The Statler Grill

The Statler Grill overall score: 73

Groupon recently had a sweet steakhouse deal: $49 steak dinner for two that covers $18 worth of apps, $114 worth of steak, and $18 worth of sides. That’s a steal! It turns out the restaurant was The Statler Grill, a joint I had wandered past a few times near Penn Station and always wondered about.
Flavor: 8
I had the ribeye, which was partially boneless at about 22oz. Nice and flavorful, cooked perfectly through the whole way, nothing uneven, nice and tender and juicy, well seasoned, well rested… It didn’t need anything, yet there was just something missing that I couldn’t put my finger on; maybe it was the atmosphere (see below)? Whatever it was I couldn’t give it the full 10. My wife got the lamb chops, which were amazing; nice crust, not too gamey, but full of great flavor.

Choice of Cuts & Quality Available: 7

The menu has the basics: strip, filet, ribeye, and porterhouse. All seem to be prime quality. No specials, but they did have lamb chops and a veal chop to mix it up.

Portion Size & Plating: 7

We were full, so the size was good; I estimate the ribeye to be about 20-24oz (there were no numbers on the menu), and about 3-4oz for each lamb chop (with six chops per order). Plating is basic; white plate with meat + a little green garnish. Nothing fancy.

Price: 8

I wanted to give this place a 9 or 10 for price, since we paid so little for our meal, but the menu prices were high for dining without a sweet groupon. The ribeye was $54, lamb chops $48. Kinda pricey for a place like this. The lobster cocktail was $18, and the smallish sides were $9 each. If the atmosphere was a little different (see below) if might be worth it at full price, because the food WAS cooked properly and tasted great… but for that price, head over to Keen’s, Wolfgang’s or Delmonico’s for serious atmosphere. That said, our meal, with drink, tax and tip included, was $42 over the initial $49 I paid for the groupon.

Bar: 6

The bar is kinda small and junky. It probably gets some customers who are awaiting their LIRR train, so it’s not empty. They do offer some interesting beers and wine selections, and their martini was made properly, but this isn’t really the kind of bar I’d want to hang at for too long. Contrast with Delmonico’s or Keen’s and you see what I mean.

Specials and Other Meats: 6

No specials! That’s fine; after all, it is a steak joint. The basic cuts are all that is required. Other than that they had veal and lamb, a good deal of seafood and chicken as well, for the wimps.

Apps, Sides & Desserts: 8

We started with the lobster cocktail; nicely cooked, accompanied by some dipping sauces: a kicked up, horseradishy cocktail sauce, and a spicy mayo type sauce. The lobster was split in two long ways to split the tail meat, and the claws were pre-cracked and ready to devour. The creamed spinach was certainly creamy. What it lacked in salt and savory it made up for in cream, so it served as a good cut to the well-seasoned meat. I found myself dipping fork fulls of meat into the spinach with every few bites. Only bad thing: the size was a bit small. The order of fries was good too; crispy ribbons, well salted. About two potatoes worth, so also a bit pricey for $9. We skipped dessert. If I was still hungry, I probably would have rounded off the meal with some oysters. One thing looked particularly interesting on the menu: the Dr. Olsen Salad – basically a cobb with a seafood twist.

Seafood Selection: 8

Chilean sea bass, grilled salmon, shrimp scampi, crab cakes, and seared sesame tuna graced the seafood menu. That covers most bases, though there was no lobster aside from the cocktail. They also offered oysters AND clams on the half shell as apps (oreganata clams too – and nice move offering both clams and oysters), as well as fried calamari, shrimp cocktail, lump crab meat, and app sized portions of scampi, crabcakes and tuna.

Service: 9

Our waiter was really friendly and outgoing to all his tables – an older man – and the waiters were dressed in the classic shirt & tie manner. Crusty bread was hot when it came to the table, and served with a nice basic whipped butter that wasn’t cold and solid.

Ambiance: 6

This place could use a makeover. It is not BAD inside, but it doesn’t have a steakhouse feel (see Lugers) OR a fine dining feel (see Mark Joseph). It feels more like a Heartland Brewery, yet at least in Heartland Brewery you know you have a kickass bar/beer/drink selection. The floors are nice; dark wood, Ceilings are high with the exposed warehouse look, and tables are what you would see in any regular restaurant. Walls are covered with random stuff like trumpets, artwork, etc. I think they need a new space, or a new decor. Even the doorway seemed cheap; more like a bar door or a standard storefront shop. It could be the location – it is directly across from MSG and Penn Station, down 33rd street about halfway to 6th Avenue, so it lacks a certain character or uniqueness trait. The bathrooms, cleverly marked “Joseph” and “Josephine” for men/women, were standard bar bathrooms – not dirty, but not the kind you expect in a fine steakhouse.
UPDATE AS OF 7/27/15
So Statler Grill now has a different deal, and it isn’t quite as awesome as it used to be. It’s still a good deal, don’t get me wrong, but you need to know up front that the menu is very limited. There are only two cuts of steak available in the “steak dinner for two” Groupon deal. You can either choose a strip/sirloin, or the porterhouse for two. They also limit you on your selection of apps, they choose the sides for you, and you are limited to two desserts. The good thing is that you can swap wine for beer or cocktails with no extra charge. Anything else that you might want to swap will cost you big time. Like $15 extra if you want a filet instead of the strip. Or $5 extra if you want chocolate ice cream instead of cheesecake or bread pudding. Some of the substitution fees are ridiculous considering that the actual menu prices are the same if not less for the substitutions.
Anyway, the deal is $99 for two apps, two entrees, two desserts, two coffees and a bottle of wine. It’s really not that bad of a deal if you happen to want what is on the limited menu. So I stress that you look before you leap.
We had the caesar salad and friend calamari to start. Both were small portions. I’d say half size from what you might expect.
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We went with the porterhouse for two. Although it was a bit light on the ounces and seasoning, I didn’t mind so much because it was cooked properly and the flavor was decent, though not as good as last time I came (maybe 7/10 for this porterhouse).
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The sides were both excellent, and were generously portioned given the deal.
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Since the manager was aware that we were a bit unhappy with the Groupon fine print, he went out of his way to make sure we were happy come dessert time. He gave us the chocolate ice cream substitution for free, and also threw in a creme brûlée on the house. Good man.
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The real star of the show at dessert time was the bread pudding, though. It was awesome. It tasted like warm fluffy French toast cookie dough.
That about does it. Overall the meal was satisfying and we liked our food. We were just a little let down over the seemingly deceptive wording in the Groupon ad. Hopefully this gets rectified in the future, so that others don’t get let down upon ordering time. We were actually going to leave and eat elsewhere when we learned that the deal was not what we expected, but we were told that the Groupon had already been redeemed. Essentially that meant we were stuck eating there or else face a loss of the Groupon value.

STATLER GRILL
136 W. 33rd St.
New York, NY 10001

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