Continental / Mexican/Latin American / New York / Restaurants/Bars

The Usual

At a recent work dinner, I finally got to try The Usual, which likes to say they serve upscale comfort food influenced from all sorts of different countries from where the chefs hail. That sounds like it could be a disaster…but it was all really good. I liked the look of the bar. Lots of peach tones and lightened wood. It feels like a fresh pivot from all those millennial pink spaces we’ve been seeing. I sidled up to this peachy bar and grabbed a cocktail, where I learned they have a pretty solid happy hour til 7. I went with the Old Montreal, their version of an old fashioned. It felt appropriate for the winter temps.

We started easy – mushrooms, salad, and the blueberry hoecake. It’s basically a blueberry muffin with so much butter soaking into its very porous flesh. We may have eaten it at supper, but this is a breakfast dream.

Not to be overlooked was the mushroom fritter. I was obsessed with the tomato fritters in Santorini and this was basically that sort of heavy battered goodness with mushrooms at the center instead of maters. I am a huge mushroom fan so this basically turned a dish I already liked into something I liked even more.

Blurry…but tasty

I didn’t try the salad. It looked fine. I also didn’t make it to one of the dishes in round two: the tuna poke. Y’all know I love poke (Who remembers my #PokeFriday Insta stories?! Sigh. Those were the days.) but when it was at the other end of the table I didn’t rush to grab it since it’s something I get relatively frequently and the preparation was relatively standard. The presentation, however, deserves a nod. It was served with a pack of seaweed, opened up like a bag of chips ready to be turned into Frito pie.

This round also gave us kung pao brussels sprouts (lots of fans of this one in our group) and burrata with prosciutto (can. not. go. wrong.). Then we got salmon tartare with shallots, chives, crème fraîche, and roe served on top of…a potato cake? I can’t remember all of the ingredients but it was like a Japanese bagel and cream cheese and a unique take on comforting brunch food.

Also blurry, sorry

The best dish of this round, however, had to be the sisig. I love the sizzle sazzle as the server stirred the egg and meat together in the mini cast iron pan. It was great on its own or eaten as a lettuce wrap with a bit of rice. I think this was a special but, honestly, they should just put it on the menu because everyone was lunging for it.

And now we come to the final round, where we got three burgers to split across our group of six…plus an order of fried chicken and then a mini portion of the steak. It was topped with a sauce and grilled scallions that was, perhaps, a nod to the taco accoutrement used in Colorado since it was a Denver cut steak. Maybe I’m reading too much into that? Even if there was no rhyme or reason, it was tasty. This was brought out as a last minute add-on, but it was a highlight. Also, I feel like this was their version of A1 sauce? Should I be eating A1 sauce now?

The fried chicken had a bit of a kick in the batter, which I really enjoyed. It wasn’t bad, though, and perfectly tamed by their homemade ranch. I’ve said it more times than I can count, but I LOVE A DIPPING SAUCE. First I got that ranch and then I got the piri piri ketchup and curry mustard that came with the fries. Those dipping sauces scored them several points in my book.

The burger – the item they’re most famous for – was delicious. It had a great char. The bun wasn’t the best ever, but the cheese, onions, and sauce melded together in a way that made me overlook the bun. Who cares – I just want dat meat.

I didn’t take a pic of the dessert and we were pretty much too full to eat it at that point, but I did have exactly one bit of the flan. It was served in a teeny tiny pot and topped with fresh berries. The custard was pretty perfect. And there was a bit of flaked salt on top that was unexpected but genius. Only one bite, but it was a good bite.

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