This was my second time eating at Nick & Stef’s. The first time was a few years back, before I started reviewing. My wife and I went for an anniversary and the chef came out to ask how our meal was. I remember the steak was good that time (I had the strip). This time my wife had a coupon for $50 off the bill for her bday (sign up for their newsletters), so that was a recipe for return. Unfortunately this place is going to be closing for several months while MSG is renovated, so go while you can. Renovations may even stretch on into 2013 if certain things pan out.
NOTE: Nick & Stef’s is finally back! My wife and I went for a third visit on 02/25/14 and there were some improvements. See the below bolded items.
I almost want to give this place a 10, but there was just a slight lack of flavor as I got toward the bone side of my ribeye. This is kind of splitting hairs, I realize… It was juicy and cooked properly, just lacked a little seasoning in that deep tissue. Otherwise it was fantastic. The ribeye had a nice thick and delicious fat cap, and it was butchered well. There was a nice sear on the outside and the meat was cooked perfectly even all the way through. However I didn’t taste any characteristic gaminess that I would have expected with aged and certified angus. I might have liked a bit of that.
This time I remembered to take a photo. Since I had the rib eye and the strip already, I went with the filet. It was definitely still a solid 9 for flavor, despite much of it being nearly a step overcooked. Bravo for consistency of flavor!
They serve this little mound of joy with your choice of sauce. I had the horseradish cream, which is thankfully presented on the side, though it was great with the french fries (which came with the roasted chicken):
Choice of Cuts & Quality Available: 9
Nick & Stef’s offers dry-aged, certified black angus steaks. This official certification is meant to guarantee consistent, high quality beef with superior taste. They have a sirloin (meant to be the strip), a T-bone (similar to a porterhouse for one but with a much smaller filet side), a porterhouse for two, and a ribeye that fall under this certification. They also offer two sizes of the filet (pussy and pussier). In addition they have a hanger steak, braised short ribs, and some alternative chops like lamb and veal on the menu as well.
Portion Size & Plating: 8
Portion sizes are listed as follows: 14oz. for the sirloin/strip; 20oz. T-bone; 42oz. porterhouse; 24oz. ribeye (bone-in); and 8 or 12oz. filets. These are good sizes, but the sirloin is a bit on the smaller side (though it is boneless).
The steaks are an average price for NYC. This place is close to MSG, so I was thinking it might even be more expensive than it actually was. The steaks range from $36 (small filet) to $47 (per person charge for the porterhouse). Our bill was under $200 after tax, tip and all deductions. The martini at the bar cost just under $16 (I threw down a $20 since Lawrence knows a friend and fellow meat man, Carlos), so that ups it a bit. Overall a fair price.
I bumped the price score to a full 10. Again we were able to use a $50 birthday promo, since my wife’s birthday was in January. On top of that, the prices haven’t moved too much in the 2 years since our last visit. Awesome.
The bar is cool. It has a unique wavy zig zag shape to it, creating a very conversational environment. Located adjacent to Penn Station and MSG, it can get pretty lively with the after work and pre-event crowds. It can be quite fun if that is what you are going for.
They make a nice gin martini – the Beefeater they use is the special 24 kind, so the flavor is much nicer than the standard. Fresh.
On the third trip I tried the “Bloody Bull” – essentially a Bloody Mary with steak sauce mixed in, and beef flavor. My wife had a Manhattan that was on the cocktail menu, and it was mixed nicely. Easy to slurp.
Specials and Other Meats: 8
As mentioned above, Nick & Stef’s has veal chops and lamb chops. They also have a roasted chicken to round out the basics for non-beef. On the beef front, outside of the normal four chops they have a braised short rib and a hanger cut. On special were oysters, butternut squash soup, surf & turf (lobster + filet), a sweet potato fries side, and a striped bass entree served over a broth with butter beans.
Here’s a shot of the roasted chicken that my wife had, which comes with Parmesan and rosemary french fries. It was pretty good – though the breast meat was a little on the dry side:
Apps, Sides & Desserts: 8
We had a few items: first, I had a half order each of both east and west coast oysters. The west coast were a bit more potent, while the east were nice and crisp. They were served with a really awesome mustard horseradish old bay infused cream that was incredible on everything. Top notch condiment. They should bottle that shit and sell the fuck out of it. The tuna tartare was just okay. It had a little bit of stringy texture to it, like the tissue between flakes of body meat were too over worked. We’ve had better elsewhere, though it did have a nice flavor overall with the capers, calamata olives and green peppers chopped up inside. We shared an order of creamed spinach, which cut the savory flavors nicely with a light veggie flavor. The green beans were good too – they were seasoned just right to bring out all the nice natural flavors, while still retaining a good snap and firmness in texture. My wife ordered the seafood plateau app for her meal, and it was pretty fantastic: mussels, clams, oysters, shrimp cocktail, lobster cocktail, lump crab meat, boiled crawfish, and salmon tartare were all included for under $40. The dressing on the salmon was basically the cocktail sauce (unimpressive – basically ketchup), but otherwise it was a really great item to order. For dessert we had the apple cobbler, which is served warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top. I was not that impressed by it, but I was also pretty fucking stuffed from eating every ounce of meat on my steak.
On trip number three, we had sauteed spinach, which was just right – not too salty or overly garlicky.
We also had the steak tartare. It was okay – I’ve had better, but it certainly did the trick.
We also shared a key lime pie. Not nearly as good as Gallagher’s. It had a slight bitterness which often accompanies the center portion of key lime pie, but we still ate it all.
Seafood Selection: 9
This place offers a good amount of fish. Aside from onion soup, there is ONLY seafood in the apps section of the menu. Shrimp, crab meat and lobster cocktail dishes, raw clams and oysters, and a seafood platter that even has crawfish and ceviche. In addition to the cold stuff they have lobster bisque, crab cakes, tuna tartare, fried calamari and baked clams. Solid. On the entree side they offer a mixed seafood grill, crab cakes, salmon, grilled whole branzino, yellowfin tuna and shrimp scampi. They also had a special striped bass item that wasn’t on the menu. It sounded delicious.
The waiter reminded me of a more cheerful, upbeat version of Andy Dufresne from Shawshank Redemption. He was great and friendly. The waitstaff are mixed male and female, but all wear traditional white shirt/black tie combos as a nod to tradition. The table breads were nice and crispy: a roll, a log, a bun, and some flats with a spreadable butter. Basics.
It doesn’t help that there is scaffolding all over the front of the restaurant, but anyone familiar with NYC doesn’t care about that, since at any moment at least 1/4 of NYC is covered by the blight of restoration/maintenance/repair. The interior is in need of an upgrade. It is semi-sleek and modern, dimly lit, nice, but not trying too hard. The ceilings feel a bit low, since the awkward ceiling levels have been covered over with a strange angled architecture that was meant to look cool, but instead looks more like a bad wooden version of Superman’s fortress of solitude. The music selection was great: Sinatra and the crooners, mixed with some 40s and tin pan alley. The bathroom had stacks of nice thick paper towels, but the door was positioned oddly such that they had to hang curtains to block the view from outside to give some privacy to those taking a piss at the urinal.
FINALLY – the fucking scaffolding is GONE.
But that interior… Man – I don’t like it.
NICK & STEF’S
9 Pennsylvania Plaza
New York, NY 10001