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Quality Meats


adamru
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I never have a reason to go against the goodness that is the Strip House but I was in the mood for something new and indulgent Saturday night, having given up eating anything worth writing about for all of lent and so saturday night I went to Quality Meats at 57 West 58th Street, hidden away by lots of scaffolding and sleeping homeless people.

The restaurant looks good. Dim lighting, bare bulbs hanging from meat hooks in a tasteful way, leather tile walls, hardwood ceilings, and a tiny room by the bathrooms with a plush leather chair, table with telephone, and anima's head mounted on the wall. If the meat were on display the place would look like a Francis Bacon painting come to life. In a good way.

We were seated upstairs which seats as many as the first floor does - maybe 40 on each floor. After being seated, my girlfriend used the bathroom and two different people came over to ask if I was dining alone despite the fact there were two menus on the table. When she returned we were asked what we'd like to drink - there's no cocktail menu but we did then ask for a wine list - and the list also contains beers. I had an IPA and the one interesting thing about the descriptions of the beers is that they listed the region they came from and a description of the label on the bottle - mine was from San Diego and the menu read it had a picture of a gargoyle on it to keep evil spirits away - but it told nothing about the actual beer. The wines by the glass were poured from the bottle and the beers arrived in a full glass but were not poured in front of us which is I suppose why they describe the bottle image, so you can picture it while you drink it.

Food. The amuse was two thin slices of a radish with a dollop of sour cream.

We passed on the appetizers, more interested in trying all the sides. We ordered the corn creme brulee, the creamed spinach souffle and the crispy potatoes with my girlfriend's trio of filets and my 24 ounce rib eye. They don't tell you what the trio of filets are but we were optimistic.

To pass the time til our food's arrival, we were served a bread basket of five rolls in a pan with melted butter and seasoning atop them. They were warm moist fresh excellent. Next came a waiter who made our tableside steak sauce. (I just read the mention of this in New York's magazine and felt like sharing.) He wheels over a table atop of which is a wooden box with glass canisters, fresh herbs and small bowls of ingredients. He announced what he was doing, poured, mashed and snipped, and put the heavy marble bowl of sauce on our table. It would have been nice to have explained or described what he was doing.

The food arrived. The corn creme brulee was like a warm corn pudding, not thick but solid and as good as any creamed corn I've tried. The spinach souffle was a lump of creamed spinach. It's fair creamed spinach but not the Strip House's. The cripsy potatoes were great. (Note: They don't serve mashed.) The potatoes were maybe one giant potatoe's worth of quarter inch thick slices that came in a hot skillet and were topped with hot butter, rosemary and thyme at the table. The vegetable sides are $9, the potatoes are $7. With this we were not disappointed.

The steaks. I ordered mine rare, my girlfriend medium rare. Mine came medium rare but it was fine. It was probably as good as any rib eye I'd buy at Whole Foods and make for myself at a fraction of the price. It was $44 I think. Of the 24 oz., it was about 16 oz. bone. The bone was about 16" long and hung off the dish. My girlfriend received a sad looking filet. She sent it back, the waitress admitted she entered our order wrong and apologized. We had no complaints, we enjoyed the sides and she shared in mine til hers arrived anew. It shortly arrived very rare but we were hungry and curious and they got it close enough. The trio of filets is three filets about 4 oz. each. One is topped with crab meat and bernaise sauce, one with a thick bbq sauce - the only disappointing one as the sauce fills a good part of the plate - and the third if a beef wellington with a round puff pastry atop it. Two out of three ain't bad. It was $42 and far more filling than my rib eye. And from the look of the plain filet, the trio seemed the best value to order.

The manager came over before my girlfriend's dish arrived to apologize and either buy us another round or comp our dessert, we opted for the latter. The manager along with the hostesses appear to be the youngest people working there and the manager the most appropriately dressed for a wild night of clubbing. Her offer of a free dessert was great. When she came over later, mid-meal and said to us "I saw a face. Are you choking?" well that just seemed weird and wrong. If one of us was choking, we'd like to think the other would do something about it. For the rest of the night she kept watching us. Very strange.

Dessert was great. There are pints of ice cream available for $10, scoops for $6, a long list of flavors and a short list of sauces - chocolate, caramel or mixed berry. There's also a selection of personal pies for $10. We opted for the bourbon pecan chocolate chunk pie and a scoop of the coffee doughnut ice cream. This was a scoop of coffee ice cream topped with a small chocolate donut frosted and beneath the ice cream was crushed pieces of donut. Awesome. The pie too was one of the best and most original steakhouse desserts I've ever had. A small pie the size of maybe a well-portioned slice and a half it came in a skillet topped with small dollops of whipped cream and crust points. The pie itself was all filling no crust which just made it that much more enjoyable. Also there was an obscene amount of bourbon in it to the point it was numbing. This we felt was a good thing. I couldn't taste any chocolate in it though.

Our waitress who hid in the background for the rest of the meal after getting our order wrong came with the check which had the dessert in the total. She was unaware it was comped and came back soon with it corrected. A glass of wine, a beer, a rib eye, a filet trio, three sides, tax, $140. With dessert it would have been $156.

We're about the experience as much as the food and we had a great time. An over-protective manager, surly saucemaker bad waitress just make for a better story to tell about a meal later on so it was worth the price. But food-wise, we'd go back for everything we ate except for the steaks, which would unfortunately defeat the purpose.

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  • 2 months later...

Quality Meats joins the sub-genre of luxury steakhouses, a niche occupied by itself, BLT Steak, BLT Prime, and Craftsteak. Characteristic of the category, the decor is significantly more upscale and chick-friendly than the typical steakhouse, the wine list more serious, the side dishes more carefully thought out, and the prices are several dollars more per entree than the already expensive standard set by NYC steakhouses.

My friend and I gave Quality Meats a try last night. We found it superior to Craftsteak, although with a few reservations. The restaurant offers a 64 oz. double bone-in rib steak for $110. We're both fans of the ribeye, so we gave it a try. This was enormous, sliced tableside, with more of a "prime rib" taste than usual for a solo ribeye steak. We asked for a preparation between medium and medium rare, which the kitchen executed perfectly. We brought the leftovers home.

The amuse bouche was a deviled egg, which struck us as unusual, but the kitchen did a fine job with it. They also sent out freshly baked dinner rolls, which were sinfully good. For appetizers, my friend had a salad, while I ordered the bone marrow ($9), which was excellent. While we awaited our steak, a server came over and prepared home-made steak sauce tableside. For side dishes, we ordered the crispy potatoes ($7), which came in a hot pan, over which garlic butter was poured at the table. The effect was of upscale potato chips. An order of grilled asparagus ($8) was wonderful. To go along with this, I found a very reasonable pinot noir. The total for two, before tip, was $215, which for a meal of this quality in New York was quite reasonable.

If the story ended there, I'd give Quality Meats a solid three stars. But there were a number of glitches with the service. When we asked for the double ribeye, we initially did not want appetizers, as we knew we were in for something huge. Our server warned us that the ribeye would take 90 minute to prepare, and asked if we wanted to reconsider the appetizers. We were baffled as to how a steak could take 90 minutes, but we took her word for it and ordered appetizers. In the meantime, our steak appeared 35–40 minutes later.

We would also like to have been told that the steak came with about a pound of mushrooms and glazed onions, in which case we wouldn't have ordered two side dishes on top of that. Lastly, we were subjected to unctuous upselling at dessert time. We were full at that point, but the server tried to break our resistance: "Are you sure you don't want any dessert? Perhaps an ice cream to share?" On an already expensive bill, this bordered on offensive. We held our ground, but it was annoying nonetheless.

For a restaurant of this size, the noise level was manageable. The AvroKO décor is spectacular, but the tables are small and close together. Indeed, there was not room on our table for everything we had ordered, and our server had to commandeer the next table over, which fortunately was not yet occupied. I don't know what they would have done had it been a full house.

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Soundsd like this could be a pretty good place if going into it with the knowledge learned here.

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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  • 1 month later...
  • 5 months later...

We have recently dined at a number of NYC steakhouses, including Craftsteak, Keen's, and Wolfgang's. Though Keen's had better steak, the overall experience was the best at Quality Meats.

First, the setting is nice, and I liked the room. Though we were seated downstairs, the decor is such we never felt that it was a drawback being without a window. Nicely done. And most important--the tables are spaced nicely apart. We were not in the sardine can environment of Keen's, which I always find dampens my experience there.

For the food--it was terrific. I started with the caesar salad, which was quite nice with lovely anchovies--not the "salt lick" kind, but 'real' anchovies. My only complaint was the romaine lettuce which was still in a bunch rather than the individual leaves separated, a choice the chef has made but one I would not have selected. Still, quite good. My partner had the charcuterie, which looked at good as it tasted. It had 6 meats on it--proscuitto, salami, coppa, bresaola, spicy sopressata, and cacciatoriai. It was great and reminded me of Otto but without the chaos.

But the steak! The steak! We ordered the 2 bone rib steak, carved tableside. Wonderful! It was perfectly prepared to order, medium rare. It had a beautiful char on the outside, and was rare on the inside, just as we had ordered it. Had that nice dry aged taste and tenderness. Wonderful; I'm still thinking about it. My partner had the rib eye and loved it as much as our steak. His had the same char on the outside with a huge bone in it!

For sides, we had the cippolini onions which were great, I thought. My partner had the gnocchi, which he enjoyed but I found served with too much sauce. There were three of us, and our friend ordered the mashed potatoes, which were among the best I've had at a steakhouse.

We elected to BYOB and called ahead to ensure this was ok. They thanked me for having called ahead, said it was fine, and expressed their encouragement to give the server an additional $10, which we were happy to do. The Bordeaux we brought was served properly and happily.

Our server and her assistant were friendly, informative and engaging. We found service on par with the food.

I left thinking "This is what Tom Collichio wished he had invented for Craftsteak." Smith and Wollensky has a real winner on its hands, here.

Edited by DutchMuse (log)
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Hmm. You mean that you tipped the server $10 extra in lieu of, or in addition to, corkage?

Also, would you say this is a good BYO place due to a less-than-stellar wine list, or that the selections are perfectly fine but that it may be worth toting along a "showcase wine"?

Mayur Subbarao, aka "Mayur"
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I believe there is normally a $10/bottle corkage fee (at least that's my recollection) but in this instance they didn't charge a corkage fee. We ended up tipping an extra $10 for the server and $10 for the assistant.

They have a perfetly fine list. More new world than old world; certainly a better list than Lugar's. But we brought a 1996 Lynch Bages that wasn't on the list.

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  • 4 months later...

I have been bragging about this place....even encouraging the standard bearers of Collichio's place (Craftsteak) to break from tradition and go there. No more! Started with me calling to confirm the corkage policy...the hostess put me on hold and a higher up came on the phone, speaking as a school marm...."Sir, we have changed the policy...only wines not on the list, $35 per wine, but only with the prior approval of the food & beverage manager") (never mind he wasn't there tonight)...but even that didn't bother me. I was fine with ordering off the list. Looking forward to a terrific night....when we got there, the waiter was extremely impatient; when I asked for the list of gins, he reeled off Tanquaray, Plymouth; Hendrick's; I said "I think there's one from San Francisco on your list" to which he rolled his eyes, left, came back and said no. I asked for the sommelier....he said "Yes....we have one... # 209" or whatever the number was....ordered that. Several steps further, the waiter kept rolling his eyes; the table to our right sent their steaks back as improperly cooked; the table to the left had brought a bottle of wine and was unceremoniously denied....until they pressed it, then reluctantly allowed. Major disappointment.__________________

Edited by DutchMuse (log)
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Don't be so quick to dismiss the effect of a poor server on the experience. There were many FOH flops, from the 'attitude' conveyed regarding BYOB, to being seated, and then the rolling of the eyes of the waiter.

Food was good....no disappointments there though both people at the table to my right sent their steaks back.

But who wants to go to a steakhouse where the food is "good" (not profound) where one has such an ill-feeling about the whole experience?

This is a huge deviation from the way I used to experience this restaurant; hence my disappointment.

Edited by DutchMuse (log)
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Yes.....indeed you are correct....but the FOH issues seemed to occur at every level. Let's hope this was a very odd abberation. But as my partner pointed out to the manager....to the tables to both our left, right and including our own, 100% of the people were dissatisfied. But you're right....I should go back and see with an open (and hopeful) mind.

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I wanted to give a follow-up report. When I had left, I asked the GM to call me at his convenience, and they said he would be away for a day or two. Dutifully, he called today, and I related to him the above experience. He was very receptive and seemed very much to listen and noted that they had planned for a slow night (I think it was July 4 maybe when I ate there?) and they were slammed...anyway...I was satisfied with the conversation and in the spirit of Nathan's comment, I will return and hopefully the experience will return to the 'normal' QM hospitality I had experienced before.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Went back to Quality Meats as a follow-up, having phoned the GM first as he had asked us to do. They showed a very classy response....they were ready for us, gave us a nice table with a very capable and friendly waiter, and clearly wanted to make ammends. The food was good (as it was before; just service issues before). So....I appreciated their nice response and their clear efforts to make things right.

A couple of things--I really observed a difference in comfort between sitting at a table for 4 (with space around it) versus being 2 people seated in the back against the wall. Its crowded, more loud, and seemingly more harried wait staff there. Best to go as a party of 4 or more to have more comfortable seating. Makes a big difference.

They no longer encourage BYOB, but that's fine with me. Their policy is their policy. I did speak to the wine director and suggested more Bordeaux wines on the list. He thanked me but mentioned their orientation is to promote American wines; still, he listened.

So.....I appreciate the GM's efforts and they clearly want to cultivate repeat customers. I'll definitely return.

Edited by DutchMuse (log)
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