Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

Sign in to follow this  
Fat Guy

The Kitchen Counter (and more) at Beacon

Recommended Posts

There was a last-minute cancellation for the kitchen counter Thursday night dinner tomorrow, 4 seats. If you're interested, you have about a minute to grab it: call Melissa at 212 332 0504.


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Had lunch at the Burger Bar again today. Nothing new to report except that it is fast becoming a regular haunt because it's so good and such a good value.


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hope the renovations are after our July reservations. Ate at an IHOP once, the next day it was gone. Not closed, but gone- bulldozers came in, knocked it down, and hauled the scraps away. You can still see the old linoleum floor in the vacant lot where it used to be. Felt more unsettling than eating at an IHOP in the first place.


"Eat at Joe's."

- Joe

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We had lunch at the burger bar today, as is becoming our Friday tradition (I've already made a note to bring the camera next Friday), and chatted with Waldy for a few minutes. The renovation is still in the planning stages and won't likely be until after the winter holiday season (in other words not until early 2009). He has some ideas about converting "the pit" (the area down a few steps, by the open kitchen) into a restaurant within a restaurant (as in the Tavern at Gramercy Tavern) with a more rustic menu, but it was all very speculative. It didn't sound like the restaurant would be closed long, and it sounded like the Thursday night Kitchen Counter dinners would remain a once-a-week thing. Although it seems that, informally, they'll now allow a party of six to book a Kitchen Counter Thursday experience on another night.


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've been going to the Burger Bar at Beacon pretty much once (sometimes twice) a week without fail since late May, always with my son and sometimes with other folks. We're pretty friendly with Frank Diaz and Karen Schloss-Diaz, who are restaurant publicists and have represented Beacon for ages. I learned one day that they had never had lunch at the Burger Bar so I made them come with us, not only because I was aghast that they'd not experienced the Burger Bar, not only because I knew the meal would be free if we ate there with them, but also because our son really digs their daughter, who is a couple of years older than he is (he likes older women, what can I say?). I was able to convince Ellen to bring her camera and I asked Waldy to cook a few of the items from the kids' menu. So here are some illustrations of what I've been talking about above.

This is at the beginning of the meal when they bring the kids the french-fry appetizer.

gallery_1_295_5999.jpg

These are the cheap-ass straw-cups that Waldy Malouf purchased a villion of at some fire sale. They're decorated with unidentifiable Asian anime characters.

gallery_1_295_9240.jpg

This is the adult burger, in this case with mushrooms and Gruyere.

gallery_1_295_46232.jpg

Here's our son making a mess of the kid burger. The kid burger, like the adult burger, is made from Niman Ranch beef, but it's 1- a little smaller (though not small), 2- served on a burger bun rather than country toast, 3- served with plain fries not garlic fries, 4- served with regular commercial ketchup not Waldy's own spicy ketchup, 5- garnished a little differently (no onions).

gallery_1_295_63.jpg

These are the mini burgers, an adult menu item but kids love them.

gallery_1_295_2184.jpg

gallery_1_295_16653.jpg

This is the kid pizza, round with just sauce and cheese (the Beacon signature pizza is oblong with wild mushrooms)

gallery_1_295_19605.jpg

These are the best chicken fingers I've ever tasted. Basically they cook a chicken schnitzel and cut it into strips.

gallery_1_295_5961.jpg

Finally, at the end of the meal, as has become our standard practice, my son and I went into the back kitchen with Waldy to make cotton candy.

gallery_1_295_35072.jpg

gallery_1_295_35.jpg

gallery_1_295_47377.jpg


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This past week, I received an email from Beacon advertising another new twist to their dining options. It looks like they now will be offering Sunday Suppers, a "family-style" three-course prix fixe for $44. Dinner will be offered from 5 PM - 9 PM, will feature cast-iron skillet specials from the wood burning oven, and seconds are encouraged.

The kicker is that BYO wine is encouraged - with NO corkage fee.

Another interesting concept from Waldy Malouf. I like the fact that he's trying all sorts of different things (of course, it may mean that the restaurant isn't doing that great) at some pretty gentle price points.


Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

Tasty Travails - My Blog

My eGullet FoodBog - A Tale of Two Boroughs

Was it you baby...or just a Brilliant Disguise?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Here's my take on it (not discussed with Waldy):

Firse, I think Beacon is a profitable business (though this year is tough for anybody who profits from Midtown corporate private events) but has slow times and unused spaces. The kitchen counter, for example, doesn't take any seating away from the restaurant. And presumably Sunday nights on 56th Street are not terribly busy, plus whatever audience Beacon has on Sunday nights is probably driven by nearby hotels rather than local businesses. So Waldy is just being smart about utilizing spaces and times that can bring a few extra bodies into the restaurant, even if they're essentially break-even additions.

In addition, I think Waldy and his cooks need projects to help keep themselves interested. The day-to-day Beacon menu is essentially an upscale chophouse menu with a few twists. That has got to feel repetitive after a time. So these special menus are a useful tool for morale.

Finally, I think some of it is PR driven. Waldy has been (unjustly, in my opinion) skipped over by a lot of media lately, because he and Beacon are not trendy. But he's a significant (and excellent) chef dating back to Hudson River Club and his then-groundbreaking Hudson Valley cookbook. So he's a bit like Alfred Portale in that regard: a large figure in the recent history of New York dining but without many particular news hooks for 2008. So he's creating some news hooks.

P.S. Was at the burger bar yesterday and it was hopping. We arrived right at the end of service (2:30pm) and so did other people. There were people eating at the Burger Bar well past 3pm.


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Doesn't Beacon have a long tradition of doing interesting and unusual things? I think of the beefsteak dinners, etc?


--

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think that's right, however the Beefsteak and Chowder dinners are special events as opposed to ongoing offerings. And I think they mostly attract the existing customer base rather than expand that base.


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The Burger Bar menu is now available at dinnertime, except on Thursday nights. The small-plates menu they were running on the non-Thursday evenings is no longer officially on offer, though they will informally accept orders for tapas-sized portions of most things on the regular menu as well as variants. But so many people wanted burgers that's what they're doing with the counter on the non-Thursday evenings. The burger price is a few dollars higher than at lunchtime.

I also wanted to mention, based on a recent conversation with Waldy, that one reason the burgers taste the way they do is that they're ground in house from a mix of Niman Ranch Certified Natural Black Angus chuck and trimmings from the dry-aged steaks the restaurant serves a la carte.


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Finally got to Beacon, based on Fat Guy's long running recommendation. We thought it was terrific - chophouse to be sure, but comfortable and cheerful and tasty.

Incidentally, we ran into tourists on the way out who balked at the pricing after staring at the menu for a bit. I tried to persuade them to go in anyway and order the burger, but no dice. I shudder to think what else they ended up with in that stretch of town.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
This past week, I received an email from Beacon advertising another new twist to their dining options.  It looks like they now will be offering Sunday Suppers, a "family-style" three-course prix fixe for $44.  Dinner will be offered from 5 PM - 9 PM, will feature cast-iron skillet specials from the wood burning oven, and seconds are encouraged.

I finally made it in with the family for Sunday supper at Beacon. Six of us had a terrifically enjoyable meal.

I'm starting to feel a little bit like Vince Offer -- the guy from the ShamWow commercial -- in my enthusiasm for the special offerings at Beacon. But anyway, here's my pitch.

Sunday supper at Beacon is not only a great meal but also an incredible bargain. Here's how it works:

You start out with a series of four appetizers. Not one choice from a list of four. You get all four.

First in the appetizer progression they bring everybody a small cup of soup. Today it was a warming pumpkin-apple soup with cinnamon croutons.

gallery_1_295_36452.jpg

Then they bring family-style platters of Beacon's signature wood-oven-roasted oysters with shallots, verjus and herbs.

gallery_1_295_21020.jpg

And Waldy's wild-mushroom pizza. And arugula salad with shaved Parmesan and two preparations of potatoes (fingerling potato chips, and slices of steamed fingerling potatoes).

gallery_1_295_27556.jpg

The appetizers (other than the soup) are placed in the middle of the table and you share.

The wild-mushroom pizza and the oysters are constant, while the specifics of the soup and salad can change somewhat from week to week.

BUT THAT'S NOT ALL: You can have more of anything you like. You want more pizza? More oysters? No problem. Just ask and they bring more. Enthusiastically. For free.

You also get a very nice selection of bread and olives. I'm not sure if it's new, or I just never noticed, or if I've been eating at the burger bar so much that I forgot, but Beacon actually has quite a nice bread service, with three choices of sliced bread, all very good. I didn't ask where it was from. I'd slice it thicker, but that's just me:

gallery_1_295_3228.jpg

They also give little bowls of olives.

Every week they have a "skillet special" entree as the centerpiece of the meal. This week it was stout-braised short ribs with Parmesan polenta and onion rings. It's sort of a family-style service, in that the food is placed in the middle of the table. But if four people get the skillet special, they put four skillets in the middle of the table, not one big skillet. So I guess it's family style for a family that doesn't share well.

gallery_1_295_36025.jpg

The short rib portions are huge. They basically braise whole short ribs -- not the short ones you get in the supermarket -- then remove the meat, trim away the fat and sinew, and give you a whole massive chunk of short-rib meat. The bone they put in the serving dish is just a decorative piece of the larger original bone. In the bottom of the bowl is Parmesan polenta with and a reduction of the braising liquid. It's all delicious and very satisfying.

gallery_1_295_42868.jpg

Not that the portion size really matters, given that YOU CAN HAVE SECONDS FOR FREE. Nobody at our table had seconds, but our server reported that the occasional person of tremendous appetites requests seconds and doesn't finish.

Now, the skillet specials are nice and all, but what, you ask, do you do if one person in your party doesn't like them?

NO PROBLEM. Anybody who doesn't want the special can choose from six other entrees: salmon, chicken, risotto, hamburger, tuna burger, or steak (the steak carries a supplement). One in our group had salmon:

gallery_1_295_1765.jpg

For dessert they bring big deconstructed ice-cream sundaes sized to share. There's house-made vanilla ice cream, wood-oven-roasted balsamic-glazed strawberries, cookies, brownies and whipped cream.

gallery_1_295_31813.jpg

I imagine they'll bring you more of that too, if you like, but the issue never came up.

Of course this would not be a great deal were everything not delicious. Everything was delicious. The short-rib dish was one of the best dishes I've had at Beacon, and all the appetizers and sides were great too. It was hard to believe all that costs only $44 per person.

BUT WAIT. THAT'S NOT ALL.

If you act now, through the end of February, Beacon is continuing its Restaurant Week dinner pricing. So the Sunday supper is only $35 per person. And as always at Beacon kids under four eat free. That's right, we fed 5 adults and one three-year-old all the food described above for $175 (rather, that would have been the pre-tax/tip price had we not also ordered various beverages -- the real check was a bit higher than that).

And, as an added incentive, Beacon is allowing BYO wine with no corkage during Sunday supper. So if you have a special bottle, bring it. On top of that, they've assembled a list of 30 wines under $30, specially priced for Sunday. We had beer, though. It just seemed right for today's special.

In addition to being delicious and a great bargain, the Beacon Sunday supper experience is also enjoyable for its relaxed, casual, family atmosphere.

So that you can plan your next few months of eating, here's the schedule of Sunday supper specials through May.

gallery_1_295_64472.jpg

I'm thinking March 8, March 29 and May 3, maybe.

There's a little more info on the Beacon website http://beaconnyc.com/ if you navigate to menus --> a la carte and choose Sunday.


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Looks very interesting and a killer deal, too. Certainly shades of Ad Hoc but more generous. If the food is as good as you say it is, this is one of the more appealing Sunday prix fixe deals out there.

Perhaps I'll try to round up the troops and make it there before February is out.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thank you for continually advocating for Beacon Fat Guy. Your most recent post just prompted me to make a reservation for 2/15. REALLY looking forward to it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks to a friend on eGullet, I was introduced to the Beacon burger lunch special last week. Great burger, great sides, great service. I don't think there's a better bang for the buck in NYC.

I'm looking forward to trying the Sunday dinner and other meals there as well.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Perhaps I'll try to round up the troops and make it there before February is out.

The one cautionary note I'd add here Bryan, knowing your tastes, is that the Sunday supper at Beacon is really a comfort-food meal. There are a lot of nice chefly touches on the various dishes, but it's fundamentally comfort food run through Waldy Malouf's system to make it more elegant. I've found, from reading a lot of your posts, that this may not be exactly the sort of thing that toots your horn. But if you go, I'll be interested to hear your reactions.


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I love me some comfort food for the right price. $35/person definitely sounds like the right price to me. Perhaps Ad Hoc is an unfair comparison given the restaurant's unique place and pedigree, but I loved my meal there. My dining companion and I were the only people in the restaurant that evening to finish two full rounds of main courses, then finish everything else. I hope to repeat the experience at Beacon.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think one of the great things about "comfort food" is that it can be prepared in large quantities and served just like Waldy is doing without any loss in quality. As a matter of fact, it is often the case that food like this is actually better when prepared in large quantities, even a day or two ahead.

There are places that serve twee orders of short ribs, but is that what you really want? One bite? Or a little bit of this and a little bit of that - no...bring on the cast iron pot, and then, if you want some more, bring that on.

Waldy and Beacon certainly are and have been willing to try all sorts of things to keep business happening and to keep his staff employed. Knowing what the business cycle is and what is coming down the road is the mark of a successful business person. Beacon has survived for longer than many other restaurants in this city. And they should be commended for it.


Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

Tasty Travails - My Blog

My eGullet FoodBog - A Tale of Two Boroughs

Was it you baby...or just a Brilliant Disguise?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Quick amendment, based on an email I got: the policy for Sunday dinner is that seconds are encouraged. It is not, however, all you can eat. They may cut you off if you try to have thirds. I never ran up against this issue because we stopped at seconds and didn't even get that far on the entrees.


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thinking to myself, "Aw, what does Fat Guy know?", I decided to try this here Beacon Sunday Night Skillet extravaganza for myself, because they had one this past Sunday that actually had my name on it (well okay, they called it "Duck Confit"- all I could eat).

Let me say that the entire meal was one of the most delicious, and enjoyable restaurant experiences I have ever had!

We did indeed start with the Pumpkin-Apple Soup which was complex and delicious:

gallery_11181_6460_36732.jpg

And then did some of their famous (and highly delicious) mushroom pizza:

gallery_11181_6460_57726.jpg

It was at that point that we got bogged down by the stupefyingly delicious wood-roasted oysters:

gallery_11181_6460_131886.jpg

Of course it's silly to be filling up on oysters when you know that all the duck confit you can eat is waiting, but the oysters were so beguiling and captivatingly delicious, that we had to have many (many) orders of them to savor.

We were also brought (and ate several portions of) a quite-perfect arugula salad with crisped potatoes:

gallery_11181_6460_57669.jpg

I'm addicted to arugula anyway, but this was such a delicious preparation (and went so well with the duck) that I alone ate several orders of it.

Then the duck confit. Some of the best duck confit I have ever had. As tender and as moist (and as flavorful) as the best confit I have ever had, with a magnificent crisp to the outside.

I think it's hard to tell what you're looking at in the photos because the top of the confit is darkly crisped and the skillet is black, so I'll post a few shots of it:

gallery_11181_6460_123903.jpg

(That's three pieces of confit fit into one black skillet, with roasted garlic cloves on top; below are two other shots of the same skillet)

gallery_11181_6460_95245.jpg

gallery_11181_6460_145135.jpg

The service was possibly the nicest and friendliest service I've ever had outside of Michy's in Miami - and there were several people who made it clear that they were there to take care of our every desire - I point this out because we had come for the all-you-can eat extravaganza at the last possible moment of arrival, and delayed the meal so much with all the roasted oysters we kept ordering, that I was genuinely impressed (and touched) when someone came over after I had demolished two of the portions of confit (my partner was done in after his one) to ask if we'd like more. It was sooooo delicious that I debated it, but I realized that the saner thing to was to call it quits after two rather large (and extremely rich) portions.

Although the ice cream Sundae was explained to us, all we could do was pick at a little very delicious vanilla ice cream as we sat for a while, content.

The BYO aspect was fantastic. I had a lot of fun going through my cellar trying to decide what to drink with wood-roasted oysters, and wound up bringing quite a number of bottles of possibly-too-old whites (Riesling, Pinot Gris, Gewurztraminer) that I had hand-carried back from a long trip to Alsace a while ago, and the waiter was great at keeping the labels hidden from my partner who I made guess them (and decide which went best with the oysters). Our fantastic waiter, who very cleverly realized what we were doing and simply brought a tremendous number of empty wineglasses to our table and set them up for us, preferred the Gustav Lorentz Grand Cru "Altenberg de Bergheim" 1995 (not shown).

But for the confit I went right to the big guns and brought a very magnificent half-bottle of the 1986 Sociando-Mallet, (which is drinking beautifully now, and as Robert Parker says, will very clearly go until at least 2040):

gallery_11181_6460_4080.jpg

But the star of the evening was Beacon restaurant, its people, and its food. Waldy Malouf wasn't there, but Sous Chef Joel Orsini presided over a truly magnificent meal - I can't remember the last time I enjoyed a meal that much.


Overheard at the Zabar’s prepared food counter in the 1970’s:

Woman (noticing a large bowl of cut fruit): “How much is the fruit salad?”

Counterman: “Three-ninety-eight a pound.”

Woman (incredulous, and loud): “THREE-NINETY EIGHT A POUND ????”

Counterman: “Who’s going to sit and cut fruit all day, lady… YOU?”

Newly updated: my online food photo extravaganza; cook-in/eat-out and photos from the 70's

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Maybe after Mark left they changed the policy.

I actually told them when I made the reservation - and when I arrived- that I knew you and that you had challenged me to see if I could eat my body weight in duck confit. They were delighted by the idea and said that they had plenty on hand.

But I have to say that it was the quality of the food - every darned course - that was so impressive. Just getting all you can eat of something isn't really a big deal. This was more like the feeling you get at a restaurant with great food that you take progressively smaller and smaller bites because you don't want it to end - and here it doesn't have to. The soup and the pizza were actually show-stopping good, and the oysters were just outrageous - and the idea that we could "just pick four more" was decadent.

Thanks for suggesting this place. I have now found a place that reminds me quite a bit, in taste and in spirit, of a very favorite restaurant in Miami (Michy's) that I miss dearly.

I actually had heard great things about Beacon and always meant to try it - but in gearing up for this meal, I didn't think that each and every course would be as spectacular as it was!

And by the way, I studied the wine list and it looked wonderful - seemed to have lots of delicious bottles at extremely soft prices.


Edited by markk (log)

Overheard at the Zabar’s prepared food counter in the 1970’s:

Woman (noticing a large bowl of cut fruit): “How much is the fruit salad?”

Counterman: “Three-ninety-eight a pound.”

Woman (incredulous, and loud): “THREE-NINETY EIGHT A POUND ????”

Counterman: “Who’s going to sit and cut fruit all day, lady… YOU?”

Newly updated: my online food photo extravaganza; cook-in/eat-out and photos from the 70's

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Sign in to follow this  

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...