Old Homestead

Old Homestead overall score: 81

UPDATE 4/27/14: I came here with my dad, my brother in law, and my nephew for a quick lunch after checking out the NY auto show. There was definitely a slight improvement since my last visit, as I bumped it two points.
We started with the sweet chili fried calamari. They were good – nice and crisp, good flavor. We had to ask for the bread basket, which was kinda strange, but the highlight of that was the raisin nut bread. Very nice.  
I had the 19oz bone-in filet, some onion rings, and the truffle mac & cheese. Big respect to our fun waiter Sarko, who guided me in the right direction to order the filet medium rare instead of rare. He explained that if it was boneless, then rare would be the way to go. However, since the bone inhibits the center from warming up fast enough, he cautioned me that some of the fat near the bone may not render properly unless I went to medium rare. It turned out perfectly. I was really happy with my hunk of red meat.
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The onion rings were a bit too juicy but otherwise really tasty. The truffle mac and cheese didn’t have the truffle abundance I was expecting, but they were still pretty yummy regardless.
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I still need to come back here for a proper dinner seating, as I feel like the experience would be a bit different for that service. But this visit definitely re-sparked my interest in the joint. Like Arnold, I’ll be back.
My wife, who is awesome, took me here for a birthday lunch after shooting some .22 rifle rounds at the pistol range. Talk about a guy’s perfect day! I thought it would be difficult to review a steakhouse based on the lunch menu, but Old Homestead basically offers the same food for lunch that they offer for dinner, the only difference being that the lunch menu is a little bit cheaper (by $2, generally, for each item) and they don’t offer some of the more massive steak cuts at lunch time (Shame – I probably would have gotten the larger cut too – oh well – their loss).

Flavor: 9 

The steak tasted great. I ordered the gotham ribeye, a bone-in 22oz cut that tasted like a prime rib that kissed the grill. It was juicy like a roast, and had a little crisp going (more would have been nice). Great taste but one point off for missing the mark with not enough crisp and a bit more non-chewable gristle than I like to see. They let it rest just the right amount of time, so there was no blood loss and it stayed very juicy.

Choice of Cuts & Quality Available: 9

This place has lots of sizes and cuts available for the four main steaks. I think I counted five filet mignon items of varying preparations, sizes and bone structures. Two sizes for the ribeye (not at lunch, however), and a prime rib to boot (essentially, a slow roasted ribeye). They offer two sizes of “New York Sirloin” as well as an au poivre and a top round – not quite sure why they were calling some steaks a sirloin and not a strip. Perhaps it is from the T-bone (the lesser porterhouse, not good enough to be called a strip when cut off the bone). They also offer a “Kobe” sirloin for a big price upgrade. The porterhouse is only offered for two, which is common at many steakhouses.

Portion Size & Plating: 9

The portions here are average to above average, but they also offer items for smaller appetites. The filets ranged from 10oz (still a good size for a filet) to 18oz (biggest I’ve seen), the “sirloins” from 14oz to 18oz (a little on the average side, but not bad), and the ribeyes from 22oz to 32oz (good). Plating was nice. Usually you just see bare bones stuff at steak houses, but here they went that extra step to make the presentation pop. The tuna tartar was served with some crispy fried wanton chips, and the oysters rockefeller were served on a bed of rock salt that looked like ice, and garnished with seaweed pods. Also of note were the tots/fries – they were served in mini deep fryer baskets. Very cool (see service section as well). I took off a point because the creamed spinach was a little small, though enough for two at $7, and the tots were not numerous enough, but probably enough for one.

Price: 8

The prices are average to slightly high for NYC steak. You certainly don’t go home hungry, so that is a plus. The prices seemed to match nicely with the size and quality for the steak, so no exceptional marks here, but there were a few bad marks. First the oysters rockefeller: There were only four on the plate, which may be normal (I don’t know), but they were essentially a dollop of creamed spinach on top of an oyster and then broiled for a few minutes. Nothing spectacular. I wasn’t impressed, and I think they essentially ruined four perfectly good oysters for the high price of $17 (that’s $4.25 each, dicks). The dessert sundae was pretty expensive too at $11 for what you could get at Friendly’s for $3. The martini was a bit high at $15, the beer average at $8. Our total was $204 with tax and tip included. As for the steak ($40, actually not too bad), you get a good slab of meat for the price, and that’s all one can really ask for these days.

Bar: 7

The bar is small, but very elegant – nice wood cabinetry and wine racks up behind he serving dugout, and a nice selection of top shelf potent potables (Alex Trebek would be happy). This isn’t the kind of place I can see myself hanging out for a drink or a bite at the bar though. It is essentially just a restaurant. The martini was made perfectly, however, so that is a plus. Also the bar has some nice basket weave black & white tile flooring – real classic looking. I like that.

Specials and Other Meats: 7

Old Homestead has a narrow range of alternative meats – rack of lamb, which is semi-industry standard, and a chicken item. It would have been interesting to see a pork porterhouse or a veal chop of some kind. The word “homestead” makes me think of game too, like perhaps venison. I think this would go over well in a place like NYC, where diners are more culinarily curious. Specials were not offered, but I imagine that is because it was the lunch hour. They DO offer some secret menu items that you need to know about in advance though, like the really awesome sounding burger specials. Look into it, asshole. You won’t be let down.

Apps, Sides & Desserts: 7

Before we even came here, I knew what I was ordering because I looked at the menu online. I’d never had oysters rockefeller until now. I was always the kind of guy who ate them raw and raw only. Cooking an oyster is blasphemy! Sadly I have not turned a corner; I didn’t like the oysters, but everything else was pretty good. The oysters had some bits of shell in them, and the topping was just a blob of creamed spinach – no special care was given to make them different. My wife had the tuna tartar, which was very nice, served with avocado mixed into it, but it was not as good as Primehouse’s take on the dish. To go with the steak, of course, we had creamed spinach; it was just average: nothing to write about (though I just did). The steak came with a mound of fried onions, which were nice and crisp and flavorful. We also ordered the “Kobe” slab bacon, which was sort-of out of place based on the flavor profile. It was really charred, smokey and piggy. It had some rubbery fat on it, but it was really delicious. It just felt so “BBQ” that it almost seemed like it was from a different restaurant. It was tough to mix that flavor (which was awesome by the way) with the steak flavors. Tots were crispy and nice – a fun alternative to fries. For dessert we had the drug store old fashioned sundae. That was pretty yummy, and I found myself continually digging into it even though I was stuffed.

Seafood Selection: 8

This section of my reviews is starting to become increasingly important to me, since my wife has been staying away from red meats after her gallbladder surgery. Old Homestead offers a nice selection of fish cuts for entrees, like salmon, tuna and sea bass, in addition to the shellfish appetizers and basic broiled lobster and crab cake crustacean fare. The sea bass was a big hunk of fish (probably 12-14oz). I was amazed that it was properly cooked through without any over- or undercooked portions. It was bold (fishy) and rich, but it had a nice crisp to it on the outside, served on a bed of green beans in a dark fish broth.

Service: 9

The waiters are all male, wearing ties and aprons. They were attentive, nice, and not in our faces. The menu says that bread will not be served unless you ask. I wasn’t going to, but my wife insisted for the integrity and consistency of the blog. So here goes: the bread was not warm, the butter was semi-solid/cool. They did have two types of bread though; a raisin nut roll, and a ciabatta type of roll. One thing I will add here: the fries and tots come in these really cool mini deep-fryer baskets lined with old fashioned newspaper print (wax paper with print on it). That was fun in terms of plating/presentation. I guess the steak sauce can go here too. And no, asshole, I didn’t put it on my steak. It was delicious however. I would use that shit for BBQ ribs or chicken any day. It had hints of orange, tamarind, horseradish, molasses and fried garlic (okay we peeked at the ingredients too). Try it.

Ambiance: 8

Old Homestead is long and narrow, unlike other steakhouses that are very large spaces. The dining room is dark. The tables are all very nice dark jacobean colored wood, and they match the paneled wainscoting that goes all the way up the wall and meets with the elegant build-out ceiling that has a fancy painted pressed-tin pattern that is illuminated by built-in up-lighting. Hanging below that are modern, Japanese looking square block lights covered in what looked like paper or tightly woven burlap. A stark contrast to the cheap, ugly rust-colored tile floor that adorns the dining room. Old Homestead – replace that shit with some nice wide-plank bamboo flooring. Come on! The bathroom was unisex for one – neat and clean, but with cheap-ass paper towels.
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OLD HOMESTEAD
56 9th Ave.
New York, NY 10011

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