Tag Archives: connoisseur

AJ Maxwell’s

AJ Maxwell’s overall score: 76

UPDATE: AJ MAXWELL’S IS NOW CLOSED!
I used to love this joint. I have been here, I think, four times. My wife and I used to get $20 and $40 gift cards in the mail from them randomly, simply by virtue of them being a newly opened restaurant that was loyal to new customers. I dig that. We were happy the first few times we went, but this review is based on a much different dining experience.
Flavor: 7
My buddy and I each had ribeyes – their supposed “signature” dish. We were both a bit disappointed. We experienced tough meat in the central portion of the ribeye (no marbling), and an overall lack of flavor or seasoning throughout. It wasn’t bad, but certainly not on par with my prior experiences here and steaks at other joints. My buddy ordered medium rare and it came to him rare at best. It was VERY undercooked. Bad. I’ve had the ribeye before, and it was better. I’ve also had the filet and braised short rib, which were better than average.
Choice of Cuts & Quality Available: 7
AJ offers porterhouse for two, three or four, ribeyes, all manner of filet, and even some specials – like a bone-in filet (the conundrum). Score for that. To top it off, they have a killer pinot braised short rib. My feeling is that they are passing off high quality choice for prime, or using low quality prime (if that is possible). There is just not enough flavor going on in the cuts – likely due to lack of aging, or lack of quality marbling. At least not like I remembered from previous visits.
Portion Size & Plating: 8
Portions are on the heavy side, which is good considering you aren’t getting the best flavor or quality. At least in this respect you get some good poundage for your buck. EAT UP and SHUT UP.
Price: 6
Too high. For $55, I expect my ribeye to be fantastic, especially when it is marketed as their signature cut. I’ve had better tasting ribeyes for $40 on Long Island. Know your role, AJ. You are slipping. For six oysters ($17), 2 ribeyes ($55 each), the cheapest bottle of wine ($??) and a trio of appetizers ($21), the total came to about $150 each (tax and tip included). Better off hitting Del Frisco’s around the corner for that cost.
Bar: 9
The bar is great, and the bartender, who is a regular fixture there (his name escapes me at the moment), is really friendly. He will get you whatever you want (such as a steak or a double espresso), and mixes a really good martini. The bar room is cool because it sits right along the windows of 48th street – nice place to hang, especially after a hard 60 hour work week.
Specials and Other Meats: 8
I’m always happy to see alternative meat on the menu. AJ’s is good with that. They always have a nice non-traditional cut, along with the braised short rib and pork/chicken/veal cuts.
Apps, Sides & Desserts: 6
Let me say, the six oysters we had were fantastic… but the fries were sub par (I’ve had better at the diner around the block from my house), the creamed spinach was blah (it lacked seasoning and was a little watery), and the mac & cheese was something on the boxed level. No crumbs, no meat folded in, no burned crisp to it… absolutely no texture. Over all a disappointing app experience (aside from the great, cold, fresh oysters [which were a little overpriced at $17 for 6]). The oysters even came with a nice little basket of hot sauce, fresh horseradish, crackers and other sauces.
Seafood Selection: 8
Honest – I didn’t really pay attention to anything other than the appetizers – they had lump crab, lump lobster, a good shrimp selection, and fantastic oysters. Viewing their menu online shows a normal type selection for the vaginal non-meat items.
Service: 9
Our waiter was awesome – good guy, knew his meat, helpful. That’s all I ask for. He didn’t push anything on us, nor did he leave us lacking anything throughout the meal. 
Ambiance: 8
As a relatively new corporate type steak joint, AJ’s is a bit lackluster in terms of charm, but it is nicely decorated and set up. I think with more time it will come into its own, or start to develop its own character… but right now it is just a very plain type of space.  It is nice and open, high ceilings, etc… but basic. The bathroom urinals are cool because they have a foot-pedal flush, so you don’t have to dirty up your hands anymore after they just cupped your balls. That’s always a plus.

Club A

Club A overall score: 86

UPDATE 5/6/18

I finally had the chance to come back in to Club A and dig on some steaks from the regular menu. The older review below was based on two meals where we used a Groupon and were limited to what we could order. This time I was here for some Instagram photos, so my wife and I tried both the rib eye and the porterhouse. Here’s how it went down:

Porterhouse: 9/10

This baby was nearly perfect. I only took a point because the seasoning was a hair too light. Otherwise the strip side had a really great texture, and the filet side was as soft as a baby’s ass.

Watch as this baby came to the table:

The photos and video make it look very overcooked, but it was just my light shining too hard. It may have been closer to medium than medium rare, but there was plenty of pink to go around.

We really enjoyed this.

Rib Eye: 8/10

This could have used a little more salt, and I only detected the dry aging on the edges by the small cap muscle, but we destroyed every ounce of it.

This baby was perfectly cooked.

Dead on medium rare.

We actually start with the steak tartare.

Here’s a yolk pop and mix video:

This was really nice. Very tender and flavorful.

Bread basket is on point:

Negroni at the bar was very refreshing and well mixed:

Great ambiance both inside and outside. They have live jazz on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, and a private room upstairs that I didn’t know existed.

Loved this on the back of the menu:

And the service is impeccable. They even brought out a pair of mushroom ravioli, carrots, and mac and cheese for us even though we didn’t order them:

The dessert plate came out for us gratis as well. Look at how pretty this is:

New Score Totals: 86/100

Flavor: 8
Choice of Cuts & Quality Available: 9
Portion Size & Plating: 8
Price: 10
Bar: 7
Specials & Other Meats: 9
Apps, Sides & Desserts: 8
Seafood Selection: 9
Service: 10
Ambiance: 8

OLD REVIEW:

As nearly all NYCers know, Club A has been running an enticing promotion on Groupon since the Spring of 2011: $80 four course dinner for two, with a bottle of wine included (now $99 for the same deal in 2017). Here’s my review, though I kinda wish my wife stopped Geoffrey Zakarian on the street and begged him to cook us a private meal. She passed by him on her way to meet me.

Flavor:7

The choice of beef cuts with the special deal were either an 8oz filet or a 10oz hanger steak. Naturally, I chose the hanger cut, because I think it shows more finesse and skill to prepare a good hanger steak than it does to whip up a filet. Also, the hanger generally has more flavor and character than the monotonous and generally same-at-every-place-you-go filet can have. My steak was good. It had decent flavor, but it was not tenderized or aged in any noticeable way to enhance it. Parts were stringy, which means the fat was not allowed to break down in the aging process.

It came to me just how I ordered. I asked for medium rare, and I was given medium rare. This cut has a tendency to be tough, so a fast cooking approach with a slice on the bias or a slow, long braise is generally best. I’ve had a better hanger steak at non-steakhouses. 7/10.

My wife had the veal shank osso buco on our first trip here, which was better than my steak that first time around. I had originally given the hanger a 6/10, but after the second trip I bumped it to a 7/10. On the second trip, my wife had the filet.

This was tender and had nice flavor throughout. It was cooked to a perfect medium rare and had a good sear on the outside. 8/10.

Choice of Cuts & Quality Available: 9

Club A has the standard selection of steaks on their regular menu, plus some special cuts and high quality meats like “Kobe” rib eyes and prime aged stuff. Perhaps my flavor review would be higher if I had ordered off the regular menu, but these were test visits. I’m not sprinting to go back, but I definitely would because I see good potential. Perhaps if someone insists, I will try it again.

Portion Size & Plating: 8

The portion sizes were good, and the plating was above average. The veal osso buco came with a mini fork to get the marrow out of the bone – nice touch. The hanger was pre-sliced, properly on the bias, and served with a watery gravy (but good). The bacon appetizer was a generous half-inch thick slice of heaven.

Price: 9

The price was great – $80 for four courses each, plus a bottle of wine (now $99). The quality didn’t quite exceed the value, but I guess they have to draw the line somewhere to distinguish between the bargain menu and their regular menu. Prices for regular items are standard NYC steakhouse prices.

Bar: 7

There is a small bar in the front of the restaurant – not impressive, but nicely set up.

There is also a larger bar upstairs splitting the front and rear dining areas, but these spots aren’t the kind of place you go to hang out. The upstairs bar seems to be unmanned, though I’m not sure if it gets more lively at night.

The martini was nice, but the atmosphere pales in comparison to other steakhouse bars. This is a neighborhood joint though, not a major steakhouse attraction, so allow some leeway. The waffle cut potato chips on the bar were a nice snack.

Specials and Other Meats: 9

I must say, the menu is full of meatery. Aside from the special beef cuts, they also have a prime pork chop, veal, chicken, sausage, and lamb. They’ve covered all the bases with various sizes as well.

Apps, Sides & Desserts: 7

The bacon app was fantastic on the first visit, but just good on the second. Recently I’ve had better. It wasn’t too salty, and for the most part it had a good amount of fat balanced with the meaty parts.

On my first visit, the steak tartare was sub-par: over cut with capers, red onion and other doo-dads; it tasted yummy, but it seemed short on actual meat. Also, some of the consistency was chewy, like they didn’t trim the fat off before chopping. On the second visit, there was a noted improvement to this dish, though it seemed to lack a bit of seasoning.

The sides were decent. I liked the creamed spinach, despite it being a bit thin or watery. The mac & cheese was delicious, however, with an awesome cheese crust on the top.

As for dessert, the tiramisu and cream puffs tasted homogeneous. Similar textures (aside from the crunch of the profiterole shell), similar flavors… dull. The profiterole shells, I think, need to be dusted with powdered sugar right when they come out of the fryer. They tasted a bit savory rather than sweet. The chocolate mousse they sat upon was delicious, however.

Seafood Selection: 9

Decent selection of seafood, even a manly fish like swordfish made its presence known on the menu. There are good sounding alternatives for the vaginal.

Service: 8

Good service, attentive. There was an assortment of varied warm and room temperature table breads to snack on.

They ranged from sweet to salty. Butter was still cold, and steak sauce tasted like it was 90% ketchup.

Ambiance: 7

At first I hated the place. Dimly lit with red tones all over, typical framed photos of celebs on the walls, a cheap looking but pretty gas fireplace on the back wall of the first floor dining room, and cheese-bag electronic lounge music playing like we are at “Centro-Fly” from a decade ago. But then the music switched to instrumental funk, jazz and crooner… and we went upstairs… WOW – Beautiful view of the lit trees out the floor to ceiling windows in the front of the building. Non-traditional and small, but stunning.

On my second visit, the music was more along the “golden oldies” lines, and I still liked the upstairs better than the downstairs.

CLUB A
240 E. 58th St.
New York, NY 10022

Keens

Keens overall score: 96

Keens holds a special place in my heart, and is easily one of my favorite places in NYC. The ceiling is lined with clay churchwarden tobacco pipes. I’m talking EVERYWHERE. I smoke a pipe on occasion, and I almost always use a churchie, so when I first found out about this place back in 2003 or 2004, I was flipping out. I went once back then and had a porterhouse with my wife, who was my girlfriend at the time. This time I was with a group of friends, so I got to taste much more of the menu. Interesting factoid – Keens had a fire and lost all their records of who owned what pipes. All they have left are the serial numbers written on them. Many a famous person had one in the place, including presidents and the like. My friend Joe’s grandfather had a pipe in there, and we inquired about how to go about locating it. Bottom line – we need to know the serial number of Joe’s grandfather’s pipe. Once we find that, we can locate it in the restaurant and stare at it in awe.
Flavor: 10
I ordered a braised short rib. I know, I know. PUSSY! But let me ‘splain. Everyone shared, and Keens is known for many things. First thing they are known for: they didn’t allow women into the place until it was well beyond normal. Second, the pipes. Third, the mutton chop. And fourth, the braised short rib. I love braised meat, so I figured I would give it a shot, since the other stuff on the menu was basically covered by the other diners at the table. It was tasty and good, but a little dry. That means it was either cooked too fast, or cooked too long. Okay – no biggie. My buddy got the mutton chop, which was amazing. Nice clean gaminess, thick as hell, on a nice bone, and seasoned to a beautiful crisp. The others at the table (the same rag-tag crew from Dylan Prime) split a porterhouse for three. That was hands down the best porterhouse I have ever tried. The strip side was a little tough and chewy, but it was full of great flavor and prepared/cooked flawlessly. The filet side was perfect. PERFECT. On a second trip, the strip side far exceeded the filet side. I would give it a 9 for flavor here, but the braised item doesn’t really count now, does it? The brilliant mutton and the unbelievable porterhouse make up for it in scores.
porterhouse steak for two

Choice of Cuts & Quality Available: 8

They have a great selection of some really nice looking meats. As mentioned above; mutton chop, braised short rib, the porterhouse, lamb chops, pork chops… Notice anything missing? THE FUCKING RIBEYE! THEY DO NOT HAVE A RIBEYE ON THE MENU! WHY!?!??!?? I will never understand. As my dad once said; “Everyone should have rib eye… even McDonalds.” I suppose they only serve it when they have it on special? Perhaps it is so good that they only do it on occasion. I will go back, and next time they better have it on the menu (on a second trip – STILL no ribeye – but they do have prime rib). Three points off what was an in-the-bag 10 if they had even a 12oz choice cut ribeye with no marbling whatsoever. Bad move Keens. UPDATE!!! On a third visit they had a rib eye. It wasn’t the best I’ve had, but it was good (8/10). I’d say it was about 16oz, boneless, and juuicy/tender. As promised above, I have given the full award for points here, now that a ribeye has made the menu. Alas, though, I had to remove some points again because on yet another visit the rib eye was gone. I guess it is only a once in a while offering.
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Portion Size & Plating: 9

I think I recall someone at the table saying they thought the portion size was small for something – perhaps the steak for three? I was a little bit buzzed up, so I can’t remember… But the mutton was massive, and I thought the steak for three was huge, especially since I ate about 6 or 8 ounces of it toward the end of the meal when everyone was getting full. The short rib was a bit lady-like, but not TOO dainty. It really is a woman’s order. Come on guys… Don’t do what I did. Get the porterhouse. The creamed spinach was normal size to slightly small, but I think they split a portion up into a few ramekins for us to share easier. I am hesitant to take a point off because I am a little fuzzy, but my heart says take one.

Price: 10

Once again, Tom picked up the damn bill (THANK YOU!), so the meal was free. It was an effort to get him to let us pay the tip. How can I give anything less than a 10? To be honest though, the prices are fair and you definitely get your money’s worth, so a 10 all the way. On trip number two, steak for two, two sides, one app, and a couple of drinks came to about $80 per person, including tax and tip – totally reasonable. Here’s a recent bill for two:
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Bar: 10

Not only is the steak great, but the bar at Keens is one of my favorite places to hang out even if I am not planning on eating. It has timeless character, it is classy, it is old New York, and it is always fun. Plus they make a mean martini with nice big, fat olives. And HOLY SHIT the scotch menu is only rivaled by the Brandy Library in Tribeca in terms of selection and quality. They sport five different laphroaigs, and three different lagavulins – those are my two favorite scotches. They just don’t make places like this anymore. Martinis run about $15 here, and Keens has their own beer (made by Brooklyn brewing company, i think) – its a nice IPA, not overly hoppy.

Specials and Other Meats: 10

Like I said earlier, they have everything except ribeye. This is simply an amazing place to eat – there really is something for everyone, even vegetarian assholes. I’d like for the ribeye to be a main fixture, even if it is a “special” or off the menu. No real “specials” to mention, but for other meats the obvious star is the mutton.

Apps, Sides & Desserts: 10

We skipped apps this time around, but last time I had a lobster cocktail, which was really well done. The creamed spinach was really unique; it has a hint of clove to it that really set it apart from other places. Plus is tasted really friggin’ awesome too. For dessert I had the cask strength Laphroaig that always nearly blows my shoes off. Potent but leathery-delicious. In all honesty, this category might NOT deserve a 10. I simply didn’t try enough items. What I did try was fantastic on both trips though, so I can’t take a point in good conscience. One a second visit, I had the bacon app, which was delicious. Not quite on the level of some other joints, but still really great. We also had the french fries, which I think you would be hard pressed to find better in NYC – they are up there with the best in town.
creamed spinach and french fries
Some apps from a second visit – halibut tartare and littleneck clams: 
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Dessert – creme brulee and coffee ice cream:
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Bacon – perfection!
The prime rib hash browns. from the bar menu, are incredible.

Seafood Selection: 9

Sole, salmon, shrimp and lobster. Not bad! Plus all the usual apps and shellfish, with an added selection of cured salmon that I was really tempted to try. I would have liked to see a meat-eaters fish on the menu though: maybe a swordfish steak or something good and manly.
lobster
lobster

Service: 11 (only 10 scored)

“But these ones go to 11” – Nigel Tufnel. If I could give an 11, I would. Wait a second… I can! This is my game, bitches – but I won’t count the extra point. I need to maintain some level of integrity; the 11 is in spirit only. Our waiter, Chris, KNEW HIS SHIT. It is because of him that Keens is an 11 in spirit. I even TESTED him about the history of the place. He busted out a really eloquent explanation of the establishment without even sounding scripted or rehearsed. He also made really good suggestions when it came to the food, and, for his young age, even seemed to know a good deal about fine scotch (they have a menu of over 200 different scotches). Attentive, polite, not annoying or prying – just an overall good experience. On another visit, our waiter Muhammed showed us that he knew all about the history of this place as well, and was really great – a true gentleman. As far as table items – they had these really awesome, large, half-sour pickles in a tray with olives and celery. The bread was really tasty too – warm, butter easily spread, etc.

Ambiance: 11 (only 10 scored)

An 11 can go here too; for real – and same with the bar. Keens is hands down the best ambiance and atmosphere of all the steakhouses I have ever been to. It is old, but not quiet and musty. It is vibrant and fun, but not loud and annoying or over-crowded. It is manly, but also really inviting for people of all sexes (women and trannies included). This place isn’t just a restaurant – it is a destination, a landmark, an experience, a hangout. The pictures on their website don’t do it justice, and when you are in there, you feel like you are a king. The history of the place is really amazing too. I recently learned that they have an actual playbill from the theater/show during which Lincoln was assassinated (see below), and they also sport one of Teddy Roosevelt’s taxidermied hunting trophies on one of the walls.
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NEW PHOTOS!!!
Bread basket: nice and warm.
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Crudite: crisp and refreshing, good dipping sauce.
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Martini: shaken up  nicely.
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12-ingredient salad: a dozen praises.
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Tomato & onion with mozzarella: standard steakhouse starting fare.
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House-cured salmon: a good briny beginning to a meal.
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Pumpernickel nut bread that comes with the salmon:
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6-east and 6-west coasters: both delicious and crisp.
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Seafood platter: 6 oysters, 4 clams, 4 shrimp and half a lobster. Great deal for $52.
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Prime rib: juicy, tender, delicious.
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Mutton: an excellent alternameat for those looking for something bold and unique.
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Filet mignon: simplicity at its finest.
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Creamed spinach: warm and inviting, green with cream and nutmeg.
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Escarole that came with the mutton: YES! Escarole needs more attention in restaurants.
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Mushrooms: a good little side.
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Mutton slice: a perfect medium rare cook job.
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Doggie bag: woof.
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Coffe cantata dessert: coffee ice cream with chocolate, berry sauce and topped with a marshmallowy whipped cream.
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Creme brûlée: a classic.
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Stilton cheese plate dessert (comes with a glass of port): funky.
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“The Bad News” – ouch
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Ambiance: a NYC icon.
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KEENS
72 W. 36th St.
New York, NY 10018

Mark Joseph

Mark Joseph overall score: 82

Mark Joseph is a well known steak joint down by NYC’s South Street Seaport. The word among steak-folk is that one of the owners was formerly employed with Peter Luger’s in Brooklyn, but then left to start his own legacy. As it turns out, a fellow carnivore friend of mine knows one of the other owners or investors in a roundabout sort of way through the butchery and meat packing industry; my friend worked for a meat company that one of the owners ran. It is comforting to know that the pedigree of this place is firmly grounded in the meat biz. This rating comes on the heels of my second time eating at this fine establishment. Groupon had a great $25 for $50 offer recently so I jumped on it in hopes to refresh my meat senses in order to give this place a thorough review.

Flavor: 8

My first time here, my wife and I got the steak for two (porterhouse). It comes out on a sizzling hot plate, cooked a little under from what you ordered. The plate is so hot that you literally finish cooking the slices to your liking right on the plate. Now, this is tradition in the spirit of Luger’s, and it is cool from a theatrical perspective, but not cool for other reasons. I am not a fan of it. Why, you ask? The meat has not had a chance to rest when it is sliced. This creates a pool of blood/juices under the steak that ruins the crisp texture of the bottom while draining it of moisture, rendering the meat dry if you don’t scarf it down ASAP. It tasted good enough though, so there’s that.
This trip, I went with the ribeye to truly test Mark Joseph’s mettle. It was good. Crispy outer edges and crust – perfectly cooked – well rested, well seasoned.

Choice of Cuts & Quality Available: 8

This place is pretty bare-bones. Porterhouse for two, three or four; a “sirloin,” which I assume and hope is a real strip at a place like this; a bone in ribeye (thank God they had the sense to leave the bone in), and filet. There’s nothing wrong with a bare-bones approach to steakhouses. I appreciate it, actually. If a place is willing to really focus their skill on the basic four cuts and make them perfect, then that is something to be proud of. This is what Mark Joseph strives for. They offer the “chopped steak” as well, the large, glorified, bun-less hamburger, but I think it is a wasted menu item. Throw a skirt on there, or another dead animal other than the steer. They DO have lamb chops though, which I always am tempted to order at steakhouses but refrain from doing so. The quality is all prime, dry aged, so that is a feather in the cap.

Portion Size & Plating: 8

The portions are healthy here, at 28oz for the bone-in ribeye, and 16-20oz for filets. Plating is basic; hot white plates; nothing fancy, yet it still remains elegant.

Price: 8

The steak for two is $82, which is fair in comparison to other high end NYC steak places. At $51, the ribeye is a bit on the high end. Eight oysters ran us $17, $16 for the tuna app, $10 for sauteed spinach, $12 martinis (after tax) and $4 per slice of bacon. Our total bill was $204 – and special thanks to Groupon again for knocking that additional money off.

Bar: 9

Nice bar. Three TVs (30-40inch flat screens), friendly bartender that mixes a good martini (filled high with fat olives), great scotch selection, and close to the seaport (nice environment).

Specials and Other Meats: 7

Aside from seafood, the only other meat Mark Joseph offers is lamb. I appreciate the gesture. The place basically says “fuck you” to chicken and other pussy meats. I think a cherry pepper pork chop or maybe something more game-oriented like venison could make a showing though and MJ would still keep that macho attitude. As for specials, there were none. Oh well.

Apps, Sides & Desserts: 9

I can’t for the life of me remember what I had the first time we went here, so all I can do is judge based on this last visit. MJ seems to take the approach of “simple is better” or “showcase the quality of the ingredients” with their apps. They are all delicious. We had oysters on the half shell (creamy, crisp & cold), a slice of bacon (freaking AWESOME here – I even buttered it – yup – buttered bacon), tuna tartare (nice solid sushi grade chopped chunks, no fatty whiteness – nicely seasoned/dressed – very simple but yummy), and sauteed spinach (very nice – better than their creamed spinach, which I do recall that we had the last time we went). For dessert we had the apple crunch pie, but it was not crunchy. It was served with a scoop of whipped cream that had me fooled into thinking it was ice cream at first. A point off for false advertising on the lack of crunch.

Seafood Selection: 7

Tuna, salmon, lobster, and (kick his ass) sea bass are the entrees to consider if you are going vaginal here. The appetizer menu is riddled with great looking shellfish too; clams of every preparation (including raw), chilled oysters, and multiple preparations of tuna, crab and shrimp. My wife got the lobster tails, which were done very nicely. The bang bang shrimp and tuna avocado tartare are both nice apps to share as well.

Service: 10

Service is top notch. Well dressed in the traditional white shirt & bow tie, attentive but not annoying, and they know their meat. Sometimes I like to test them on their knowledge, but there was no need; the waiter immediately told me all about the ribeye when I asked how big it was. A good note here: the bartender remembered my drink order after I sat down. When I first get to a steakhouse, I like to order a drink at the bar, assess things, etc. When the waiter put my order for a second martini in, the bartender remembered, and asked the waiter if it was the same customer. Nice touch. I like that. The table breads were a nice assortment of raisin pumpernickel, slices of rye, onion bread buns, and standard dinner rolls – all toasty and warm. The butter was cool/cold, but it was whipped so not that hard to spread against the warm bread (and bacon). This has changed to a simple dinner roll, a very nice one though. The steak sauce is very sweet, but when you eat it with their bacon it almost tastes like pineapple.

Ambiance: 8

The owners took the Luger concept and made it more upscale. The dark wood furniture is contrasted with the bright white linens and curtains. Yet you don’t get a sense of pompousness or over-elegance. It is the right mix of manliness and culture; like Arnold Schwarzenegger in a tuxedo. The bathrooms could use a little work – they are standard bar type bathrooms, but with a good smell and some interesting Yankees memorabilia.

MARK JOSEPH
261 Water St.
New York, NY 10038

J&R (Islip, Long Island)

J&R overall score: 65

J&R is a local Long Island steakhouse chain. They are reasonably priced, decent places to eat.
 
Flavor: 5
J&R usually does a better job (I’ve eaten at several locations and usually it is good), but my latest experience wasn’t too great. My friend and I both ordered the marinated 24oz ribeye – his medium rare and mine medium – but both of ours came back two levels overcooked than we ordered.  His was medium well, and mine was well. The marinade here is heavy on soy sauce flavors, and I think they let the meat hit the grill while it was still wet with marinade, which is a big no-no in steak cookery ethics. Unlike Murtha’s, which knows how to marinate a steak for maximum flavor extraction, J&R simply ruined theirs. I chalk the over cooking up to bad kitchen staff at this particular location, since I’ve had better steaks at their other locations. They offer standard grilled as well as marinated in terms of methods of cooking. This was my first time trying the marinated kind. I was unimpressed with it. As I said earlier – too heavy on the soy.
  
Choice of Cuts & Quality Available: 7
All choice cuts, but lots of choices here at J&R. They have three of the four basics, and then some, offering t-bone, roumanian (usually skirt), pork, and lamb cuts. They may lack a strip, but for the price of the porterhouse, you can just grab that and take the filet side home with you. They also offer three sizes of prime rib for women and men with vaginas.
 
Portion Size & Plating: 7
The ribeye (their signature steak) comes in two flavors: 12oz for pussies, or 24oz for men. The porterhouse is 36oz, the t-bone is 24oz, and the filet is 7oz. Prime rib comes in 8, 12 or 18oz portions. These are average for a good steakhouse, so for a cheap joint, they are great.
 
Price: 8
You get a large meal here for your money. The total bill for two 32oz beers and two 24oz steak dinners (they come with veggies, potato, and soup or salad) came to $82 with a generous tip included. Not bad! I deducted two points based on not getting the best flavor for your money – but as my dad always says – “shit you pay, shit you get.”
 
Bar: 7
Not the best place to hang out, but they do have a cool bar. I did not order my standard martini this time, since I saw that they had monstrous 32oz beers and a good wheat beer on tap. The bar area is nice, and we sat on high tables there rather than in one of the two dining rooms that flanked it.
 
Specials and Other Meats: 6
No specials here at J&R – their menu is already huge and full of selections. They have pork chops, ribs, lamb chops, and chicken by way of non-beef.
 
Apps, Sides & Desserts: 6
We didn’t order any sides or apps, since the steaks come with veggies and potato in a composed plate. The french fries were well executed; the veggies were a below-average mix of green beans, onion and broccoli. Dessert sounded mediocre so we passed on that. The salad was above average, but nothing more than good diner fare. The bread for the table was warm and toasted, and they also served a pasta salad with a nice big pickle along with it. A point for that!
 
Seafood Selection: 6
Lobster, salmon, tilapia, shrimp, and flounder were under the seafood section. No clams or oysters on the half shell! Damn you J&R. I may have ordered an app if you had them.
 
Service: 7
We saw our waiter three times: Once to take drink orders, once to take food orders, and once to get the bill. Nothing was done poorly, but nothing exceptional either. It was busy, even at a late 8:30/9:00 seating, so good marks for not screwing anything up!
 
Ambiance: 6
The decor is kinda bare in comparison to other J&R interiors. The tables had white paper on them as opposed to the red & white checkerboard or weathered wood of other locations. My thinking is that they tried to make this location look more up scale since it is in a nice looking stand-alone building. It needed something.

J&R’S STEAKHOUSE
116 Montauk Hwy.
Islip, NY 11751

Murtha’s (Long Island)

Murtha’s overall score: 70

Murtha’s is a small neighborhood joint in the area where I grew up. It holds a special place in my mind, since I have been there a number of times and have even had friends who worked there back in high school. UPDATE: Murtha’s is now CLOSED FOR BUSINESS. The owner passed away, and the family decided it would be too difficult to keep the busines going. What a shame!

Flavor: 7

Murtha’s packs a punch. This little mom & pop offers better tasting choice steaks than some of the prime and aged steaks you find at more expensive places considered “top steakhouses.” That is the difference that truly knowing meat can make. You can coax really great flavor out of even grocery store cuts if you understand meat, how it tenderizes, and how flavor develops while cooking or during preparations. Murtha’s knows what they are doing. This is the kind of place to order a marinated steak; it turns choice into prime. Simply getting a broiled steak here may leave you unsatisfied; go with the blackened or marinated versions. I ordered my ribeye medium but it came back medium-well. It was, however, cooked evenly throughout, and it was delicious.

Choice of Cuts & Quality Available: 7

Murtha’s covers the basics of steakhouse cuts (though they call their strip a NY sirloin, so it might not be the most marbled of that particular cut). They also occasionally offer a flank or something on special. On my last trip they had a t-bone and a special filet as well. The meat is choice, but it is treated with care and different preparations are offered for boosting the flavor, such as marinated, blackened, or charbroiled. Occasionally they offer a garlic-rubbed preparation as well. They also offer pork chops, lamb chops, and several styles of chicken.

Portion Size & Plating: 7

Murtha’s portions are on par with the big boys here, which is impressive for a small place, especially one that does not charge you an arm and a leg (the exact same cost of a pirate’s hook and peg-leg). They regularly offer a 24oz porterhouse, a 20oz ribeye, a 12oz NY “sirloin,” and a 10oz filet. The t-bone is 20oz. Plating is basic: nothing fancy. All steaks come with a veggie and a potato, and soup or salad. Bonus.

Price: 9

You get a great meal here for your money. I came with a gift card, so even better for me! Total for two entrees, two appetizers, soup, salad, and a side of creamed spinach was just under $100. My gift card covered more than half, so this was a steal for us.

Bar: 7

Not the best place to hang out, but they do have a decent bar for watching sports and they do make a solid martini – even leaving the small shaker for you to pour out that last bit of ice-melted gin into your quiffy, curved, diva-style martini glass for a second slurping. Occasionally they have live music at the end of the bar too.

Specials and Other Meats: 7

Murtha’s definitely offers a variety of specials that run across each section of the menu. They often offer garlic preparations of each of their steaks, which are nice. In the “other meats” category they have pork chops, lamb chops, and chicken.

Apps, Sides & Desserts: 7

Despite the lack of oysters being on the menu, which I consider to be a steakhouse MUST HAVE, Murtha’s offers some less traditional but still yummy alternatives. The fried ravioli is delicious. And if you need to get your shellfish fix like I do, they still offer clams on the half shell (at a very reasonable price), as well as shrimp, crab and calamari. The crab cakes are a bit under par, but not horrible for $9. At $9 for the clams on the half shell, you get 6 on the plate. Not cheap but also not that expensive. The creamed spinach was average to slightly under par (a little bland but okay for a few bites). The soup and/or salad that comes with the meal are basic throw aways – filler. The fries, however, are great – nice and double fried to a golden crisp.

Seafood Selection: 6

In addition to the semi-typical seafood appetizer offerings, Murthas has a decent amount of fish on their menu for the weak, vaginal appetite: several preparations of shrimp and scallops, sole, lobster, and king crab legs (nice touch Murtha’s!). Nothing fancy though – either simply broiled, scampi, or fried. The scallops were good, nicely cooked, and you get about eight large ones in your order.

Service: 7

As a local joint, Murtha’s generously employs local school kids as bus boys. The service is good, reliable, and friendly. Murtha’s has provided me and my family with satisfying meals for between 15 and 20 years now, so, clearly, it makes no difference if a waiter wears a tie or knows his/her meat. As long as they are friendly and the food is good, what else really matters? Appetizers were a little slow to come out, but everything else was well timed. Bread was warm, butter was spreadable.

Ambiance: 6

Go here knowing that Murtha’s is not the greatest location (a storefront next to a Sleepy’s and a floor/carpet place), it is a little small, and it’s not very classic steak-house. But also understand that it is not cheesy like some local places with horrible themes.

Mac’s (Long Island)

Mac’s overall score: 80

I stumbled upon Mac’s while browsing some half-off coupon deals on a local Long Island website; it turned out to be a nice find. I purchased a half-off coupon (I paid $25 to get $50 worth of gift certificate) because I was impressed by what I saw on the menu online, so my wife and I went to check it out for a late lunch. In summary, Mac’s is a great restaurant, but as far as pure steak is concerned, I have had better. Read on:

Flavor: 6

First, please note that the flavor marks here are for the steak only. As it turns out, the flavor of their other items probably would have merited a higher score, possibly something like 8 or 9, but I felt a sense of duty to score primarily on the steak. I ordered a dry-aged bone-in ribeye. It was cooked a bit over along the edges, and a bit under in the center, but other than that it had a good charred flavor and good crisp despite being a little bit under-seasoned. Perhaps the uneven cooking was a result of the fact that it was a Sunday, early in the day, and just after brunch service. They may have had a different cook/chef in the kitchen and the steak was fired in a way that is not typical of their normal dinner service. The chop itself had a bit more gristle than I would have liked or expected from a well-aged steak, but that is the nature of a ribeye sometimes. In hindsight, I probably should have ordered the boneless ribeye, which seemed to be dressed up a bit more to impart additional flavor (Gorgonzola and truffles were involved in its preparation). Sometimes I am a purist, and want my steaks pretty much just cooked correctly with nothing except salt & pepper, but other times I want my taste buds to get a kick in the ass. Today I was somewhere right in the middle. The server even offered to have the bone-in prepared in the same way as the boneless; I guess I was just thinking the dry-aged bone-in would have a better natural flavor. I may have to go back and try the boneless ribeye.

Choice of Cuts & Quality Available: 9

I was blown away by the selection of beef this place offers. They have all of the four basic cuts (ribeye, porterhouse, strip, & filet), offered in various sizes and preparations. On top of that, they also had a T-bone, skirt steak, a Kansas City sirloin, some “Texas Kobe,” braised short rib, and other great selections of meats; a true chop house. They offered wet-aged steaks that were also served with starch and veggies as composed plates, and they also offered larger dry-aged cuts served solo. Lots to look over and think about before ordering. On the down side, the cut I did get was a little uneven. It was a little thinner on the edges than it was in the center. It also had too much gristle for something that is dry-aged: that stuff should break down and eventually cook/melt into the meat if done properly. If my cut was clean, this place would have definitely gotten full points here.

Portion Size & Plating: 7

The steak portions here are normal. My bone-in ribeye was 28oz, the boneless ribeye was 18oz, the strips were 16-18oz, the filet was 10oz, the porterhouse was 21oz per person, the “Kobe” was 12oz, and the T-bone was 30oz. The appetizers, however, were large (if the short rib appetizer came with a side of string beans it would pass for a full entree portion). The side of creamed spinach was average sized.

Price: 7

The prices here are similar to slightly less than they are in the city. The boneless ribeye is a fair $30, and the most expensive single cut of meat from the dry aged section is $44. Mac’s participates in that half-off coupon deal on the WALK FM website – so that helps. My cut was $42. If cooked perfectly, I would say that it was worth the money, but since I had a slightly uneven fire I took a few points off for price, despite the half-off deal.

Bar: 8

Mac’s bar was really nice. An amber, back-lit shelf showcases their top liquors, and I could see even from a distance that they had a nice selection of scotches and after dinner drinks. They have an extensive selection of nice wines as well. Nestled in the heart of Huntington’s village, this is a good spot to hang out even if you aren’t shoving steer carcass down your esophagus.

Specials and Other Meats: 10

This place had everything: duck, lamb chops, veal chops, pork chops, and chicken. I mentioned above how they had plenty of other beef cuts outside of the basic four steakhouse cuts, and they offered specials from each part of the menu: apps, salads, fish, and beef. This place has a lot to choose from.

Apps, Sides & Desserts: 6

Unfortunately, I had to take off a few points here because my wife had a fly underneath some of the sliced fish in her sashimi appetizer. It was unfortunate too, because she had to stop eating it even though it tasted nice. Once you see that bug on the plate, it kinda just throws you off and you can’t finish the item. The restaurant was very apologetic, and I am sure it hardly ever happens there – we just had a little bad luck. They were kind enough not to charge us for that item. As for me, I had the braised short rib appetizer; it was HUGE and tasty, and fall-apart soft. We also ordered creamed spinach with our meal, and it was quite possibly the best I’ve ever had. Just the right amount of cream, just the right amount of salt, and there was what seemed like chopped up gnocci folded into it (something starchy with a texture between a potato and pasta). I’m not sure if that is what it was – it could have even been clumps of a thickener like flour or corn starch that didn’t fully mix in for all I know – but it was delicious no matter what it was. For dessert we had a blackberry Cabernet sorbet, made in-house and topped with fresh blueberries and strawberries. Delicious; a perfect dessert item – it tasted like a good dessert wine.

Seafood Selection: 10

My wife was hard pressed to choose an entree here. They offered salmon, white tuna (which is not actually tuna), tilapia, shrimp, lobster, yellowfin tuna, scallops, and seabass. My wife, however, ordered the red snapper special, which was cooked perfectly (with some crispy skin to boot). There is also a great selection of seafood appetizers that run across the entire range: cooked and uncooked shellfish, crab, lobster and shrimp. Mac’s could easily pass muster as a seafood restaurant if all the meat suddenly disappeared.

Service: 9

Our waiter Steven was fantastic. He allowed us to order off the full dinner menu despite it still being brunch when we arrived (1:20pm on a Sunday) in order to honor the half-off coupon we had. He knew everything from the size of each cut to the details about how the dishes were prepared, and, most importantly, he knew all about the steak cuts. The staff was very professional and sincere, and, as mentioned earlier, they were upset that we happened to get a fly in the sashimi app. The bread was good, but the butter was a little cold since it probably just came out of the fridge.

Ambiance: 8

Mac’s is nice inside and out. The front doors look like nice weathered greenish-painted wooden castle gates. There is outdoor seating, and the interior is all dark wood. They have leather wrapped and cushioned wood chairs, and the walls are decorated with abstract paintings of the bulls and other animals that you will be dining upon. An elegant curved staircase rises up to an upstairs, but I did not get a chance to check it out.

MAC’S STEAKHOUSE
12 Gerard St.
Huntington, NY 11743

Delmonico’s

Delmonico’s overall score: 97

NEW REVIEW (as of 5/3/17):

I’m going to keep this update relatively short and streamlined, since I’ve been here so many times already, as evidenced below. I’m very happy to see that this classic, true NYC joint is still consistently delivering delicious food.

My old score was a 94, but I’ve bumped it up to a 96 after attending a press meal here (and ultimately to a 97 after more visits). Here’s what to take away from it all:

Flavor: This is still a 10, but the 45-day bone-in rib eye is really the true star of the steak menu. The prime Double R Ranch beef has an incredible earthy, nutty aroma that lingers in the air all around the plate. The flavor is powerful and savory.

We also tried the porterhouse for two and the tomahawk rib eye for two. Both of these are about 8/10. There was some slight overcooking here, but the flavor was still nice from the 28-days of dry-aging. On average, though, when you take into account the great signature Delmonico cut, strip and filet options (which I already reviewed way back), the 10 score is solid and reliable. My favorite of all the cuts I’ve tried, though, is that rib eye above. Insane. Anyway, here are some shots of the porterhouse and tomahawk for two:

Portion Size: Now a 9. Meats are well hung here.

Price: I’ve changed the price score from a 9 to a 10. This joint somehow manages to keep big ticket items like lobster and booze relatively affordable. The bar is slinging $10 glasses of Michter’s bourbon, for fuck’s sake! That’s unheard of in a steak joint. Bravo. And they’re still mixing up a delicious martini.

Here’s a barrage of sides, starters and desserts. My favorites of these are the bacon and the wagyu tartare, which I could easily live on if someone told me that I could never touch another true cut of steak again. Both are incredible. In fact, this bacon is my new favorite bacon, ever.

Bacon: this is house smoked and cured, maple glazed, sous vide for days, and then rendered off to absolutely shocking perfection.

Wagyu Tartare: Snake River Farms supplies the top end American wagyu here.

Prawns:

Onion Rings:

Foie Gras:

Corn:

Broccoli:

Creamed Spinach:

Mushrooms:

Baked Alaska: These things sat out for a half hour or more while we shot them and talked with the chef (Billy Oliva), but they still held up: cold creamy ice cream inside, awesomely soft and flavorful outer marshmallow shell. They nail it!

Seafood: This is being bumped from a 9 to a 10 as well. The Lobster Newburg is just so iconic here. It really is incredible. The butter cayenne sauce takes shellfish and seafood to a whole other level.

And the baked oysters are like no other:

Some other items to discuss:

The table bread: Classic warm dinner rolls with nice whipped butter.

Eggs Benedict: this was also invented here (along with Baked Alaska, Chicken a la King, Lobster Newburg and fine dining in general). Caviar on top?!?? Yes please…

Eggs Benedict Burger: Holy shit this thing is decadent. The thick cut bacon is also on top of the burger patty as well as the poached egg. And the English Muffin is slathered with a delicious truffle sauce that will knock your socks off.

180 Year Anniversary: Yeah that’s right. It’ll be 180 years this summer. To celebrate, they’re putting 180-day dry aged beef on the menu. I can’t fucking wait for that!

OLD REVIEW:

Delmonico’s claims to be the first fine dining restaurant in the country. In addition to that interesting bit of history, Delmonico’s is famous for coining the “delmonico steak” cut/term – which is a boneless ribeye (though there is some debate as to which cut was actually used back in the day). That’s right – this place invented the delmonico steak (duh). I’ve been here once before, but it was a while back, so a second visit solidified the experience for a thorough review. This time I got a nice 30% discount from a Village Vines coupon, which was helpful on this man-date with my cousin. After a third visit, things have gone up in scoring. See italics below for updates as of 6/8/12:

Flavor: 10

This place was perfect in terms of flavor. My cousin got the filet, and I got the signature delmonico/boneless ribeye. Just the right amount of crisp and seasoning (salt and pepper – nothing fancy – they respect the meat), and just the right temperature when the plates arrived. The meat was well rested and cooked just right. The filet was ordered rare, and the ribeye was ordered medium. They were both delicious. The strip I had on my third visit was amazing as well. Cooked a little under from what I ordered, but I kinda knew it would come out like that so I went with it, and I enjoyed it. Still perfectly rested, nice and juicy, and packed full of flavor. On my fourth visit my wife and I shared the 36oz double ribeye. I was shocked at how nicely cooked it was. Some places, like Quality Meats, tend to overcook the edges and undercook the middle, due to the thickness of the meat. But this place didn’t suffer from that problem. it was just right. The fat on it was unbelievably delicious. It was like a jiggly, melty pork or duck fat with super-thin crispy brown edges that just melted in your mouth. Sticky and yummy!

Choice of Cuts & Quality Available: 9

Delmonico’s has all the basics and then some. They have the signature delmonico steak (18oz boneless ribeye), as well as a 36oz double cut bone-in ribeye (which I plan to get if I go there again). The double porterhouse is about 36oz, and there are also filets (in the 10oz-12oz range) and strips (16oz). The strip, porterhouse and 3-pounder are all listed as dry aged and the strip is listed as prime, but I think all of the cuts are prime and aged. Delmonico’s pretty much just covers the basics, but they do it well. On the third visit they even offered a t-bone in their specials, so I upped this by a point.

Portion Size & Plating: 8 (now 9)

The portions here are normal. As mentioned above, the steaks broke down as follows: 18oz boneless delmonico; 36oz bone-in ribeye; 36oz porterhouse; 16oz strip; and 10oz-12oz filet. The plating was elegant but restrained; good for men, nothing too fancy.

Price: 9 (now 10)

The prices are average to slightly high, but given the exceptional flavor of the steak, it is totally worth it. I thought the foie gras was overpriced and small ($21 on first visit, $24 on fourth visit), but hey – it IS goose liver. We were nice and full, but not uncomfortable, like lions after devouring a wildebeest. That said, I got 30% off through Village Vines, which was a bonus. They also offer the same deal for (aged.) by the way. The total spent for four martinis ($13 and $14 each), foie gras, special oysters, creamed spinach and two steaks came to around $190, tax and tip included. We skipped dessert. On our third visit, we had a party of four and the bill felt like it was less than I expected; probably due to having a 15% discount ala Savored. As a result, I upped the points here a little, since it seems Delmonico’s is generous in terms of offering and participating in price specials and online deals. A fourth trip proved yet again to involve a great deal through the web: Groupon had a four-course meal for two at $50/pp (I think we only ended up paying $92 for the deal too, since there was a coupon code for the coupon – then our bill was only $62 at the end for drinks, tax and tip – incredible deal). Amazing, since there were very little restrictions on what you could order. In fact they even let us grab both the fois gras AND the king crab mac & cheese, both of which are over-and-above items that usually cost more than the other apps.

Bar: 10

Delmonico’s has a really fantastic old-school bar. It is sunken down a few steps from the main dining room, and it has a side entrance through a revolving door off the corner from the main entrance. They serve a great steak sandwich there to boot. This is the kind of bar every steak man or lover of “ye olde tyme” things should visit. It is, simply put, an American classic. One look at the lounge and bar pics on their website should have you salivating for booze and beef. They made a good martini too, despite a missing olive on our second round, but I take that into account more in my service section rather than changing my bar rating. On my third visit, the martini had three olives right off the bat (they learned!), and it was still mixed perfectly.

Specials and Other Meats: 10

In the “other meats” category, Delmonico’s offers a fat veal chop, which is nice, lamb chops, and chicken. Standard plus, I would say. For specials, I would call the 3lb ribeye a special, but other than that, they do offer some off-the-menu items. The Chicken a’ la Keene (served with a pimento cream sauce) is also a signature dish created in the 1880’s and with a rich history: the dish ultimately became known as “chicken a’ la king.” Yes – Delmonico’s invented that dish too! On special, there was a 5lb lobster for sharing (or not!), and some special oysters for an appetizer: three pairs from different regions. We ordered the oysters. On special for round three there were some different items; the “Kobe carpaccio,” a lobster cocktail, cucumber soup, and a t-bone steak for one. Well played for mixing it up; I added a point here. I also got to taste a bite of their famous Chicken ala King/Keene; crispy skin with a juicy and delicious inside. It was almost like duck. Since we pretty much tried all the specials and enjoyed them, I am giving full points here now.

Apps, Sides & Desserts: 9

We started with the oysters special. One was briny and fishy, one was normal, and one, called a stingray oyster, was awesome. All were on the small side, however. That’s not necessarily a bad thing: I just expected one or two to be a little larger. Then we had foie gras. It was sort of small, and sat on a hunk of bread that was a little too thick in proportion, but it tasted like the really good, soft, melty fat of a ribeye that you can eat. My cousin wasn’t that impressed with it, and said he probably wouldn’t order it again. I probably wouldn’t either for that price ($21), but I definitely liked it. With dinner we had the staple: creamed spinach. It wasn’t that good: kinda bland. It was made fresh, but it lacked roundness and creaminess. We skipped dessert this time around. On the third trip, we started with grilled marinated octopus. It was delicious, and really nicely presented. Cooked perfectly tender with NO chew, and served in little pretzel-like curls. I also had the “Kobe carpaccio,” which was absolutely amazing; dressed nicely, salted well, and topped with a healthy amount of shaved truffles. I also tasted a small spoonful of the cucumber soup, which was really light and refreshing, and the lobster cocktail was a nice one-pounder. We shared grilled asparagus as well, which was good. Last, on recommendation we tried the famous baked Alaska (apparently the dish originated here as well), which was good but it didn’t change my life. I’ve upped the score from 7 to 9 here. On a fourth visit, we tried the king crab mac & cheese, which was made with a broad spital pasta and folded with light, creamy and melty cheese and cream, and topped with crispy breadcrumbs. It was nice! We also had the spaetzl, which was good and firm, made with a crispy pancetta, and peppered with sauteed greens to boot. Delicious. For dessert we also tried the chocolate bread pudding (not so great), and a rice pudding pie (really great). The best non-steak items I tried on that fourth visit, however, were the “Jim Brady Oysters.” Creamy, bacony, cheesey goodness through and through. It changed my entire outlook on whether oysters are permitted to be cooked. They’re fantastic.

Seafood Selection: 9 (now 10)

Lobster, halibut, and snapper were listed under entrees in addition to the seafood towers and shellfish on the appetizer menu. The lobster dish, Lobster Newberg, also a signature dish with a unique sauce, has a great story to go along with it (also originated here at the restaurant). They also offered the 5lb special lobster for two, which seemed like a fun thing to order if you are a giant pussy. My wife tried the seafood plateau appetizer as her main course on our third visit and it was great. It came with oysters, shrimp, lump crabmeat, and lobster.

Service: 10

A quick note about the actual servers here… John, Igor, and Reno are amazing, professional, and seasoned waiters. If you have the good fortune of getting any of them to take your order and serve your table, you are definitely in good hands. The service is great here – really top notch. Everyone knows their meat, and they are right there whenever you need something. Literally – you can see the waiters lined up near the doors to the kitchen watching over the dining room. They stay out of your way, yet they know when you need attention. All male waitstaff, ties: the classic steakhouse experience. The check getting and paying process was fast as well. I’ve dropped a point off here only because our second round of martinis were missing an olive. A martini should always have at least three olives, regardless of size. The olives here are nice and big, fleshy and fresh, but we still must have three. When we ordered our first round, at the bar, they came with three. Our second round, ordered at the table, only had two. My cousin pointed out that it is bad luck to NOT have three. The waiter wasn’t aware that martinis should have three olives, but he quickly remedied the situation and brought over a couple more on a small plate. The little things make a difference. I should also note that martinis are like tits: one is not enough, and three is too many (unlike olives). Heed this wisdom. I had a hard time deciding if I should knock the point off in the service section or in the bar section, but ultimately decided it should be taken from here. And since I didn’t want to take a FULL point off for that minor infraction, I figured it would round out the point to mention that the butter served with the bread was cold and hard (but the bread was semi-warm and crispy). Two half points off make a whole point off. Bread was better on the second trip; nicely seasoned rolls and buns, and also seasoned pretzel-like onion bread with a nice crispy, yet soft outside. Service has gone up to 10 from a 9 because the waiter was dead honest when I asked about the steak special; he told me it was a t-bone, emphasizing that it was NOT a porterhouse because it had a smaller filet side. Also the martini olive situation seems to be fixed.

Ambiance: 10

Delmonico’s is known for its private dining rooms and alcoves, its fantastic bar, and rich history. Both times I ate here were in the main dining room, which is adorned with a huge mural of 1920’s style fanciness, great wood paneling on the walls between windows, wide spacious floor, and high ceiling.  It is very elegant yet still maintains a classic steakhouse feel. It is similar to Sparks in that regard, but without the gaudy mafia overtones. The bathroom, through the bar area, was small, but it had nice dark tiling all the way up the walls, a fresh cinnamon smell, and medium quality paper hand towels (not the thick, cloth-like stuff).

DELMONICO’S
56 Beaver St.
New York, NY 10004

Cattlemen’s (Long Island)

Cattlemen’s overall score: 54

NOTE: THIS PLACE IS NOW CLOSED!
Alright this is a low-rung steakhouse, but I figured I would write it up because it has been a while since my last review. During that time I have made business cards to drop at check paying time, so that waitresses, chefs, and owners can take a look at the blog and read my review for themselves. You may also be wondering why I am reviewing so many Long Island steakhouses and neglecting the NYC standards. The answer is that I have found a half-off coupon website through a Long Island radio station, and, well, why not? Blackwell’s and Mac’s are on the list as well. This place was close to home, and doable on a weeknight after a shit-bag commute on the shit-bag LIRR.
 
Flavor: 5
Flavor is kinda run of the mill here. I can make a better steak at home, but then again I am a pretty damned good cook. Seasoning was good, and I ate the whole thing, but it just wasn’t where it should be, especially if the establishment calls itself a steakhouse. They do offer original, house seasoned and marinated preparations, which is good to do in places that don’t have prime cuts. I had the double cut (14oz – lame and small for being a “double cut”) ribeye with house seasonings.
Choice of Cuts & Quality Available: 6
Props to Cattlemen’s here, especially for a cheap-o place. They have all four basic steak cuts, along with a few sizes of each. Negatives: the double cut ribeye was a sad, pathetic, less-than-an-inch-thick 14oz cut, and it was boneless. Positives: they also do a skirt steak, T-bone (but why bother when the porterhouse is only $5 more?) and prime rib. The cuts are all choice grade, which is fine, but they are on the skimpy side. They DO have an 88oz ribeye steak challenge. Ahhhh John Candy. I will miss you. They have other challenges too – like a 5lb burger, and 10 insane hot wings in ten minutes.  Interesting. Where’s Adam Richman?
 
Portion Size & Plating: 5
Portion sizes ranged from small to average. As I mentioned above, the double cut ribeye was a sad, thin, boneless 14oz slice. It may have been better utilized sliced up and in sandwich form, with some spicy horseradish sauce and melted swiss. I’d hate to find out the size of a single cut steak at this joint. Plating is on par with Fridays – nothing fancy.
 
Price: 7
We came here to use a $35 gift certificate that we purchased online for $15. So right off the bat, my price rating is biased and skewed. However, two meals totalled $60 – including drinks and apps (drinks were cheap!). That’s right – our bill was $25, for all you math whizzes. We spent a total of $40 when you take the $15 we spent on the gift certificate into consideration. They even knocked off the appetizer for us since we waited a while and they messed up a side order. Down side: “shit you pay, shit you get,” as my dad always says. The price is low because the quality is low. You do get full, however, because you get a bunch of crap for your money.
 
Bar: 5
I can’t picture myself hanging out at the bar other than when waiting for a seat (which we did). It is a basic square bar with a jukebox and regular, standard beers on tap and bottles behind the bar. They do offer a house microbrew called Cattlemen’s something-or-other, but the bartender said it is a light beer. Overall this is the kind of place to drink a beer – not martinis or manhattans. Prices are good though.
Specials and Other Meats: 6
Cattlemen’s suffers from a slight lack of identity. They offer ribs, pulled pork, lamb chops, chicken, etc. They are a western-themed eatery, so maybe that is how it is done out west, but when I see “steakhouse” in the name I expect more chops and cuts rather than BBQ, among other things. Don’t get me wrong – I love BBQ – but the softest meat I want at a steakhouse is MAYBE a braised short rib or some prime rib (for chicks). They had some specials but no other steaks or chops than what is on the regular menu.
 
Apps, Sides & Desserts: 5
To start we had the rattlesnake bites: minced shrimp and bacon with some bell peppers and cheese fried into shrimp-shaped discs. They were kinda heavy, but the chipotle mayo dip was nice. My wife had a house salad with “cusabi” dressing (cucumber + wasabi), which I thought was a really awesome dressing, despite being added to a bagged-lettuce quality salad (not a problem for a guy like me, but ladies like a fancy salad sometimes). For sides we ordered creamed spinach (creamy but may have been frozen), smoke pit home fries (sweet and heavy, with onions and bell peppers), fried onion strings (good), and sauteed mushrooms. The ‘shrooms came late because they gave us a mashed potato dish with gravy by mistake, but both were just okay – par at best. We skipped dessert since we weren’t that hungry and the food wasn’t wow-ing us. The good: you get two sides with your meal, and the portions are sized just right.
 
Seafood Selection: 4
They have a good amount of seafood selections – broiled salmon, tortilla crusted tilapia, several “gulf shrimp” preparations, and lobster tails – but we didn’t really like what we had. My wife had the combo with shrimp scampi, tortilla crusted tilapia and a lobster tail. The lobster tail was the only thing worth eating; it was cooked properly, and was sweet and juicy. The tilapia was soggy – not crispy as you would expect with a tortilla crusting. The shrimp scampi was rubbery, but at least not overcooked: a tell-tale sign of frozen items. Seafood was sub par all around despite the selections looking good on the menu.
Service: 5
The service was weird. First, we were told there was a 15 minute wait. I found that odd for a Thursday on Long Island. The dining room was maybe half-full at best, and they seemed to have enough waitresses. My only guess was an under-staffed kitchen. So be it. We had a drink at the bar and hung out. Other noteworthy issues: they brought us mashed potato instead of the sauteed mushrooms we ordered. No problem though, because they brought us the correct item when we told them. Later, however, it took a long time to get the check after asking for it. Maybe the gift certificate or the transfer of our drinks from bar tab to table check caused problems? Not sure. Staff seemed nice though.
Ambiance: 6
The western theme didn’t really seem corny until after we sat down and got our food. It doesn’t FEEL western in there. There are some wanted posters on the wall and some longhorns over the fireplace but that doesn’t transport the customer to the west. Especially when you are situated along Montauk Highway and the side windows open up to a nice outdoor area along a wide canal that leads to the Great South Bay. I think they should refocus their theme to something more like an ocean grill, and re-tool the menu. Make it smaller, offer better quality items, etc. The feeling you get when you look over the canal is nice, so they should work that into their theme and take advantage. Salt water + wild west does not compute. Weird thing: at 8:30 the jukebox kicked on and the lights abruptly shut down in the dining room, but then went back on at 8:32. Then the lights went back off at 8:35. Whatever.

CATTLEMEN’S
127 Montauk Hwy.
Lindenhurst, NY 11757

Arthur’s Tavern (Hoboken, NJ)

Arthur’s Tavern overall score: 69

YES – I even review the “lesser” steak joints. There is a running joke that I am going to make a drunken, late night pit-stop at Tad’s before getting on the LIRR, and then write up a stellar review of it the next morning. That will surely throw off the non-locals! Tourists beware. Keep your eyes out for it – I WILL do it one day. Anyway – I hesitate to call Arthur’s a steak joint, and I don’t mean disrespect when I use the word “lesser;” Arthur’s tavern is just that – a tavern. But it has become well known to many NYC and NJ folks for its massive cuts of beef and man-sized 32oz beers. That said, it certainly deserves our attention.

Flavor: 6

I’ve been to Arthur’s about four times. For about six months I lived in Hoboken, so it became a nice comfortable place for huge beers and huge steaks at small prices. The flavor is okay. The steaks are fatty/gristled and only at choice quality without any enhancements, but they still taste pretty good. Hey – it gets the job done, right?

Choice of Cuts & Quality Available: 4

More of a pub in selection and atmosphere, Arthur’s really only has ribeyes and a sirloin. “Our Steak” is 24oz, for the light appetite (lol)… and the double is 49oz (be a man and get it). Those are some huge hunks of beef!

Portion Size & Plating: 10

Okay: MASSIVE. There – I said it again. If portion size is your thing, you will clearly not be disappointed. Again the ribeye is 24oz, the double is 49oz. Stomachs will fill. ‘Nuff said.

Price: 10

At about a dollar an ounce, or even less if you go for the double, Arthur’s is a steal. You would be hard pressed to find steak in the supermarket for that price these days. Eyes on the prize people: Arthur’s give’s you a lot of meat for your money.

Bar: 8

Arthur’s is a great bar; they are championed for their huge 32oz beers. When I lived in the area they were something ridiculously cheap like $4 (probably more now). Grab a 32oz Guinness and a 49oz Double Steak with a wedge of iceburg, and you are guaranteed to grow hair on your chest. Fuck it – you will grow hair on your damn fingernails; THAT is how manly you become.

Specials and Other Meats: 5

It is a tavern, people. What you see is what you get. They do have ribs, pastrami and corned beef though; I have never tried.

Apps, Sides & Desserts: 6

To be honest, all I have ever gotten here were the steaks because they are so huge, with the exception of some sauteed onions and mushrooms, and also the iceburg wedge.

Seafood Selection: 4

I had to check the menu online, because I honestly didn’t think they had anything other than maybe some fried shrimp. As it turns out, Arthur’s has scrod, and shrimp scampi. Nothing fancy. But who the fuck is coming here to order shrimp scampi for dinner anyway? I’ll tell you who: pussies, losers, and quiff-bags. Get a steak, assholes. Some oysters or clams would be a good additon to the menu as appetizers, however.

Service: 8

The good people working at Arthur’s are friendly and fun. No complaints here, especially for the kind of place it is. The tables have these awesome metal bowls of pickled items: half sour pickles, cherry peppers, and slaw. I could eat this stuff all day, and the generous people over at Arthur’s are more than happy to keep them coming, bowl after glorious bowl.

Ambiance: 8

I love Arthur’s because there is no bullshit. The tables are covered with plastic red and white checkered picnic-style tablecloths. Everything is wood and has character. The music is fun, loud but not annoying, and the crowd can’t help but have a good time. My kind of place.

ARTHUR’S TAVERN
237 Washington St.
Hoboken, NJ 07030