magic mushrooms? Mushrooms. We used to have a bucket full of them in the DKE house. Attic. Eat yourself into a nice package. Hey NOW! Right Deuce Ringo Colorado."

"You're a bunch of morons. And you go to a moron school." - To the Trinity bench.

"Matt Marvin has no business drivin’ a van. No business."

"Under no circumstances will anyone, ANYONE drink...and drive."

"The baseball program is starting to come around. Travesty before I came. We got a guy - Jewish kid from Texas. Isaac Pesin. 1600 SATs with no talent. None. Throws a knuckle ball. Fastball about 68 and half. Gives up 20 hits a game but picks 'em all off. Call him the I-MAN. I-MAN. I-MAN. I-MAN..."

"79 and a half. 79 and a half. Lookin' for the local. Got the express."

"MVP of the trip is me...for scheduling. Scheduling."

"This guy is from an SEC school. So he's obviously a moron."

"Wet ball, small hands. Wet ball, small hands. Small hands, small dick. Don't worry Marshall, it's not the size of the meat, it's the motion."

"Cuban hockey players. Shortest book ever written."

"The Olympics should be a good time. Stay away from broads with head covering and veils, white Toyota pick-up trucks and guys with turbans and you should be fine."

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Chophouse Review: Capital Grille Las Vegas

Took a little weekend trip to Vegas for my buddy's bachelor party. We'll get to some of the other goodies later, but what would a bachelor party be without at least one steak dinner. On Saturday night, after a long day at the pool bar watching some March Madness, myself, Noc, Big Sic Nasty, Handsome Gabs, Sixer, Master P, Train, Stache Guy, and The Bachelor sauntered down the strip to chomp.

So using the Bruce System of Chophouse Rankings, here's a review of the Capital Grille, Las Vegas...

Location: Well we're in Vegas, so it's kind of an inconvenience for most people. Plus it's down by the mall - not in the middle of the strip. Points because it was within walking distance of our next destination (Tao), but obviously not ideal. SCORE: 5 (out of 10).

Ambiance: We had our own private room, so we could basically say anything we wanted without offending anyone. Always a good combination to re-live some old tales from college added with a few doozies that not everyone had heard before. The fact that we were in the wine room gave it a classy touch, and the fact that there was an enormous painting of some dude who was a dead ringer of our buddy Master P, and you had an ideal room. SCORE: 10.

Master P and his twin

Bar: With red wine already waiting for us, there wasn't much reason for us to make a stop at the bar. That, plus we were all about 10 drinks deep at this point already (except maybe Handsome Gabs, who hit the sheets off nice for about 4 hours in the middle of the day. Not shocking that he has more energy than all of us combined at this point). But there was a plasma at the far end showing the end of the Indiana-UCLA game, so points for that. This should really be n/a, but nothing from the bar scene jumped out as anything spectacular. SCORE: 6.

Bread, Appetizer, Salad: The bread basket was ok, nothing to get crazy about. My buddy Mayor calls the NY Cap Grille bread basket "stupid," but I wouldn't go that far. The Caesar salad was pretty sub par, lacking cheese and flavor. But any NBA game, one Alpha Dog can sometimes save the show. And the calamari with jalapeno (trademark of the Cap Grille) was indeed that Alpha Dog. Was probably even better than its New York counterpart. The buffalo mozzarella and tomato was very solid as well. SCORE: 8.

Sides: It was a price fix menu for the nine of us, so we couldn't order a bunch of sides. Green beans and some garlic mashed were the two on the menu. The beans were fine, just not a personal preference with a slab of beef sizzling next to me. The mashed were very strong, with more of a buttery taste than a garlic one. SCORE: 6.

Chop: The menu was offering two choices: the Filet and the Dry Aged Sirloin. (Note: we're not counting the other choices of lamb and chicken. Thankfully, everyone stayed away.) Normally I'd frown upon going with the Filet at a chophouse with a bunch of guys. But considering that a) most of us had been drinking since before noon, and b) we still had a big night ahead of us, I can't kill any of the guys who went with the smaller cut. No need to be sauntering around Vegas with a bulging stomach while fighting off the impending iceberg dump. Plus, we would presumably be hitting on females all night, and the last thing you want is to be drag bunting all over the place. But ANYWAY...

Decided to go with the Sirloin. Not bad. Would have preferred it to be a bit more charred though. Charring is such an underrated element of a good chop. And unfortunately, the seasoning was not enough to cover up the lack of charrage. But it was juicy, cooked perfect medium, with minimal amounts of gristle. Have had better, but to be fair, I was too delirious to fully appreciate a prime cut to begin with. SCORE: 7.

Dessert: Everyone was served a triple shot of espresso, which was fitting because all of us were fighting off another triple - a combination of food coma, beer coma, and over-oxygened coma from the casino. So I'd say that the espresso did a fine job of cancelling the other three out. Then they brought out a few plates that consisted of cheesecake topped with strawberry sauce (tremendous), an espresso chocolate cake (phenomenal), and a key lime cheesecake (too full to try). Just an all-around superb job with the sweets. SCORE: 9.

Crowd: To be honest, no one was really paying attention to the crowd because we were off in our own room. But while there were a handful of tourists who were looking for a classy meal in the cheesiest city in the country, there were also plenty of the Vegas slime that you'd expect. The few smokeshows scattered about definitely brought this score up. SCORE: 7.

Service: Great job by the Cap Grille staff, who not once seemed annoyed by nine guys being utterly boisterous and obnoxious. Everything was brought out in a punctual manner, the wine glasses were never empty, and the one mistake was answered with a scurrying waiter tearing ass to fix the error as soon as possible. Props to the female waitress who was clearing tables in the middle of an off-color joke ("Taste yourself!"). No sneer, just a polite smile. You've got to love chicks who can tolerate dudes who are being absolute pigs. SCORE: 9.

General Class Factor: Again, this was in Vegas, so it's difficult to consider anything really classy. But the Cap Grille took care of us. There wasn't any special pampering, but that's not a bad thing. We were treated respectfully, but not like we were royalty, which, frankly, wouldn't have been our style. Just nine guys from a small DIII school, on the verge of getting hammered, looking to chomp for a couple hours while we celebrated our buddy's engagement and arguably the last time he'll have fun again in his life (just kidding bud). The room was phenomenal, the meal was good, and the service excellent. Solid job by the Cap Grille Vegas. SCORE: 8.

Final Score: 75


Just a few lingering tales from Vegas. Note: I'm not trying to be like The Sports Guy and tell you how cool I am because me and my buddies took Vegas by storm. No, this is for the nine of us, so we have something in writing that can hopefully spark up a few memories down the road when amazing weekends such as these have completely killed off all our brain cells...

*Fourth trip to Vegas, and the same truth applies - no girl in Vegas is smaller than a C.

*Some of the nastiest, most unpleasant cocktail waitresses are employed by The Mirage. Messed up orders, hour-long disappearances, snippy back-talk, and an incredible lack of hotness. You know it's bad when you'd rather take down a 61-year old roulette dealer instead of any cocktail waitress in the joint. Of course, that might be my desire to finally hit it with a true Silver Fox...

*Speaking of roulette, thank god for that game. And thank god for 9, 11, and 16. Took away some of the sting from the debauchery on the blackjack table. Sic Nasty concurs.

*Great pool at The Mirage, complete with a couple of waterfalls. Could have also opted for Bare, the topless pool, but that was a $50 cover. No dice.

*The conference room at The Mirage had its walls painted. The artist? Train.

*Definitely not a fan of the whole club scene - mainly because I dance worse than Elaine Benes, don't grease up my hair with a bottle of gel every night, don't wear shiny expensive shirts or chains, and prefer to actually be able to hear the person I'm trying to talk with - but the Tao experience was pretty wild. A friend of a friend got us a skybox table, which had a perfect view of the two girls on the elevated stage who spent a couple hours touching each other on a bed and then mounting each other on a swing inside of a cage. Not making this up. And, they were easily two of the five hottest women I've ever seen in person. No question.

*Did I also mention that on a middle stage at Tao, there was a tub filled with water and rose petals? And that there were two naked chicks in there, rubbing themselves and each other down for about four hours? Now why can't they do that in New York?

*For the record, two tables down from us, Eddie Griffin, Chris Tucker, and Damon Wayans were sitting with a small entourage of females. And for the record, the girls who were hanging out with us (and stealing our booze) were all better looking than their posse. That's downright embarrassing. When you're rich and semi-famous, that should never happen.

*Drinking eight Red Bull & Vodka's is bad for your heart rate the next morning. Very bad.

*Improbable rallying from Sixer and Master P. Totally defying the laws of heavy drinking.

*If there's one lesson from the Spearmint Rhino, it's that you can't have your hand in there.

*Breakfast on Sunday morning after Saturday's debacle. Hard to call it breakfast since none of us went to bed. But not sure if any of us have laughed harder than when Noc made his triumphant entrance.


*Big Sic Nasty, who by the way was sporting one of the most ridiculous sunburn lines on his leg, lending his size 56(?) tan blazer to Noc to wear at breakfast. The extreme opposite of fat guy in a little coat.

*Kobe beef chili cheese dogs on Sunday before the flight home. Good lord. Also didn't need that car bomb at 8 pm either. But what's the point of going to Vegas if you're not gonna be excessive, right?

*Redeye home, followed by a train straight to work. I've never had a moment where I wished I was dead. But Monday morning came close.

*Finally, the adventure of reaching our destination. With a big storm hitting New York, myself, Noc, Handsome Gabs, Sixer, and the Bachelor were basically shit out of luck flying out of New York, and that was after switching our 6:30 pm flight to noon. But no chance we were getting stuck here. Wake up at 6 am to devise a new plan. Audible to the Acela train from Penn Station to D.C. Take two metros and a bus to Dulles Airport. Get drunk at the bar and sweat out four excruciating hours as the snow falls, waiting to see if this flight will cancelled. Get delayed an hour. Finally get on the plane, and the stewardess telling us we need to de-ice the plane quickly, because they can still cancel. Take off around 8:45 et, and land about six hours later. At the tables within 45 minutes.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Prime Cuts: New York Islanders 2007

You can tell a lot about a guy by his chop preference. It makes a huge impression. For example, a couple months ago, me and some buddies were at DelFrisco's. Most of us ordered NY Strips or Porterhouses, much to the delight of our waiter, Jeremy. But then one guy ordered a Filet. Now, not that there's anything wrong with a Filet, but if you're out chomping with a bunch of guys, it's kind of like ordering a glass of Pinot Grigio while everyone else is drinking Heinekens. Jeremy responded accordingly, giving the bug-eyed look of shock, followed by a sarcastic "Enjoy your strips" to the rest of the table. Classic stuff. He got a big tip.

Anyway, it's always fun to try and guess what type of chop certain people like. The classy ones will always go with the Strip or Porterhouse. The softies who tend to choke are the Filet guys, or the ones who disgrace the place by ordering lamb chops. Current location and hometown play huge roles in this, as does a number of other factors that will be touched upon.

Sporadically, we'll be giving a rundown of what we think are the chops of choice of certain teams, groups...whomever.

Up first, one of the hottest team in the NHL...YOUR...NEW...YORK...I-SLAN-DUHZ!

Rick DiPietro - Ricky D has a ways to go before he can be considered in the same class as Marty Brodeur. Needs to grow into a franchise goalie (on his way), carry the team on his back and win a Cup or two (not that close), and maybe start boning his wife's sister (not out of the realm of possibility). Still, DiPietro has the tools to become a classy stud. He's the goalie for Team USA, which is a huge plus, and can make saves that maybe two other people on the planet can pull off. Plus, he's always willing to fight or take shots at the opposition when they get too close, as evidenced by Monday's game against the Penguins. He's a Boston kid, so it's probably a safe bet that when he's back at home, he's chomping at Cap Grille and sorely misses Abe & Louie's. Stuck out on Long Island, he doesn't have a plethora of choices, but 45 minutes on the LIRR and you're at the doorstep of Sparks. CUT: NY Strip

Trent Hunter - The Isles' unsung hero. No one on the team does the little things like he does, no one hits harder, and if he played with some more skilled guys, he'd put up more points. A bit slow on the skates, but that's partially because he probably just polished off a chop. You know those big western Canadian guys love their beef, and you can be sure that a blue-collar dude like Hunter treats himself to a prime cut as much as possible. CUT: Porterhouse
Mike Sillinger - He's been on approximately 17 teams in the last 10 years, so he's well-traveled. Which means he's had the opportunity to survey chophouses all over the country. Another tough, hard-working guy, which is essential for a hockey guy. CUT: Bone-in Strip
Andy Hilbert - Born and raised in Michigan, probably pulled for the Wolverines. He's only 25, and has most likely been traveling with junior hockey teams since he was 2. Not many chances to get out and chomp. Plus, he still calls himself Andy. Very bad things. CUT: Roast beef sandwich

I mean, will someone please get Trent a Porterhouse?

Victor Kozlov - Big Vic is one of those guys who looks like he's moving slow but makes up a surprising amount of ground because of his reach. Always seems to be on the verge of making 3 or 4 plays a game, and always leaves you thinking he should've done just a little bit more. CUT: T-Bone
Miroslav Satan - Has the perfect pointed eyebrows to go along with the surname. Looks like he's a bit small and soft but is actually 6'3" and always ends up in the penalty box. Needs someone constantly to set him up because he can't take over a game despite his plentiful offensive skill. Can't figure him out. CUT: Lamb chop
Jeff Tambellini - The guy isn't even 23 years old, so you can't expect much. But certainly more promise than someone named Andy. Italian guy (I'm assuming) who grew up in Calgary. CUT: Meatball Parm Hero

Jason Blake - The definition of the guy you love to hate. And you really love him if he's on your team. Even though he's in his mid-30's, Blake's face could pass for 16 and is littered with acne. Little guy who's always willing to throw himself in the middle of the action. Would be tough to take him seriously in a place like The Palm, but he's defied the odds his whole career. CUT: Ribeye
Chris Simon - My friend LeeCee once advised me to never trust a guy with two first names. While she was apparently oblivious that this wisdom applied to the young man she was talking to at that very instant, those words ring true with this guy. Not much of an offensive threat, and he hasn't been all that tough even though he's supposed to be a tough guy. If a guy's on the ice and constantly gives you the feeling that you can't wait until the shift is over because you know the crew on the ice isn't gonna score, that can't be a good thing. CUT: Philly Cheesesteak
Randy Robitaille - Has a name that could probably roll in the opening credits of a bad porno. Pretty underwhelming player, who plays with the puck waaaay too much, especially on the power-play. With that in mind, he probably also eats at the same pace as my buddy Jaypo. CUT: Flank

Aaron Asham - I swear that this guy is an Eskimo. And I certainly wouldn't want to F with him. Big plus for a 90+ mph shot. CUT: Buffalo, rare
Steve Park - Absolutely no offensive skill, this guy is the bankrupt man's Selke winner. CUT: Grilled Salmon
Frans Nielsen - Young kid who hails from Denmark, so he may have no clue what a chop even is. Cut: Beef burrito from T-Bell

Tom Poti - Big, solid defenseman. Negative points that he's a masshole who hails from Woostah, but Poti still has a seat at the table with DP, Hunter, and Sillinger. CUT: NY Strip
Brendan Witt - Hands down, the trashiest Islander, but this isn't necessarily a bad thing. He's got everyone's back, and is one of those defensemen who always seems to be there to clear the puck at the right time or make a deflection. That being said, if tries to take a step into Smith & Wollensky, they're throwing his ass out. Probably the leading candidate to chomp with Chet Stedman. CUT: Salisbury Steak

Witt's a good guy to have on your team, but he's not a classy chomper

Chris Campoli - Young kid who has some promise but just doesn't totally get it yet. Probably thinks he's a little classier than he really is. CUT: Prime Rib
Marc-Andre Bergeron - French-Canadian guy who caught a tough break when his parents decided to hyphenate his first name. Must have been brutal growing up. If he can help out the Islanders power-play, then we'll give him and upgrade. CUT: Tuna Steak
Freddy Meyer - Kid from New Hampshire. Wonder if he used to hang out in ManchVegas a lot as a kid. Have a sneaky suspicion that Poti has taken him under his wing and gives some chomping advice. CUT: NY Strip, but the kid still insists on well-done (he'll learn)
Sean Hill - Another grizzled veteran, who's been around and has the experience. He rounds out our featured table. CUT: Bone-in Strip

Alexei Yashin - Pound for pound, dollar for dollar, probably the most disappointing athlete in team sports. Sucks that we're stuck pretending to root for this guy for five more years. Sure, he dates Carol Alt. Sure, he's got a ton of talent. But no Isle fan will ever forgive him for botching those breakaways against the Leafs in '02, or for the countless other soulless efforts he's put forth since. CUT: Filet Mignon, petite
Shawn Bates - Used to see Bates and a handful of other Islanders out all the time at Monterey's bar back in college. Would always be scrounging for some trashy Long Island bunny, and was pretty successful. Oleg Kvasha tried to do the same. He was not. CUT: Ribeye

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Chophouse Review: BLT Steak

Hopefully this answers the question: What the hell does sirloinsports mean? Inspired by a couple of Dirty Jerz denizens, we've embarked on a Chophouse Tour of sorts over the past couple of years. There's no set schedule. Just a constant itch to go out and chomp at the classiest joints around. And whenever we dine, there's always an accompanying review.

This past week my buddy Mayor and I satisfied a long-overdue chop craving. After a quick drink and cigar at Club Macanudo (frequented frequently by Michael Jordan, Governor Arnold, and other celebrities), we set out to BLT Steak to saw away.

Using the Bruce System of Chophouse Rankings, here's what transpired...

Location: BLT sits on 57th between Park and Lex in Manhattan. Smack in midtown, on a busy two-way street, pretty easy to get to. A quick stroll down the road to The Plaza. SCORE: 9 (out of 10)

Ambiance: The blue awning out in front is nice, and will look better once the scaffolding is cleared from the street. The bar greets you on the left as you walk in, and there's a narrow 20-foot walk to the host through boozers and those waiting for a table. The lighting is a bit brighter than most places, and most of the tables are crammed close. There's enough elbow room, but it's quite easy to eavesdrop on conversations next to you (more on this later). Big plus: Mayor had a pillow to support his back sitting on the bench side of the table. Big BIG minus: I shit you not, midway through our chops, the theme from Ghostbusters started playing. Seriously. I don't even know how to react. Mayor and I agreed to pretend that no such thing ever happened. Overall, definitely a bit on the trendy side, but not in an overly annoying way. SCORE: 7

Bar: Just came from Macanudo, and it was already 8:30, so there was no reason for another drink...until we were told they needed just a couple minutes to set up the table. So why not, right? Interesting that they didn't have Bud Light, even though the Miller was an able replacement. The bar didn't have any feature that made it stand out, and they were strapped a bit for space. Solid bartenders who didn't make us stand there waiting with a $20 bill sticking out of our mitts, which is always uncomfortable (especially when there's a mirror in front of you, and so you get so sick of waiting that you end up staring at yourself and realize how horrifying you look in the weird fluorescent lights). Big points for the strategically placed plasma in the upper right corner showing the Rangers-Devils game (Rangers lost...strong). If Marty Brodeur is involved somehow, it's a classy operation. SCORE: 7

Bread, Appetizer, Salad: Wow. I mean, WOW. Hands down, no question, BLT has the greatest bread I've ever had. Ever. I'm told it's called popover bread, which had its 10 seconds of Hollywood fame in My Blue Heaven, courtesy of the dude who played Uncle Lewis in Christmas Vacation. Anyway, words will not do it justice, so you'll have to try for yourself. But just a tremendous job. And if that wasn't enough, here comes the applewood smoked bacon, which I'd put up against its Peter Luger counterpart in a second. To cap it off, the Caeser Salad was very strong, and the croutons had a little extra kick. This part of the meal could not have been better. All Class. SCORE: 10

Sides: So tempting to try the Jeff Conine asparagus, but decided against it. Went with the creamed spinach (standard), potato gratin (standard), and the stuffed mushroom caps (a bit of a changeup). The sides were a bit on the small side (that's what she said), but we were so stuffed from the bread and apps and salad and chop that it didn't make a difference. The spinach was not quite at the Popeye Standard set by Cap Grille, but it was still solid. Possibly in the Top 5. The gratins were solid, not spectacular. Of course, anything compared to the au gratins at DelFrisco's are subpar. But anytime the potatoes are soft, that's a plus. The 'shrooms (settle down, Gonzaga) were pretty tasty, although a tad dry. SCORE: 8

Chop: Don't know about all of you, but my chop needs to be charred. And this one was, so bravo to the chef. Obviously went with the 14-oz NY Strip - my go-to if I'm surveying a chophouse for the first time - and it was cooked perfectly medium, which made it very easy to saw through. Some negative points as Mayor's chop was a bit well-done to his liking. The optional Bearnaise sauce was perfect for those side pieces that are a bit gristly. A strong chop that was a few spices away from a higher tally. SCORE: 8

Dessert: Both of us are out of steak-eating shape (my gut would suggest otherwise), so dessert was a long-shot after that feast. Still, we checked out the menu, and it was disappointing. As Chris Russo would say, "That's a baaaad job" if you don't have a cheesecake on the menu. Pretty inexplicable. And no chocolate cake either (note: there was some hippie version of this, like a tart or some nonsense). Menu was salvaged somewhat by the TJ Lemon Sorbet. Mayor had a drive home ahead, so we passed on a tawny Port. SCORE: 6

Crowd: When we first sat down, there were two beautiful babies sitting to our left. Certainly not your normal chophouse occurrence - not that I'm complaining. After about a half hour, they were replaced by a couple of dudes in their 40's. One of them was rocking the George Pataki haircut, only if Pataki rolled out of bed and forgot to execute his comb over. The other guy thought he was hot shit, even though he had apparently killed and skinned the camel whose skin made up the fabric of his blazer. ANYWAY, after a few minutes, he called over the waiter, and asked that drinks be sent over to a couple of middle-aged ladies sitting across the room. Moments later, another waiter comes by to report that the ladies wanted to buy them a drink instead. Clearly confused (and a bit perturbed), he insisted that is order be executed first. Later on, after a convenient bathroom break, the dude introduced himself, but the damage had been done. Whoever was to blame, the fact remains that the Send A Drink Over To The Lady routine that is gold in the movies was clearly botched, and no recovery was possible. SCORE: 7

Service: Where to begin. Classy host, fast-moving bartender. As we headed over to our table with half-full Miller Lites, a waitress appeared and insisted she carry them over for us. All. Class. A separate guy came over with our menus, and yet another who offered us water. The waitress was very nice, although not the type you can B.S. about chops with. The friendly cutie pie at the coat check was rocking Napoleon Dynamite's girlfriend's ponytail. I tipped her and then we went outside and played tetherball. SCORE: 10

General Class Factor: The meal and service were so good, that we're willing to forget the "Ghostbusters" atrocity. Friendly, non-pompous people serving your meals, harmless New Yorkers trying to act a bit cooler than they really were, and a chophouse atmosphere where you could hang with your boys just as easily as taking your lady for her monthly dose of red meat. SCORE: 9


Tuesday, February 13, 2007 Re-Launch

Just when I thought I was out...they pulllllll me back in.

Welcome back all you loyal readers, and greetings to the newcomers. After basically a year of being confined to dark edit rooms until the wee hours - not to mention five glorious months of service time as Buddy Lee's personal biotch - it's time for SirloinSports to get back in the game.

What you can expect:
  • Plenty of 80's White Trash Baseball, including frequent tournaments.
  • Plenty of Chophouse recommendations.
  • Plenty of opinions about the sports world.
  • Hopefully, plenty of stories and quotes from The Blade.

Basically, you'll be getting extensive coverage/gloating/groaning/pleading about the Mets, Yanks, Jets, Giants, Isles, Duke, Johnnies, Williams, 24, The Office, The Sopranos (if it ever comes back), Del Friscos, Pete Vukovich, and the Knicks.

Good to be back. Any suggestions, feel free to email or comment.