Restaurant Review: Cracker Barrel (Upstate New York)

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As someone who grew up in a big city, there are things about the suburbs, the country, and the heartland of America that just enrapture me. For instance, I’m always excited to go hang out at a big American mall. In the city, there are so many things to do that I don’t really frequent malls all that often. When I do, the city’s malls are no where near as big as a mall in less populated areas. These big, true malls however, are spectacular. Furthermore, restaurants like Cheesecake Factory and Cracker Barrel are just fascinating to me since there are none of these in the city.

Cracker Barrel is almost nonsensical to me. Instead of just being a restaurant, it’s a restaurant and gift shop. I mean I’ve been to a Max Brenner and they have chocolates in the front because that place is known for chocolate, but a full on gift shop with mugs, and candy, and chochkies, and all sorts of little things that really don’t relate to the food is pretty interesting. However, in a way it does relate to the identity of the company and feels… really American.

The food is also really American fare. They have country fried steak, meat loaf, regular steak, macaroni and cheese, okra, etc. It’s exactly the kind of fatty, plain food you’d expect to see in… America. Oh, and it’s good by the way.

Growing up in a city, I had ethnic food almost every day. Chinese, Vietnamese, Jewish (which can be bland), Italian food, etc. I had it all. It seems that what I missed out on was the truly American foods. The fatty, deep fried, give you a heart attack and type two diabetes nonsense that is killing us. I love this kind of food. I never got to eat this kind of food. I grew up eating ethnic take out instead.

In conclusion, I loved Cracker Barrel. I never eat this kind of stuff. I guess it’s a little like IHOP.

Score: 6.6/10

Restaurant Review: American Cut (NYC)

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Came here for restaurant week and was not disappointed.

Ordered the prix fixe menu. Appetizers were Jim Baker oysters, Cesar salad, and thick cut bacon. Entrees consisted of hanger steak, chicken, or salmon. We all had mashed potatoes for sides and the cracker jack sundae for dessert. Price for all was $38.00.

They toss the salad at table side, which was nice I guess. It’s still just salad. Oyster were all right. That bacon was amazing though. The bacon was so thick it was bordering on a name change to pork belly. Really good.

We mostly had steak, which is all right. Someone had salmon, which was also ok. The steak was better after I added some peppercorn sauce to it. Got to ask your waiter for that though. Mash potatoes were good, but if you let them sit for too long, you could see the butter separating from the potatoes. There was a lot of butter in those potatoes. Dessert was good, but really small.

Service was fantastic.

Loved the interior. Great design choices and the chairs were very comfortable.

Score: 7/10. Enjoyed it. Would come here again.

Restaurant Review: Ruth’s Chris Steak House (51st Street, NYC)

Ruth’s Chris is a chain of upscale steak houses with locations all around the country. I went to the one on 51st Street in Manhattan for restaurant week.

We all ordered the Prix Fixe menu, which comes with a salad or chicken andoullie gumbo, a 6 oz steak (or stuffed chicken or salmon, but of course we got steak at a steak house) with a side of creamed spinach or mashed potatoes, and bread pudding for dessert.

The food here is a little better than what you would find at an Outback Steak House or a Texas Roadhouse. It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t amazing.

Service was great and our waiter was thoughtful.

The interior was nice. I like the hotel-like comforting, dimly lit, wood panels look.

Would I eat here again? Probably not. The only reason I would come here is if I had a desperate craving for steak and this was the only convenient option.

Score: 5.8/10

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Restaurant Review: Le Parisien

Details: Located at 163 East 33rd St., New York, NY 10016. Official site is

I found this place through a quick internet search for relatively cheap French food (within the $20-$30 range) and I am so glad I did.

Le Parisien is a small, French restaurant in Midtown Manhattan that seeks to replicate the feel of a small French bistro. Although I’ve only been here for dinner, their brunch looks pretty good.

The space is small. Around fifteen seats. However, this only helps add to the feel and ambiance. It’s the perfect blend of casual yet romantic. A perfect date spot and a great place to bring your friends. Service was good, too. Charming staff.

In regards to food, the menu is as small as the space. Around a ten appetizers and ten entrees, with some off menu specials that change periodically. With that said, the food is fantastic.

I’ve been here twice. The first time I ordered the filet mignon carpaccio as an appetizer, followed by the steak tartare (raw beef) as an entree. My friends ordered the rainbow trout almondine and the bistrot steak frites (steak and french fries). My second time I ordered the duck confit.

For my first time eating steak tartare, it actually wasn’t bad. I’m probably never going to order it again. Its just chopped raw beef without that much preparation. Not exactly something to pay money for in my opinion unless something is added.

The filet mignon carpacciao was very good. So was the duck confit, where the only real downside was that after finishing the dish, I wanted even more. My friend said the trout was also very good.

However, the bistrot steak frites was by far the best thing out of all the above. Its cooked in a sauce of wine, thyme and onions which yields an extraordinarily tender, tasty steak. If I go back — and I will — then I will undoubtedly order that.

Score: 8/10 Loved the food. Loved the ambiance. The small menu and small space actually add to the experience instead of detract. Definitely coming back.

As a side note, the steak tartare was no longer on the menu as of my last visit.