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Meat 201

Meat 201 is an advanced examination of the four major cuts of beef that you’re likely to see at a steakhouse. The four major cuts are Filet Mignon, Strip Steak, Porterhouse and Rib Eye. For more general information about these cuts, and for information about other cuts of beef, please see my MEAT 101 and MEAT 102 posts.

1. Porterhouse

Etymology: There is some difference of opinion on the origin of the word “Porterhouse,” with several restaurants and cities claiming to have created the name. For example, Martin Morrison served large T-bones in his Pearl Street (Manhattan) “Porter House” around 1814. This history was popular in the late 1800’s, but some say a Cambridge, Massachusetts proprietor by the name of Zachariah B. Porter added his name to the steak. Still, others argue that the Porterhouse name stems from various 19th Century U.S. hotels or restaurants called Porter House, such as the Porter House Hotel in Flowery Branch, Georgia.

Anatomy: The Porterhouse is a cut of steak from the short loin portion of the animal that contains both strip loin and tenderloin meats. See the highlighted portion in the diagram below:

It is cut from a lumbar vertebra that is sawed in half through the vertebral column.

The downward prong of the “T” is a transverse process of the vertebra, and the flesh that surrounds it (spinal muscles) makes up the meat of the Porterhouse.

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Essentially, it is a large T-bone steak from the rear of the animal that has two different types of meat (tenderloin and strip loin), one on either side of the “T.” In the picture below, the strip loin or Strip Steak is on the right, and the tenderloin or Filet Mignon is on the left.

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The small semicircle at the top of the ‘T’ is half of the vertebral foramen, which is the name of the hole that passes through each vertebra for housing and protecting the spinal cord. They run the whole way up the back, all the way up to the brain of the animal.

The anatomy of a Porterhouse differs from that of a T-bone only in that the Porterhouse contains a larger portion of tenderloin than its T-bone counterpart.

This is primarily due to the fact that Porterhouse steaks are cut from further in the rear of the animal, from lumbar vertebrae, where the tenderloin is much thicker. Experts differ, however, on how large the tenderloin must be to differentiate a Porterhouse from a T-bone. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Institutional Meat Purchase Specifications state that the tenderloin of a Porterhouse must be at least 1.25 inches thick at its widest, while that of a T-bone must be at least 0.5 inches.

Here is a shot of a short loin with multiple vertebrae still intact and not portioned out into individual Porterhouses and T-bones.

You can see on the left there is a good sized, thick portion of tenderloin. That thins down as you move the the right, and seems to disappear by time your eyes reach the far end of the cut.

Just to drive home the anatomy a little more, here is a great excerpt and image from Russ Cooks:

“Up close and personal, this is where the T-bone fits.

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photo credit: http://www.russcooks.com/images/t-bone-illustration.png

The black line across the top of the two T-bones pictured here is the outside (top of the back) of the steer. You can see the T-bone in the schematic illustration higher up on this page as the topmost part labelled Rib. Above the ribs, what you touch if you pat the steer’s back, is the New York strip. Beneath the ribs is the tenderloin from which a filet mignon is often cut. T-bone steaks cut closer to the shoulder are known as Porterhouse while those cut closer to the loin are just T-bones.”

Preparation: Most times, T-bones and Porterhouses are either grilled, seared in a pan, broiled or blasted with high heat in specialty steak ovens made for charring the outside of the meat without over-cooking the inside. Butter is essential, and heavy seasoning is important as well. Herbs and garlic help boost the flavor too.

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Flavor: Since this cut contains both the Filet Mignon and the Strip Steak, I refer you to the flavor sections for those cuts below, with a notation that the bone being left in often adds a more robust flavor while helping to retain tenderness and juiciness. These are very popular items at steakhouses because they can be cut large enough to feed anywhere from two to four people. Additionally, with two different types of meat in one steak, one can vary the flavors that one experiences with each bite.

2. Filet Mignon

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.

3. 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.

4. Rib Eye

I’ve saved the best for last. 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.

M. Wells Steakhouse

M. Wells Steakhouse overall score: 91

My wife and I came here with the good people from Tabelog to see what the big hype was all about. I was drooling at the images of the bone-in burger made to look like a tomahawk rib chop. I figured that a place this creative with the presentation would hopefully have some quality food to match.

Flavor: 10
What superb meat! Really nicely cooked for such a massive hunk of meat. We had the Wagyu rib eye to share among three people, along with the bone-in burger for good measure (for my wife). This beef definitely comes in as one of the best steaks I have ever had. The pictures speak volumes – take a look below. The burger was one of the best I’ve ever had; and the rib eye was expertly seasoned, it had a great char/crisp on the outer edges, and it was perfectly medium rare from end to end. I couldn’t believe this was achieved on such a huge, thick slab of meat. I didn’t think I would like it slathered with a saucy cheese, but it actually worked to accent the flavor.

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Choice of Cuts & Quality Available: 10
You have a good set of choices here. There was a chateau briand, two types of Wagyu rib eye, and some regular type cuts. All top notch in terms of quality. This place is definitely not short-changing anyone on the beef.

Portion Size & Plating: 9
Portions were all pretty good with the exception of the geoduck and uni appetizers. Those felt a bit too small for the prices. The rib eye we shared clocked in at 55oz; massive. The burger was definitely large enough to satisfy any burger craving too.

Price: 9
We had lots to drink and eat (three apps, a side, a steak, a burger, a dessert, four coffees, two bottles of wine, a cocktail, and a beer), yet our bill was only $450. Not too shabby for four people!

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Bar: 8
The bar is pretty cool here, and it has a nice, interesting cocktail menu. I sipped on a “cow’s kiss” – which was like a spicy martini with a skewer of pickled veal tongue as garnish. Pretty nice. The bar itself is nicely decorated, however I don’t think I would find myself trekking out to LIC for a drink unless I was specifically going here for dinner.

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We were also treated to a nice after dinner drink of sweet, house made maple bourbon/whiskey. It was perfect with our dessert.

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Specials and Other Meats: 9
There is a lot to choose from here, in the event you don’t want to man-up and eat a real steak. I don’t think the waiter read us any special menu items that I recall, but there’s enough goodness on the menu to satisfy any cravings for something unique. We asked a ton of questions about items we didn’t end up ordering.

Apps, Sides & Desserts: 8
We tried a nice array of items here. First I will start with the apps. We had the geoduck, which came sliced thin and served with radish and pickled green stuff. It tasted like the sea, strongly so, but heavily laden with the taste of pickle. This was my first time trying the phallic food, so I didn’t really know what to expect. I’m not necessarily a fan of this preparation, but I can respect the simplicity of it, and the sea-borne flavors.

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Next was the uni appetizer. Essentially two sea urchins served atop a custard made from lobster broth. It was really interesting, but again not particularly my cup of tea.  Also very fishy (not that there is anything wrong with it – just potent).

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The third and final app was a Korean breakfast plate, which came with roasted, soft, fatty bacon; sweet potatoes; a link of blood sausage; kimchi with a fried egg on top; and friend shrimp dumplings (think breaded, deep fried fish balls). This was a great platter. The bacon was superb. Very soft, yet very smoky; somewhere between regular bacon and roasted belly.  The blood sausage was in the style of English or Scottish food – hearty and robust, slightly grainy or mealy, but packed with flavor. The rest was as you would expect.

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On the side, we had the sunchokes and raisins. It was delicious, but topped with bonito flakes that gave it a jarring fishy taste. I wasn’t crazy about that, but it did make you feel like you were eating some sort of meaty seafood dish rather than the light, artichoke-meets-cauliflower flavor you expect from a sunchoke.

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For dessert we had the chocolate charcuterie, which was essentially a “sausage” log of fudge with spiced caramel inside, beside two small loaves of banana bread, served with a custard spread and a berry compote. Delicious! And a very clever presentation. Only suggestion here: make the truss string easier to disrobe from around the chocolate sausage log.

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Seafood Selection: 9
There’s fresh fish swimming around in the large marble tub sink just behind the counter in the kitchen. If fresh seafood is what you want, then this seems like the place to get it, as it is literally swimming in the kitchen. They have the standard shellfish and raw bar items that you expect from good steak joints. But they also have a great selection of not-so-common seafood items; shit you don’t normally see on steakhouse menus (like the geoduck and uni, for example). Props on that!

Service: 10
Our waiter, Michael, was really fantastic when it came to describing all the great menu items we had questions about. The “wine captain” made some really nice suggestions to pair with our courses as well, although both bottles left a significant amount of sediment in my glass (one of which I couldn’t finish). Perhaps it would be worth while to set a decanter or filtered pouring apparatus down beside the table for when bottles like these are ordered.

OH YEAH! Table breads were nice – one was a hot roll with butter, and the other was a pretzel bun served with dijon mustard. They came in a little bread sack.

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Ambiance: 9
I must say, they did a great job decorating this old garage. The high ceilings give way to beautiful old skylights, and the new-modern steakhouse/slaughterhouse decor lends itself to a great look and vibe inside. The open concept kitchen really makes you feel like you are getting a personal experience with the chef and kitchen staff. The only downside is the small dining space and the lack of large, spacious booths. Otherwise, this place is great and did a wonderful job with the space. I imagine they will have outdoor seating on the patio once the weather gets nice too.

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Just a quick note here – we had a celebrity sighting while dining: the highly polarizing squeaky wheel known as Michael Moore, of Bush-bashing, anti-gun, pro-Cuba fame. Here he is, looming over my shoulder while waiting for his table, like a large Thanksgiving Day parade float, donning his characteristic baseball cap and cantankerous mug.

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M. WELLS STEAKHOUSE
43-15 Crescent St.
Long Island City, NY 11101

Dylan Prime Revisited

Dylan Prime overall score: 95

NOTE: THIS JOINT IS NOW CLOSED!!!

I had been meaning to get back to Dylan Prime since I started this blog. I had a great steak there but the rest of the meal was just average. That was back in 2011. But now, they have a new chef, the place was renovated, and the menu is different. Check out the results:

Flavor: 10
This place remains a solid 10 for flavor. They have 1600 degree ovens that char up a beautiful crisp on the meat, locking in all those essential juices. Almost every bit of meat we had was perfectly cooked. And since I was with a group of 5 guys, We were able to sample all the major cuts: strip, filet, and rib eye. Check out the images (apologies for not getting a shot of the strip – I was too busy taking down a 42oz rib eye by myself):

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rib eye for two
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filet

Choice of Cuts & Quality Available: 10
The meats here are aged at least a month, and every cut is available in both single and double portions. The single cuts are boneless, the double cuts are bone-in. There was lots of delicious fat jelly along the edges of my rib eye that just melted in my mouth. Awesome. Only negative was a little bit of over cooking on the edges and where there was heavy fat content, but I guess that can happen with such thick cuts of beef. It is this exact problem that I was tempted to try to avoid by going with the rib eye for one. I view this as a cut issue rather than a flavor or cooking preparation issue. My suggestion would be for Dylan Prime to add something like a 22oz bone in rib-eye to the menu, that way there is some heft to the single cut, but also a bone to ensure added flavor and good inner cooking temps without over cooking the edges.

Portion Size & Plating: 10
Portion size has improved greatly here. At 16oz the single cut rib eye is still a bit small for a fatty like me, but since it is off the bone it is a nice size. The plating is great: elegant, but not overboard with the fancy bullshit. You’ll see in the app pics what I mean.

Price: 10
For 5 people we only ended up spending $150 a piece with tip included. That was a great deal. Check out the details below and you will see that the staff hooked us up with some freebie apps and sides to try out:

William Price
William Price

Bar: 10
The bars have remained relatively unchanged, but I bumped the score up because of the people working them. In the main bar, we had the pleasure of meeting a gent named Johnny Champagne (Champaign is the actual spelling, I think). No joke – that is his REAL name. It was like meeting my long lost, more elegant and clean shaven cousin. The group of us got to talking about old school rap and the music industry, of all things. Cool guy, and he was an excellent bartender. In the dining room there’s another small bar, where Nico mixes up concoctions for the diners. At the end of our meal, Nico brought out a really great flight of scotches that took us across the map of Scotland from smooth to peaty. He really knew his stuff, and if he ever finds his way to this page, I hope he checks out my write up of the whiskey advent calendar that we were discussing.

Johnny Champagne
Johnny Champagne
main bar
main bar
flight of single malts
flight of single malts

Specials and Other Meats: 9

There weren’t too many specials, other than some oysters from east and west coast. Lamb, chicken, pork, duck and even oxtail graced the menu as far as alternameats go. Quite a nice selection.

Apps, Sides & Desserts: 8
We had a crazy array of apps and sides. I’ll give a quick description of each photo below, and then do a little explanation of the others that I didn’t get pics of.

First was a roasted bone marrow with old bay buttered toast and fried oysters. This was probably my favorite part of the meal. The bone marrow was like meat butter/jelly. Outstanding.

bone marrow with fried oyster
bone marrow with fried oyster

The shellfish platter was really nice too. Some big prawns, oysters, mussels with a chive cream (amazing), lobster, and crab claws.

shellfish platter
shellfish platter

My charred octopus was perfectly cooked, nice texture with the right chew and snap to it.

charred octopus
charred octopus

We also had creamed kale, which in my opinion was a little over-salted, but the texture was much nicer than the typical feel of gloppy creamed spinach. It had a little more substance to it without tasting like the usual shit kale flavor. The chef also hooked us up with some freebies, some of which were excellent, and some of which were just okay. The trotter baked beans were good and smokey, and had an interesting bread crumb crisp on top. The buttermilk mashed potatoes weren’t anything to write home about, but the cheese fondue mashed potatoes were stellar: another highlight of the meal (aside from the meat, of course). They reminded me of my mom’s mozzarella mashed potatoes. The chef also sent over a lobster pot pie, which I wasn’t a fan of. Some of the other guys liked it though. To me it tasted a little too much like half decent Manhattan clam chowder in a pie crust. The other low point for me was the brussels sprouts. They were a little too heavy on the vinegar for my liking, but, again, some of the other guys loved them. Sorry I didn’t get pics of all these delightful items.

Seafood Selection: 8
There’s arctic char and monkfish in terms of entree seafood items. The app menu, though, is where the seafood really shines here.

Service: 10
Cory, our waiter, was tremendous. He knew his meats, had great menu suggestions for us, and was really attentive and genuine. My buddy remarked that when I got up to take a leak, which took all of 30 seconds, my napkin was promptly folded for me for my return. Rob, the manager, was a real gentleman, and checked in on us here and there to make sure we were happy, and to shoot the shit with us. I had lots of questions for him about the restaurant transformation, and he was happy and eager to discuss it all with me. Great staff all around, from bar, to front of the house, to wait staff, to kitchen.

Ambiance: 10
I love the look and feel of this place. It’s trendy and new, but still manly and bold. The wood floors are amazing, and the high ceilings and thoroughly “Tribeca” walls are just gorgeous. They even added a cool little chef’s table which you can see at the entrance. It has a wall of windows where you can peek into the kitchen to see what’s cooking.

view from the chef's table
view from the chef’s table

Gallaghers – NEW & IMPROVED

Gallaghers overall score: 95

Gallaghers had recently closed down, was repurchased, renovated, and now has reopened, returning a once-considered-to-be NYC staple in the steakhouse world to its former glory. It had fallen on ill times for a while before it closed. I went a few years ago and was disappointed (if you are curious, the old, defunct review is HERE). But now, with a new chef, decor upgrades, etc – it is BACK with a vengeance. I was totally blown away by the improvements they made, so I figured I would write an entirely new entry for the joint. Out with the old, in with the new.

Flavor: 9
We tried the rib eye and the marrow crusted filet. Both were incredible. I hate to say it, but I think the filet packed more of a punch than the rib eye in terms of flavor; probably because of the smashed, roasted garlic that was spread on top, and the amazing quality of the fat that was introduced back into the meat via the marrow. The rib eye was perfectly cooked, with a great sear on the outside that locked in the juicy pinkness inside. I found it to be just a hair under seasoned though, so decided to hold back on giving full points on flavor. Check out the pics. As you can see, the filet came with a little side of roasted marrow as well, and that was topped with a crunchy bread crumb crust to give it texture. Fantastic.

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Choice of Cuts & Quality Available: 10
Everything here is top notch quality. I mean, fuck, you can see it right in the window as it ages. They offer a porterhouse, two versions of a strip, a rib eye, a prime rib, a chopped steak, and several sizes and varieties of filet.

Portion Size & Plating: 10
Portions are excellent. The filet is basically 10oz or 14oz, which is pretty good for the vagina cut. The rib eye was around 20oz, probably more, if I had to guess. Side items and apps were good sizes too, and not as overpriced as one might expect from a prime theater district location. Plating was impressive; simple yet artful and elegant. Check out the crudo and carpaccio apps below. Gorgeous.

Price: 8
Obviously the cost is a bit inflated because of the location; I don’t even want to know what this place pays out in rent every month. You get a great meal for the money though, so it’s worth the splurge. Here’s the bill – see for yourself:

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Bar: 10
This is a bar of legendary status. It’s been around since the late 20’s. If you haven’t been there, please do yourself a favor and go immediately. They mix a fine martini, and the bartender Leo is awesome: a true master of mixing. I even tried an old fashioned from the cocktail menu and it was done incredibly.

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Specials and Other Meats: 9
They didn’t read any specials to us, but everything is special here. I am really impressed with the turn-around this place made. Bravo. As for other meats, they offer veal, lamb, and chicken. They pulled the pork item they used to serve (no big deal), but they do offer some alternative beef cuts like the chopped steak (glorified burger) and the prime rib (rib eye for women). And I mentioned above the several different types of filet you can order, but I will list them here for you: blue cheese crust, marrow crust, pepper/Makers Mark crust, mushroom garlic butter, sweet chili rubbed, porcini and coffee rubbed, and cajun rubbed.

Apps, Sides & Desserts: 10
We tried a few items: the hamachi crudo, the veal carpaccio, and the french onion soup, to start. The hamachi was crisp, clean and really nicely plated. The yuzu jalapeno dressing really punched it up. The veal carpaccio was so light and delicate. It was amazing. I didn’t care much for the beets, but hey, I loved it otherwise. The french onion soup was nicely executed. It wasn’t too heavy or overly salty, yet it still packed great flavor.

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Dessert and after dinner drinks came to us on the house, which was just incredible. We had a sampling. We had the key lime pie, which was my favorite of the bunch, the banana cream pie (which came with a brulee’d banana), and the chocolate cake. They look every bit as good as they tasted. And for a guy like me who generally isn’t into sweets as much as others, they were not overly sweet – they were just right.

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Seafood Selection: 9
There’s a good amount to choose from all over the menu. I like the nod to the man’s seafood steak: the swordfish, steak of the sea. Well played. We had a great seat near the open concept kitchen as well, so we got to drool over the shellfish display:

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Service: 10
Impeccable. What an amazing group of people. Everyone. Hostesses, management, wait staff, kitchen team – all great people. Just to give a tribute, Nick & Caesar felt like family, had really great menu recommendations for us, and were attentive and genuinely nice guys. Nick is truly a work horse. The guy commutes well over an hour to get there, and I was happy to know he’s been serving guests at Gallaghers for 25 years. Awesome. The managers Charlie and James really went above and beyond and gave us way too much shit on the house and made us feel like kings. This place is really something else, and it is precisely because of the amazing staff that runs the joint. I also had the pleasure of meeting the chef Allen (forgive my spelling if it is wrong) as well. He was focused back there, but really happy to know that the guests were enjoying the new Gallaghers. His food was really delicious, and it was awesome that he let me back there to ogle his work station. Right as I snapped this photo of the coal fired brick oven, a massive tray of steaks came out to get fired up. My mouth dropped with joy. Wish I got a shot of that.

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Since I have to mention the bread: good crisp bread, nice spreadable butter.

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Ambiance: 10
This place is historic. The remodel preserved all that great history but gave it a modern, clean feel. You still know you’re in an old steakhouse, like Keens, but you don’t have that musty, stale, dark atmosphere. The decor is classy, sophisticated, and loaded with history. Check out the open concept in the rear, where we sat. You can see right into the kitchen, and it’s bright and clean in there. State of the art.

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But wait a fucking minute… What’s the first thing you see when you walk up to this restaurant off the street? MEAT. GLORIOUS MEAT!!! Just the meat locker window alone makes this place a stand-out joint in a city flooded with steakhouses. Are you fucking kidding me? This room is heaven. HEAVEN!

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And what review would be complete without a discussion of “the office” – you know, where the magic happens. Clean, over-sized urinals, because, lets face it, men who dine here have over-sized cocks. Fine marble everywhere, nice tile work. Cloth towels to dry your hands after. Nice.

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My wife and I also came in with my parents for restaurant week, January 2016. Well, I ordered a strip from the regular menu, but everyone else ordered off the price fix lunch menu. Here’s my steak – absolute perfection, and very good butchering/trimming – ZERO GRISTLE! This was a 10/10.

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I grabbed one of my mom’s eggs… which I suppose I did as a sperm as well, some 38 years ago… but this time instead of burrowing my head into it, I put it on top of my steak:

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I also put down some fries with it, and then ate bacon for dessert.

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Okay so the main reason for this update is the restaurant week deal. For $25 you get an app/salad, an entree and a dessert. My wife got a wedge salad, lamb chops and cheesecake. Great price!

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For $10 more you can get a 10oz filet, which is still a great deal, but they do also offer a sliced filet with peppers and onions for the same $25 price point. I guess it is smaller.

My mom got the split pea and ham soup to start, and prime rib hash browns with poached eggs for her entree:

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The table started with this new chilled octopus salad too, served with onions and tomatoes. Very tender, but it still had a great char on the outside.

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UPDATE 6/2/18

Prime Rib: 9/10

Porterhouse: 8/10

I also took down their monster veal parm. This thing is massive.

While I prefer the parts at many other places, there’s something to be said about the sheer size of this thing. It was probably about 32oz.

Veal Chop: 9/10

GALLAGHER’S
228 W. 52nd St.
New York, NY 10019

Bistecca Fiorentina

Bistecca Fiorentina overall score: 80

UPDATE: THIS PLACE IS NOW CLOSED

My wife and I came here for a quick meal before catching the opening night performance of Rocky (the musical) on Broadway. Stallone showed up at the end of the performance so it made all the singing and dancing worth while.

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Anyway this little pre-theater joint had a great looking menu. It turned out to be a great meal.

Flavor: 7
For steaks, we shared a rib eye and a single cut porterhouse. The rib eye was flavorful and cooked nicely at a medium rare. It had a few gristled spots and was generally pretty thin, but overall I liked it. The porterhouse was good too, and served with a gravy of some kind, as well as a rosemary, butter-garlic and white wine gravy (and a steak sauce, which I didn’t use much). Since the porterhouse was served on a hot plate and pre-sliced, however, it overcooked a little as it sat there. Still pretty tasty though.

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Choice of Cuts & Quality Available: 7
The cuts were aged and in general good quality. As noted above, my rib eye was a little gristled and thin. They offered all the four basics in terms of cuts, and even a few outliers.

Portion Size & Plating: 7
Portions here are good. My rib eye was probably about 14-16oz, bone-in, and about an inch or slightly less in thickness. ALthough that’s a little small, it was reflected fairly in the price at only $36. It compared with the rib eye sizes at Keens, Bull & Bear and Dylan Prime. The porterhouse for one was 32oz, which was a good size, and also at a fair price.

Price: 9
Our bill came to $180. Pretty great considering how much we got to eat. We ordered two cocktails, a big seafood tower, two steaks, and a side.

Bar: 7
This place is situated in the ground floor space of a brownstone building just west of the theaters, on 46th between 8th and 9th. I didn’t expect much from the bar but it was actually set up in a nice spot where you could gaze outside and hang out for a drink. The martini was well made as well – maybe could just use some bigger olives.

Specials and Other Meats: 9
There was a big menu of special items that I assume varies each week or even each day. They offered lamb, veal, chicken, pork, all of it. They even had this incredible looking hunk of prosciutto sitting in a vintage, hand-cranked meat slicer right in the middle of the dining room. I asked about it: fully operational and they use it when people order prosciutto.

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Apps, Sides & Desserts: 8
For an app we had the seafood tower, which I will discuss in more detail below. On the side we had a plate of fried artichokes. They were interesting. A little dense/heavy, and you had to eat around the pinchy parts just above the quartered heart, but I enjoyed. To our surprise the porterhouse for one came with a small side of creamed spinach. It was actually great; not too salty or overly creamy, great spinach flavor. We had no room for dessert, plus we wanted to get to the theater.

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Seafood Selection: 9
There’s a lot of nice looking seafood on the menu; and I assume it is all nice quality because the price points were almost the same as the steaks. While we didn’t get the branzino or the sea bass, we DID order the hot & cold seafood platter for two. That came with four oysters, four clams, four scallops, three shrimp, three grilled & breaded langostines, a lobster tail, and a king crab leg. Everything was delicious, and the platter rivaled those in some of the best steak joints in the city.

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Service: 10
The staff was excellent. All the waiters were dressed to impress, including the bartender. Nick, one of the guys working the floor, is actually related to the Ben & Jacks folks, so you know this little steak place comes from good breeding stock. Our waiter served slices of the steak onto our plates for us, dressed it with sauce, and even did it all again when he saw we were clearing the first set of slices. Water was always filled, and the table was cleaned and neatened between courses. The table breads consisted of bruscetta (two pieces) and a nice hunk of crispy bread. Maybe one suggestion would be to bring the bread out at a warmer temperature, and with softer butter.

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Ambiance: 7
Obviously this place isn’t set up for the kind of experience you get at Keens or Quality Meats, where they dump millions of dollars into the decor. The walls are exposed brick, the floors are weathered wood, and there are no big fancy booths. But it is clean and nice, and they do have Sinatra on the stereo system. Take it at face value: this is a nice little bottom-of-the-brownstone restaurant geared for the pre-theater crowd, with curbside dining during the nice weather. It serves good food (and great seafood) at fair prices, and the staff is incredible.

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BISTECCA FIORENTINA
317 W. 46th St.
New York, NY 10036