Metropolis is a new revitalized space that once served as the jazz lounge beneath Blue Water Grill in Union Square. It’s still owned and operated by the BR Guest restaurant group, and it seems that these folks can do no wrong when it comes to quality eating.
While there will inevitably be a few items at any place that a person may not like too much, I have to say that BR Guest delivers great food on a consistent basis, whether it’s Strip House, Dos Caminos, Bill’s or Blue Water Grill.
We came here to celebrate a birthday with another couple. My wife and I arrived early and ordered a drink at the bar, took in the live music and marveled at the amazing cocktail selections and quirky decor.
Speaking of drinks, my recommendation is to skip the Montauk seawater martini for two. If you’re like me, then you’re a martini purist. When I saw seawater I got excited, because I love that kind of brine for a martini. But this drink is made with sweet vermouth and garnished with a sweet pickled tomato and similarly pickled string bean. Maybe you like a sweet martini. I do not. Perhaps next time I can request a more savory version of this.
The whole ordeal is concocted table side, which is fun, but ultimately the two drinks were shallow. They could have filled it up a bit higher at $35 for the pair.
Okay so let’s get to the food. We browsed as we snacked on some delicious table bread with ricotta and olive oil.
This joint’s menu is purposefully heavy on the seafood, and for good reason. It’s below Blue Water Grill and the former chef, who happens to be from Per Se, does an amazing job with the fish dishes in particular. The first things that will pop out at you are the seafood tower selections and caviar items. Take a suggestion from me: the seafood towers are awesome.
That’s the “Flatiron” tower at $125 for 2-4 people. It contains two styles of oysters (six each of east and west), a dozen Little Neck clams, a char grilled octopus tentacle, seafood ceviche, a king crab leg, a half dozen mussels in tomato sauce and a whole lobster.
We also shared the surf and turf tartare. This was a bit small and underwhelming, but certainly not bad by any means.
We ended up going with two fish items and two meat items for our entrees. Let me first address the meat, since that’s what this website is all about. The filet mignon was perfectly cooked to medium rare, but unlike Strip House, it lacked that external char that I love so much. On the other hand, it was sauced with a really savory bacon reduction that blew us away. 7/10.
The steak came with this little skillet of spinach that was topped with brulee’d cheese. Very nice.
The real winner is the steak sandwich. It’s made with sliced rib eye steak that was cooked sous vide style in 45-day dry aged beef fat. Then it’s topped with charred onions and roasted tomato, and Velveeta wiz for that authentic Philly flare. Fucking fantastic. Get it.
It’s served with waffle cut potato chips (crisps, if you’re European). These were okay. I think I would have preferred some standard shoestring French fries instead.
Now for the fish. Hands down my favorite item of the night was the cod. It was served with an airy, creamy butter sauce and nicely roasted veggies. Then it was topped with a little circle of puff pastry.
The fish itself was perfectly cooked, juicy, flaky and mild. I’d definitely go back for that.
The cedar plank salmon was excellent as well, cooked to a perfect medium rare and served with sweet roasted tomatoes and basil.
The table next to us had some nice looking peanut butter and cherry Baked Alaska, so that got us into the mood for dessert.
However we wanted to try some of the other items. Warm apple crisp pie with vanilla cinnamon ice cream:
And cheese cake parfait with fruit and graham cracker crumble layers. Beautiful.
Both were very nice, but I think the winner was the parfait.
31 Union Square West
New York, NY 10003
I’ve heard lots of good things about Strip House over the years, and I was psyched to go there and use a gift card I received for my birthday (Thanks Jackie & Mike!). Check the verdict (about as close to perfect as you can get). On my second visit, Jackie & Mike took us out for a b-day/anniversary celebration. Things are still incredible here. See the italics text below for new updates.
This place lived up to its expectations, and then some. The ribeye was perfectly cooked. It had a great crispy sear on the outside, and it was the perfect pink color and temperature from edge to bone, no uneven cooking, no change in texture, nothing. It had a great fat cap, and all the fat was soft and edible. There was nothing left on the bone at the end of the meal. Aside from the meat, everything else was perfect as well. This place is fucking legit. On the second visit I had the bone-in strip, and it was on par with the ribeye: amazing. Perfectly cooked, very flavorful and juicy. I tried smearing some of the mushy garlic onto a few bites and it really enhhanced the taste. I suggest trying it a little bit here and there. I had a taste of the special bone-in filet as well, and it is top notch.
Choice of Cuts & Quality Available: 9
Strip house has all four of the basics covered; porterhouse (only offered for two), ribeye, filet mignon and strip. In addition they have a Chateaubriand for two. There was no mention in the menu or on the website regarding what grade or quality the beef is, but based on the flavor I’d say it is prime. On special they even had a bone-in filet (aka “the conundrum”). A wide variety of meat sizes and flavors. The only thing missing was a porterhouse for one. On special for the second trip they also had a boneless dry aged 16oz ribeye on the menu.
Portion Size & Plating: 10
Portion sizes are just right for the steaks. The strip comes in 16oz or 20oz (bone-in) portions; the filet is either 8oz or 12oz; and the ribeye is 20oz (bone-in). The porterhouse for two is 38oz, and the Chateaubriand for two is 24oz. The garnish on the plate was a nice roasted bundle of garlic, within its paper, sealing in all the heat to make it nice and spreadable. I didn’t delve into it too much, but it was a nice touch, and it even had a sprig of rosemary sticking out so it looked like a little pine tree (rosemary) with the roots wrapped (garlic bushel). Speaking of garlic, it seemed to be a common theme on many of the plates. For example, in the crispy goose fat potato dish, garlic was sliced and fried, and placed on top with a little bit of parsley. There was also some minced garlic cooked into the sear on the steak (nice!). The garlic wasn’t overpowering at all; just prevalent. The sides were a bit on the small side in comparison to other places I’ve been, but to be honest there is enough to feed two people on any one dish. The ripped potato app is a fairly large portion, however. See pic below:
At Strip House, the price for beef ranges from $41 to $49. The filets are $41 and $45; the ribeye is $46; and the strip is $45 and $49 – the larger of the two strips (bone-in) being the most expensive cut on the menu. The porterhouse runs $45pp, and the Chateaubriand is $43pp. The special bone-in filet was $52. Apps are $11 to $19, sides $8 to $12. A martini costs $12, which I thought was fair. These numbers are about right. The total bill, after tax, tip and deduction of gift card, came to under $200. A good deal indeed, though the sides were a bit small for their respective prices. Be sure to snack on some of the candied pecans that come in a small dish with the check – they are incredible.
The bar is really nice. First, the martini was made perfectly. The bartender chilled a glass while preparing the drink, and he even had the courtesy to ask if I wanted it shaken or stirred, up, or on the rocks. The decor is awesome, and the tables and couch near the bar make for a cozy yet elegant and swanky old time feel, with a nice view of the wine room near the entrance. I can definitely see myself hanging out here for a drink. I just don’t know if anyone else would be there since it isn’t in the most jumping location (though there is plenty to do nearby). The cocktail menu has a few new style drinks; interesting mixes rather than the traditional old time types of classics, but they are still good. My wife had a “bluebird sing,” which was a nice blueberry flavored drink. On my second trip they didn’t chill the martini glass, and it only came with two olives instead of three. Also noteworthy is that it went up in price by $1. I also noticed that the end of the bar is very close to the ring-up station where all the waiters and servers hang by the registers and computer screens. It can get tight over there, but the lounge seating area makes up for that.
Specials and Other Meats: 9
Also on the menu is a Colorado lamb rack and a veal rib chop. This place is pretty much beef and seafood only; I don’t really mind so much, but a slab of pork or some chicken would round it out better. I say man up or shut up though. Off the menu, on special, they had something for each course: a spicy crab and lobster salad, the bone-in filet, and grilled asparagus. They also had two types of oysters (east and west coasters). On special for the second trip they also had the bone-in filet again, a dry aged boneless 16oz ribeye, a spicy tuna tartare, and a seafood tower for two. We tried three of those. Mike had the bone-in filet (delicious), I had the spicy tuna tartare (very nice – spicy, cold, wrapped in thinly sliced cucumber, and dressed just right), and the ladies had the seafood tower (though the waiter was helpful in telling us it is cheaper and better to order two seperate towers for one, as you get more food for less money).
Apps, Sides & Desserts: 10
I heard a lot of really great things about the apps at Strip House before going, so I was determined to make room for a serious order. It started to become really difficult to choose. Ultimately we went with the roasted bacon for an app. It was amazing, and a good portion to match the hefty $19 price tag. It came with a nice sized arugula salad, perfectly coated with a homemade thousand island type of dressing, with halved grape tomatoes on the side. Next we had the black truffle creamed spinach, which was rich and creamy but not overpowering. You could definitely taste the truffle in there, and it was served in a cool miniature copper pot. Then the creamed corn with pancetta; it was deliciously topped with a crispy crumble, like mac & cheese. And finally an order of the crispy goose fat potatoes. Yum! They seemed to be baked in a ramekin of some kind, because every side of the upside-down-pie-shaped disc was perfectly crisped to a brown color. The potatoes themselves had a rich goosey flavor, with a heavy dose of rosemary infusion. We were temped to order the ripped potatoes too (baked potato, ripped apart and deep fried with a rosemary salt). For dessert we had baked Alaska; chocolate ice cream with layers of pistachio, topped with brulee’d meringue and sitting in a pool of pistachio cream. One thing to note was that the menu online was different than the one at the restaurant (changes for the better, for the most part). One item missing was the house cured beef jerky, which I would have liked to try. For round two the only new item we tried was the ripped potato for an app. It was really crunchy on the outside, soft on the inside, seasoned just right. Delicious. It may have benefitted from a little dish of sour cream on the side though (see a pic under the “portion size” section). For dessert we had the creme brulee (which I thought was more like flan and not as thick as I like it inside). It was okay, but a little too thin for my liking.
Seafood Selection: 10
Strip House has a nice seafood selection. Shrimp, crab cakes, scallops, and a seafood plateau for apps (along with lobster bisque); Yellow fin tuna and red snapper were mentioned on the menu online, but in the restaurant they had crispy skin Scottish salmon, and a sea bass entree. Solid change up. They also had Maine lobster (2- and 3-pounders) for entrees (along with a lobster linguine). They had a good selection of oysters and shellfish too, but the real kicker was the seafood plateau. Holy shit, my friends. Here is what was on the saucer of goodness: tuna tartare on a bed of seaweed salad; grilled calamari salad; lump crab meat ceviche; shrimp cocktail; a half lobster; a generous amount of Alaskan king crab legs; east and west coast oysters; and littleneck clams. It seemed never ending, and totally worth the $49 price tag. It came with an array of amazing sauces; a home made cocktail sauce that was creamy and generous with freshly grated horseradish; a cucumber vinegar bath; and of course the steak sauce (not with the plateau), which really was amazing with the seafood rather than the meat. Let’s put it this way: it makes Luger’s sauce look like bottled ape shit.
The service was fantastic. The waiters (and waitress) all had old fashioned period piece white jacket tuxedos on, and they all knew their shit when it came to meat, their preparations, etc. They were attentive but not annoying, and EVERY SINGLE PERSON WE WALKED PAST said HAPPY ANNIVERSARY to us, just because we mentioned it when making an online reservation. These people are classy. Our meal came with an amuse too – a shot of hot potato soup that was bacony and smoky as heck. Really delicious, though it could have been a bit smoother. The table breads were not only good, but they were REPLENISHED after we finished them (butter was a little hard though). There was an everything style onion roll with fresh charred onions and spices on top, a crispy raisin bun, and a log of salty bagel bread. The second trip was no different as far as service goes; only this time the amuse was a cool gazpacho instead of a warm potato soup. One bonus was that the waiter informed us it was cheaper and better to order two seperate seafood towers for one instead of the special tower for two – thanks buddy! In the lead up to the meal, a BR Guest PR person on Yelp found my reviews of Primehouse and Strip House, and wrote a nice response email to me. We had a conversation and it came out that I was about to eat at Strip House again that evening. She poked around the guest list and discovered that we were celebrating a birthday, so I knew we were in for some extra attention. As it turns out, they sent us a free slice of 24 layer chocolate cake. See below:
Service here never misses the top marks. When I came with a group of five guys, our waitress Asthma really knew her stuff and was incredible. I even noticed that when the sommelier helped us choose between two bottles of wine, he didn’t try to upwell us on one just because it was $5 more. He actually told us he preferred the cheaper bottle better and told us why. I like that.
When you walk in, you feel like you just entered a movie set, or a place ripped right out of the old days. The walls are a deep wall-papered and patterned red. It is cozy and warm, but elegant. The filigree wallpaper even matches the cloth napkins at the table, and framed portraits of old timey nekkit ladies grace the walls, covering nearly every square inch with history. The cushions on the wall seats are a pillowed red; very art deco. The only thing that seemed out of place was the high-school style speckled large-tile floor. The bathroom was nice and fancy, old fashioned too, but a little small.
On my last visit, I had the filet mignon cooked crispy on the outside and rare on the inside. It was perfectly executed to my specifications.
My buddies and I tried the burrata app, which was super soft and flavorful. I could eat this every day and never get sick of it.
As always, the bacon was incredible as well:
UPDATED REVIEW AND PHOTOS as of 12/4/2015
My wife shared an article with me that detailed Chef Michael Vignola’s new 60oz bone-in filet mignon. At a cost of $183, I immediately took to the phones to set one aside for a group of four meat enthusiasts: me, The Cake Dealer, The Dishelin Guide and Matt Bruck.
Chef Vignola passed the torch off to Chef Andreas Seidel for the evening. Really great guy – Andreas and his team treated us like absolute kings! He brought out some really nice scallop crudo with uni and yuzu cream sauce for us to try. Very smooth and bright.
We also ordered the large seafood plateau.
Everything on it was top quality, super fresh and very tasty.
Andreas also brought out some bacon for us to gnaw on. Always a great thing…
Here’s the filet – that massive hunk of delicious, tender meat – prior to the table side slicing.
60oz Filet Mignon Slicing & Serving Video:
Standard issue plating at Strip House is this buttery smooth roasted garlic with a sprig of rosemary. I love this…
Here’s my plate:
There was a ton of flavor on the outside crust, but that meant I had to cut and portion carefully so as not to have a bite of all center with little seasoning. The meat was super tender and absolutely fatless. It was aged, so any fat that may have been in there melted away, leaving behind a dense, meaty and super soft hunk of beef.
On the side we tried the Pommes Dauphine (tater tots with aged gouda and crispy parsley). These were super soft inside, like mashed potatoes, but nice and crisp on the outside. I am now in love with crispy parsley too. It actually had flavor, which is so unlike parsley!
We also ordered creamed corn with pancetta. Great side. Probably the best on the menu here.
The chef also brought out some truffle creamed spinach as well. Very earthy and savory. This went really well when slathered onto the steak with each bite.
Green beans. Simple, but really well executed.
Andreas also sent out some crispy goose fat potatoes – delicious!
The chef also sent out two desserts for us. First was this beautiful Baked Alaska. Watch the service here:
Really nicely done. You could taste the booze but it wasn’t overpowering, and the marshmallow outside was perfectly seared.
There was also more of that massive 24-layer chocolate cake!
Here’s a shot of Team Bald – me and Matt Bruck, with chef Andreas Seidel. Great guy and a great sport!
Primehouse is a BR Guest restaurant. My wife and I have gone to the NYC location on Park & 27th several times. Overall this was one of my top three favorite steakhouses in New York, but things have changed much since they first opened.
In all my years of devouring animal carcass, Primehouse is one of the best steakhouses I’ve been to in terms of flavor. The seasoning is just right; you never need to add salt, pepper, or sauces to the meat. They seem to take pride in the simplicity of the ingredient and do extremely well at showcasing it in a pure form. This seems to be the case with most BR Guest restaurants I’ve been to as a matter of fact, whether it is steak, BBQ or seafood.
Choice of Cuts & Quality Available: 10
The main four cuts (strip, filet, porterhouse, and ribeye) are all represented on the basic menu, often in several sizes and forms, such as bone-in or boneless. As the name of the restaurant suggests, they use prime grade beef, most of which is already aged. Occasionally they offer cuts of meat not listed on the menu, such as special aged cuts, but there is an amazing selection of aged meat on the normal menu. I’ve tasted their 40-day aged ribeye, both bone-in and boneless filets, and the bone-in strip; all were fantastic. This place wins the prize for the best filet I have ever tasted to date. On top of having the basic four cuts in several varieties, they also offer alternative cuts like the hanger steak, as well as other types of meat.
Portion Size & Plating: 9
The portions are normal to above average in size. The “real” steaks hover around the 20oz mark, where they should be. The bone-in filet is massive. Plating is simple, but elegant.
Primehouse can be pricey if you go for the better cuts, but you get a lot for your money, and the quality is fantastic. You WILL NOT leave hungry. The food is well worth the price. The fist time my wife and I went, they offered a $75/pp three course tasting which included a slightly smaller sized appetizer, a petit filet, and dessert. In reality it was more like a four or five course tasting because they brought over complimentary bite-sized samplings of their side items and other things the chef was experimenting with. We try to go every time they offer specials like this, since you save a lot of money and still get all of their best food, but unfortunately we haven’t seen it offered much anymore in the past couple of years. Times are tough.
Primehouse has an amazing bar food menu. A few times we were tempted to skip steaks and just sit at the bar and snack on pork belly all night. They know how to mix a drink too, and the martinis are always made well. Not too sweet, not too strong, most of the special drink menu items are unique and refreshing. Great selection of wines, scotches and special cocktails. This is a place you can definitely hang out in. Several large TVs adorn the high-ceiling bar area, and the large windows offer a view of Park Avenue for people watching.
Specials and Other Meats: 8
I’ve really only ever saw chicken and veal on the menu, other than beef. I’d like to see some lamb preparations, or a braised short rib. I know this place can do a great job on those, despite primarily being a place for steak. As I said above, the meats on the regular menu are already pretty damn special, but occasionally the waiter will read off some things that are not on the menu.
Apps, Sides & Desserts: 9
On the appetizer angle, the big eye tuna tartare is probably the best preparation of tuna I have ever eaten. The table-side ceasar is amazing, and so is the carpaccio, and all are good sized. The crabcake was a bit small, but still tasty; I think it was small because the time I got it, it was from the special $75 prix fix tasting menu, where portions tend to be smaller. The tomato bisque was really tasty and smokey. It came with small squares of grilled cheese cut up in the empty bowl, and the server poured the soup into the bowl tableside. Primehouse offers a great selection of raw oysters and shellfish towers that will feed more than one person. For the sides, I wasn’t impressed with the potato-based items (I’ve tried the lobster whipped, duck fat hash browns, and asiago fries), but the creamed spinach and grilled asparagus are great, as are the green beans and mac & cheese. For dessert, the box of doughnuts is absolutely amazing. They are fresh homemade doughnut holes topped with cinnamon and sugar, and they come in a brown Chinese-food container box with a few bottles of “fillings” that you squirt into the doughnuts. Other than a generously filled flight of bourbons or a single malt scotch, that is all I have ever tried for dessert. My wife tried a chocolate souffle once and said it was good. Fuck chocolate – I can’t eat much without getting sick of it. The cold items are good to cleanse the palate.
Seafood Selection: 8
Aside from the multitude of shellfish and seafood in the appetizer section, Primehouse offers a few basic preparations of the standards like salmon, tuna, sea bass, and of course lobster. I’ve never tried, but they look delicious, and the selection is about normal for a steakhouse menu. The seafood towers on the appetizer menu could also substitute as a meal. The smaller “flatiron” size came with four oysters (raw), two clams (raw), half a lobster tail, a lobster claw, a king crab leg, a dish of salmon tartare, about a dozen mussels, and homemade potato chips.
Primehouse is not a traditional style steakhouse with an all-male staff. The waiters/waitresses all know their stuff. They will suggest a less or more gamey steak, or a milder aged steak, if you explain what you like and dislike. They are not out to get you to buy the most expensive item on the menu; they are concerned with making you happy. They are on top of the bread and water refills, and the refreshing of booze. Worth mentioning here is the bread served with dinner. Freshly baked, warm, square bagels – some plain but naturally salty, some with chopped calamata olives inside. And the butter is whipped and soft, easy to spread – not hard like it just came out of the freezer. I could eat these all day. Tableside items like the salad and soup engage the diner in the culinary experience. Occasionally my wife and I will make reservations for special occasions online, and, if you tell them it is your birthday or anniversary, they will sometimes bring over a complimentary box of doughnuts for dessert, a pair of champagne flutes or a small cake with a candle and some writing on the plate. They know how to take care of their patrons. The only down side is that in recent months or the last year or so, some of the nice perks about this restaurant have started to fade away, like a free dessert or drink if you make anniversary reservations, the complimentary tasting-sized sampling of special items or palate cleansers between courses, or the olive square bagel (now they seem to only serve the plain, which is still delicious – don’t get me wrong). This is probably due to the recent economic downturn and its impact on the rising cost of food items, so it is understandable in that sense. A business still needs to make money, right?
Although Primehouse is not a traditional, wood-grained, Rockwell-print-adorned, tavern-like classic “steakhouse” restaurant, I still give it surprisingly good marks for ambiance. Don’t be fooled by the initial appearance of a club or lounge atmosphere. No one is rude, the music is a comfortable volume and a mix of things everyone knows, and the vibe is relaxed; no dress code. The floor is an amazing nod to the mod stylings of the 60s, with bold black and white circles embedded in the tile. High ceilings make you feel light and not so weighed down by the massive meat wad that sits in your stomach as the meal progresses. The crowd is hip and trendy, but not pretentious like some places in the city. It attracts after-workers, young people, as well as daters and birthdayers. Bathrooms are clean and spacious, flatware is clean, white and non-traditional/interestingly shaped, and silverware is robust and modern. Overall Primehouse is a great change-up from the typical steakhouse feel. I was pleasantly surprised, and now I have grown to love it, even though my meat bone still belongs to the classic steakhouse decor.