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Finding Great Steaks in Westchester

billyparsons Jul 31, 2007 10:59 AM

Is it just me or is it becoming every increasingly difficult to find great steaks in Westchester? When I think great steaks, I of course think Porterhouse. I think Rib Eye. I think dry aged, custom cut in the restaurant with a staff that can really explain what’s being served.

On a recent trip to Valbella Steakhouse in Scarsdale, I sat at the bar and ordered myself a 22oz rib eye. When it arrived, asked the waitress if I could speak with the manager. She asked if anything was wrong and I assured her everything was just fine and dandy. When the manager arrived moments later, impeccably dressed and well mannered, I pointed to my steak and ask if they used any seasoning on the “rib eye”. No he replied. I told him the “rib eye” was so well marbled. He said thank you. I asked if they were known for these great “rib eye” steaks. He said absolutely. Finally, I had to break down and ask him to replace the shell steak that they served me with the rib eye I ordered. Needless to say, he was embarrassed enough to comp my salad and drinks.

Now I was a butcher. With that being said, I don’t expect everyone to take meat as seriously as I would. I would never ask for a 173 off an 1173, grass fed, 30 day dry aged steak. They would look at me like I was a geek. Instead, how about bringing me a nice porterhouse?

I’ve spent years going back and forth to the Hunts Point Terminal Market learning the meat business. I couldn’t imagine buying frozen meat from a Sysco truck. Hang around “old school” butchers long enough; you’ll learn that such a practice is sacrilegious.

Every time I’m in Tarrytown I stop by Ruth Chris for a cold beer. I love to inquire abut their practice of freezing their meat during transit. I love when they get into their speech about how it’s flash frozen using a proprietary trademarked process. Huh? Ok so is it frozen or not? Yes, sir, it is.

Now the science behind what happens to meat’s cellular structure during and after the freezing process is well beyond the scope of this post so I’ll just say this; try freezing meat, let it thaw, freeze it again, let it thaw again. Wait till you see what happens to the meat. Problem with the meat that’s frozen only once is that a lot of people can’t pick up on it. At Ruth Chris, they smother their steaks with so much butter, most patrons can’t tell. At Mighty Joe Youngs, they render beef fat and then brush so much back onto the steak, you can’t tell their either. At the chain restaurants like Charlie Browns (Sysco Buckhead Beef), the steaks are cheap enough that people don’t seem to even care.

Anyone that’s ever been to Flames knows a good steak. Yea I know it can get a bit pricey at times but if you’re a serious steak lover, you don’t really mind. One of the great things about Flames is that they love to explain their meat. Where it comes from, how it’s fed, how it's cooked on a super hot grill.

About three months ago I stopped into a restaurant in Scarsdale called Backals. I sat at the bar and the bartender told me that the rib eye was one of their specialties. Say no more. But I did have to inquire as to what exactly it was. Prime, choice, aged? From a purely economic standpoint, for $47 I better not be getting some steak that was headed for Boulder Creek Steakhouse. He didn’t know. He got the manager. He didn’t know. Well just tell me where the meat came from and I could figure it out myself. “We get it from a guy that brings it on a truck”. If I asked you what liquor distributor sells you Absolut, bet you’d know that right? And that’s the same no matter what distributor sells it to you.

There are eight grades of meat, two different ways to age and countless ways to feed the cattle. Each one of which can affect the value of a steak by over 50%! I ordered the rib eye. It wasn’t a rib eye. It was a rib steak with the bone in. It wasn’t even a full cut (a single rib of the seven). And it sucked. When he asked how the rib eye was, I told him it wasn’t a rib eye, it was a rib steak. He said “that’s just the way we do it here”.

So what about the delicious Porterhouses from Peter Luger? I deal with the same distributor as Luger in Hunts Point. Peter Luger actually rents their own aging cages on site so no one can mess with their product. It’s such a pleasure to see a restaurant take their beef so seriously. It doesn’t take a genius to recognize why they’re the most famous steakhouse in the world. Say you can’t really afford it? Try the freshly ground lunch burger for $8.

On a side note, has anyone seen the advertisements for Trump’s new line of steaks? He touts that these are the same steaks served in his resorts and golf courses. That’s a lie. The steaks are Buckhead brand which, by the way, Sysco owns. Yes Sysco. Remember Buckhead? Charlie Browns Steakhouse? Hint, hint… But with this, putting Donald’s name on the box is all it takes. Sharper Image sells tons of these steaks.

Now; getting back to the problem with finding great steaks in Westchester. When you visit a place like Craft Steak or Luger, you have serious steak foodies. They ask the questions and the staff at these restaurants have the answers. I once spent a half-hour with Chef Adam Perry Lang from Robert’s Steakhouse (in the Penthouse Club) and I could sense his excitement when we discussed the differences in grass feeding vs. corn vs. grain, aging techniques, etc. He told me how many customers come in and love to talk “shop”. This is what brings me to my next point; the Westchester consumer. They’re just not as knowledgeable and excited about their food. OK there I said it.

I often wonder, if more people cared about exactly what they were being served, would that change things? If I had a dollar for how many posters wrote “I don’t care as long as it tastes good” on my “10 signs to look for” post, I’d have a few bucks. But what’s good? That word, in the food world, is extremely objective. I’ve been to The Palm, the Old Homestead and other great steakhouses. To me, a steak at the Willett House no longer cuts it. After a dinner at Frankie & Johnnies in Rye, I flag down a police officer to file a report for being robbed, literally!

I can see the responses already. Stop being so critical! Just worry about whether it tastes good! Please spare those remarks. Let’s discuss why we don’t have the serious steakhouses that even Long Island has. Ever taken a cruise down Northern Blvd? It’s the steak capital of New York.

Besides your comments regarding what I believe to be a shortage, I’d love to elicit some information regarding restaurants serving great steaks without being a steakhouse. And please, if you’re going to make this a forum to bash my post, save your energy.

  1. r
    raider Jul 31, 2007 11:31 AM

    that's a great post. but now the question that matters: is there a place in westchester that serves a steak that u enjoy?

    3 Replies
    1. re: raider
      a
      Axel Heyst Jul 31, 2007 11:46 AM

      I believe he did say that Flames takes its steaks seriously. But he did not say if he enjoys steaks Flames serves.

      1. re: Axel Heyst
        r
        raider Jul 31, 2007 01:59 PM

        you're right. where is flames?

        1. re: raider
          t
          theatmosphere Jul 31, 2007 03:02 PM

          It's in Briarcliff Manor.

          http://www.flamessteakhouse.com/

    2. r
      RawTunaFan Jul 31, 2007 03:45 PM

      It's funny you should mention the rib steak vs. rib eye at Backals. I thought it was o.k., but for that price, I was expecting something familiar, like the rib eye you get at Smith & Wolensky, or Lugers or Old Homestead. I had no idea that it was a different cut of meat! The fat in it wasn't marbled like how I was used to and it just didnt taste as rich and sweet. Correct me if I'm wrong, but shouldnt they just label it entrecote? I'm completely illiterate when it comes to steak, but I do know a good one, and if they don't have rib eye on the menu, I usually skip the steak all together.

      As far as finding great steak in Westchester, I couldn't agree with you more on the shortage. Never been a fan of Willet, or Frankie & Johnnies but once came close at a Bar Mitzvah at Stone Barnes that served a lovely Delmonico roast. I haven't seen it on their menu since.

      I really believe its the lack of competition that allows restaurants to thrive on mediocrity. I swear that I will never eat Thai in Westchester again, but with so little choices and nowhere else to go, we put up with it and restaurants continue to get away with it. I am constantly convincing myself that my o.k. or above average meals are better than what they truly are.

      Then I go to Manhattan.

      1. billyparsons Aug 1, 2007 04:16 AM

        CORRECTION: "That word, in the food world, is extremely objective" should have been "subjective". Sorry

        1 Reply
        1. re: billyparsons
          s
          Scotty100 Aug 1, 2007 09:50 AM

          Billy - awesome post. Reading your point about getting a shell steak instead of the rib eye had me thinking...geez...I wonder how many times that's happened to me and I didn't even know...!!

          I've personally given up on finding a great steak in the Westchester/Fairfield County area...I've had "decent" (the filet at Gaia in Greenwich) but never "great"...I end up back in the city at Keens, Old Homestead etc etc...A recent experience at the much-vaunted Napa in Stamford bemused me even more...39 bucks for a small portion of sirloin (!)...*sigh* I give up...back into the city I go...

          Actually, I just thought of another place I recently ate a very good steak...the West St. Grill in Litchfield Hills...very good rib eye, generous cut cooked to perfection...lovely charring... (well, I hope it was a rib eye...:)...).

        2. byrd Aug 1, 2007 09:59 AM

          personal opinion about mo rivera's steakhouse in new rochelle?

          1 Reply
          1. re: byrd
            billyparsons Aug 1, 2007 05:06 PM

            Mo's is one of the reasons I even wrote this but forgot to mention them. I went for lunch one day only to learn they don't serve it (they have since began serving it). The chef was at the bar and I couldn't resist the urge to get a little small talk going.

            Their vendor list was decent, even serving "Sterling Silver" branded beef (the same you'd find in Westchester Country Club). While they do serve some USDA Prime, there’s nothing Dry Aged. I just lose something when I see meat sit in a bag and putrefy (the process of wet aging meat).

            Anyway, my only grievance, again, is when I ask beef questions to the head chef in a steak house and they fall short of answers. The only positive part of the conversation was his admission that “people in Westchester just don’t want to pay”.

            If you've been there, please do share.

          2. b
            byramgirl Aug 1, 2007 10:08 AM

            I recently had a great rib eye at Iron Horse Grill in Pleasantville. They do an all-around nice job.

            1. e
              elizabean Aug 1, 2007 07:36 PM

              O.K. Great post. I have yet to find a great steak in WC, and I've been to most of the steak places. FYI, I was at Wolfgangs in tribeca last night. It was outstanding. No reason to go to brooklyn now (my opinion). Question: where do you buy steaks in WC, which butcher is the best. At the moment I have not found anything better than Whole foods for beef. Thoughts? I hear the butcher in Armonk is good.

              4 Replies
              1. re: elizabean
                i
                iatethat Aug 2, 2007 05:36 AM

                chrisfields in rye, ask for joe...

                1. re: elizabean
                  billyparsons Aug 2, 2007 05:58 AM

                  eliza-

                  Your question depends on what you're buying. If you want to spoil yourself, you go downtown to Loebels so you can learn what the best Prime meat in the world looks like. Then shop around for a butcher that comes close. If you're going to have a nice big party and want to cook a rib roast, get down to the Bronx Terminal Market, pay the $5 fee, and go to Masters (it’s were Peter Luger imports). They will sell to you on a cash basis. But understand that it's wholesale and it will spoil you when you go back to the butcher. What costs $30/lb and the butcher, will run you less than $10 at the market.

                  You see, most butchers buy from "jobbers" that tack a nice chunk onto the orders. When you go to the market, you'll get jobber price if you know how to talk to them. So they’ll be times you’ll pay less than the butcher. But I’m not saying steer clear from butchers. If you need a beef loin prepared for filet mignon, and don’t really have knife skills, you’ll need the neighborhood butcher. As would be the case if you bought a “short loin” primal cut and wanted to portion it into porterhouse and t-bones (you’ll need a band saw for that).

                  I think I’ll create a post called “talking to the butcher”. When I go to Pennsylvania to visit friends and run the barbecue, I stop into the butcher and talk in butcher terms. I always get a solid 20% off my order. When you really know meat, it’s sometimes hard for the butcher to justify their markups.

                  Let me know if I can help you anymore.

                  1. re: billyparsons
                    Wizzapizza Aug 3, 2007 01:04 PM

                    Billy, great post. I've given up on finding great steak in Westchester as well, and I've moved on to finding great affordable prime aged steak I can cook at home. When I lived in Manhattan, I would go accross the East River to Christos Hasapos Taverna in Astoria. That steakhouse has an on-site butchershop which sold prime, aged-on-premises beef for what you would pay for choice, wet-aged beef in a "good" supermarket.

                    In Westchester, I'll take a dry-aged Stew Leonard's select Porterhouse at $16 a pound over a Whole Foods wet-aged choice Porterhouse at $28 a pound. There is just no substitute for a good aged steak. But, other than paying $30 a pound at Whole Foods (which is, if you do the math, almost as expensive as the finished entree price at a great steakhouse) or going to Hunts Point, where can I find a prime aged steak for a decent price in Westchester if I want to cook it myself?

                  2. re: elizabean
                    j
                    juliemoose Aug 3, 2007 01:44 PM

                    As far as butchers go, whenever we want some good steaks, we go to ValBen's in Somers. Their meat is great, they'll cut the steaks as thick as you want, and order for you any cut of meat. We get our Christmas roast there every year, and we've literally never been disappointed. We've gotten cuts of meat that you can't get at the grocery store, and probably not at Whole Foods, either.

                  3. j
                    jpf1980 Aug 3, 2007 05:05 PM

                    billy, got a few questions. First i do appreciate a good steak and i think i can tell the difference a lot of times between different qualities. I think lugers is the best i have ever had. Recently I had a rib-eye at DJ's Steakhouse in Trump Marina Atlantic City that cost about $50. They said the meat was prime, but i swear a Wendy's hamburger meat had more taste. And it wasn't really tender even though i ordered it rare. I guess that it might have something to do with grass fed vs grain, or the freezing that some meat goes through.

                    My questions really are, what exactly is the difference in a rib-eye and a rib steak? Which is the better cut?

                    Are you familiar with the meat they have a Fairway. In the Plainview Long Island location every couple of months they put either a rib-eye or rib steak on sale(now i can't rememeber what it is, and i always thought it was the same thing) that is USDA prime and $9.99 a pound. This steak is not aged. For bang for the buck I think that it is quite excellent. I have been to Bryant & Coopers in Roslyn and Rothman's in East Norwich along Northern Blvd in Long Island. I would say those two place round out my top 3 restaurant steaks I have had.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: jpf1980
                      billyparsons Aug 4, 2007 04:19 AM

                      Great question. As a butcher, we always think "primal cuts" first. The rib eye and rib steak is cut from a "109" rib primal. It comprised of 7 ribs (6 through 12). A cow has 13 sets of ribs. Once you have that cut, if you throw it into an oven for a few hours, you have yourself a great "prime rib" dinner. If you cut it into 7 individual steaks before cooking it, you’ve got "rib steaks" or "cowboy rib eyes". If you remove the bones, then cut the steaks, you've got "rib eye" steaks.

                      When you see a rib eye on a menu that weighs over 22 ounces, it’s usually not a rib eye. It’ll be a rib steak with the bone in. I catch restaurants doing this all the time. They rely on the fact that the majority of consumers don’t know any better. Maybe I’ll do a little meat primer on Chowhound.

                      1. re: billyparsons
                        s
                        SLO Aug 4, 2007 10:33 AM

                        I for one would truly like you to do a meat primer. Your posts are full of good info.

                        Thanks and keep it up, please!

                      2. re: jpf1980
                        l
                        laylag Aug 10, 2007 07:45 AM

                        FYI jpf, Fairway in Plainview also sells dry aged steaks. Obviously more expensive and I haven't tried them but they're there just to the right of the butcher counter.

                      3. GIOny Aug 3, 2007 08:07 PM

                        Well I have to say that was an eye opener, I had no idea high priced joints like Ruth Chris were freezing their meat but I should of guessed because it's not that it ever tasted bad it's just that it tasted like nothing. Growing up my mother's idea of a steak was a cube steak or a london broil (you can feed alot of people with that) but it a least had some kind of flavor, my mother knew that freezing a piece of meat was the kiss of death and she would always buy it from the butcher the day we ate it. So I guess in a way I was spoiled, not by the cut of meat my mother served but by the way she bought it and prepared it (she could make just about anything into pizzaiola lol). I have no trained pallet and wouldn't know a rib eye from a sirloin but I do know what I like and with that I can tell you it's a rare occasion that I order a steak in restaurants anymore because they are all tasteless to me (that goes for hamburgers also). I agree with you wholeheartedly about Ruth Chris, Frankie and Johnnies in Rye (that was really bad), Mighty Joe Youngs (way to fatty), Morton's in White Plains is more of a show then a steakhouse (again no flavor) and Willet House was just OK, but I don't pay those prices for just OK. IMHO Flames was good but not great but the best in Northern Westchester (I have a feeling it may be all about who you are there). If I want a good porterhouse I know I can rely on Lugers in Brooklyn and Ye Old Tollgate in Mamaroneck. For a good filet mignon the Old Homestead up in the Catskills. In Manhattan, well you know all the big name steakhouses and I think most of them are good but I can sum up Sparks in 2 words ....Sparks Stinks! So I'll stick to my cheaper cuts of beef (I had a nice hanger steak at The Red Hat Bistro the other night) until I go to my tried and true places.

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: GIOny
                          i
                          iatethat Aug 3, 2007 08:55 PM

                          the bone in sirloin at f & j's is spot on....

                          1. re: iatethat
                            billyparsons Aug 4, 2007 04:21 AM

                            What's the interest rate on the mortgage you took out to pay for it? :)

                            1. re: billyparsons
                              d
                              debmom Aug 4, 2007 05:49 AM

                              Billy- thanks for the lesson-- very interesting indeed- keep up the great posts!

                        2. v
                          vinouspleasure Aug 8, 2007 08:20 PM

                          Here are some thoughts about your posts:
                          - When I was in college, I worked as a waiter in two top steakhouses. I think you should have told the waitress that you ordered a rib eye and were served a shell steak. I'm not sure what you gain by "do you use seasoning on your rib eye, are they all marbled, etc" except to embarrass the staff. Also, I'm not what why you love to ask Ruth Chris about their freezing process every time you go. Since you know their answer, what purpose does it serve except to bait their employees?

                          - Great tip about the market. Will try it.

                          - We recently had dinner at a friends house where we tried different steaks from different sources. One was wagyu from lobels, another was tri-tip from whole foods and the third was forgettable. While the wagyu was incredibly rich and delicious and certainly just about as good as anything I've had in a restaurant, the tri-tip was great, particularly given the price point. It also holds wood smoke well.

                          - I'm not enamored with stew leonard's steaks.

                          - If we are going to pay Flame's prices, we are going to eat in nyc.It seems to me that the best steaks I've had in Westchester have been in ethnic restaurants...maybe one of the Portuguese restaurants. We'll be re-visiting some of those soon and I'll post back here.

                          - When my wife was working, she made a point to visit the best steak restaurant wherever she traveled. She felt lugers was the best but bern's in tampa was very close.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: vinouspleasure
                            r
                            raider Aug 9, 2007 05:41 AM

                            what portugese restaurants do you recommend?

                            1. re: vinouspleasure
                              r
                              RawTunaFan Aug 9, 2007 05:43 AM

                              Totally agree with vinouspleasure on Flames. I'd rather cruise down the FDR and get some real chops in the city.

                              On another note, read an interesting article in the Sun this morning about a new "steak shortage" hitting New York. It looks like they are trying to blame it on cutting our "oil addiction." Its interesting how they can come up with just about anything these days to justify a price increase. Meanwhile, prices of corn are so low in the commodity market. Go figure.

                              http://www.nysun.com/article/60032

                            2. r
                              Raisel Aug 9, 2007 02:33 PM

                              Wow, that is a great post. I especially love your remark about Frankie and Johnnies...........LOL.
                              What is your opinion on the Strip House?

                              1. a
                                addictedtolunch Aug 10, 2007 04:13 AM

                                Don't know (and never will) the nitty gritty of what makes a steak taste and feel great, but have had enough of them, in enough places, to know Luger's seems the best (though I never knew exactly why). Thanks for this incredible thread. It will affect what and where I eat for a long time. And when it's steak, it won't be in Westchester, not when you're already spending that kind of money- it would break my heart to know I was just buying a hologram of an excellent steak. (And yes, Sparks sucks, glad I'm not crazy to think so).

                                5 Replies
                                1. re: addictedtolunch
                                  billyparsons Aug 10, 2007 07:28 AM

                                  No? OK let me help...

                                  First and most obviously, you need to choose your cut. If you ask, I'll post a primer on cuts. But this post will apply to either a porterhouse (or t-bone), filet mignon, ribeye (and ribsteak), shell steak and sirloin. These are usually the steaks that "age" the best.

                                  Let's talk aging. There are 3 possibilities; dry, wet & none at all. Don't be afraid to ask a restaurant if their meat is aged and how it's done. If they buy their beef from a Sysco truck all bagged up, it's gonna be either wet aged or not aged at all. These restaurants are concerned with bottom line food cost, and you'll taste the difference. You can expect to pay 25% to 50% more for a dry aged steak because USDA Prime is the only grade that dry ages well. Reason being that the extra fat insulates and properly protects the drying beef. Once you experience properly dry aged beef, it's hard to go back to wet aged. It's all about the money though.

                                  As a marketing ploy, Stew Leonard’s ages “no roll” beef, that is to say they don’t even allow the USDA to grade their meat. But I gotta’ tell you, sometimes it’s pretty good for the money (when it’s on sale).

                                  Lastly, with regard to aging, wet aging in a plastic bag can take place in less than half the time as dry aging (another reason for its reduced cost). A great dry aged steak should be 21, 28 or 35 days. To see what aging really does to a steak, you need to visit Craft Steak in the Meat Packing District in NYC. You can actually sample the same cuts with different aging periods.

                                  The only scary part about the wet aging process is that there's a host of other processes the meat could have been subjected to. For example, if the restaurants are buying prepackaged meat in plastic bags, there's a good chance the meat may have been frozen. I simply can't take a steakhouse seriously that serves meat that was frozen.

                                  What about feed? Basically we have three different "basic" feeds; grain, corn and grass. Grass fed isn't all that popular because of the moisture content. But there's a distinctive flavor of grass fed beef that's called "skatole". You either hate it or you love it. Chef Adam Perry Lang prefers grain feeding and finishing the last 4 weeks off with a protein feed mixture. But a steak at his Robert's Steak House in the Penthouse Club (NYC) will set you back $70.

                                  I see you commented about Luger. Luger's porterhouse steak comes from Hereford cattle. Hereford is a breed of steer. Yes the breed is important too. Just like Kobe beef only comes from four different breeds (all of which originated from Japan). And with regard to that issue, Angus comes from a breed originally imported from Scotland. There are currently about 8 certified Angus organizations and they all have different quality control rules. Take the word Angus with a real big grain of salt though. Before you put too much emphasis on the Angus word, try a Burger King Angus burger. When I see “100% Mid Western Angus Shell Steak” on a menu, I usually assume it’s wet aged (if even) USDA Choice. It’s a great way to take an ordinary steak and make it sound interesting.

                                  For a great example look at Charlie Browns Steakhouse. They list their steaks as “serving Founders Reserve Beef exclusively, the highest quality USDA Choice or better mid-western beef available”. If you go on to the USDA website that licenses the beef certification programs, you see there’s no such “Founder Reserve” program. Charlie Browns actually made it up. Secondly, the word “mid-western” usually gives it away for me. The majority of beef comes from the mid-west. It’s these sorts of “filler” that you need to look out for.

                                  I’m gonna run through some questions and the responses you would get from Luger.

                                  1. Have any prime beef? Yes
                                  2. Is it dry aged? Yes
                                  3. Do you age it yourself? Yes, we rent space from different facilities
                                  4. How long is it aged? 28 to 30 days until it’s butchered here “in house”.
                                  (to cut this short, they’ll have answers to just about any questions and if they don’t they’ll give you the business card to their beef buyer)

                                  Now let’s ask the same questions to one of the “chain” steakhouses.

                                  1. Have any prime beef? Well, no.
                                  2. What grade? Mostly Choice.
                                  3. Is it dry aged? No.
                                  4. Is it aged at all? Its wet aged at the plant, then portioned, frozen and shipped to us here.
                                  5. Do you know where the meat comes from, what it’s fed? That’s all handled by our corporate buyers.

                                  The reasons some of these questions are important is because each part of the puzzle affects the resulting taste, texture and palatability of your steak. Granted, some people are happy with a grilled no-roll 10oz. strip steak at the local steak joint, but if you really consider yourself a steak connoisseur, it’s nice to do your homework and don’t ever be afraid to ask questions.

                                  1. re: dolores
                                    j
                                    jpf1980 Aug 10, 2007 09:24 AM

                                    billy, this is the 2nd time you mentioned posting a primer on cuts. Not sure what you mean by that, but if u have more info i'd glady take it. Your posts have been very informative and i appreciate it. I had a post earlier in this thread telling you about Fairway rib steaks/rib eye USDA Prime for $9.99(when they are on sale) a pound and not aged. I find these to be really good. And espcially since it costs about about $15 for the steak to feed myself and my fiancee instead of $75+ at Lugers for 2 people the difference to me is almost nothing. Lack a little in taste for a $60 savings. Well they are Rib Steaks and they are on sale at the Long island location starting tommorow for the next week. Not sure if the same deal will be at the 2 Manhattan locations and the Brooklyn location. I would love to know what you think of these steaks. On their website they say they are the #1 buyer of Prime meat in this country. The following is a blurb i got off of their website

                                    "A meat-and-poultry idiot-savant. Meat and poultry guys like Ray are extinct.
                                    The last ones died out in the late ‘60’s. Except for Ray, who lives on, right here at Fairway. The guy is an impossible fanatic. He selects primals, veal, pork, hams, chickens and turkeys at their source.

                                    He buys more prime beef than anybody on the planet – more than Peter Luger’s buyer, more than the Palm’s or Ruth’s Chris’ buyer, more than Lobel’s. The result of THAT fact is Ray gets first dibs.

                                    He’s taught his counter guys to cook. He’s taught them also to bend over backwards to make you happy. You want us to bone that chicky? Done. You want that crown roast frenched? Done. You want your chopped meat a certain way? Done.

                                    Ray pioneered USDA-certified organic beef from Australia. Veal pastrami. Organic pork from Quebec. High-end kosher meats and poultry, all cut fresh, on the premises. We get around. We look at a lot of meat and poultry retailers. No place – neither here in the US nor in Europe – does it as good as Ray. Some folks call us “Fair ray”.

                                    What is your comment?

                                    1. re: jpf1980
                                      billyparsons Aug 14, 2007 05:04 AM

                                      JPF-

                                      I like fairway, used to go there for years. However, I have always bought my beef from the Hunts Point Terminal Market.

                                      They’re claiming that their meat buyer buys more than any other buyer, not that Fairway, as a whole, is the largest purchaser. That would be a rough claim because it's really the big distributors in the mid-west that can make that sort of claim.

                                      In terms of quality here though, being that they buy so much, they probably have a very heavy hand when it comes to controlling price. Places like Lobels in NYC are willing to pay extra for the best beef available. It’s because the customer that shells out the sort of prices Lobels charges, has probably never been to Fairway. You'll never see even near the quality of marbling at Fairway once you visit Lobels.

                                      After reading the “Ray” bio though, I feel like driving out there just to BS with the guy.

                                    2. re: billyparsons
                                      b
                                      bob gaj Aug 10, 2007 08:59 AM

                                      thanks for a very lengthy and informative post. there's one place i know of in orange county (schlesingers) which adheres to most of that, and i suspect why it's so good.

                                      there's a time and place for everything...

                                      1. re: billyparsons
                                        a
                                        antrogers1964 Sep 22, 2008 05:33 AM

                                        Guess this also explains the demise of Boulder Creek Steakhouse. They have a sign that says they're renovating but the location is already deleted from their website. They actually used to hang a sign on the building that said "immediate seating always available!". I guess unlike The Cheesecake Factory with a 2 hour wait. Now that was a smart marketing plan.

                                    3. a
                                      Avalondaughter Aug 14, 2007 10:20 AM

                                      No one has mentioned the Toll Gate. I haven't been there for a few years, so I don't know if it has held up over time, but the times I had been there in the past, the steak was fantastic and the service was some of the best ever.

                                      Yeah. Now I'll give you the response about being critical and just enjoying your meal. How can food really taste good if you're analyzing it to death?

                                      8 Replies
                                      1. re: Avalondaughter
                                        a
                                        addictedtolunch Aug 14, 2007 05:09 PM

                                        The analysis is only made in retrospect. It's still good to read through a thread like this before going to a steak house in view of the fact that it's both a luxury expense and an indulgence which my cardiologist would not recommend take place too often.

                                        1. re: addictedtolunch
                                          a
                                          Avalondaughter Aug 15, 2007 08:01 AM

                                          LOL!!!

                                        2. re: Avalondaughter
                                          m
                                          mrgaga Sep 9, 2007 02:51 PM

                                          can the original poster comment on the tollgate?

                                          I have found this thread SO informative! I have to admit I enjoy going to Mighty Joe Young's and Frankie and Johnnie's but now I am starting to think they are ripping me off.. I will still probably go, as I am getting my money's worth since the atmosphere, drinks, sides, etc... are enjoyable..

                                          1. re: mrgaga
                                            billyparsons Sep 10, 2007 04:11 AM

                                            I think Tollgate is great. Same quality (if not better) than F&J, but at least you're not getting raped. Remember though, Mighty Joe Youngs doesn't serve quality meat, they just keep basting the steak with so much rendered fat, you think your eating aged Prime. It's a great scam. It originated in the poor areas of Europe where people could only afford the lower grades of meat. It’s like injecting bacon fat into a hamburger with a syringe or "larding" cheap cuts of meat.

                                            1. re: billyparsons
                                              g
                                              gordoma Sep 10, 2007 01:32 PM

                                              This really is one of the best threads in a long time. Like one of the posters, I also like the dry aged steaks at Stew's. I usually get a nice 2" thick cut and grill it to a medium rare. No, it's not that same char as a high heat steakhouse oven, but for $32 to feed 2 of us and our kid, it's nice.

                                          2. re: Avalondaughter
                                            a
                                            arylinth Sep 19, 2007 07:11 AM

                                            Where is Toll Gate located?

                                            1. re: arylinth
                                              GIOny Sep 19, 2007 07:37 AM

                                              Ye Olde Tollgate Steakhouse is in Mamaroneck on E. Boston Post Road. If I'm going for a really good steak in Westchecter (ala Luger's style) Tollgate is the place.

                                              1. re: GIOny
                                                billyparsons Sep 19, 2007 09:42 AM

                                                I agree. Was there this weekend. Actually met a few friends at the Charlie Browns knock off down the street for some beers, then did some damage at the Tollgate. No sides, just porterhouse.

                                          3. chowdom Sep 21, 2007 12:42 PM

                                            Had dinner at Rosie's Bistro in Bronxville last night, there were four of us. We were all very happy with all of the food. I ordered the 18 oz rib eye special ,(27.00) came with two sides to go for BF. The steak was fabulous, much better quality than many of the above mentioned restaurants. We would go back there for steak in a heartbeat. Does anyone know where they get their meat?

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: chowdom
                                              billyparsons Oct 1, 2007 07:22 PM

                                              Yes. Sysco. Dean (chef/owner) is exclusive with Sysco Albany. It’s USDA Choice CAB (Certified Angus) wet aged.

                                            2. s
                                              ssss Feb 8, 2008 10:35 AM

                                              Billy, I've read your post and am very impressed with your knowlegde of meat! I wish I knew all that, it would make life so much easier!
                                              So I wanted to know, beside TallGate steakhouse, would there be another place you can recommend for a good porterhouse or rib eye in westchester?
                                              Thanks!

                                              1. f
                                                Frank06830 Sep 24, 2008 01:26 PM

                                                Read all of your posts...a man after my heart....the zen of steaks....couple of questions:

                                                * We have a chance to pick any steakhouse we want for a birthday in Manhattan....we selected Quality Meats...never tried it before is it worthwhile going?, I have been to all of the top rated steak places in NYC: Lugers, Sparks, Wolfgangs, Del Friscos, Keens, Dylan Prime, several others on the Zagat list....have NOT tried Strip House. Question: "gun to your head", what steakhouse would you choose in NYC if it was your last meal. and someone else was paying...it's a family dinner so Roberts is out :)...

                                                * I've been finding that the steak you get at the same place can vary great deal from visit to visit; went to Del Friscos once steak was great, went a second time the steak was a disappointment...is this something you find also? if so is there anything you can do?

                                                * Butcher shops: I've bought steaks at Ottomanellis on Bleecker, Vincents on Arthur Ave and once at Lobels, in addition to the Stews specials dry aged and the occaissional Whole Foods...Lobels is the gold standard, any comments about the others? The butcher on Arther Ave has good quality I think and they vacuum pack your order so you can keep a bit longer in the fridge...Ottomanelli's steaks are good and are claimed as dry aged....can't get them to tell me how high up on the beef food chain their steaks fall however....you mentioned 8 grades??/

                                                Thanks for your great info.....it's like getting the secret recipe to Coca Cola :)

                                                2 Replies
                                                1. re: Frank06830
                                                  baldwinwood Sep 25, 2008 06:17 AM

                                                  Frank-
                                                  Clearly i dont know as much as Billy, but Quality Meats is owned by the same people who own Smith & Wollensky's. A steakhouse that serves mostly select with a few choice pieces mixed in. One of the worst steakhouses in New York CIty.

                                                  1. re: baldwinwood
                                                    f
                                                    Frank06830 Sep 25, 2008 02:21 PM

                                                    yikes!!!....should we try Del Friscos? I assume they serve the dry age Prime Bill talked about?

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