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THE BEST: Steak in Manhattan


rich
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The discussion about PL has been going on for months and it's been over- played. Everyone here knows I don't think PL is as good as it once was. Yes, that's just my opinion and I know several of you will disagree - I have no problem with that. As I said, I was a huge PL admirer in the late 60's, 70's and 80's.

But if PL isn't in the mix because it's located in Brooklyn and LI, then what is Manhattan's best steak house?

To me, Sparks wins hands down. The steak, the atmosphere, the bar, the staff and the wine list. That's my choice. I would like to hear others - I'm sure many people have an opposing opinion about this.

Edited by rich (log)

Rich Schulhoff

Opinions are like friends, everyone has some but what matters is how you respect them!

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I like Sparks. I've expressed my view here before: I really can't tell much difference between several of the standard old guard places, which seem to serve beef of similar quality, similarly aged. I choose according to convenience. I'd be interested to hear how wrong I am (as usual).

I was buttressed in the belief that I can actually tell a good steak from a bad one by a recent experience outside New York, where I ate cornfed dry-aged (22-28 days) local steak from a supplier owned by (or affiliated with) the restaurant. I found a superior tenderness and flavor I've not come across in Manhattan for a long time.

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How does Smith & Wollensky's stack up as far as those steakhouses "in Manhattan"?

I enjoy S&W, but I don't think it's meat rises to the level of Sparks. S&W has two nice bars and an excellent Matre' D - Tom.

It's a fun place and they do a great job during wine week (twice a year - alonmg with other the restaurants in their group), but the meat isn't the level of Sparks.

As an aside - wine week starts March 24 - it's a great deal (lunch only).

Edited by rich (log)

Rich Schulhoff

Opinions are like friends, everyone has some but what matters is how you respect them!

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I like Sparks.  I've expressed my view here before: I really can't tell much difference between several of the standard old guard places, which seem to serve beef of similar quality, similarly aged.  I choose according to convenience.  I'd be interested to hear how wrong I am (as usual).

I think one needs to make many trips to really get a good idea of the quality. For example, I've only been to Ben Benson's once, and had a bad steak. While there's no excuse for serving a bad steak, I'd be wrong to conclude that it's a bad steak house.

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My only problem with Sparks is that is more clubby than a place like Jordan's. Once last year I went to Sparks with a companion. Seh ordered the filet and got 2 small overcooked ends. I pointed the problem out to the waiter and he replied that someone had to get them, apparently my date was less important than the martini swilling suits that surrounded us. This was clearly unacceptable given the price level of the dish. I did not quite rise to the level of asking to see the manager as my date was uncomforatble complaining. Later I wrote a letter explaining the situation and never received a reply. Jordan's has always been uniformly good once you get past the odd front staff. I also enjoy the Old Homestead, both for the meat and the atmosphere.

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I also enjoy the Old Homestead, both for the meat and the atmosphere.

Sent back a steak at the Old Homestead - overdone and rather without flavor - and the steak they sent in response was 800% better. Which makes me imagine that its likely good to toss 'round some weight for attention first, but I was indeed impressed by what appeared the second time. Plus, its atmosphere makes the Homestead feel as if Joe Mitchell might be sitting at the next booth.

In contrast, the Striphouse has more of a bordello vibe: a steak house's copious red velvet and mirrors, but here more elegant and au courant at once, and crowded louvre-style with black and white framed photos. After a bottle or two of wine, the Striphouse would seem to readily lend itself to table-top dancing and the can-can. Great place for a party. Good service and at times mediocre meat. Once went with a known-to-the-manager sommelier and the steak was great. Next I returned with an unknown fancypants and found the steak not extrordinary at best.

Sparks, in my opinion, lacks the soul of either, but if you like your steak au jus d' Upper East Side then this may indeed be your best bet.

How does Les Halles measure up? Never had a steak there. Though I'd like to. Right now, for breakfast.

edited for style and content :raz:

Edited by lissome (log)

Drinking when we are not thirsty and making love at all seasons: That is all there is to distinguish us from the other Animals.

-Beaumarchais

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Oopsi i was thinking of Post House, not sparks, re: UES. :blush:

Drinking when we are not thirsty and making love at all seasons: That is all there is to distinguish us from the other Animals.

-Beaumarchais

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I think it's important to acknowledge that the best porterhouse, strip, filet, and rib steaks are not all necessarily obtainable at the same location. Sparks serves a strip. It's probably the best strip, overall, in Manhattan, though I haven't done a recent comparison with what Mitchel London is serving. At the same time, a double-cut strip is almost always preferable -- assuming similar meat quality -- to a regular strip. I think the double-cut strips at both Strip house and, yes, Smith & Wollensky are excellent. Smith & Wollensky is an interesting case because it has quite a range of steaks. The best steaks there are the double-cut strip and the extra-heavily-aged rib that they call by a couple of different names. Usually, you have to ask for it. All of the ribs at all the Stillman-owned steakhouses are very good, actually -- I think they dominate in that category. If you want a filet, the Old Homestead probably has the best. If you want a porterhouse like Luger's serves, go to MarkJoseph. If you want a porterhouse served a different way -- slow-roasted -- go to Craft. There are several non-conforming steaks that appeal to various contingents: there are all the Kobe options around town, there are the more heavily manipulated steaks like the carpet-bagger steak at Dylan, and there are the Certified Angus Prime steaks at Bull & Bear. There are also quite a few non-steakhouses that, like Craft, have superb steaks. In any event, it's a big question and the answer begins with a differentiation of categories and preferences.

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)

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I think it's important to acknowledge that the best porterhouse, strip, filet, and rib steaks are not all necessarily obtainable at the same location.........

This is an excellent point - In fact a critical element in understanding many restaurants, and even cooking traditions. In Delhi, India; there are some restaurants that do certain dishes superbly and that drives their fame and major business. It's like at Peter Lugars; We order the same usual stuff, except in summers I change my libations to stein of beer.

OfCourse there are steaks in non-steakhouses - Cuban fare - Victor's and Argentinian Chimmichuri Grill in Clinton :smile:

I was not excited about Outback in the MidTown-East

anil

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Beacon's "Dry Aged New York Cut Sirloin" is good if you like a less-rich cut. Not great, but very good. Love the crust on it. Just watch out -- the hot plate it's served on keeps cooking it, so a rare steak will end up with a thin layer of medium on the bottom.

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On a purely beef basis, Sparks is likely the best. However, I am not a fan of boneless cuts of beef, so I rarely go to Sparks.

I have to say that my one time to Nebraska was the best Manhattan steak I have had in some time.

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I seem to recall Bourdain mentioning hanger steaks on the menu at Les Halles, but I don't recall having eaten one there. Lissome asked about the steaks at Les Halles. I ate a steak at the downtown location which was unspeakably poor. From memory, the various times I've dined at the Park Ave South location, I've tended to eat trotters, blood sausage, choucroute and the like, rather than steak, and I think that's the way to go at Les Halles. It may have been a different story when they had Arnaud Carre working there as a specialist butcher.

Steven Shaw mentioned the double cut strip at the Strip House. I really enjoyed that, whereas I'd found their regular strip steak really disappointing. Why so much difference? The quantity of fat? The aging?

Edited by Wilfrid (log)
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I am not in any way close to being a steak expert like so many others here, and I don't order steak that often in restaurants. But I do like hanger steak. And while I detest Les Halles for several reasons, their hanger steak is not one of them. As with all things cuisine related, I go by what tastes good to me, and the hanger steak I had at LH was cooked just the way I requested -- medium rare -- and had good flavor.

Park Bistro also serves good hanger steak, though it is not always on the menu. And I recall having an excellent hanger steak at Montparnasse, a French bistro, on E. 51st St. Caliban, a bar on 3rd Ave., used to have a very good French restaurant as part of its operation. The chef, who was French, served a terrific hanger steak -- as well as lots of other very good bistro dishes. And they have a garden out back which was a very pleasant place to eat in nice weather. They gave up the French cuisine operation a couple of years ago. :sad: Now they just serve pub-style food. I haven't tried it.

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I'm surprised I never EVER hear anyone speak of Frankie and Johnny's. I used to go there a lot and it was consistently fabulous. Has it changed, or am I demented?

Edited by elyse (log)
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I know F&J's has Manhattan, Hoboken, and Rye locations. And their steaks -- at least at the Manhattan location -- are in my opinion excellent. But there are a lot of excellent steaks out there: the aforementioned Nebraska has excellent steaks, as do several other places. Here, though, we're talking about the best. That pretty much rules out the merely excellent in any given category.

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)

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Okay: the best prime rib I've had was at The Post House.

That raises the question whether prime rib is steak. Prime rib is really a roast, from which you're served a slice. In other words, the two large surfaces have not been exposed directly to the heat source. The steak equivalent would be a grilled/broiled rib steak.

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)

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Had an excellent Newport cut at Inside in Greenwich Village about six weeks ago.

Any takers on S&W next week?

Edited by rich (log)

Rich Schulhoff

Opinions are like friends, everyone has some but what matters is how you respect them!

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The Palm doesn't rate, in my opinion.

That's interesting. I tend to agree and put Palm in the same category as PL. Not in quality (I think PL is much better), but referring to a place that is not nearly as good as it was years ago.

Rich Schulhoff

Opinions are like friends, everyone has some but what matters is how you respect them!

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Can anyone help with the logic behind Fat Bloke's contention that the best examples of each cut are probably to be found in different restaurants. I don't doubt the truth of that for a moment, but I am wondering why. I am assuming (rightly?) that a restaurant gets all its steaks from the same source, and that it applies a consistent aging policy - aging filets for maybe ten days, strips for twenty days, and so on. So why isn't the restaurant using the best supplier and keeping the meat correctly the best across the board? I should have thought that if a kitchen knows how to cook a strip, they know how to cook a rib eye too?

Am I missing something?

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