I met up here with two friends for a meal after hearing a lot of good reviews about the joint. I wasn’t really sure I should call this place a steakhouse, and when I spoke with owner John McDonald he confirmed my thoughts. The idea, according to John, it seems, is not to pigeon hole the place as being a traditional steakhouse (usually just attracting an all male crowd, for the most part), but, rather, a meat-centric restaurant with a menu that appeals to all kinds of diners. Not only that, but he and his business partner/chef Josh Capon have endeavored to put together a unique menu, with cuts that you don’t often see in other restaurants, if ever. Other restaurants they are involved with include Lure Fishbar, Burger & Barrel Winepub and El Toro Blanco.
Given the above discussion about the term “steakhouse,” I decided not to rate this joint on my traditional 100-point scoring system (though I will include it on the list for convenience purposes). Instead, I will respect the owner’s concept and write it up like I do other restaurants. It just happens to be a wonderful meatopia!
The bar is a nice marble stretch, wide, lots of room, and has high-top seating behind, along the street. Easily a fun place to hang out. There’s also some lounge seating and regular tables beside it. This is a neat spot because every so often you can steal a glance into the kitchen through the swinging door next to the bar. There’s plenty of room to walk in and eat in the bar/lounge area if you can’t score a rez in the main dining room; just try to beat the crowd.
I started with a “Sagely Seventy-Five,” which was a really refreshing gin drink with lime, pear bitters and garnished with a sage leaf. No: I did not grow a vagina. I actually love gin drinks, mixed or straight up. It smelled and tasted exactly how I expected. The bartender, Alison, did a great job with the mix too.
I swiped a taste of my buddy’s “Loneliest Monk” as well, which was a really nice rye, chartreuse, amaro and orange bitters concoction. Very classy.
The bar, by the way, was a warm and comfortable place. Lots of elbow room too, which is nice. The bartenders and patrons were all very sociable. In fact, we had the good fortune of sitting next to a gent who is close friends with Chef Josh, so he gave us some pointers about what to get from the menu.
After our cocktails, we took a seat at a table next to the bar, in the lounge. Our waitress, Melanie, had a really deep knowledge and appreciation for beer. She made some excellent suggestions throughout the meal, the best of which, I thought, was this really effervescent Belgian beer that packed a ton of flavor without being hoppy or bitter. I fucking hate IPA shit, so this was excellent for me:
We then had the great pleasure of meeting the man of the hour, Chef Josh Capon. He was a really fun, down-to-earth guy, cracking jokes with us, being vulgar and ridiculous (like we are), but at the same time making us feel not only welcome, but like we were kings. He was awesome: warm, friendly, easy to talk to, and it felt like we’ve known him forever. Check out this incredible display of meats he brought to the table, explaining each cut and how they are prepared:
The first thing to come out was a plate of warm, sliced rosemary focaccia and some slices of soppressata. The bread was savory and herby, and the meat was soft and melty. I thought it was very cool and thoughtful that they put enough for each of us to try our own: three slices of each. That kind of attention to the diners does not go unnoticed by me. You’ll see the same thing was done for other dishes.
Next was a little plate of bone marrow and oxtail rice balls: again one for each of us. These are called “arancini,” and they were spiced with lemon zest. I think at some point “put my balls in your mouth” was uttered by at least one of us, if not Chef Josh. The man had us cracking up hysterically at the table with his wit and outgoing personality. These were amazing little bites, by the way. Flash freeze these and put them on the shelves of stores in the frozen food section and you could make a killing!
One of my buddies was too slow in putting Josh’s rice ball into his mouth, so there was a little bit of a threat happening with a tomahawk chop:
Next, Josh brought out a sample of the crispy polenta for us to try. I enjoyed this. It had a nice texture with bold earthy flavors from the mushroom and shaved cheese on top.
I think the star of the amuses (if you can call them that), was the dry aged wagyu meatball. When explaining it to us, we were all blown away, jaws dropped and salivating like wolves at the scent of fresh blood. I think Josh even said something like, “Yeah, it’s great. Basically, if you don’t like this meatball, then you can go fuck yourself.” HAHA! And he’s absolutely right. If you go to this restaurant and you try this meatball and DON’T like it, then I will say you can go fuck yourself. You don’t need to hear it from the man himself; you can take my word on it. It is amazing. Everything from the meat itself, to the consistency of the ball, to the herbs folded in, and to the sauce were all done with unrivaled culinary prowess. And I’m a hard man to please when it comes to meatballs!
Okay so now let me tell you what we actually ordered for the apps. Yeah: all that stuff above was just to wet our beaks! Wait – I just typed out “wet our beaks.” Who do I think we are, a bunch of fuckin’ Don Fanuccis from The Godfather?!??
Anyway, we started with the broiled oysters with garlic, romano cheese, breadcrumbs and parsley. Delicious! But watch your mouth because these muthafuckas are HOT! I typically don’t like cooked oysters, but these were done really nicely. They were briny and soft, properly cooked, yet crisp from the breadcrumbs. A great texture contrast.
Next app: fois gras and chicken liver parfait. This was so rich and decadent, yet not heavy or filling. It was served with an onion jam and spread across toasted brioche. Chef Josh even spread the delicious shit on our bread for us when he served it. Amazing service! This is a must-try dish if you are into this sort of thing. All three of us absolutely loved it.
Our third and final app was the Chinese BBQ pork belly lettuce wraps. Fresh, savory, light, bright and packed with porky goodness. The touch of acidic pickled veggies on the side, fresh cilantro and lime, and sliced chili peppers really made these bitches pop. So simple, yet so complex: a conundrum.
For our mains, my bitch-ass friends wanted to share two entrees rather than three. Whatever. We ordered the Bowery Steak, which is the first time I have ever seen anything like it on a menu. It’s essentially a pinwheel-wrapped fat cap from a rib eye, fashioned into a circle/spiral that’s roughly 10oz, if I had to guess, trussed, and cooked like a proper cut of steak. They serve it on top of creamy whipped potatoes, and top it with a chimichurri-like salsa verde.
The owner, John, explained to me how the dish was conceptualized one night when coming home from a wedding that he and Josh had attended. They prepped that night, and the next day they brought it to life. Bravo, gents. You’ve made me very happy. This steak was fantastic, unique, innovative, tasty and perfectly cooked. Medium rare inside with a nice crust on the edges. Mmm.
We also tried the cheeseburger, which is said to be made with 40-day dry-aged beef. This baby has been gaining some serious notoriety in burger circles, so I was excited to try it. It comes topped with griddled onions, raclette cheese and tomato aioli.
Unfortunately, splitting it three ways left me wanting more, much more. It’s tough to make a solid review off just a bite or two. I did notice, though, that it was a bit salty, and could certainly have benefited from a cool, crunch element like lettuce. Here’s my pathetically small third of a burger. Thanks boys… Next time I’m ordering my own.
The burger also came with fries, and a little tray of pickled tomato, okra and cucumber. The fries were really nice. Beautiful golden brown, crispy, herby and flavorful. I suppose we should have topped the burger with some of the pickles to get that needed crunch element, but digging into them on the side was nice too.
We also took down an order of garlic spinach. This was really flavorful without being too overpowering on the garlic angle. Unlike typical sauteed spinach items, this wasn’t laden with oil either. It was fresh and light. Definitely a good choice.
We were going to skip dessert, but Chef Josh brought out a nice trio of dolce de leche ice cream balls. This was a nice snack to take in with a glass of amaro, as we did.
That about does it. If you’re wondering what the damage was, it really wasn’t too bad at all, especially given all the samples that Chef Josh brought out to the table for us to try. Here’s Sir William Price, in all his glory. Very fair, if you ask me.
On a second visit, I had the pleasure of meeting Chef Paul, who fired up this amazing 38oz cote de boeuf, which I think is probably the best large-format rib eye I’ve ever had in my life. It had a nice seasoned crust that crisped up nice under the broiler. Also – unlike most thick cuts of beef, it wasn’t overcooked on the outside and undercooked on the inside. it was just right. A perfect medium rare.
Alright so I am forcing this into the review system despite the fact that they don’t claim to be a “steakhouse.” Let’s be honest – this shit is a steak joint!
Bowery Meat Company Overall Score: 95*
Choice of Cuts & Quality Available: 10
Portion Size & Plating: 9
Specials & Other Meats: 10
Appetizers, Sides & Desserts: 10
Seafood Selection: 10
Some new pics as of 5/5/2016, when I tried the chateaubriand and tomahawk steaks for two. Both were incredible. This place never fails to impress.
BOWERY MEAT COMPANY
9 E. 1st St.
New York, NY 10003