I have a culinary confession. As a kid I was obsessed with Red Lobster. Grownup me—the adventurous eater and Andrew Zimmern acolyte—avoids fast casual chains, although the local Applebee’s where we’d smuggle in tacos and Difaras pizza—was once my watering hole. There’s one chain I’ve been curious about for some time though, The Cheesecake Factory. Chalk it up to scarcity—not love of cheesecake. So when the first Factory opened in New York City earlier this month at Elmhurst’s Queens Center I had to check it out. Spurred on by a media frenzy started by Eater, our threesome—consisting of myself and Queens finest barbecue Pitmasters Big Lou Elrose and Robbie Richter—visited during restaurant’s opening week. “Joey, if we can’t get in we’ll go to Shake Shack,” Robbie said. I nodded, thinking to myself, “No, you’ll go to Shake Shack, I’m going to the Factory hell or high water.” (more…)
Meat maven Josh Ozersky and pitmaster Robbie Richter parade a barbecued ewe.
I’ve just about recovered from what I’ve taken to calling ‘Mini-Meatopia.’ For that’s exactly what Monday’s pop-up at Alchemy, Texas BBQ was. Meat maven Josh Ozersky and pitmaster Robbie Richter teamed up on a menu that included everything from short rib to a grass-fed Vermont ewe, all cooked in Alchemy’s gigantic smoker. It was the first of hopefully many pop-ups. It was a very special night for barbecue and Jackson Heights with a globe-trotting menu that spanned from Jamaica to Uzbekistan.
First up: bulgogi tacos,with gojuchang aioli.
For the past few years Richter has been moving away from American barbecue and experimenting with Asian flavors, notably at Fatty Cue and the upcoming project Roadhouse L.A. with the Umami Burger crew. So it’s not surprising that the evening’s meaty offerings started with bulgogi short rib tacos. They were served with kimchi, and a zippy aioli made from the Korean fermented bean and chili paste, gochujang. My one complaint was the flour tortillas. That did not stop me from eating two tacos, though. (more…)