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.