Butcher & Banker overall score: 93*
I was invited into Butcher & Banker for a special preview dinner with a group of people from Instagram. This joint has taken over the previously unused space in an old bank vault on the ground floor of the New Yorker Hotel. I was really excited to try out some items from their impressive menu. Check out the details below.
I tried two different cuts of steak here. I’ll start with the big boy; the tomahawk rib eye (individual flavor score: 10/10).
This beauty was big, juicy and flavorful.
It was cooked to a perfect medium rare with a really great crust.
While there was a good amount of fat on this chop, the fat was the high quality kind that you can eat like beef jelly. I was loving it. And the generously sized cap was absolutely incredible.
Next up was the smoked strip steak (individual flavor score: 8/10).
This thing was beautifully presented on a circular, hibachi style steel mesh grate that sat atop a cast iron grill pan which was covered in rosemary (that’s where the smoke comes from – firing the herbs up). This, too, was perfectly cooked, juicy and flavorful. However I was only able to try a small piece, and I think I got one of the “lesser” slices that remained, as we shared two cuts among about 10 or 12 people. As such the 8/10 score is tentative, and I’m reserving full judgment on this cut until I can try another during my next visit. What I did have was great, but I imagine a slice from the center would be a perfect score, just like the tomahawk.
I’m giving the overall score for flavor the benefit of the doubt here and awarding full points for flavor. Despite the individual scores averaging 9/10, I just know. Trust me.
Choice of Cuts & Quality Available: 10
Chef Scott Campbell sources all of his beef from Pat LaFrieda and a state of the art facility out on Long Island (apologies – the name escapes me at the moment). The cuts available here range far and wide: long bone short rib, tomahawk rib eye, porterhouse, rib cap, coulotte (top sirloin cap), hanger, strip (corn fed or grass finished), filet mignon, and cowboy rib eye. Insanity. And there’s definitely some dry aging going on here – they just didn’t print out the number of days for each cut.
Personally, I don’t care about the number of days as long as I can taste it. Lately I’ve had some dry aged beef that claims to be aged for so long, but the time didn’t translate into flavor. It really all depends on the aging room. Whatever the case may be here, I was able to taste it, and that is a win to me.
Portion Size & Plating: 9
Portion sizes here are pretty generous, and the plating is artful without being too fancy.
Since my meal was free, I have to award full points here. However, the prices are fair for the area, and reflect normal pricing for a midtown Manhattan steakhouse. There’s a variety of cuts available for the discerning carnivore, ranging from $32 for the budget savvy to $63 for the big spenders (per person).
The bar is cozy and interesting. Being down in an old bank vault, it can be out of the way or an effort to get to, as it isn’t a visible spot from the street. But I really liked the vibe.
The cocktails are great here, and they reflect a modern twist on the art deco design of the New Yorker Hotel.
Raffles Singapore Sling:
A Proper Manhattan:
Our Bountiful Martini:
Specials and Other Meats: 10
There’s plenty to go around in the “other meats” department. The menu boasts a duck steak, veal, lamb and chicken. But the big star of the non-beef items is the Kan Kan Pork.
The menu description of this dish – “a grand arch of double loin chops, belly and cracklings” – doesn’t quite do it justice. Order it and you’ll know what I mean when you see it come to the table.
It’s garnished with caramelized Catskill apples, and served with an apple cider reduction. There is no other pork dish like it in the city, and nothing even comes close to it. This is meant for two at $41/pp.
I’m not sure if the waiters will be reading off-menu specials each day, but when you have stuff like this on the menu, what else can possibly be “special” in comparison?
Apps, Sides & Desserts: 9
We tried a bunch of apps and sides, so I’ll just rattle it all off and let you know my thoughts about each.
Banker’s Bacon Double-Thick
As you know from following this website and my Instagram account, there are very few bacon apps that can compete with my top five list. This Banker Bacon was delicious though – no doubt about it – and definitely worth getting as an app.
Short Rib Taquitos
I didn’t see these listed on the menu, but they were great. Super tender stewed style beef with a hit of cooling avocado cream inside a crispy shell. Can’t go wrong.
Colossal Shrimp Cocktail
Delicious and big. The fresh shaved horseradish on top was killer.
Calamari, Rock Shrimp & Shishito Fritti
These come with a great wasabi cream dipping sauce and a little bowl of curry salt for personal seasoning. That salt is really something else, and I love the flavor combinations when you dip into the wasabi cream and then finish with a pinch of curry salt. Perfectly crispy and lightly battered, and the shishito is a great touch.
Three Minute Diver Scallop Ceviche
Really light and well balanced. The scallops were meaty and delicate, and the bright yuzu and grapefruit dressing made them really pop.
Crisp Piri Piri Oysters Rockefeller
These were excellent. I usually don’t like cooked oysters very much, but these were almost like just the outside was cooked, with a crispy fried shell encasing the juicy, creamy oyster inside. Perfect with that dollop of creamed spinach underneath.
Roasted Wild Mushrooms
A great blend of fungi, simply treated with butter, herbs and seasonings – and looking beautiful.
I didn’t get a shot of this stuff, but the texture was so rich and creamy. It was awesome. Chocolate, vanilla and bourbon pecan (incredible and unique).
Seafood Selection: 8
I didn’t try any fish entrees, but all of the starters I tried involving seafood were excellent. I’m not sure when I’ll get around to ordering a seafood entree, as there are still so many meat items I need to try when I return. In any case there are scallops, salmon, shrimp and tuna in the seafood entree department – a fair showing.
The wait staff is on top of their game. They know the cocktails inside and out, and they can explain everything on the menu with precision.
Also worth mentioning here is the homemade skillet bread that comes out to the table with a pair of different butters.
Light, airy, and fluffy inside with a buttery and savory outer crust. One of these days I’ll write up a top five table breads list, and I’ll certainly be considering this as a candidate.
What else can be said about an old bank vault? The details in this place are all original and completely stunning.
And the modern touches from the renovation to turn this place into a steakhouse are elegant, yet still warm and inviting.
The space itself is divided into three locations: the vault, the bar/lounge, and the bifurcated dining room. It’s not a large restaurant, but they really made the best of the space. It feels like it belongs, and I can’t wait to go back.
BUTCHER & BANKER
The New Yorker Hotel
481 8th Ave
New York, NY 10001