Tag Archives: chophouse

Chicago Chophouse

Chicago Chophouse overall score: 88

My wife and I came here for our second steakhouse meal of the night on our last night in Chicago. While this was steakhouse dinner number two for the day, it was number four for the trip. Four steakhouses in three nights is aggressive. But that’s what I do.

Flavor: 8

We had the pleasure of going on a little tour of the kitchen and upstairs floors in the restaurant before we ate. I even had a chance to see my steak before it was cooked. Dry-aged rib eye:

1500 degree broilers!

This is how it came out:

Nice crust:

It reminded me a bit of my last visit to Delmonico’s. I liked it, but it was slightly over-salted. However, I love that all of their steaks get finished in rendered wagyu beef fat.

Choice of Cuts & Quality Available: 10

You have a wide variety of steaks from both the dry-aged and wet-aged factions, as well as domestic wagyu and other selections. Below you can see some pics from their walk-in, showing wet-aged and dry-aged cuts.

Portion Size & Plating: 9

Portions here are pretty good, and there are multiple sizes of each cut on the menu available to suit your appetite. Plating is in the standard steakhouse style.

Price: 7

The dry aged rib eye was a bit pricey at $69. This is more than NYC pricing, but then again dry-aged steaks are more of a rare thing here in Chicago, I have learned. The pricing on the seafood platter was fair though.

Bar: 10

This ground floor level drinking den is gorgeous, and it reminded me of Keen’s. I would hang out here any day.

They mixed a nice negroni and old fashioned too.

They are even opening a speakeasy on the second floor. I saw some of the pre-construction and it looks like it’ll be awesome.

Specials and Other Meats: 8

There’s a healthy selection of alternative proteins here as well as some daily specials. I didn’t wade into that stuff on this visit though. I was streamlined for the rib eye.

Apps, Sides & Desserts: 8

We only tried the bacon and a dessert, since this was steakhouse dinner number two of the night. The bacon was thick cut Nueskes and glazed with maple syrup. So good.

How does one choose a dessert?

Go with the waiter’s suggestion: creme brûlée cheesecake. Very nice.

Seafood Selection: 8

My wife had a seafood platter for one. They ran out of oysters on the half, so they made up for it with that nice log king crab. This could have used one or two more items to round it out, but $25 is a nice price regardless.

Service: 10

Our waiter George was awesome. Super friendly, knowledgeable and attentive. The house even comped that bacon app for us, which I thought was very kind. The bread selection was nice and warm with spreadable butter too.

Ambiance: 10

I love this place. It’s set in an old townhouse that is rumored to be haunted, but the decor inside is in line with places like Keen’s, where it almost has an urban museum feel for the city of Chicago. When you come here, I definitely urge you to explore and check out everything on the walls.

CHICAGO CHOPHOUSE
60 W Ontario St
Chicago, IL 60654

Chef Chuck Troup

I recently tried a 500-day dry aged steak at Maxwell’s Chophouse.

It turns out that the chef there, Chuck Troup, is experimenting with some really interesting things.

After speaking with him that night, I decided I wanted to do a little feature of him here on the site in the form of a Q&A interview. Read on and enjoy, and I highly recommend Maxwell’s Chophouse.

JP: Tell my readers a little bit about yourself: where you’re from, how long you’ve been in the business, and what got you interested in cooking.

CT: I was born in PA and raised in New Orleans. I have been living this lifestyle going on 31 years now. I don’t think I necessarily chose this lifestyle, it really chose me. Growing up and starting out in the industry I was surrounded by all of the craziness and excitement in a kitchen. I was so engulfed in the way all the cooks would interact with one another and I found that really amazing. It was funny to me and also exciting the way the cooks would all scream and swear at each other all night long, and then be best friends after it was all over. It really was and is organized chaos and I love that.

JP: You seem to know your way around steaks. Would you say this is your specialty, or are there other cuisines that challenge you and inspire you?

CT: I would say I know my way around steak and I do enjoy working in the steak environment, but over the years I have worked in various cuisines. I spent three years in Japan. Working and living in Japan had a great influence on me as a person, and as a chef. Being from the south, I grew up in an environment full of Cajun and Creole food. I always try to incorporate everything I’ve learned over time wherever I go. Even at a Steakhouse such as Maxwell’s, I’ll throw in a Cajun/Creole special, or even a salmon or steak tartare or sushi roll special. All in all I love pretty much every cuisine, there isn’t much I won’t cook or won’t eat!

JP: I like that you are experimenting with various lengths of dry aging. Is there a sweet spot for flavor in your opinion? 30 days? 60 days? 90?

CT: I think that my personal sweet spot for aging is the 160 to 180 day range. To me, that length of dry aging just has the right amount of funk, flavor and taste. Honestly, after eating a dry aged steak, I don’t know if I could ever go back to not eating it this way. With that being said, as a chef it’s important to know what’s too much. I totally understand why some people have different views on aging. Always have to know your guest.

JP: What sorts of other things are you experimenting with?

CT: Lately, I have been experimenting with lamb, duck, bison, elk, veal and I have even done a few pheasants.

JP: Last time I was here you let me try something that was aged for 500 days. How would you describe the flavor on something aged for that long? I took to calling it concentrated beef rocket fuel!

CT: Well for me I would say that piece of New York strip steak had an unseasoned salami texture with a huge musky flavor, but was not near as funky as a 500 day rib eye. Not sure if “funky” is a good word to describe aged meat, but it’s usually a good kind of funk!

JP: Would you ever consider offering a tasting of various ages to a customer? Say 4oz each at 30, 60 and 90 days?

CT: I would love to do a tasting of aged meat! It would be really great to have people that don’t understand the complexities of flavor that come with the dry aging process at different intervals so they can see how that switch flips with age.

JP: Are customers generally aware of what dry aging does, or do you find that you and the staff have to explain the process?

CT: I think that our audience is generally more educated than 10 or 15 years ago, plus there are a decent amount of people that go to a steakhouse for the aged meat. There are times when we will need to explain what the process is and why different cuts have different flavor at the same age. It’s important that all staff (servers, back servers, etc.) are educated on the process so we can confidently explain to our guests.

JP: What’s your favorite item on the menu at Maxwell’s?

CT: My favorite cut on the menu is for sure our rib eye. My favorite thing on the menu would be the Lamb Burger! Of course it depends on what specials we have, so it does change from time to time. Now that I’m thinking about it, I also love our roasted chicken – it’s really hard to choose!

JP: What’s your favorite cut of steak?

CT: Rib eye!

JP: What’s the most difficult steak to cook properly?

CT: The porterhouse is the hardest to cook correctly. I am completely opposed to the technique of cooking it to rare, slicing and then bringing up to temperature. A good grill cook knows that is reheating, and how most steakhouses do the meat this beautiful deserves the respect of proper cooking along with our customers.

Maxwell’s Chophouse

Maxwell’s Chophouse overall score: 88*

NOTE: THIS PLACE IS CLOSED!

I came here with a group of friends to tackle their dry-aged  six-bone standing prime rib roast. Watch this:

If their regular steak selections are anything like that monster, I think this could end up being one of the best steak joints in town. Read on.

Flavor: 9

These guys dry age everything on site, and this roast was aged for two months (61 days). The edges had a great earthy, nutty and mushroomy flavor to them from that aging process.

And as you can see below, the center was cooked perfectly.

Unfortunately, on a second visit, the prime rib wasn’t as good. Still had great flavor, but the texture was a bit off for some reason. 8/10.

I did try their porterhouse as well. This baby was tender all over, and had a nice crust. It was cooked just right at medium rare too. 9/10.

I even tried something very special and unique as well. A 500-day dry aged strip steak.

This was wild. It’s not on the menu, and it was something the chef was doing experimentally. It had a super aged flavor that was almost like meat fuel or butane. I liked trying it, but I’m not sure I would go all in on something like this often. Too aggressive for me.

Choice of Cuts & Quality Available: 8

In addition to the four major steakhouse cuts, they also offer that prime rib as a regular menu item, king or queen cut. Everything is graded at prime and dry-aged on site. I also like the fact that they proudly state that the animals are raised on corn, which helps develop all that tasty marbling.

Portion Size & Plating: 9

Portions are all pretty good here from what I can tell. The sides are big enough to share with two people, for sure.

Price: 8

This place is on par with the steak joints in midtown, but the rack of ribs comes in at $80pp and includes sides. That’s a good deal.

Bar: 10

This place has a great long marble bar with elegant surroundings. I would definitely hang here. They mix up a nice martini too, and have an interesting signature cocktail list.

Specials and Other Meats: 8

There weren’t any specials read to us (we had pre-ordered this monster in advance), but the prime rib rack is pretty damn special itself. As far as other meats go, you basically only have lamb or chicken. I can respect that though: focus on the beef!

Apps, Sides & Desserts: 9

We tried a number of items during this feast. I’ll list them all and discuss.

Bone Marrow: 7/10

This had good flavor but there just wasn’t enough of it. The grilled lemons were a nice touch though, and the bread was delicious.

Bacon: 10/10

This is top notch shit from Nueskes. Easily on par with Angus Club or Tuscany Steakhouse, and very close to a top five bacon app.

Mashed Potatoes: 8/10

I’m rarely impressed with mashed potatoes after growing up eating my mom’s, which were butter- and mozzarella- laden trays of pure heaven. But they were smooth and buttery. Very nice.

Mushrooms & Spinach: 9/10

Both simple and delicious. I would get these again for sure.

Chocolate Cake: 9/10

This thing is enormous and can easily feed a table of four for the $25 price tag. In fact, this fed seven people (though we also shared another dessert as well).

Butterscotch Creme Brûlée: 8/10

Wow. Super rich, very sweet, but really fucking tasty. Share this otherwise you might overload on decadence. Below is a shot of the dessert platter that came out on my second visit, to share among 10 people.

Seafood Selection: 8

There’s salmon, three-pound lobsters and big eye tuna on the seafood entree menu. I like how this and the chops menu are streamlined and slim, but that means fewer options for you picky assholes out there.

Service: 10

Impeccable. Everyone is attentive, really friendly and knowledgable. The bread basket here is quite interesting, and contains cheese baked flatbreads, chocolate and strawberry muffins, olive bread and other stuff. Very nice.

Ambiance: 9

This place is gorgeous inside. The floor space isn’t gigantic, but the ceiling height is. That really gives the joint a grand and spectacular feel.

There’s also a private dining room, which is where we ate:

I will definitely be back to try some seafood and their porterhouse.

MAXWELL’S CHOPHOUSE
1184 Broadway
New York, NY 10001

Primal Cut

Primal Cut overall score: 80

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: 7

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.

With new chef Daniel Fleming at the helm, I tried the porterhouse, as well as a repeat of the tomahawk.

Slightly over on the edges, but there was a good flavor throughout. 7/10.

This baby didn’t have as much flavor as the porterhouse, but it seemed to be more evenly cooked to a medium plus. as opposed to parts medium rare and parts medium well. 7/10.

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!

On another trip, I had this awesome carpaccio with fried capers. This was one of the best carpaccio I’ve ever had.

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: 93

NOTE: THIS PLACE IS NOW CLOSED

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: 9

Cajun Rib Eye: 10/10 (I have had it several times)

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 (had this a second time and it was 9/10)

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 (had this a second time and it was 7/10)

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

Strip for Three: 9/10 – extremely good crust, really nice texture.

Filet Mignon: 9/10

Choice of Cuts & Quality Available: 10

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

The prices are on par with midtown NYC steakhouses, but since they are slinging some of my favorite food in the city, I have to say this place offers a good deal.

Bar: 8

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.

While the lamb may no longer be available, they do offer a veal parmesan that was excellent:

And a veal chop that is absolutely delicious.

A recent addition to the menu is a Saturday prime rib roast.

Check out this video!

At just $59 this is a steal. 8/10.

And if filet mignon is your thing, try the whole roasted tenderloin:

An easy 9/10 for that. Feeds 6-10 people at $295.

Apps, Sides & Desserts: 9

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:

The crab cake is top notch. This thing rivals Del Frisco’s.

Especially now that the sauce for it has a cajun flavor profile:

Nice hand cut steak tartare:

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!

Branzino:

Tuna:

Salmon:

Crab & Avocado Salad:

Lobster Cobb:

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.

This is also one of the only places you can actually eat beside a roaring fireplace, on two different floors. Amazing.

GREENWICH STEAKHOUSE
62 Greenwich Ave
New York, NY 10011

The Palm (Too)

Palm Too overall score: 86

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: 9

Everything is reasonably priced here. 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

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 sometimes 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 Spinalis 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 “chuck side” 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 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.