Tag Archives: aged

Meet Your Meat: “Suzy Sirloin” Strassburger

Like all great businesses, there’s usually a great story behind the success. Let’s take Strassburger Steaks, for example.

A girl brings her father a homemade sandwich to the family’s beef plant in the Bronx – I’m guessing roast beef with horseradish sauce on a nice crusty roll. There, she meets her future husband, who is working as her father’s right-hand man. Over 150 years later, that family still prides itself on the traditions of dedicated daughters and great steak.

Suzanne “Suzy Sirloin” Strassburger and her sister Andrea work with their father, who has passed down to them five generations of work ethic along with a successful and well-respected business. In the story above, the father is Suzy’s great-great grandfather, and the daughter is her great grandmother.

Suzy and Andrea’s own father, Peter “T-Bone” Strassburger, is an innovator and leader in the industry. He started boxed beef in New York (wholesale cuts of beef, like rib and loin, individually packaged and placed into boxes for shipping), and he educated many steakhouses on the virtues of aged beef. In fact, his family was the first to install an aging room in their plant.

Strassburger is no joke when it comes to quality. The company supplies meat to several of my top ranked steakhouses, including Angus ClubKeen’s, Quality Italian and Quality Meats. You may have seen the name gracing menus all over the place. Their brand is worth featuring.

The Prime Rib at Keen’s Steakhouse

But in addition to supplying prime, dry-aged beef to high-end NYC restaurants, Strassburger also sells steaks online at the consumer level. And now Suzanne is also promoting her brand “Suzy Sirloin” to grocery stores around the city. With this venture, she is moving pork and all natural, hormone-free beef as a way to diversify. Smart!

The Porterhouse at Angus Club Steakhouse

She has a knack for marketing, too. It’s not often you see a woman walking around Manhattan in a big straw cowboy hat, but that’s Suzy’s signature accessory, and it’s even featured as part of her “Suzy Sirloin” logo.

She has said that she wears the hat as a sign of respect to all the hard working ranchers that produce the beef she sells. Right on! I can get on board with that.

Suzy is also a fellow Masters of Beef Advocacy graduate and Top of the Class trainee, like me, so we both like to blab about the benefits of beef, both for society in general and as part of a well-balanced and nutritious diet. You can check out her blog here, but she also founded The Sirloin Report, to which I’ve linked in the past.

I had a chance to interview her on the phone. We started from a string of 10 questions, and chatted from there. Read on below and enjoy! I’ve done my best to distill our conversations down to all the best bits of information.

1) When did you realize you wanted to work in the meat business? Was it something you always knew you wanted to do, or did it take some time to grow on you?

I knew immediately that I wanted to work in the business from the age of three or four.  I always thought it was cool that when I asked my dad what he did, he’d respond that he worked for Poppa [Suzy’s grandfather]. Any day off that I had from school, I would be at the family meat factory helping out, answering phones, anything I could do.

Suzy went to college and started working professionally at the company around age 24. She worked literally every job in the business; putting together boxes, packing the boxes, you name it. This allowed her to really understand the challenges faced by each employee. She even worked beside guys in the cooler who had been there since her grandfather was running the place.

Suzy talked a lot about her family’s five and six generations in the meat business (both of her dad’s parents had beef industry families), and a lot about her dad.

Suzy has had some great success, but she says that her dad is a tough act to follow. He had eight plants out west that produced 10 million pounds of beef per week. He was the first wholesaler to box beef and to dry age beef in NYC. He’s still working today at 78 years old, and he always encourages Suzy and her sister to work hard and keep learning. In fact, Suzy went back to school this year and is enrolled in a program at Harvard business school. She’s always staying current and continuing to learn.

2) What is a typical day of work like for you from start to finish?

My work changes from day to day depending on where the business needs me. Some days I’ll be buying, other days selling. I’m also the business’ problem solver, so I have to make sure that everything is coming together and running smoothly.

3) What are some of the challenges and rewards you experience working in this business?

While the work was more challenging when I was younger, assembling the right team and having the right people around really helped. My sister runs the most challenging aspect of the business, which is collections. As for the most rewarding aspect? Enjoying a delicious steak at a client’s establishment.

4) I know you supply one of my favorite restaurants, Keens, with its beef. Do you also supply them with their legendary mutton?

Suzy does not supply Keen’s with their mutton. She deals exclusively in beef.

5) How do your foodservice clients choose their beef? Do they rely on your selection, or do they choose the cuts themselves?

Both. Some clients wish to choose everything, while others have developed long and trusting relationships with my family and rely on our expertise.

Suzy also explained that this loyalty and trust goes in the other direction too, from her to her beef suppliers. When times get tough and beef is hard to come by or expensive, Suzy has long standing relationships in place that allow her to still get her hands on the best supply.

6) Do you find that your clients and customers are well versed in beef nutrition, safety and the various niche labels, or is that something about which you constantly have to educate?

Suzy is constantly educating people about beef. She and I both went through the MBA and Top of the Class programs with the NCBA, so she, like me, is constantly providing useful information to people, both client and consumer alike. But there’s one thing she likes to say about food safety:

Buy it cold, serve it hot and keep it clean!

7) Is there a particular region of the country or breed of cattle from which you like to source your beef? I know food trends are pushing hard for “local” products, but doesn’t the best quality beef come from the Midwest and Texas?

Suzy supports ranchers and farmers from all over. She tries to make sure the client is happy. Whatever the client wants to serve at their restaurant, she will help to make it happen.

8) How often do you interact with farmers, ranchers, and other producers before the beef gets to your operation?

The reason Suzy wears her cowboy hat all the time is because she believes that beef and her business is ultimately all about the ranchers and farmers. She visits ranches and farms often, and many of her close friends are ranchers, farmers and butchers. She surrounds herself with people who are working with the animals daily. Not only does Suzy understand what goes into beef production, but she respects the process and doesn’t take for granted what these hard working families do for the American food supply.

9) I’m a big fan of dry-aged beef. Do you find that any particular cuts take to this process better than others, and are there amounts of time that are too long or too short for producing good flavor?

We dry age middle meats like shells [bone-in strip loins], short loins [porterhouses and t-bones], and ribs. We typically age them for three to four weeks, but it really depends on what the customer or client wants.

After we chatted for a bit about her family’s important role in the world of dry-aged beef, Suzy astutely pointed out that no two aging rooms are alike. The way the beef turns out all depends on how often people walk in and out of the room, the air circulation, the lighting, temperature, humidity, etc.

10) What’s your favorite cut of beef and why? Grilled, smoked, or seared in a pan? And how often do you eat beef in any given week?

A grilled, prime, boneless New York strip steak is my favorite. And I eat beef 14 times a week.

WOW! Now that’s impressive!!!

Primal Cut

Primal Cut overall score: 81

Primal Cut is a newly revamped steak restaurant within the Sapphire gentleman’s club. I was invited in for a free meal to help promote the joint. Take a look below:

Flavor: 8

Chef Thomas Perone does a great job with the 40oz tomahawk rib eye for two.

The 37 days of dry aging gave it a really nice aroma.

And Perone and his team nailed the crust on this thing.

Perone leaves soon for The Lambs Club, but he assures me that his staff runs the kitchen extremely well, so you’ll still be in great hands.

Choice of Cuts & Quality Available: 9

Two sizes of filet, two sizes of rib eye (a cowboy cut and a tomahawk for multiple diners), a porterhouse for multiple diners, a strip, an A5 wagyu strip and a wagyu spinalis round out the menu here. Really fantastic showing, and the majority of the beef cuts hail from Strassburger Steaks. Can’t go wrong there.

Portion Size & Plating: 9

The 40oz tomahawk was a great size for sharing with another person. And all the other items were well-hung too. The plating is basic steakhouse style: minimal and elegant.

Price: 9

I was expecting skyrocket prices for a joint that’s located in a pricey strip club. But $55/pp on the steaks for two is really fair, especially if ogling tits and ass while you dine is your thing. All soups and salads are $12, and apps range from $14 to $25. Very fair.

Bar: 7

The bar here is on the small side, but they do mix a nice martini. The bartenders are sporting some revealing lingerie style attire – which I think is actually sexier than the gowns that the dancers walk around in – so that boosts up the “stay for another drink” factor in what would otherwise be a not-so-impressive stretch of bar.

Specials and Other Meats: 8

There were a couple of specials that weren’t on the menu, usually a different kind of house-made pasta that’s rolled out on specific days (like their lasagna, which all the strippers love). Big points here for the wagyu presence on the menu, otherwise there is just chicken and lamb for alternative meats.

Apps, Sides & Desserts: 8

We tried a few apps and sides. The salmon poke bowl was really tasty and tropical, with a nice pop of flavor from the pineapple.

The half pound slab of bacon is great too, with a nice sweet and savory sauce that will change your expectations of bacon.

The 5-cheese truffle lobster mac is decadent and tasty, and had a great crispy crust on top. You should definitely order this.

I was disappointed with the asparagus. These are the thin, limp, fibrous kind and not the thick, long, stiff ones you expect to sprout up at a strip club… I mean steakhouse.

This French toast style ice cream sandwich dessert not only tasted great, but for some strange reason I kept subconsciously seeing caramel drizzled tits every time I looked at it.

Maybe because I was in a strip club?

Focus, man!

Seafood Selection: 7

There’s salmon and sea bass on the menu, aside from the nice array of appetizers.

Service: 10

If you dine here, try to get Alfonso as your waiter. He’s really friendly and helpful, knows what to recommend, and is just really on top of his shit. Everyone is friendly, there are no pushy dancers trying to get on top of you while you eat, and aside from the occasional girl walking around in a skimpy outfit as you hear the DJ calling her name to the main stage, you’d never really know that you were dining in a strip club. Whether that’s good or bad depends on you.

Ambiance: 6

I know, I know: How can you rate a steak joint within a strip joint anything lower than a 10 for ambiance?!?? That aspect is excellent, obviously, especially for the waning existence of hetero-normative, straight, cis-gendered alpha males like the majority of my readers. But the dining room is in need of a little sprucing up. It’s a relatively small spot too, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but they certainly have the ability to upgrade this place to the level of the untouchable midtown giants. There are low ceilings, it’s a bit stuffy (I think there was a ventilation and AC situation when we went), and the overall feel is very cavern-like. I think they should go all out in this place, maybe throw a few dance cages or a stage in there too. They don’t need to be topless dancers, but just embrace the strip club vibe! All that said, I went in at 6pm. Maybe things heat up later in the night.

PRIMAL CUT
333 E 60th St
New York, NY 10022

Greenwich Steakhouse

Greenwich Steakhouse overall score: 89

Greenwich Steakhouse is a newly opened French-inspired steak joint in the West Village. Chef Victor Chavez helped open Smith & Wollensky, and is a 30yr veteran chef from there. He tried retirement, but decided that he wanted to be back in the game. As such, he opened Greenwich Steakhouse.

I recently set up an “influencer event” here to help get some photos and reviews out there. Take a look at all the crazy shit we tried, and enjoy the review below.

Flavor: 8

Cajun Rib Eye: 10/10

I’m starting with the best steak first. This baby was cooked to a perfect medium rare from end to end with an awesome savory crust on the edges.

But the hint of cumin in the Cajun rub really sets this baby off as the best steak in the joint.

The spicy oil at the bottom of the place is reminiscent of the delicious sauce you get with the cumin lamb noodles at Xian Famous Foods, which I love.

When you come here, this is the steak to get. Chef Victor just absolutely nails it.

48oz Porterhouse: 8/10

This is nice and thick, and really goes great with the marrow butter sauce addition.

There was some grey banding since this is such a thick cut of steak, but nothing was dried out.

48oz Tomahawk Rib Eye: 6/10

Unfortunately this was a bit overcooked for our liking. Some parts were dry as a result, but the flavor was still nice.

Choice of Cuts & Quality Available: 9

All the meat here come from Strassburger, a great supplier. Chef Victor dry ages them for three weeks in-house to develop a bit more flavor for his guests. There are several sizes of the four major cuts available.

Portion Size & Plating: 9

Portions here are pretty big. The plating is on the nicer side with steel pans being used as serving vessels.

Price: 10

Since this was a free event, I am giving full points for price here. However, the prices are on par with midtown NYC steakhouses.

Bar: 7

The bar is a short stretch on the first floor with some seats along the window for people watching.

It’s on a nice stretch of Greenwich Ave in the village too, so likely will be a good spot for nightlife.

 

Cocktails are nice, particularly the Great Kills.

Specials and Other Meats: 9

The waiter read us some specials that were not on the menu. We tried one of them, a shredded Brussels sprout salad. I thought it could use some more dressing, but it was tasty.

For alternative meats, they offer a nice variety: veal, chicken and lamb. Perhaps a pork chop would round it out. We tried the lamb and it was incredible. So nicely seasoned and flavorful.

Apps, Sides & Desserts: 8

This is the best thick cut bacon I’ve ever had. It was about a half inch thick, and each order comes with three massive slabs. We cut them each in half since we had a table of six.

The fries are pretty good as well:

The marrow is overkill. If you are eating steaks here, each cut will come with some roasted bone marrow, so no need to go for the app. Here are three delicious boats of bone meat though:

Creamed spinach was also nice:

As well as the hash browns:

For dessert, we went with the ice cream tartufo:

Creme brulee:

And chocolate cake:

All were good, but my favorite was the creme brulee.

Seafood Selection: 10

We tried the seafood tower, which comes with oysters, king crab, shrimp, lobster and lumb crab meat.

The shrimp were massive! For entree items, they offer tuna, halibut, lobster, sole and salmon.  Branzino was on special as well. That’s a serious variety!

Service: 10

The staff here is all top notch. The guys are pure gentlemen and it doesn’t surprise me that Chef Victor would staff his joint with such people. The table breads are served from a basket at the outset.

Ambiance: 9

They’ve done an awesome job with the space here. The main dining room is on the second floor and boasts elegant chairs and a bright space. Very different from other steak joints.

The third floor has a huge table for parties, and holds about 8000 bottles of wine in elegant glass-windowed rooms flanking each side.

GREENWICH STEAKHOUSE
62 Greenwich Ave
New York, NY 10011

Peter Luger (Brooklyn)

Peter Luger overall score: 79

What NYC steakhouse review site would be complete without the obligatory Peter Luger entry? Luger is synonymous with steak in NYC. Within a minute of discussing steak in NYC, someone party to the conversation is guaranteed to bring the place up. If I am around, you will also get a story about Bill Murray (see the bar section below).

NOTE: This review was first published in 2011 and was updated a few times since then.

Flavor: 7

I’ve gone to Luger’s three times for steak, and I have to buck the trend here and say that I wasn’t super impressed with the flavor. It was yummy, don’t get me wrong, but I’ve had better.

Perhaps Peter Luger was hyped up so much by everyone as the greatest steakhouse in NY that I was expecting too much? I don’t think so, because my second and third trips were similar. The first two times I ate a variant of the porterhouse cut, and the third time I had both the porterhouse and the rib eye.

All three times the steak was good, but not awesome. You can definitely smell and taste the dry-aged beef flavor on these steaks, but they ultimately lacked seasoning. The rib eye also contained a lot of junk gristle on it, unfortunately.

Choice of Cuts & Quality Available: 6

You may be shocked to see that Peter Luger really only offers two cuts of beef for traditional steak eating: rib eye and porterhouse.

While both are prime grade and aged, there is no filet, and there is no strip; you simply have to get the full porterhouse if you want either of those cuts.

The porterhouse is cut into various sizes and offered as “steak for two,” “steak for three,” and so forth (you can also get a steak for one). It’s typically served pre-sliced, sizzling on a hot plate with butter. Pictured here is a steak for two.

Luger’s does offer regular daily lunch specials that showcase other types of beef products like prime rib, chopped steak, corned beef, and pot roast, however these are not available at dinner and only sometimes at lunch. They also offer lamb chops.

Portion Size & Plating: 8

Luger’s doesn’t advertise the sizes of each cut, but they are definitely big enough to fill you up. Plating is standard; nothing fancy. This is a man’s place, so we are good in terms of this section. Lots of the appetizers and sides are large enough to share as well.

Price: 8

Prices are average. I forget what the bill came to, but I think I recall a steak for two being somewhere around the $70 to $80 mark when I first came here years back. Now it’s a bit more, obviously.

Bar: 10

I score top points for the Peter Luger bar because, well, my friends and I met the one and only Bill Murray there one evening, hung out with him, and had drinks with him. We were on our way to an obscure party in Williamsburg when we decided to pop in Luger’s for a drink or two beforehand. The bar here is great – a long stretch of ancient but nice wood, stocked with great booze.

It’s a classy bar worked by a classy old ostler who knows every drink in the book, especially the old timey ones.

So we order our drinks and a moment later we see none other than Bill fucking Murray beside us at the bar, just sitting there with his son and a friend. Naturally we bought them a round of beers, after which Bill thanked us, talked with us, and took some photos with us. To this day I kick myself for not asking him to come with us to the party. Knowing the way he is now, hanging out with randoms, we could have been one of the first. Imagine if he said yes and we showed up to a party with Bill FUCKING Murray? Legendary.

Specials and Other Meats: 6

Luger’s is pretty basic. There’s not much by way of specials, so pick something and stick with it. As I said earlier, they do offer a decent lamb chop, but don’t go looking for anything else.

Apps, Sides & Desserts: 9

The creamed spinach here is fantastic. Rich and smooth; it goes perfectly with the steak. It’s of the “creamless” variety.

I also tried the french fries for two, which were crispy and tasty.

We split a burger for our appetizer as well, which is a solid move at a steakhouse. The burger here is amazing, and only available at lunch until 3:45pm. Get it. Especially if you love dry aged beef.

Skip the bacon on your burger, though, because you’ll be getting that on the side as an appetizer anyway, and when you stack the bacon on top, the burger becomes too tall.

Or you can pretend to be healthy and get the wedge salad, which had the same bacon chopped up and plopped on top. We shared this salad among four people.

The sliced tomato and onion is okay. It just always seems pricey for some sliced veg on a plate. I didn’t shoot that.

Desserts are fun here, and large. Here is a slice of key lime pie, with the signature unsweetened “schlag” whipped cream.

A bowl of caramel cone ice cream:

And the chocolate fudge ice cream sundae, meant for sharing:

Seafood Selection: 6

Basically, Peter Luger offers a salmon entree and a fresh fish item which depends on the season. This is not the kind of place to order food items other than red meat. Stick with what’s good and quit being a pussy.

Service: 9

Luger’s has become infamous for crappy service, but the times I have gone the joint exemplified traditional great steakhouse service. Especially our last waiter, Carlos, and another guy who even offered to take a photo of us at the table.

They employ an all-male wait staff, dressed usually in formal back and white with bow ties, often older gentlemen who have been working there for many years. They are very attentive, they know their product inside and out, and they are all about the customer.

My only issue was with the reservation-making process. I got some attitude from a woman on the phone when they asked me to call back to confirm my reservation. Not that big of a deal.

Food comes out quickly because it’s prepared quickly. Screaming hot ovens blast the meat with flames at upwards of 700 degrees, so the meal is ready fast. That’s a good thing.

The bread basket of onion rolls and various other items is massive, and you get it with a gravy dish of their steak sauce.

Ambiance: 10

A traditional steakhouse, Peter Luger sets what can almost be considered the industry standard of steak eating environs. It features old wood floors that creak under foot throughout, dark wainscoting on the lower parts of the walls, and wood tables that have survived the test of time. If you’ve never gone to a steakhouse before, go here first so you get the full effect of what it means to eat at a steakhouse.

PETER LUGER
178 Broadway
Brooklyn, NY 11211

The Palm (Too)

Palm Too overall score: 87

I was recently invited by @JustAFoodieNYC into Palm Too for an influencer dinner with a group of Instagrammers. We tried an assload of shit, and all of it was pretty fucking tasty. Take a gander below, you goddamn savage meat maniacs:

Flavor: 8

I tried a bit of every steak on the menu (aside from the prime rib, which is only offered on Fridays and Saturdays). I’ll break the scoring down for each cut here.

Filet Mignon (14oz): 9/10

This baby had a nice crust on the outer edges, adding a really pleasing charred flavor that was the perfect contrast against the buttery smooth, pink flesh inside. If that reads a bit sexual to you, that’s because it was a jerkworthy piece of meat and I fucking intended the sexual innuendo.

Let’s move on…

Porterhouse: 8/10

This baby was pretty solid. While it’s not as thick as I’m used to seeing a porterhouse cut, this was meant as a “for one” steak. That’s nice, as most joints only offer a porterhouse for two or more diners. At 28oz, it did the trick for filling my bottomless shit-pit stomach.

Wagyu Rib Eye (12oz, boneless): 7/10

I was expecting a bit more from this cut. It was still good, but when eaten side by side with the other offerings at the table, it just didn’t hold up. There was a slight bitter element to it, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing – just a character trait of the meat.

Bone In Rib Eye (24oz): 9/10

This fucker was tasty, and I’m torn between this and the filet for my favorite of the night. I’m leaning toward the filet, but that might only be because I tried more of the filet than the rib eye. But what I did try of this rib eye knocked my balls back into my stomach and made me feel like a little girly boy. My buddy @Food_P.o.r.n_NY took that cool shot, by the way. I can’t take credit for his genius.

Strip Steak (14oz): 8/10

The strip on this solo cut was on par with the strip side of the porterhouse, only here it’s obviously a thicker, dedicated cut.

Choice of Cuts & Quality Available: 8

There are a ton of size options available here for the main four steak cuts, aside from the porterhouse (only one size). The selections are all prime quality and wet aged for 35 days or more. The meats hail from the Chicago area, a place called Consumers Meat Packing.

Portion Size & Plating: 8

Portions are generous here, and the plating is basic – nothing fancy. I mean there’s sawdust on the floor for fuck’s sake. This joint is old school and I like it!

Price: 10

My meal was free, so I’m giving full points here. Everything is reasonably priced, however. In fact there’s even a whopper strip steak for three that only costs $99. That’s a steal if it’s your cut.

Bar: 8

The bar area is a bit small for hanging, but it’s really charismatic and old timey. I’d definitely love to plop my ass down and sip on some old fashioneds or martinis here, especially while snacking on some thick cut bacon. In fact two of the guys I ate with did that exact thing just a few weeks back on a steakhouse bacon crawl. Awesome idea.

They also mix a good dry martini to boot.

Specials and Other Meats: 9

In addition to a special featured steak, there’s veal, lamb and pork here for alternative meats – even a wagyu beef selection for those with the bug. Fuck chicken.

Apps, Sides & Desserts: 8

We tried a ton of shit so I’m just going to rattle them off and highlight the best ones.

Beef Carpaccio

Seared Sesame Ahi Tuna

Thick Cut Applewood Smoked Bacon: Absurdly delicious.

Fried Calamari

Coconut Crusted Scallops

Creamed Spinach

Green Beans: Very nice and distinctly “Asian” in flavor profile.

Brussels Sprouts

Half & Half (potato chips and onion straws)

Nova Scotia Lobster Mac & Cheese (with bacon crust): So rich and decadent. One of the better sides I’ve ever had. Sorry – no pic!

Doughnuts (also no pic)

Key Lime Pie: A classic, tried and true dessert done right. No pic!

Cheesecake (nope! no pic!)

Carrot Cake: Seven layers of pure joy for me.

Seafood Selection: 8

The lobster is definitely the way to go here. They offer a variety of preparations and several size options, depending on your budget and appetite.

Salmon and sea bass are also available as well as entree sized portions of the sesame crusted ahi tuna and crab cake apps.

Service: 10

The shortest amount of time that a waiter has worked here is about 20 years, so these guys are seasoned experts and absolutely phenomenal when it comes to congenial service. It’s also pretty impressive that they can sling all this food out in such a small kitchen (we took a little tour of the back).

Since I always chat about the bread basket in this section, here it is:

The sesame bread was my pick of the bunch. Butter could be softer.

Ambiance: 10

This place is classic. There’s a cork floor with sawdust sprinkled throughout; a tribute to the old days when The Palm first opened, and the staff would track sawdust into the restaurant while running in and out to get steaks from the butcher shop across the street.

At first, The Palm was an Italian joint. The name was supposed to be “Parma,” after the city in Italy to which the owners were paying homage with their cuisine. The licensing folks at City Hall didn’t hear the brother owners correctly, and so the word “Palm” was licensed instead of Parma. They rolled with it.

Early on, an artist customer was unable to pay his dinner bill, so he offered to do portraits of the customers and staff as payment. That’s how the artwork all over the walls became a feature.

It’s a great place with a great history. The simple decor and manly vibe is a beloved calling card of a traditional American steakhouse like The Palm.

PALM TOO
840 2nd Ave
New York, NY 10017

Pig Bleecker

This joint offers some of the most unique and delicious dishes I’ve come across in a while. I went with a group of food Instagrammers to help the restaurant get some pics out to the masses, so we were able to sample a lot of stuff.

First off, the cocktails are really creative.

If you like apertif type drinks, try the Greyfriar or the Donna Reed. I generally shy away from them due to the bitter element, but these were extremely tasty and have me re-thinking the entire class. My favorites, though: Old Smokey, I’m on Fire and Deacon Blues.

Take a look at the food menu.

Everything looks/sounds good because everything IS good. I’m serious. Every item we tried was not only good but often times outstanding. I seriously think this is my new favorite restaurant.

Okay on to the goods. I apologize in advance for some of the pics that I didn’t bother editing. I was primarily concerned with getting just a few to look great for Instagram, in particular the steak, burger and fried chicken dishes.

These little corn bread wafers are a nice change from standard table bread in a basket.

SNACKS

The Pecan Candied Bacon is served in a mason jar. They reminded me of the stuff my wife makes, only without the spicy element.

The Deviled Steak & Eggs is essentially a deviled egg with steak tartare under the whipped yolk. Excellent bites.

STARTERS

If there’s only one thing Chef Matt Abdoo should have as his legacy, it’s his ability to make incredible sauces. These BBQ Chicken Lollipops feature one of those amazing sauces. They are fantastic.

Grandma Val’s Meatballs are really great. Again, that sauce is killer.

This next dish of fried cod cheeks was not on the menu, but they might have been one of my favorite dishes of the night. I could easily eat bucket-loads of these. Nice light and puffy batter, simply garnished with pickled peppers and scallions. Awesome.

I’m usually not a fan of cooked oysters, but the Grilled Oysters here definitely changed my mind.

MAINS

Brisket Ravioli with black truffle butter? Yup. They even shaved a bunch on top, table-side.

Beautiful.

We shared the Bleecker Burger, which is probably now one of my new favorites. It’s in the style of a Big Mac; double patty, special sauce (yeah – it’s an incredible sauce). Nearly flawless in execution. As a friend pointed out, it just needs an element of crisp, whether from the patty or a leaf of iceberg. The house pickles are perfect.

The Linguine Cacio e Pepe and Lasagne dishes were both nicely executed as well, but I didn’t get a shot of either, unfortunately.

FOR THE TABLE

Let me start with the amazing Smoked & Fried Chicken. This is a whole chicken, and it’s expertly breaded and perfectly fried.

I enjoyed this more than Ando and Ma Peche, which seem to be the top of the pack for many fried chicken aficionados.

Again, the sauces that come with this are amazing.

But the waffles with whipped sweet and salted butter were the real show stoppers. I’ve never had a waffle that tasted so good.

The chicken comes with cheesy grits, which are fantastic.

Here comes the big daddy: the Tomahawk Chop with Smoked Beef Rib. Essentially, steak and brisket.

This is an aged Pat Lafrieda cut that has been lightly smoked before being properly finished off as a steak. It’s served with smoked cap and brisket, and another amazing steak sauce.

This steak tastes like a delicious hybrid between BBQ and traditional steakhouse fare.

It’s smokey and sweet, but also earthy and savory. It really blew me away. 10/10.

SIDES

The Mac & Cheese is really tasty, and topped with a cheese powder that will take you back to your childhood.

These Hand Cut French Fries are more like flattened and squashed baked potatoes. Very good, and not the same as the shoestring style fries that come with the burger.

The Utica Greens are made with escarole, which I love to see on menus. This really popped from the smokey bacon and cherry peppers.

Finally, we tried the Anson Mills Grits, which I also liked very much.

DESSERT

Mason Jar Oreo Cheesecake. Velvety and delicious.

Mango Sorbet with Yogurt Chips & Fresh Mango. So bright and flavorful.

Karen’s Key Lime Pie. Perfect rendition of this classic.

Brownie Hot Fudge Sundae with Virginia Peanuts. Decadent.

Buckeye Milkshake (like a peanut butter and chocolate ice cream shake). This is something special. Not only is it gorgeous, but it is filling, yummy and satisfying.

They were all awesome, and overall this was an amazing meal. I can’t wait to go back and try their 155 Steak, a Teres Major/Shoulder Tender cut, so keep an eye out for updates.

UPDATE 4/18/17 – 155 STEAK

This shoulder tender is awesome.

It has all the softness you’d expect from a filet mignon, but the flavor character of a rib eye.

Although it was cooked more like medium than medium rare, it still packed a lot of oomph. It was slightly sweet yet savory, had a good crust on the outside, and was super tender and juicy inside. At just $28, this is a steal. 8/10.

PIG BLEECKER
155 Bleecker St
New York, NY 10012

Benjamin Prime

Benjamin Prime overall score: 88

The massive success of Benjamin Steakhouse and The Sea Fire Grill has afforded the owners, two guys named Benjamin who cut their teeth at Peter Luger, to open another location – Benjamin Prime – in which to sling their incredible food.

Nestled on 40th Street just below Grand Central in a modern yet elegant setting, Benjamin Prime attracts more than the usual steakhouse crowd. In addition to banktown big shots, business tycoons and groups of middle-aged guys on bro-dates, there’s a notably more female and young demographic dining there as well. The Benjamins attribute that to their diversified menu, which plucks the best from both Benjamin Steakhouse’s and The Sea Fire Grill’s menus, curates them and gently tweaks them anew.

The crowd mix is no surprise to me, since they offer things like a prix fix lunch for $35 and a three-hour $1.50 oyster happy hour from 4pm-7pm during the week. But they’re also garnering the attention of people – even celebrities – who are looking to host events in their handsome upstairs space, which boasts the ability to be either an open floor plan or sectioned-off rooms. The entire upstairs is enveloped by an impressive glass wall that showcases thousands of bottles of top choice wines; a perfect place to gather.

I was invited in for a complimentary meal to help promote the joint on Instagram and social media by the restaurant’s PR folks. I was impressed, and you guys know I’m always honest with you on here, regardless of whether my meal is free. In short, this place is pretty fantastic. Take a look at what we tried:

Flavor: 9

The porterhouse packed a good dry-aged punch for 28-days. I’ve had stuff that was aged twice as long but didn’t have half the flavor, so they’re definitely doing something right here.

That characteristic dry-aged beef aroma fills the room when the plates are coming to the table, and you can hear your steak before you see it, as they’re served sizzling on hot plates in the traditional, old-school steakhouse style.

While that serving method is generally not my cup of tea (I like a well rested steak and I worry about grey-banding on the edges), it is certainly done in the correct way here. The waiters don’t just plop the steak onto the table, walk away and allow it to continue cooking to well done on that screaming-hot plate. No. They will immediately serve you the delicious, pre-sliced, medium-rare steak, unless you’re an asshole who actually WANTS it to cook more on the plate.

In any case, I loved this porterhouse, and now I need to come back to try the rib eye, which is my favorite cut of beef.

Choice of Cuts & Quality Available: 9

The masters at Benjamin Prime hand-pick their meat directly from the Pat LaFrieda processing facility. The restaurant is one of the few (if not the only) permitted to do that. This means you’re getting the best of the best at Benjamin Prime. The steaks are then aged in the restaurant’s own aging box.

Cut selections include porterhouse (for two, three or four), NY sirloin, filet mignon, rib eye and a wagyu NY strip. That covers all the bases and then some.

Portion Size & Plating: 8

It may be a bit tough for me to comment about portion sizes since we received a few items that were extra big to share with eight diners, while other items were individualized and smaller, just so we could have a taste. Based on what I could see around me, though, I can safely say that the portion sizes are all generous. The plating is standard, traditional American steakhouse style: nothing fancy, but just elegant enough to make your mouth water.

Price: 10

Since this was a comped meal for me, I clearly have to give it full points! But the menu isn’t unreasonable, which is kind of shocking since the location is primo Grand Centralville real estate. In fact, I mentioned above in the intro paragraphs about the crazy price fix deal and oyster happy hour that they offer. Both of these are excellent bargains.

Bar: 8

The bar was pretty crowded on a Monday at 6:30pm, which is great. It was hopping. It’s somewhat of a narrow space that stretches backward from the main entrance, but there is some window access and high-top seating to get comfy. The bar itself is gorgeous, with gas fireplaces lining the wall in back.

I tested their drink slinging skills with a dry gin martini, and they passed with flying colors. They also have a really nice menu of special house cocktails that looked delicious.

Specials and Other Meats: 8

They offer a Niman Ranch aged rack of lamb that I’m dying to try. But if you’re looking for chicken you can go fuck yourself, because it isn’t offered on the menu. Man up and eat red meat for fuck’s sake. You’re at a steakhouse!

Apps, Sides & Desserts: 10

We sampled a bunch of stuff on the savory side, but we didn’t get into dessert. As such, I reserve my review score here to be amended if necessary (I suppose I always do that anyway for subsequent visits). But based on the savory success, I can pretty much guarantee that you’ll be satisfied with the sweet.

Benjamin Prime does something wild that I’ve never seen before: a dedicated tartare menu section. They offer four: (1) a duo with salmon and yellowfin; (2) filet mignon with truffle cream and shaved truffle; (3) strip loin with caramelized onion and foie gras; and (4) wagyu beef with caviar and egg cream. Come on! That’s fucking cool.

We tried the filet and the strip versions. I went in thinking I’d like the filet (left) better because of the truffle, but I came away liking the strip (right) better because of the onion and foie. The strip delivered a really robust, powerful punch of funky flavors. Awesome.

The sea scallops are perfectly seared and extremely tasty. I could eat a dozen at a clip, no sweat. The celery root puree really makes them pop in terms of flavor.

Bacon. Fucking ridiculous. Just get it.

I mean come on… Look at this… It’s just as thick as it is wide!

They serve a “creamless” style creamed spinach, which I always love when I see it on menus. It’s just better than the traditional, heavy style. They really nailed it with this one.

We also did some three-cheese mac & cheese, as well as creamy corn with pancetta. Both were really great.

We also snacked on some blistered shishito peppers. These were awesome. They’re lightly salted, have a great char, and boast a hint of fresh, herbal heat that kicks in with the occasional fiery one.

Seafood Selection: 8

There’s a ton of great looking seafood on the menu here, and I think that’s part of the reason why they’re attracting a slightly different customer base than Benjamin Steakhouse. Here, they’ve made an effort to combine the best of both their steakhouse brand and their seafood restaurant brand. Next time, I will order a fish entree as an app to share, so I can properly score this category based on more than just the scallops (which were incredible, as I mentioned above).

Service: 10

Nothing short of perfection here. The staff is absolutely great, from the front of the house, to the wait staff, to the bus boys, to the management. They’ll make you feel like royalty in this place.

Ambiance: 8

They’ve really done a tremendous job with the space here. The main dining floor has high ceilings and good light from the windows along the street, but it’s cozy enough to feel private and intimate. Upstairs is great for even more privacy or a special event. They’ve managed to strike a nice balance: Benjamin Prime achieves the modern vibe while simultaneously maintaining the right amount of traditional.

BENJAMIN PRIME
23 E 40th St
New York, NY 10016

The Rib Eye Steak

The Rib Eye is the most ultimate of steaks, period. It is an awesome cut of beef.

Etymology: The etymology on this is pretty self-explanatory. The “rib” part of the name is because this cut of meat is connected to a rib bone. The “eye” part of the name is a reference to the circular, more centrally located portion of the cut that is more uniform than the outer portions of the cut. You will likely see the Rib Eye steak, or rib chop, called by many names.

For example, the Cowboy Rib Eye is a bone-in version of the cut:

There’s also the Tomahawk Rib Eye, which is so named for its resemblance to a Tomahawk-style hatchet. When butchered, a long “handle” of rib is cut clean to expose the bone (it is “Frenched,” as they say), and the steak meat is left at the end of the handle to form the hatchet blade:

Here’s a shot of my buddy; he’s about to get clobbered with a Tomahawk Rib Eye by Chef Josh Capon at Bowery Meat Company:

There’s also the Delmonico cut, otherwise known as a Scotch Filet. Applying what you’ve learned here, you can probably guess that this cut is boneless (filet means “boneless” in French). Delmonico’s claims this cut as their own because they named a house special boneless cut Rib Eye steak after their restaurant, way back in the early 1800’s when they first opened.

Anatomy: The rib section of beef spans from ribs six through twelve, and, obviously, hails from the rib section of the animal.

Rib Eye steaks are mainly composed of the Longissimus dorsi muscle (the “eye” portion of the steak) and the Spinalis dorsi muscle.

The more anterior your cut, the more Spinalis you’ll find in the steak. The Spinalis is the coveted cap of meat that wraps around the fatter end of the steak and usually has much more marbling than the rest of the Longissimus eye, or interior of the steak. That “fat cap” is also called the Deckle when it is butchered away from the remaining eye.

photo credit: http://www.acookblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/IMG_7574.jpg

Highly skilled butchers know how to remove it from its position across an entire standing rib roast section of ribs, so as to keep it all together as one giant cut. But then that ruins the rib chop, in my opinion, since you’re taking away the best part. Some steakhouses have taken to tying several Deckle cuts together in a spiral formation to create an all-fat-cap steak. Bowery Meat Company has one such cut, which they call the Bowery Steak:

STK also offers one on special from time to time:

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The Spinalis has a more intense marbling, and, thus, much more flavor and tenderness. If you are so bold, the next time you order a Rib Eye at a steakhouse, ask for an anterior cut that has more of this fantastic Spinalis muscle.

Preparation: There are a ton of ways to prepare a rib steak. The most comon forms are searing in a pan, grilling, or broiling. Another common method of preparing this kind of meat is roasting. A “standing rib roast” is a section of Rib Eye steaks that has not yet been portioned into individual steaks.

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When this rack of ribs is roasted slow and low to a pink medium rare, the end product is called Prime Rib.

It then gets sliced out into portions for individual consumption. This is a mammoth cut that we got from Burger & Barrel:

I know what you’re wondering, and the answer is Yes: Prime Rib and Rib Eye steak are the same exact thing. They are just prepared differently, using different cooking methods.

Cheaper cuts of rib steaks are actually the most common type of beef found in Philly Cheesesteaks as well. The meat is cut super thin and then cooked on a flat top with cheese, onions and other toppings, then shoved into long sandwich bread (incase you’re an asshole who has no fucking clue was a cheesesteak is).

Side Bar: is a Philly Cheesesteak better than a Cheeseburger? I think so… Man… Now I’m hungry for both…

Flavor: This steak has a high fat content, and that makes it very important to have a quality cut of beef, or an aged cut of beef. In high quality and aged cuts, this fat will render out or melt away much easier during the cooking process. This will impart a tremendous amount of flavor into the steak, and it will leave the remaining flesh with a very tender and soft texture. Don’t be afraid of the fat. Fat is not the same as gristle. Fat is good. Fat is your friend. Any good butcher will get the gristle off and leave the good fat behind. And when that good fat is REALLY good, it’s like having a delicious beef jelly with each bite of steak.

As discussed above, the Rib Eye is really like having two steaks in one (The small Spinalis Deckle or fat cap, and the larger Longissimus eye). The Spinalis is soft, tender, has lots of fat flavor and sometimes develops a crisp during cooking. The eye is more dense, but still well marbled so that it retains intense flavor. The eye is more uniform than the Spinalis. So: two steaks in one, kind of like the Porterhouse. Plus, there’s a nice, meaty beef spare rib to gnaw on at the end, if you order a bone-in chop.

Since there is generally more fat and marbling in this cut across its entirety, you will get better flavors than with the tenderloin or Strip, in my opinion. Clearly, high fat content is not for everyone. If you want to avoid fats in your diet, then go with the tenderloin. I actually really enjoy the flavor of fat. Fat, now, is sometimes referred to as the sixth flavor sensation. There were always four: (1) savory, (2) sweet, (3) bitter and (4) sour. “Umami” claims to be the fifth, and is meant to encompass the earthy, funky, fermented flavor sensations that you experience with mushrooms, truffles, aged beef and blue cheese. I just dislike the word “umami,” so I use “earthy” instead. The sixth is “fat,” apparently, as decreed by various food people who get paid to sit around and do these things. I’m not sure how it works, but I seem to be able to recognize a distinct sensation on my tastebuds, along with a buttery flavor and slippery feel, whenever I eat shit like pork bone ramen or a Rib Eye steak. Maybe there’s something to it?

Anyway, I hope this was an informative and educational post for you meat minions out there. Knowing this shit, I think, is very important.

Strip Steak

Etymology: According to the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, this steak is marketed under various names, including Ambassador Steak, Club Steak, Hotel-Style Steak, Veiny Steak, Kansas City Steak and New York Strip Steak. Delmonico’s offered Strip as a signature dish way back in the early 1800’s. Due to the cut’s association with NYC, the New York Strip Steak name was born.

Anatomy: The Strip is cut from the other side of the tenderloin, across the vertebra on the T-bone or Porterhouse.

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Also known as strip loin, the Strip Steak is cut from the short loin part of the animal, from a muscle that does little work, like the Filet Mignon. It is generally more tender than the similarly situated but more posterior-located sirloin section of the animal. While it is essentially the same kind of meat as sirloin, the muscles in the rear do a bit more work than the short loin, so can be a bit more tough.

Preparation: For me, the Strip is best at medium rare, to preserve the tenderness and reduce any mealy or grainy textures that can develop from overcooking. It is always best to get a really great quality cut for this chop, something prime+, as all the intra-muscular fat, or marbling, will become soft and the muscle will tenderize all over.  You will often see it marinated or rubbed with spices, to impart additional flavors, but grilling and broiling in the traditional style is fantastic as well, especially with butter and herbs.  It can be served bone-in or boneless. Leaving the bone in will impart more flavor and help with the cooking process, since the bone conveys heat into the center of the meat while locking in juices.  At home, marinade this puppy in something like soy sauce and garlic, and slap it on the BBQ for a few minutes on each side and you will have the perfect home-cooked steak.

Flavor: This cut contains fat in levels that are somewhat in between the tenderloin (virtually none) and the Rib Eye (plenty of good, melty fat). Like the tenderloin, there is little variation throughout the cut, so the flavors and textures are more uniform for the Strip Steak, unlike the Rib Eye which has varying textures and flavors from one end of the cut to the other. The texture of a Strip can sometimes be a little bit grainy or mealy, and a bit more tight than a Filet Mignon or a Rib Eye – especially if it’s cooked too much.

Filet Mignon & Tenderloin

Etymology: Filet, in culinary terminology, means boneless. Mignon, in French, means dainty or small. As such, this is a steak ideally suited for chicks: small/dainty, and with no bone.

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Occasionally on a steakhouse menu you will see a “bone-in filet.” Given what I just mentioned above, that phraseology is completely self-defeating and confusing, as it simultaneously means both “bone-in” and “boneless.” However, it seems this sort of language is becoming commonplace. If it were up to me, I would prefer “bone-in tenderloin” to be listed on menus instead. There is no wording conflict with that phrasing, and it is an accurate description of what is being presented. In other words: all Filet Mignon is tenderloin, but not all tenderloin is Filet Mignon.

Anatomy: Traditionally, a Filet Mignon was cut from the anterior end of the tenderloin. In the beef chart image below, you can see a portion of the tenderloin section highlighted in red.

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That is where Filet Mignon was typically located, though most butchers label all steaks cut from the tenderloin as Filet Mignon (this allows for larger portions). The tenderloins run along both sides of the spine. They taper from thick, in the posterior of the animal, to thin in the front.

In their unbutchered form, they contain what’s called the “silver skin” still attached to the flesh. This is a thick connective tissue that is pretty much inedible. When butchering the full tenderloin, you will want to slice that off (it is NOT tender).

While this next photo is a repeat shot of a lamb vertebra Barnsley chop (the mutton chop from Keen’s), the anatomy is exactly the same for beef. This will illustrate exactly where the filet comes from. Essentially this is a double porterhouse, with a filet and a strip on each side. In addition to understanding the Filet Mignon, this image is useful in demonstrating the anatomy of the Strip and Porterhouse cuts as well, since they all come from the same place – the vertebrae of the animal:

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Preparation: Preparations of this cut vary greatly. You may see this cut sliced thin and pounded flat, served raw for carpaccio. You may also see it finely chopped for tartare. A simple pan sear with butter and herbs, however, is probably the most common preparation.

Yet another style is Chateaubriand, which is a large section of the thick portion of the tenderloin that is roasted boneless, then sliced and served with a reduction sauce.

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There is also Beef Wellington, which is a portion of tenderloin that has been coated with pate and then wrapped in puff pastry dough prior to cooking.

Flavor: Widely considered the most tender and least fatty cut of beef on the animal, the flavor should be uniform from one end to the other, with very tender and soft texture the whole way through. There is hardly any fat content in the standard cut of Filet Mignon. Some chefs will wrap the filet in caul fat (a lacy, fatty, web-like membrane that surrounds the stomach of an animal) before cooking. The webbing melts away during cooking and imparts a fat flavor into the meat. But it is more common to use things like butter, or to wrap a filet in bacon to add the fat flavor into the meat.