I went to La Leña in Hudson Yards’ “Little Spain” specifically to try a cut of steak from an 8-10yr old Holstein dairy cow from Mindful Meats in California.
This “Vaca Vieja” style steak is common in Spain and other parts of Europe, so I was psyched to try it. The beef was very lean, and also dry-aged, making it ripe for a quick cook. However, the restaurant spent nearly an hour cooking it in their fantastic open flame style kitchen. They ruined it.
We ordered medium rare but it came out to us somewhere between medium and medium well.
Ultimately it was a very uneven fire, with some parts in the center being properly medium rare, but with way too much thick grey-banding on the exterior.
Amateurish, and likely fired by a cook who was unfamiliar with open flame cooking. The result was a grainy textured eating experience. Not much in the way of flavor either. I had hoped for more uniqueness, having heard that dairy cows can develop great marbling with robust flavors when they get up there in age. 5/10.
At $120 for 24oz this was a complete rip off. Not only that, but when we informed the waiter of the improper cook, he simply said thanks and that he would let the chef know. No offer of a new steak. No money off the bill. Not even a free dessert or drink.
If you must go here, stick to the pork until these guys learn how to cook a steak. My wife said the pork tasting menu was good. Also, nice gin and tonic:
My wife took me to Thomas Keller’s new Hudson Yards eatery, TAK Room, for my birthday. This meal was pretty awesome, so let me get right down to business.
This place has a great selection of classics, spins on classics, and new style cocktails. I went with the “Old Hat” old fashioned. I liked it, but both my wife and I liked her order better (Waldorf Vieux Carre)
We both remarked that the cocktail pricing wasn’t too rapey. And it’s worth noting here that the bar and lounge area is seriously impressive. The bar is backed by windows, offering an impressive view. There’s plenty of lounge style seating near the bar, where you can drink, snack and enjoy the live music on the stage.
Table Bread & Crudite
This was a nice touch; the crudite was cold and fresh, and that butter extruder thing is becoming insta-famous. There are two varieties of delicious house made breadsticks as well.
Green Garlic Agnolotti, Razor Clams, Gremolata
Strong opener, and an easy contender for my best pasta dishes of 2019. It almost had an oreganata flavor to it, with a great balance of textures.
This had some freshly shaved horseradish on top of the raw egg yolk, and was really nicely executed.
Prime Rib Cart Service
Take a look at this video of the prime rib service cart:
That’s Snake River Farms domestic wagyu cross, highly marbled and riddled with intense flavor.
This is easily one of the best prime rib orders I’ve ever had. At $110, I would bark about it being too expensive, but it really was worth every forkful. 10/10.
Short Rib Beef Wellington
Check this out:
A beautiful specimen. The short rib was snappy, but super tender.
The puff pastry was perfectly cooked from end to end. Perfect execution.
The only thing I disliked about it was the perigourdine sauce. It had a bitter and almost burnt flavor to it. Luckily that was poured on the side rather than on top of the dish. 9/10.
Champagne Cake, Strawberry Creamsicle Ice Cream
This was a pretty tasty special for dessert (not on the menu), and they generously gave us a couple of glasses of rose champagne to go with it, on the house. Here’s the dessert menu:
Box of Caramel Corn
This comes with your dessert, for the table. Jumbo size pops, very few kernels. Highly addictive.
Views, Decor & Service
Last but not least, one can’t really do a proper review of a joint like TAK Room without speaking about the views, decor and service.
The outer rim of the gorgeous dining room overlooks “The Vessel,” the new scalable art structure in Hudson Yards.
The decor is like a cross between 60’s mod and 20’s art deco. It’s truly beautiful. The service matches the spectacular views and decor, with an impeccably neat, attentive and genuinely nice wait staff. We even saw the likes of Thomas Keller himself, doing one of the prime rib cart services, with Geoffrey Zakarian watching from afar:
One of the managers gave us a quick kitchen tour too, which was really interesting to see. The place is immaculately clean, and they showcase their selection of premium meats in a glass cabinet near the kitchen entrance. Listen carefully for specials, as they were offering cote de boeuf rib eyes at varying sizes.
In summary, this was one of the best meals I’ve had this year, and I look forward to going back to try more beef and even their roast chicken for two. We just need to save up a little bit, because this place is pricey. All in, this meal was $467 with tax and tip. Woof. Here’s a look at some of the pricing:
Here’s a quick update of the minute steak (a thin slice of NY Strip, also Snake River Farms) with fries.
I think a thicker but smaller cut would be better here, and maybe call it a three minute steak. 7/10. The fries were great though.
And a follow up on the burger, which the NY Post called the best in the city.
This is pretty good. Wagyu patty with aged cheddar, LTOP, on a sesame seed bun. I think I prefer a couple of other burgers here in Hudson Yards over this one, but for $24 it comes with those awesome fries, so it’s a good deal. Lunch only though.
20 Hudson Yards
New York, NY 10001