Flames in Briarcliff Manor
- Elisa Davis
If you're looking for superb meat prepared perfectly, it's hard to imagine a better place than Flames Steakhouse (North State Road in Briarcliff Manor). I'd heard it is pricey (it is, but worth it!!) so hadn't gone before. Yesterday, however, was a Bad Awful Day (for me, not Flames ) and really needed something restorative.
The appetizers and soups all sounded tempting but, since we'd decided to have the Porterhouse for Two for a main course, we chose "just" to have the warm spinach salad (fresh baby spinach, sauteed shitakes, perfect crispy bacon pieces); we told them we'd share it, and without being asked they served it on two separate smaller plates.
Everything is a la carte at Flames; we each chose to have a baked potato (yum, I swear I'd forgotten how a perfectly baked Idaho is supposed to taste) and we shared broccoli rabe sauteed in garlic. We ordered the steak rare--I told the waiter I still miss steak tartare and he went into a reverie of remembering preparing it at table and serving it years ago at a couple East Side places. The meat was cut in perfect slices, with a dry rub on the outside and almost uncooked inside, truly "black and blue" and melting in the mouth. My husband is more of a medium-rare sort usually but said he couldn't imagine the meat would have been improved by being cooked more.
The wine list was extensive, excellent, and high priced. That doesn't mean over-priced, just that it was full of fine wines, many difficult if not impossible to find many places. We did have a marvelous one from Freemark Abbey.
Although completely stuffed, we shared a creme brulee for dessert because it looked too good to pass up. It was served in a shallow but large oval dish, so there was more "brulee" than usual, a plus to me.
At the end of the meal, I paid a trip to the ladies' room and got a glance at the wine cellar (well, I thought it was the wine cellar I saw, didn't realize it was only a little tiny portion of it). So, as we were leaving I told my husband he should see it; the owner really perked up that I was doing this, and gave us a real tour. The wine cellar is more than that, it's also a large long private dining room, a half-level down from the main restaurant. The walls are lined, up almost two stories (with library-type rolling tall ladders), with beautifully arranged and labelled wines. Chilly room, of course, but I think it would be wonderful to have a party there. My husband does know wine and the owner showed him a few prized bottles that were definitely finds. (notice I am out of my depth here, but there were many from 1961 and 1982, stellar years in Europe).
I'm ready to go back for an all-appetizers and side dishes evening next.
I'm so glad you had a good experience at Flames. I couldn't agree more with everything you've said. I go there regularly (i.e. 4-6 times a year) and have been very happy with most everything they serve. In fact, if something is only "good," then it's not up to their usual standards (this was true of a lobster appetizer and one soup I tried). Our favorites include (aside, of course, from the porterhouse for two (rare) and the broccoli rabe) the seared tuna appetizer, sides of carmelized onions, sauteed mushrooms and the cheesecake. I could go on but I'll stop here except to say that I'm *really* looking forward to my birthday visit there next week!