Mark Joseph Steakhouse
Why havent most people heard of this place? For starters, I have not seen it advertised anywhere. The only place it appears on the internet is on this site and the location is pretty random (although it does remain in Manhattan proper)
We went last night....
I will go out on a limb here and say the overall experience is better than Lugers. The steak may not be as tender as our friends in Brooklyn but the flavor was excellent. The appetizers were pretty much identical as were the sides. (the creamed spinach here may have the edge)
With prices almost exactly the same, a very friendly and competent staff, unless you have never tried Lugers once for the experience....this place is a high recommend chowhounds.
I went last week with some friends. I only knew about the existence of Mark Joseph and its background (apparently run by and/or staffed by former Luger's personnel) because of Chowhound.com.
While the food was pretty good overall, I do think that Luger's has the slight edge. I put Mark Joseph firmly in the second tier of NYC steakhouses, and at the top of that tier perhaps, but it is not top tier.
For one thing, service at Mark Joseph was pretty poor. Our waiter was slow. Really slow. It took him 30 minutes to take our order. He hardly made himself available during the meal. He knew nothing about the wine list and walked away in mid-conversation while we were questioning him about the wine list. My friend saw fit to leave about an 8% tip. The waiter returned to the table after we paid as we were leaving and asked if there was a problem with the service. My friend said that indeed there was, that he was terribly slow and provided no help on the wine list. The waiter did not comment, and we took this as an acknowledgment that we were correct.
In all, Mark Joseph is quite good for the quality of its food, but it failed pretty bad in terms of service.
I am a big fan of MarkJoseph and never have encountered the service you describe. (Gotta say, though, in the interest of fairness, I know one of the waitstaff.) I'm glad to hear your friend spoke up about the service, although it probably won't do any good to complain to the perpetrator. I can understand how poor service put you off; it does the same to me.
If you try MarkJoseph again, I would suggest speaking to the maitre d' (who is the owner, I'm pretty sure) about what happened on your previous visit and requesting a different server. That might make the difference between a good and a great meal.
I too am somewhat puzzled by the lack of attention given this place. I think it's definitely a high end steakhouse that deserves notice, but it doesn't seem to be getting any.
re: George Lynch
I was there on Tuesday night and the place was empty. I asked the bartender what the story was and he said they had an incredibly busy lunch crowd. He said nights had been picking up a bit but given the nice weather things had slowed down a bit. I think this place is great and I have never had a problem with service. I am really surprised by the lack of press but sort of assumed that they were working kinks out before they went "public." They have been open awhile though, so who knows.
I tried MarkJoseph on Saturday, and had about the same quality experience as the other posters. The meat was very good, if not transporting, and the vibe is very friendly. (I actually was suspicious of the other reviews for their uniformly glowing comments about the service, but our waiter was really fun, and we felt totally at home.) I would definitely repeat if looking for a downtown steakhouse.
One caveat--The restaurant currently attracts a primarily tourist crowd due to its location, so you're not going to feel like you're some kind of savvy restaurant connaisseur, if that's what you're looking for.