In Defense of Steak
Posted: Jun 5, 2009 4:18pm ET
A good friend of mine maintains that there are far too many steakhouses in Manhattan. I disagree. Bring ‘em on.
I’m an unabashed steakhouse fan. A steakhouse dinner—start with a selection of raw oysters, then a salad with bleu cheese dressing followed by a medium-rare steak washed down with rich, red wine—is my favorite meal. And you can hold the cheesecake for dessert—give me a cigar instead.
I have several favorites here in New York City, and unlike my friend I revel in experiencing new expressions when I try a new steakhouse. Here are a few of the newer ones I find interesting, plus a selection of old favorites.
Primehouse New York, 381 Park Avenue South
There used to be a very ordinary sports-themed restaurant with dull food directly across the street from our offices. New owners took this space and transformed it into a steakhouse. Genius. The steakhouse is grand and stark, and the selling point is an aging room lined with Himalayan salt. I don’t know if the salt does anything at all, but I really enjoy one of the lunch dishes, which has a very reasonable pricetag. It’s a hanger steak, served churassco-style with chimmichuri sauce. (This is best enjoyed rare.) Outdoor tables are available on sunny days—if you ask nicely, they might even let you smoke a cigar.
Benjamin Steak House, 52 East 41st Street
This beautiful restaurant sits only a block from Grand Central Terminal and excels in steak for a group—large porterhouses sliced off the bone, served on a blazing hot platter. On a recent visit, the matire’d presented slices of the sirloin cut, and brushed each against the hot platter with a sensational sizzle to cook it more, if needed. For the truly hungry, the restaurant also serves a full breakfast. Yes, you can have a sirloin steak at 7 a.m. The restaurant is around the corner from the Barclay Rex smoke shop on 42nd Street.
Porter House New York, 10 Columbus Circle
Boasting some of the best views of any New York restaurant, Porter House treads familiar ground with many of its meat cuts, but goes out on a few steakhouse limbs. On a winter visit with European editor James Suckling, I was treated to an amazing dish of root vegetables, and the current menu offers a duck steak in brandied cherries, something I’ve not seen on any other steakhouse menu. The chef is a well-known name, Michael Lomonaco. As an added bonus, the restaurant resides in the Time Warner Center, home to a Davidoff cigar store.
Quality Meats, 57 West 58th Street
This arm of the Smith and Wollensky group is a gem with a wonderful bone-in ribeye served tomahawk style. (Looks like a really big beef lollipop.) The décor is striking: the front door looks like something you would find in the days of King Arthur, and the chandeliers are made from old meat hooks. True carnivores will appreciate the bone marrow appetizer. For a post-dinner cigar, walk a block south to De La Concha, which has a spacious smoking lounge.
Sparks Steak House, 210 East 46th Street
Sparks is steakhouse simplicity done right, and I always enjoy myself here. Sparks serves two types of steaks, a sirloin and a filet mignon. You will not find a better sirloin anywhere. The restaurant still has a fine selection of cigars for sale, even though you no longer can smoke there. When you finish your meal, you’re within walking distance of the Barclay-Rex on Lexington Avenue near 51st, or the Cigar Aficionado lounge inside the Cigar Inn on Second Avenue between 53rd and 54th.
Del Friscos Double Eagle Steak House, 1221 Avenue of the Americas
Del Friscos serves the best-seasoned steak in the city, with plenty of salt and black pepper. You ought not to miss the crabcakes (almost all crab—no cake), and the house salad also comes with several strips of bacon, which I appreciate. Like Quality Meats, it’s close to De La Concha.
Rothmanns Steakhouse, 3 East 54th Street
Rothmanns makes a great steak for two, three or more, served in a dish of rich juices. The interior is gorgeous, but cigar smokers ought to reserve one of the few outdoor tables, where cigar smoking is permitted. (The folks at Davidoff, only a block away, are frequent visitors.) It’s a great way to spend a sunny afternoon.
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