Saturday, November 2, 2013

HOW'S WILLIE "JACK" DOING?

We have gone from Julie Childs to chef battles.  That not being enough restaurant and bar proprietors are out there fixing other owners' problems.  Two in particular are spied upon with hidden cameras set up so that the owner can view their staff to find out why their restaurant has gone wry.  One is called Restaurant Stakeout where Willie "Jack" Degel looks to help solve the issues.

Willie is the owner of Uncle Jack's Steakhouse with locations in Bayside (Queens), Manhattan and Glen Head, Long Island. What was it like to be at the original Bayside locale?  My memory of having heard about Uncle Jack's was that they seemed to be one of the first steakhouses to have kobe beef.

My interest was not only in the service and food quality but how Willie maintains his own "baby" when he is not there.  I was invited to indulge in a tasting menu and brought a guest, my college buddy Nancy.  What would happen if I requested "no garlic, low on salt and no balsamic vinegar"?  Nancy's portions were prepared as the menu specifies.

We entered to be greeted by hostess Amber and noticed what looked like a group of mail boxes.  They were cigar boxes from years ago.  The decor looked as if the restaurant were a former "speakeasy".  It was.

Tracy was the Captain who served us.  I chose a half bottle of a pinot grigio.  As I sipped the white wine I looked around to see if I could spot the cameras. 

First course was a Maryland Jumbo Lump Crab Cake which contained 90% crab meat and Panko bread crumbs and seasons that include garlic.  The sauce looked like a remoulade but wasn't.



I had what would have been equivalent to a lumb crab cocktail.   I large portion of the crab meat on greens with a side of their in house red cocktail sauce.



Oysters "Jackefella" was the second course.  The take on oysters "Rockefella" had spinach and goat cheese.




My sampling were of Blue Point oysters on the half shell.  I love raw oysters and Blue Point tends to be one of the best in terms of both brininess and quantity.


Lollipops Lamb Chops are the thing these days.  Using those most tender rib loin certainly does something on the palate.   The reason that they are called "lollipop" is that they are cut so that you can simply pick them up and eat them off the bone.   Sucking them will not get you anywhere.



The chops are encrusted with panko, garlic and a dijon mustard.  Mine were served simply broiled with a bit of salt and pepper.  I requested "medium" and got just what I wanted....red/pink inside.



Next course, Buffalini Mozzarella - Tomato Mozzarella.  Buffalo mozzarella is flown in from Italy and a softer consistency than even a fresh mozzarella made with cow's milk.  The difference between mine and Nancy's was having no reduced balsamic vinegar.  I was given another dressing as a choice.


Out came the main course.  A prime dry aged Porterhouse steak for two.  Can't get better than this.  Willie chooses the thick cut steaks.  What is significant about a Porterhouse?  It's like having two cuts of meat.  One side of the bone contains the tenderloin while the other is as if you were savoring a New York strip.  They slice it up at the table.  Without using a steak sauce, I could truly taste the quality and juiciness of the meat itself.



Two sides.  Steamed asparagus and the of the best sweet potato fries I've had.  In fact, Nancy went for the fries even before the meat.



Dessert was a sampling of their tiramisu, pecan pie and chocolate mousse along with a dollop of fresh whipped cream. 


To be continued after I meet with Willie.




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