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Aug 3, 2001 11:47 AM


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Any current views on the best NYC steakhouses? Smith & Wollensky got some mediocre reviews on this board several years ago-anyone try it lately.

Re Peter Lugar-reservations are very very difficult to obtain. What are the chances of getting a table by just showing up (8-930PM)?

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  1. my favorite steakhouse was John Bruno's Pen & Pencil on east 45th Street, now, alas, closed for a number of years. Michael Jordan's in Grand central Station is quite a good steakhouse, as is Rothmann's on East 54th street, between 5th & madison. The Bull and bear in the Waldorf is excellent. Vindigo lists 67 steakhouses in Manhattan alone. Stay away though, from Keen's on West 36th Street.

    5 Replies
    1. re: walter
      Bob Martinez

      If you're looking for the Peter Luger experience and can't get a reservation, try Mark Joseph in lower Manhattan, a few blocks from the South Street Seaport. Many of the staff are former Luger employees and the steaks and ambiance are first rate. Their only weaknesses are a limited beer and wine list. (This may have been remedied since my visit last May.) Use the search feature on the homepage to locate reviews.

      1. re: walter

        Just curious about your aversion to Keen's - Why don't you like it? We have always had very good experiences there.

        1. re: walter

          Just curious about your aversion to Keen's - Why don't you like it? We have always had very good experiences there.

          1. re: walter
            George Lynch

            I rather like Keen's. I like the Old New York ambiance, I really enjoy their mutton chop (signature dish), and I've enjoyed both wines and single malt scotches there. Admittedly it gets very hectic in the two hours before a Garden event, so it would be best to visit outside those hours.

            We've also been to Keen's for tastings several times (wine tasting, single malt tasting, bourbon tasting, maybe one or two others) and had rousing great times.

            I will grant that Keen's isn't a top tier steakhouse in the same mold as Peter Luger or MarkJoseph, but you can have a pretty good meal and a pretty good time there.

            What don't you like about it?

            1. re: walter

              My two cents: When the bloodlust hits and money is of no object, I go to one of four places in Manhattan:

              --Rothmann's, which has the Luger pedigree and the juiciest, tenderest Porterhouse I've devoured in YEARS.

              --Michael Jordan's, to my astonishment, proffers the second-best steak I've had in YEARS. (I have a chowhound's mistrust of chain restaurants.) You have glorious Grand Central at your feet. One caveat: Choose gentle weather, because there's obviously no air conditioning.

              --Ben Benson's--yeah, it's pretty butch all right, but everything's perfectly delicious, and all the steakhouse classics are right there where you really want them, from creamed spinach to hash browns.

              --Strip House. David Walzog has forgotten more about steak than most chefs ever learn. The naughty double entendre setting is the most delicious of ANY steak house in town.

              On the contrary, I wasn't at all impressed by Smith & Wollensky at a recent visit. It's a serious throwback: To enter its portals is to plunge into 1961. No windows, nothing to compromise this illusion. Too bad the meat isn't as good as what you could get back then, before the onslaught of the food police did away with marbling.

            2. t
              Tatyana Gourov

              Very easy: go to their Long Island location instead. I've eaten there numerous times and it's absolutely just as good as the Brooklyn location (and it's easier to get a reservation). So, go and enjoy!

              1. Luger's is certainly a good choice, but you are unlikely to get a table by just walking in. You may, however, have a chance (albeit a small one) if you call in advance to check for reservation cancellations. If you're going to stay in Manhattan, the choice is easy: Sparks.

                I have canvassed a good number of steak houses in Manhattan, and Spark's clearly serves up the best quality, and best prepared, steaks. It's a bit of an old man's club, but that just adds to its allure. The appetizers are just incredible, especially their shrimp scampi.

                Alternatively, you can try Morton's, which serves good, but not amazing steaks. Ruth's Chris steaks did not match my tastes very well, but if you like melted butter poured over a steaming hot slab of meat, you can try it. Then there's the Palm. The steaks are good, but not as good as Sparks (considering it's just as expensive). The Palm lacks atmosphere, however, so I would recommend it for a less casual meal - maybe even a weekday lunch.

                Stay away from:
                Angelo & Maxie's - although the atmosphere was significantly better than the typical steakhouse, the cuts of meat served were clearly not top choice.

                The Post House - this restaurant goes to show why you shouldn't trust Zagats. Although it earns top scores, it was possibly one of the worst steak houses I have tried in recent years. The service was poor, the quality of the food was dissapointing, and the atmosphere was lacking all character.

                If you can get into Luger's, do so. If not, Spark's should be the choice.

                2 Replies
                1. re: Carnivore

                  i like sparks well enough, but honestly, i'm a bit puzzled by everyone's enthusiasm for it. the meat is excellent quality, but unless i'm mistaken, it isn't fully dry-aged, which offers a very different steak from that found in many other steak houses. what really confuses me, though, is the praise they receive for their wine list. it is a very good list to be sure, but it does not offer the overwhelming bargains that they're credited for. by my calculations the mark-up is 2 1/2 times wholesale rather than the customary three. the difference can be meaningful, but pricing from wholesalers is so screwy - whether one buys on d.i., close-out, package deals involving purchases of other wines, etc., the 2 1/2 times mark-up might not be much less than another restaurant's three. besides, i've found the breadth of spark's list to be dissappointing. maybe i was expecting too much the first time i went there, but there are dozens of restaurants in manhattan with more interesting lists.

                  the ambience is something that also puzzles me. turn of the century men's club/saloon in a 1960's era office building? hey, i'll play a long to get a good steak and bottle of wine, but like the rest of sparks, it only seems partially (okay, mostly) there.

                  1. re: jr

                    I understand your points. First, I think the wine list is pretty solid, but I would not consider it among the finer lists in the city. Frankly, I prefer big Italian reds, and Sparks has (at best) just a handful of good Brunellos that fit the bill without breaking the bank. The meat I think is very good - almost always cooked perfectly. The atmosphere is something that I think carries a certain charm, but I can see how many people would not find it so charming. It reminds me of a past era, and I think that's probably why I like it so much. Where would you suggest for a better cut of meat? I have found comparable quality, but not quality that I considered superior.

                2. I used to go to Frankie & Johnny's in the Theatre district...the best prime rib but very tight quarters. I've been going to the one in Bayside, Queens for years until they closed last year...a true tragedy.

                  Maloney & Porcelli in midtown is great too...very good service also. Then there's a new place but haven't tried it yet called Rothmann's; it's also in Midtown. Beacon has a decent porterhouse, an ideal place if your companion isn't into steak too much. Really great pecan souffle for dessert.

                  1. g
                    George Lynch

                    My wife and I love a good steak dinner and we would agree that the best steak anywhere anytime is served up at Peter Luger's. I think you would have only two chances of getting a table by just walking in: fat and slim. If you're dead set on PL, go for lunch. You can wander in around 12:30, pick your table, and have the same steak that the nighttime hordes get. Or you can order their (unlisted) $5.95 hamburger, $6.95 with fries, arguably the best food bargain in New York City.

                    Let me enthusiastically second the suggestion for MarkJoseph's, downtown near the South Street Seaport. As was pointed out in another message here, they are Luger veterans and know how to serve up a great steak. I would say their steak is just a notch below the original Luger's, but they definitely improve on the ambiance and the comfort factor. All in all, I would say MJ is your best bet in Manhattan for steak.

                    I would vote Sparks a close third, not so much for their steaks (which are excellent), but for their unbelievable wine list. One of the great lists anywhere, they have perhaps the best wine bargains of any major restaurant you'll ever visit. If great wine at affordable prices is part of what you want, definitely head for Sparks.

                    In my view, every other steakhouse in NYC is on a level below the three mentioned above.

                    But good luck wherever go. Please be kind enough to post your selection and your thoughts afterward.