Snap, Crackle, POP-UP DINER: Alex Mitow’s All-American Diner

In food and drink and most walks of life, I’ve often found a single, simple truth to be evident: “Spontaneity is Sexy!” And restaurant director and event planner, Alex Mitow has demonstrated this very wisdom to me in the form of his latest endeavor and culinary extravaganza.

Alex Mitow's All-American Diner graced Grand Street from April 17th-19th

Alex Mitow’s All-American Diner graced Grand Street from April 17th-19th

Last week, I am thrilled to say that I attended two nights of Alex Mitow’s All-American Diner: A Pop Up!, Time Out New York’s The Empire Club on Thursday and The Debaucherous Disco Diner Dinner Party on Friday. The hip, young owner of Los Perros Locos, a Colombian hot dog restaurant in the Lower East Side, Alex aimed to turn “a closed down diner into an art, music, and food spectacle,” and I must say, he delivered quite a delicious and eclectic experience.

All-American Beer Can Vase

All-American Beer Can Vase

The very essence of a pop-up entails synthesizing something grand from seemingly out of nowhere. Utilizing the abandoned space of Noah’s Ark Diner on Grand Street, Alex Mitow’s All-American Diner demonstrated the sheer brilliance that can go into engineering a rebirth. With the simple yet effective additions of a disco ball, colored flags, and original New York City themed art, including an impressive Manhattan wall mural by artist Fernando “Ski” Romero, Alex truly conjured a dazzling party scene for patrons of all ages and tastes.

Mural by Fernando "Ski" Romero.

Mural by Fernando “Ski” Romero.

The musical acts also proved to be just as fresh as the décor. On Thursday night, the live entertainment consisted of a winningly over-the-top performance by Sylvana Joyce & The Moment, a band that describes its style as a combination of gypsy rock, soul, and blues. On Friday, we danced the night away to some mixed up pop music by Andrew Andrew, a DJ duo of twin-like doppelgangers.

BITES TO WRITE ABOUT

THE DOGS

On both Thursday and Friday night, we were presented with numerous platters of Tipico Mini Dogs, hot dogs and some colorful condiments naturally being one of Mitow’s specialties from his work at Los Perros Locos. Drizzled with Colombian-styled Salsa Verde with Pineapple and a classical Salsa Rosada (Ketchup + Mayo), then sprinkled with copious helpings of crushed potato chips. The result is an explosion of sweet and savory flavors with a killer crunch between every bite–an absolutely inspired spin on an American classic. I will be sure to try Los Perros Locos when I have the chance–the Mini has already won my heart!

Tipico Mini Dogs - Los Perros Locos Style Who says you can't teach a hot dog Colombian tricks?

Tipico Mini Dogs – Los Perros Locos Style
Who says you can’t teach a hot dog Colombian tricks?

Thursday night came with a variety of gooey, crispy American comfort food courses: Pastrami Swiss Croquettes, The Challah Atcha Boy Grilled Cheese Sandwich, Grandma’s Meatball Sliders, and Fried Calamari.

THURSDAY EXCLUSIVES

The Croquettes made for tiny but tasty starters, slathered in chipotle apple aioli, yet another of Mitow’s ingenious sauce creations that made for an excellent compliment for just about every dish.

Pastrami and Swiss Croquettes

Pastrami and Swiss Croquettes

Alex Mitow’s Grilled Cheese Sandwich, the hilariously named “Challah Atcha Boy” was a welcome veteran of this year’s The Big Cheesy Competition. Classically tender Katz’s pastrami, two types of cheeses, more aioli, and light, peppery peppadew wrapped within fluffy challah made for the most well-rounded and complex grilled cheese I have ever enjoyed in my young life. It is my hope that Mr. Mitow continues to dabble in the creation of sandwiches. This one was a champion!

Alex Mitow's delicious variant of a grilled cheese sandwich, made famous at The Big Cheesy.

Alex Mitow’s delicious variant of a grilled cheese sandwich, made famous at The Big Cheesy.

Grandma's Meatball Slider

Grandma’s Meatball Slider

A smooth yet solid cloud of fresh ricotta cheese with a hunk of simmered veal and pork on top of delicate Hawaiian sweet bread also impressed me.  I adored Alex Mitow’s Grandma’s Meatball Slider simply because it was a safe and traditional yet still excellent choice. The simplicity of the dish’s constituents belied a rich and heavy hitter that didn’t pull any punches in the taste department.

Crispy Calamari

Crispy Calamari

Our last Thursday plate was the Crispy Calamari, fried in garlic and butter, and seasoned with a lemon-peppadew aioli. By the time it left the kitchen, I was convinced I was full, but found I couldn’t resist the richly flavored batter. Once again, Alex took a lovely classic and dressed it up with one of his impeccable sauces.

Donuts from neighbor The Donut Factory were a sweet surprise for dessert

Donuts from neighbor The Doughnut Plant were a sweet surprise for dessert

FRIDAY EXCLUSIVES

For Friday, Alex focused the dining experience on a more centered lineup with three options, including those yummy hot dogs, consequentially allowing several times more helpings for guests.

By the time I tried the Pink Castle Sliders, I had no doubts of Alex’s abilities with a grill. The addition of the Salsa Rosada once again augmented the flavors of an already strong entree.

Pink Castle Sliders - With a Splash of Salsa Rosada

Pink Castle Sliders – With a Splash of Salsa Rosada

Smothered in cheese and stuffed with seasoned pastrami, I found Alex’s Disco Fries to be the true delicacy of the diner. A gooey outer layer riddled with crispy tidbits and choice cuts of meat transformed a side dish into a mass of sinful decadence. They were a full meal–an experience within themselves and worth every calorie-infused chomp!It wouldn't be a true disco without DISCO FRIES!

It wouldn’t be a true disco without these DISCO FRIES!

Closing Thoughts

Amidst that storm of artificial pink lights and catchy tunes, I’d say that Alex Mitow’s All-American Diner truly exemplified that all-too American value of glitz and glam from grime with all of the delightful excess of a Baz Luhrmann movie or a Cadillac commercial, but none of the shoddy plotting or poor characterization.

For a moment, I was taken out of my hectic New York existence and treated to something wild and fanciful, but gastronomically satisfying as well.

It is this writer’s hope that Mr. Mitow continues hosting and planning these pop-up events in the future. Or at the very least that he continues offering his delicious re-imaginings and recipes.

Food For Ott was grateful to be a part of the craze.

Food For Ott was grateful to be a part of the craze and looks forward to the next one!

Angus Club Steakhouse, a Midtown Majesty

Midtown Manhattan is an area of New York City that can best be described as hypercompetitive and unrelenting with regards to dining. New restaurants can often struggle to maintain a foothold here, as they must counterbalance attracting hungry tourists with meeting the expectations of discerning natives.

A rising star in a bustling neighborhood, Angus Club Steakhouse is a welcome and swanky newcomer! With an impressive breadth of experience in the steakhouse industry, Chef Edward Avduli and his friends, Margent Maslinka, Aldin Gacevic, and Zef Makaj, have created a labor of love and luxury for their customers!

Angus Club Steakhouse also offers an impressive selection of wines and has two full bars for use.

Angus Club Steakhouse also offers an impressive selection of wines and has two full bars with full dining services.

The first thing I noticed upon entering Angus Club Steakhouse’s was its superior interior design. Formerly a nightclub, the space has been revitalized into an epic eating experience! Set over two grandly spacious floors, the place just oozes opulence. Art deco furniture, high ceilings, romantic mood lighting from a variety of sources—candles, sconces, chandeliers, and intricately carved walls made me feel like I was in some celebrity’s private mansion. In case the main dining areas aren’t to your liking, Angus also allows patrons to dine in a variety of special, themed rooms—each made with different materials for more diverse atmospheres. The Oak Room, the Cork Room, the Chef’s Room, and the Leather Room can all be reserved for private parties as well as regular dining.

With elegant wallpaper and a custom table, the Leather Room is my favorite!

With elegant wallpaper and a custom table, the Chef’s PRIVATE Dining Room is my favorite!

 

The Food

We started with a large and nicely varied group of appetizers that could have doubled as a meal themselves, consisting of Canadian Bacon, Fried Calamari, Tuna Tartare, and Iceberg Wedge Salad, all of which I can recommend. Grilled to a lovely, smoky finish, the Canadian Bacon demonstrated that the folks at Angus truly understand how to prepare all manner of quality meats.   The Fried Calamari was crispy on the outside and moist on the inside with a quality batter that wasn’t too salty or dry. It came with a typical but welcome marinara sauce. The Iceberg Wedge came with a decadent blue cheese dressing and even more tasty, savory chunks of bacon.

Canadian Bacon

Canadian Bacon

Fried Calamari

Iceberg Wedge Salad

Iceberg Wedge Salad

Out of all of the offerings, however, I have a special preference for the tuna tartare. With some of the sweetest tuna I’ve ever had and a refreshing medley of fruits and vegetables mixed inside, it made a wonderful palette cleanser before the imminent onslaught of main courses.

Tuna Tartare

Tuna Tartare

The Main Attraction: Turf and Surf 

I was fortunate enough to sample both the Filet Mignon and New York Sirloin Steaks alongside some Sushi-Grade Yellowfin Tuna.

The Filet Mignon was simply divine—a slab of succulent, fragrant beef that I devoured in an instant. It tasted delicious without their house gravy, but that didn’t stop me from slathering it on. If you’re dining alone, it’s an excellent way to indulge yourself. I’m told that Angus dry ages their beef for 35 days rather than the normal 15-20. The process sacrifices size in favor of tenderness and richer flavor–a decision in favor of quality over quantity that I can endorse. Each cut of meat was perfectly seasoned but not in an over the top way. Nothing tasted like it had been salted, and not once did I have the impetus to add anything extra. It’s hard to describe, but Angus Club’s steaks just have an inherent umami essence within them.

The Sirloin presented an enormous portion of thick beef for two. There’s more to bite into and more chewing required than the Filet Mignon, but the flavor is still quite impressive. Which you choose boils down to your preference of texture versus size.

Fillet Mignon

Filet Mignon

New York Sirlon For Two

New York Sirloin For Two

The Yellowfin Tuna was seared and prepared like your favorite steak, but its insides revealed more of that sushi grade goodness. It was a wonderful compliment to the steaks, though I found the outside to be a little overpowering in terms of seasoning, and skipped on the creamy wasabi sauce.

Yellowfin Tuna with Wasabi

Yellowfin Tuna with Wasabi

In addition, each of these killer main courses came with an equally diverse selection of side dishes, including peas and onions, home fries, mashed potatoes, and creamed spinach (no cream, but a little butter). Out of these offerings, I felt the cream spinach best balanced out the meal.

Assortment of Main Courses with Sides. The Cream Spinach to the right is a worthwhile choice!

Assortment of Main Courses with Sides. The Cream Spinach to the right is a worthwhile choice!

By the time dessert rolled around, I thought I’d be too satiated to eat any more, but the dessert offerings (some homemade and others imported from Hudson Valley–all delightfully rich and served with fresh whipped cream) quickly changed my mind. Chocolate Cake, Coconut Tiramisu, Creme Brûlée, and Key Lime Pie all made an appearance. Again, which you order really depends on your personal tastes–I fancied the Key Lime Pie. I don’t usually go for Key Lime Pie, but Angus Club Steakhouse’s variant surprised me. Neither too sweet or sour, it was a decadent yet light treat with a little tang and a splash of raspberry sauce.

Chocolate Cake

Chocolate Cake

Coconut Tiramisu

Coconut Tiramisu

Creme Brûlée

Creme Brûlée

Key Lime Pie

Key Lime Pie

Wine Director Margent Maslinka curates a custom-made climate- controlled, glass-enclosed Wine Cellar downstairs housing more than 1,000 bottles of wine. The wine and spirits selection is global with a special emphasis on Californian wines.

Wine Director Margent Maslinka curates a custom-made climate-
controlled, glass-enclosed Wine Cellar downstairs housing more than 1,000 bottles of wine. The wine and spirits selection is global with a special emphasis on Californian wines.

Angus Club Steakhouse may be a pricey option in a pricey neighborhood, but let me assure you that the food, drink, dessert, decor, and atmosphere are high-class and a worthwhile value. It’s an opportunity to take a small vacation in a meal. The next time I have an occasion to celebrate, Angus will be among my first choices for dining venue.

ADDRESS:  135 East 55th Street (Between Lexington & 3rd Avenues) New York, NY 10022.

Website: http://www.angusclubsteakhouse.com

Phone Number: (212) 588-1585

HOURS: Lunch from 11:30 AM – 3:00 PM, Monday-Friday.

Dinner from 3:00 PM – 11:00 PM, Monday-Friday.

Dinner from 3:00 PM – 10:00 PM, Saturday-Sunday.

Happy Hour from  4:00 PM – 7:00 PM, Monday-Friday (1/2-price on specialty cocktails and select global wines by the glass.)

Brunch: Contact the restaurant for official Springtime hours!