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Fat Guy

Nebraska Beef

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So, my friend Ken and I were up at the auto body shop on 127th Street getting a Bondo repair on the front right fender of Ken's Land Cruiser and we got to talking to this guy who claimed to be the owner of the premises. As the conversation unfolded he mentioned that he also owns another auto body shop, a dry cleaning establishment, and two restaurants.

"Where are your restaurants?"

"I got one by the Staten Island Ferry, and one in Da Bronx." (Yes he said "Da Bronx.")

"Where in the Bronx?"

"Up near 187th."

"So, like, near Arthur Avenue, Roberto's, and all that?"

"Yeah, Roberto, he eats in my restaurant."

"And what kind of restaurants are your restaurants?"

"Steakhouses. The best."

"Well, when you say the best, how do you believe your steakhouses compare to Peter Luger?"

"My steaks are better than Luger's. My rib is 28-days dry-aged, the best, and my porterhouse is four inches thick."

He gave us business cards. One of them read:

Nebraska

15 Stone Street

(212) 952-0620

As soon as the Land Cruiser was operational, we were there.

Stone Street, for those of you who haven't ever worked near Wall Street, is one of the little streets that only run for a few blocks down by the Staten Island Ferry. The Nebraska restaurant has a heavy wooden door that doesn't look as though it's going to open, and you enter into a suitably seedy bar. The two young ladies working behind the bar are, well, let's just say they are to the taste of a guy who runs an auto-body and dry-cleaning empire. One of them was wearing a tight stretchy sleeveless turtleneck with an inverted triangle cutout exposing her cleavage. You get the idea. (Tommy read to the end before you go.)

The tables in the back have a speakeasy feel to them, and the waiters are all Italian and somewhat friendly. At the table next to us was a group of boorish American trader-types entertaining an almost-as-dim-witted group of British trader-types. "You gotta understand, baseball is 90% about the pitching."

The menu is steakhouse generic, with an emphasis on the rib steak, which is called simply, "The Steak," described -- accurately I believe -- as a 28-day dry-aged 32-ounce rib steak. The secondary emphasis is on the porterhouse, which we measured at 3.25 inches thick (yes we brought measuring apparatus -- how could we not?). That's not four inches, but it's the thickest porterhouse I've seen in a restaurant, ever.

Up until the moment at which we encountered the steaks, we had been treating the whole outing sort of as a lark. But the arrival of the steaks changed the tone of the meal. This place serves very serious steaks.

The meat has all the attributes of properly dry-aged beef: Firm but tender, with that characteristic beefy mineral taste. I'm getting to the point where I can identify by taste which steak places use which suppliers, and I'd hazard a guess these are the same DeBragga & Spitler steaks being used at most of the best steak places. But these cuts are far more generous than what I'm accustomed to seeing (priced slightly higher, too), and the cooking is quite skillful. They're cooked at extreme temperatures so the exterior is quite charred. Not my favorite way to eat a steak, but in the steakhouse genre it's considered correct, and it can be nice on a very thick steak because the ratio of char to beef is so heavily weighted in favor of the beef. Clearly, the porterhouse was rested before being carved (very close to the bone), because the juices didn't run all over the plate. No butter sauce or anything like that -- just beef. Also, the kitchen was very precise in terms of achieving the requested temperatures. I'd give the porterhouse a slight edge over the rib, but of course it's a bit silly to compare those two cuts. Each is excellent for what it is.

The porterhouse is not better than the Peter Luger porterhouse. Sorry. But it is bigger. And it is aged and cooked in a way that I prefer. Luger's ages to emphasize tenderness and then compensates for reduced flavor with the butter-and-blood sauce. I like a steak aged drier, longer, and firmer, and without so much butter. I'd love to see a piece of Luger's incomparable beef handled that way. So I wasn't exactly pining for Peter Luger, even though I know Luger's serves better beef.

All the side dishes sucked (though the appetizer salads were better than average). Beer is bottled only, not a good selection. The bread is lame. The wine list is overpriced and unimaginative, though not entirely terrible. There's a bizarre relish tray placed on the table with the bread, containing sort-of-hot peppers swimming in bad olive oil. I believe you're supposed to dip your bread in this concoction, though I'm not sure why.


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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Just curious, but why did you go all the way to the other end of Manhattan when you were much closer to the Arthur Ave area location? (60 blocks vs more than 100) Also, what was the price?

And, does anyone know if there is actually a Roberto running Roberto's? (BTW - we've been there 3 times and LOVE this restaurant, it's worth going to the Bronx just to go there and get some pignoli cookies from the Madonna bakery.)

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In terms of mileage, I doubt one was significantly closer than the other, especially given that our terminus was to be our homes on East 93rd Street. Remember that Bronx and Manhattan streets are not always in line with one another and that getting to Arthur Avenue requires East-West travel across a large part of the Bronx as well as the obvious North-South. In terms of convenience, the Bronx is much more of a production because you're at the mercy of various bridge bottlenecks as well as the brutal traffic on Fordham Road (assuming you take the Deegan), whereas there's virtually no traffic on the FDR Drive heading downtown at night. But, logistics issues aside, these very bad men tried to blow up all of lower Manhattan last year so when I get the chance I try to spend money down there.

I think the 32 ounce rib steak was around $37 and the porterhouse for two was maybe $68, but I didn't look closely. I just got the impressionistic sense that all the prices were within the normal range for New York steakhouses though perhaps towards the high end of that range because the cuts were so big.

Yes, Roberto runs Roberto's. Used to be two names, but his brother or cousin or whatever moved back to Italy so now it's just Roberto's.


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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Thanks, all makes sense now. (Not very articulate right now cause I just noticed how many posts this site has generated in so short a time and am flabergasted!)

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The two young ladies working behind the bar are, well, let's just say they are to the taste of a guy who runs an auto-body and dry-cleaning empire.

They may be his daughters.  Does the gentleman in question know where you live?

Speaking of things, um, Sopranish, does Nebraska serve decent spinach sautéed with garlic?  That, appetizer salads, and large, serious steaks could make for a good downscale low-carb binge lunch.


"To Serve Man"

-- Favorite Twilight Zone cookbook

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I believe there was a choice between creamed and sauteed spinach, but we chose creamed spinach. It was quite poor. It was clearly made from fresh spinach, but it was cooked in such a way as to approximate canned spinach in taste.


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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Tonight I attempted to go to Nebraska Beef and discovered that NY closed their doors for tax reasons. I felt like crying... :sad:

Then I walked over to MarkJoseph and got more disappointed, however they're still open for business.


:D

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FWIW, the Bronx location (1 block west of Arthur Avenue) looked yesterday like it was still in business--no ominous signs in the window.

:smile:

Jamie


See! Antony, that revels long o' nights,

Is notwithstanding up.

Julius Caesar, Act II, Scene ii

biowebsite

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I like Nebraska a lot, and I'll find out what the deal is with the downtown closing. Unlike Steven, I like the peppers in oil, the side dishes, and the bartenders, who are mostly ex-strippers, and all the more likable for it...all the food at Nebraska is of the very highest quality. I really think it's underrated, and am grateful to Steven for turning me on to it.

Josh


Mr-Cutlets.com: your source for advice, excerpts, Cutlets news, and links to buy Meat Me in Manhattan: A Carnivore's Guide to New York!

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I've been meaning to visit Nebraska Beef (15 Stone St btwn Broad & Whitehall) for a while now, as I live only ten minutes' walk away. The first trouble was that I couldn't find the place. Stone Street is in two segments, and I kept looking for it on the cobblestone segment between William St and Coenties Slip. Once you get to the other half of Stone St, Nebraska Beef is fairly conspicuous with its huge orange sign.

Many of the various restaurant guide websites misname the place. It's not "Nebraska Steakhouse," but "Nebraska Beef – A Steakhouse." The menu's signature item is simply called "The Steak," a 32 oz bone-in ribeye dry-aged for 28 days that's about as thick as any ribeye I've seen anywhere. It's a wonderful piece of beef, and Nebraska cooks it expertly, with a deep char on the outside and a juicy medium rare interior. I was unable to finish it, but the steak made great leftovers the next night.

I was impressed with the prices at Nebraska Beef. That enormous ribeye is only $37.95 — obviously not a budget item, but there are plenty of steakhouses that would charge more. There's also a 7 oz filet on the menu for around $20, and if the quality is anywhere near the ribeye, it's a great deal for someone who doesn't want a huge steak.

Even by steakhouse standards, the decor is of the Plain Jane variety, but service was friendly and efficient. They are open only on weeknights, as in that part of the Financial District there is hardly any foot traffic on weekends. On Wednesday evening, when I tried it, I think there were more people in the bar than were seated at the tables.

There are four steakhouses in the area: MarkJoseph, Flames, Bobby Van's, and Nebraska. On this showing, Nebraska has the best ribeye of the bunch, while I prefer the strip at Flames. MarkJoseph has the superb Peter Luger-style Canadian Bacon and an excellent Porterhouse. I'm not sure where Bobby Van's fits in, except that it's the most crowded of the bunch.

I'm looking forward to another ten-minute trip to Nebraska.


Edited by oakapple (log)

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Just wait til you try the beef Nebraska doesn't export to New York!


I always attempt to have the ratio of my intelligence to weight ratio be greater than one. But, I am from the midwest. I am sure you can now understand my life's conundrum.

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I was unable to finish it, but the steak made great leftovers the next night.

You had leftovers for dinner? You ate at home? Now that's worth a review all its own. :laugh:

I'm headed in that area in about two weeks - I'll give it a try for lunch. Thanks for the review.


Rich Schulhoff

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

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I can't believe it was February of 2002 when I went to this place for the first (and only) time. That's more than four years ago. New York has such an embarrassment of riches when it comes to good steakhouses, and good restaurants in general, that it's impossible to stay current on all of them. I'd like to go back, but when?


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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