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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
We were also treated to a nice after dinner drink of sweet, house made maple bourbon/whiskey. It was perfect with our dessert.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
M. WELLS STEAKHOUSE
43-15 Crescent St.
Long Island City, NY 11101