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Steakhouse 85: A Review

  • r

We rarely go to newly-opened restaurants, preferring to give them time to work out the kinks. We also like to hear opinions from our fellow Hounds who get a thrill from being among the first to try new places. However, itching for a good steak, we decided to throw caution to the proverbial winds and give Steakhouse 85 a chance. This was on Monday, December 1st. I am pleased to report that although open just under one week at that point, Steakhouse 85 provided us with a supremely enjoyable dining experience. In short, it appears we have a winner!

From the moment we arrived and throughout our meal, it was evident that the staff has been through the “Danny Meyer School of Hospitality.” The two perky young women at the reception desk welcomed us warmly. And our waitress, Heather, provided cordial and capable service. She never hovered but checked back regularly to be sure we didn’t want for anything.

A friend who saw the photos we took commented about the space along the bar area, “Wow! A 747 could land there!” Yes, Steakhouse 85 is B-I-G! Behind the reception area, there’s a fairly large lounge with comfy club chairs; the bar, itself, is very long, and there are small tables along its length where you can enjoy a drink before dining; there are two dining areas with widely-spaced free-standing tables, as well as several booths in the front area; at the far end of the room, there’s a glass-enclosed fireplace; there is a very large private party space (I’m not certain, but I think it can be divided); and, finally, for oenophiles, there are wine storage lockers. While the free-standing tables are dressed in white linen, the wood on the booths’ tables has been left exposed. The overall décor is extremely handsome with large windows facing Church Street and lots of wood helping to “warm up” the huge space.

When we arrived at 6:15 p.m., we were the only patrons. But eventually, about half a dozen other tables became occupied. Given our choice of where to sit, we decided on one of the booths. Very comfortable and cozy.

After we placed our order, a basket of bread arrived. The Italian-style bread, which we were told comes from a local bakery, was cut into thick slices, separated, and artfully arranged. It is excellent bread. But I was disappointed to see the young man who served the bread also carrying a dish of olive oil. Regulars on this board know I detest this practice. And, frankly, I think it is totally wrong for a steakhouse! Take that oil away and bring on the butter! Which is what he did when we immediately made that request.

We shared everything we ordered.

First up, a Caesar salad. We appreciated the kitchen splitting the salad onto separate plates. So much easier than having to fuss with it ourselves. The split portions, though not huge, were quite adequate. The Romaine, cut into proper bite-sized pieces, was pristine and crisp. The dressing had very good “Caesar” flavor, but it was a bit too sparse for me (Mr. R. was fine with it as it was), so I asked and received some additional dressing in a little cup. Just a few more dabs covered the greens perfectly. There was a generous grating of Parmesan topping the lettuce, and the mound was crowned with one white anchovy. The menu says the salad comes with croutons, so I was surprised to find, instead, one large slice of garlic bread on the side of the plate. To me, Caesar salad without croutons is missing an important traditional element. The simple solution: I broke the bread into little pieces. Et, voila! Croutons!

Next, our steak. We chose the 18-oz. Cowboy Ribeye, “bone-in, center cut, and well-marbled.” This Munster-sized baby arrived at our table sizzling, with a tangle of crispy fried onions on top. Whoever is manning the broiler at Steakhouse 85 knows precisely how to cook a steak. There was a perfect char on the outside, while the interior was done exactly to our specifications – medium rare. With that char sealing in the juices, the meat was oh-so tender and filled with flavor. I don’t usually rhapsodize about steak, but this was one of the best I’ve ever had!

For sides, we chose onion rings and creamed spinach. No jumble of rings to pull apart here. Rather, they were presented soldier-like on the plate, the giant rings precisely mounted on top of one another, three in each of two stacks. The deep-frying process produced a crunchy coating which was low on the greasy meter. Yum x 6! The spinach was another success. The greens were properly sautéed, and when it came to the cream, as Goldilocks might have described it, there was not too little, or too much, but just the right amount. In short, a delicious balance between the greens and the cream.

For dessert, we had the Warm Chocolate Truffles. If you love chocolate but have had it with the ubiquitous, but tired, warm chocolate cake – or even if not – this dessert is for you! These little round nuggets were dusted with powdered sugar and sat on a small pool of crème anglais. They are deep-fried so that the exterior shell is crispy (but not greasy), while the not overly-sweet chocolate ganache inside becomes oozy. Irresistible!

Mr. R. had a glass of Bordeaux.

The cost for the meal before tax and tip: $78.50.

We’ve always done our steakhouse dining in NYC with Keens being our first choice. Now, I hope that Steakhouse 85 can continue to replicate this stellar first-time experience so that when are at home in NJ and looking for a steakhouse where the food and service are tops, along with surroundings that are attractive and comfortable, we can head just 20 minutes from our house to New Brunswick. With so many other things on the menu piquing our interest – we especially have our eye on the Tomahawk Chop – you can be sure we’ll be back there very soon.

Steakhouse 85
85 Church Street
New Brunswick, NJ
Tel.: 732-247-8585
Website: http://www.steakhouse85.com
Street parking: Meters go off at 7 p.m. There's a garage directly across the street.

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  1. good report RGR. Do you happen to know if the steaks are dry-aged?

    1. Nicely written review RGR.It has a solid classic menu (Yes Tommy,showing dry-aged) with all the bases covered, that should provide ample cholesterol material for the research dept. heads from J&J.

      1. Finally a detailed review!!!!


        How does it compare to Manhattan steakhouse?

        6 Replies
        1. re: RPMcMurphy

          As I've mentioned before on this board, we've only been to Manhattan Steakhouse once just after it opened in 2001. Thus, my memories of the food's quality are too vague to make a comparison, though I don't recall leaving there thinking the food was bad. However, the fact that we've not returned to Manhattan Steakhouse indicates we didn't have the extremely positive experience we had at Steakhouse 85. To be honest, I'm more of a lamb than a steak person, but that Cowboy Ribeye was orgasmic! :-))

          1. re: RGR

            R - Thanks for the excellent review. BTW, I thought you only eat steak in NYC! ;)

            1. re: bgut1

              Even though it is only 6 am as I type this, thanks to your review I am already thinking about steak and eggs for breakfast.

              Putting S85 on my list.

              1. re: bgut1


                Since we do eat steak at home, that should be, "...only eat steak *in steakhouses* in NYC!" But I must admit our experience at Steakhouse 85 was a great first step at making that statement inoperative. :-))


                You keep Cowboy Ribeyes in your freezer?! :-))

                Hey, Guys,

                Perhaps we should plan a Steakhouse 85 rendez-vous?

          2. RGR, this morning along with the NYTimes and my usual breakfast tray of goodies, I slipped my husband a copy of your restaurant review of Steakhouse 85 along with their New Year's Eve menu. It would appear my jazz loving mate is up for a new experience.

            1 Reply
            1. re: HillJ


              We always stay home on New Year's Eve, but I'm glad my review helped persuade your mate to go to Steakhouse 85. I hope the two of you have a wonderful evening! :-)

            2. HillJ - I was there too thanks to RGR's suggestion on another thread. We were seated at a table for 2 across from the bar. Where were you?

              We received the offer of an unexpected last minute baby sitter at roughly 11:00 on New Years Eve. I began scurrying for a chow worthy reservation.

              RGR has saved me on numerous occasions and why should this time be any different. Our meal was excellent. Pricey? Yes but only because we over did it as lately we seldom get out for a peaceful nice meal without the little ones.

              We opened with the Roasted oysters with bacon and roasted red pepper. There were 6 oysters, perfect for me and my lovely wife to share. There was also a small amount but excellent broth on the serving plate that was begging to be soaked up with bread. (This of course was soaked up in its entirety)We also had the crab-tini. Nicely presented in a martini glass and consisted of a generous portion of lump crab meat with a little lemon vodka. It was served with 2 dipping sauces, a traditional cocktail sauce with had a fair amount of horse radish and leant a fair amount of heat. No one makes better cocktail sauce than I, but this was a close second. There was also a creamy Dijon sauce that was excellent. Since it was New Years Eve we paired a pleasing prosecco with this course.

              I was very excited to read RGR's review, specifically when she mentioned the white anchovies in the Caesar salad. I love Anchovies and seldom can you get fresh white anchovies. We shared a Caesar salad as a salad course and I asked for extra anchovies. They were excellent. Here we opted to share a nice glass of pinot grigio.

              For our entree's, I was "steaked" out. We did a filet migon roast for Christmas and I ate at 2 steakhouses in the past week. So I opted for the Veal porterhouse. It was divine and cooked to a perfect medium rare. My wife ordered the NY strip and it too was cooked to a perfect medium rare. We also had a nice robust cabernet.

              For sides we ordered Mac and cheese, mushrooms, and there sweet potato casserole. The Mac and cheese had a great blend of cheese and a perfect crispy top. The mushrooms were good but nothing outrageous sticks out here. The sweet potato casserole was excellent. I tasted cinnamon, nutmeg, and I think some cardamom.

              Our server did a great job of telling us about the newly opened establishment. He also added that how the steaks were selected and that a ranch in the mid west exclusively supplied them. He was animated but polished and did a great job. We built a good rapport with him and tasked him with selecting our desserts.

              He selected their version of bananas foster which was served in a larger sundae cup. It was very tasty and served warm.

              He also selected their chocolate truffles. It was a deep fried crispy shell with a dense dark chocolate truffle served inside. As we were eating it, he came by and noticed that the truffle wasn't oozing out as it should have been. He brought us out another serving that, in his eyes was served properly. Even though the first ones were luke warm, I still enjoyed them but the second version was over the top delicious. My wife also had a sweet ice wine.

              All in, with a 25% tip, the bill came to $250. It was a great meal with great service. Matthew, the owner, also stopped by unobtrusively and made sure that we enjoyed everything.

              Up to now, I thought the only place for a NY steakhouse experience was in NY. This was a mere 20-25 minute ride from my house. I would highly recommend this when you are hankering for a great steak with great service but don’t feel like trekking it to NYC. THe other thing to note is this place has only been open for a month or so and they are already solidly executing. That in and of itself is worthy of praise. Enjoy!

              5 Replies
              1. re: angelo04

                angelo04! What a lovely review! The reviews from you & RGR have me ready to go....you will have to forgive tho because it turns out my darling husband was playing along about New Year's Eve plans....he bought tickets to see the Goo Goo Dolls in AC with a high energy celebratory meal at House of Blues. When the limo arrived...I knew something was up! It was an amazing New Year's Eve. So even though I was dreaming of Steakhouse 85...my dh was up to his usual tricks! Looks like Steahouse 85 for V-day! I can't wait to try the place.

                1. re: HillJ

                  Angelo04 - A great review. Thank you.

                  HillJ - Wow- sounds like a great night. A limo, the Goo Goo Dolls and the House of Blues. You've got a "keeper" of a husband. :)

                  1. re: bgut1

                    LOL, bgut1. House of Blues not exactly gourmet fare but the ribs were pretty good, spicy good. Looking forward to a Steakhouse 85 experience next!

                    1. re: HillJ

                      Limo? Goo Goo Dolls? Wow, sounds like an awesome night. I can't let my wife read this thread , I can't set the bar that high just yet! LOL!

                      1. re: angelo04

                        Too funny! Sounds to me like you and your wife had a fantastic evening...and how can we compare the meal you desribed with spicy ribs? From a chow perspective, no comparison! Is my dh winning points for creativity...you bet! Happy New Year!

              2. Better late than never applies to my tardiness in reporting about our second visit to Steakhouse 85, on Wednesday, December 17. After taking care of some business in Highland Park, Mr. R. and I skipped across the bridge into New Brunswick, and arrived at the restaurant a little before 6 p.m. Word had obviously gotten around because there were many more patrons than there had been the first time. We were seated in the same comfortable booth, and service throughout our dinner was just as exemplary as before.

                We began this meal by sharing a shrimp cocktail. The four large shrimp were superb, testimony to the fact that co-owner Matthew Terranova knows how to select quality seafood. And well he should since he previously owned a fish store. We also learned that he goes to the Fulton Fish Market each day to make all the fish and seafood purchases for those items on the menu. I should also add that the cocktail sauce which accompanied the shrimp was perfect as well.

                As I mentioned in my previous review, we had our eye on the Tomahawk Chop, so, of course, that’s what ordered. It is a double-cut of the Cowboy Steak, aged 28 days like all steaks on the menu, and is encrusted with a thin breading of panko crumbs, garlic, and blue cheese. Once again, the broiler man exhibited his expertise, and this oh-so-thick hunk of meat was cooked exactly to our specified medium rare. The meat itself was delicious, but I have to be honest and say that the garlic or blue cheese flavor were not strong enough – at least, to me. If you prefer your Tomahawk Chop without the breading, the kitchen will gladly prepare it “undressed.”

                For sides we chose the Au Gratin Potatoes and the Two-Hour Onions. The seriously delicious potatoes had just the right balance of cheese and cream. But it was those onions that totally blew us away! They are ever-so-slowly cooked down to their caramelized sweet essence so that eating them is like eating the best onion soup in the universe but without the soup. Amazing!

                We decided to share the special dessert of the evening, a pear poached in red wine. The pear was sliced and fanned on the plate. The fruit remained sturdy, i.e., not mealy or mushy, and was rife with the flavor of the wine. A dollop of whipped cream was the perfect accompaniment.

                Mr. R. had a glass of Bordeaux and a cappuccino.

                The bill, before tax and tip was $94.

                Overall, another superb meal at Steakhouse 85. And I’m thrilled to report that Cody Kendall, in the Star-Ledger, agrees with my assessments. She has just given the restaurant a rave review and awarded it 3-1/2 stars. You can read it here:


                Co-owners Matthew Terranova and Chef Brian Kurluk and their entire staff deserve the accolades, and I can now say without hesitation that Steakhouse 85 truly is a winner!

                2 Replies
                1. re: RGR

                  Just made a reservation for a Saturday night date with my husband. Looking forward!

                  1. re: mbw1024

                    Glad to hear that. I'm sure you and your husband will enjoy it. I hope you will post a report.

                    Bon Appetit!

                2. Any reports from the CH get together?

                  4 Replies
                    1. re: RGR

                      I will post a report. Also wondering about starters/salads as they don't list them on their dinner menu.

                      1. re: mbw1024

                        If you are a fan of fresh white anchovies, I highly recommend the Caesar salad. RGR can vouch for it too.

                        1. re: mbw1024


                          Appetizers, soups and salads on are on the first page of the website menu: http://www.steakhouse85.com/files/Din...

                    2. Chowhound Get-together: January 19, 2009

                      Mr. R. and I made our third visit to Steakhouse 85, this time, with a few of our Chowhound buddies. On a cold and snowy Monday evening, the place was pretty much deserted. But we received a warm greeting and excellent service from Ashley and other staff members.

                      There were six of us. We each ordered our own appetizer and main course, six sides were selected to be shared by everyone, and each couple shared a dessert.

                      I started with the crab cake, which was broiled, not fried. Though there were no big chunks of crab, the mixture had good crab flavor and an appealing creaminess. Accompanied by tasty red cabbage slaw, the cake was lightly coated with a tangy Dijon mayonnaise dressing.

                      The other appetizers were the crab “martini,” a half portion of the lobster risotto, and three salads: the iceberg wedge with blue cheese, tomatoes and bacon; the grilled pear salad with Roquefort, candied pecans, and port vinaigrette; and the baby spinach salad with bacon and warm Vidalia vinaigrette (hold the hard-boiled egg). I tasted the crab “martini” and the risotto. The crab was fine, but the risotto totally blew me away. Definitely on my short list for our next visit.

                      On to the main courses. Two people at the table ordered the Delmonico, one ordered the strip, and two ordered the “filet mignon” of tuna. I didn’t taste any of them, but everyone said that their items were perfectly prepared and delicious.

                      I’m actually more of a lamb lover than a steak partisan, so I was eager to try the lamb chops. When I was asked how I would like them cooked, my answer was, “As the chef prefers.” Once again, the broiler man showed his “chops.” (Pun intended.) Each of the three thick chops had a nice char on the outside while the interior was cooked to medium rare perfection, which kept the meat on these very flavor-filled chops extremely juicy.

                      Of the six sides that were ordered, two were new to me: the mac ‘n’ cheese and the sautéed wild mushrooms. (The others were the potato gratin, the onion rings, the creamed spinach, and the two-hour onions.) The mushrooms, which were well prepared, had a pleasing gravy. The mac ‘n’ cheese was stellar – just the right balance of cheesy goodness to pasta – with a wonderful crust on top. Definitely one of the best versions I’ve had.

                      As mentioned, desserts were shared as follows: one couple chose the warm chocolate truffles, which we’d had before, and Mr. R. and I selected one we’d not had, the Bananas Foster, also chosen by the third couple. Unlike the classic Bananas Foster presentation, i.e., on a plate with bananas sliced in half lengthwise, doused with liqueur and flamed tableside, then topped with ice cream, at Steakhouse 85, this classic arrived already assembled in a tall glass -- like a sundae. The bananas had been sautéed in butter (and liqueur?), then cut into chunks and placed in the glass along with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and additional warm liqueur. Scooping up the banana chunks along with some of the ice cream all laced with the liqueur made for a toothsome mixture of temperatures, textures, and flavors. Some of the ice cream and liqueur melted together at the bottom of the glass, so once the bananas were gone, we spooned up some of that thick rich liquid goodness. Then, when Mr. R. decided he’d had enough, I drank the rest like a malted. Yum!

                      For the wine drinkers, the bottle chosen was a Cabernet Sauvignon, Haras de Pirque “Character,” Maipo Valley, Chile 2005.

                      Another superb meal at Steakhouse 85, which has now become one of our favorite restaurants in NJ. We look forward to many future visits as we eat our way through the rest of the menu.

                      5 Replies
                      1. re: RGR

                        thanks for the great review... looking forward to it even more now!

                        1. re: RGR

                          As two of the six people that attended, we also concur with RGR that we had a very good meal. The spinach salad and grilled pear salad were nice starters, DW's Delmonico was both tender and very tasty, also cooked medium rare as ordered.. My large slab of perfectly rare tuna was as good as I have had in some time. Thanks to Chef Brian for telling us prior to ordering that the tuna was to die for.
                          The sides were good, maybe just a touch below the great quality of the steak and tuna.
                          The bananas foster was put together in a unique way. Having the temperature variation in each scoop was neat and tasted great.

                          Best of all, as RGR mentioned, the restaurant Monday was slow which allowed us hounds to shoot the breeze without being rushed. Also got to chat with Chef Brian and got his take on a variety of subjects.
                          Steakhouse 85 is certainly worthy of the early praise it has received.

                          1. re: tom246

                            we had to cancel tonight because my husband got a side computer job that will take him most of the day/night to complete. so we went with making money today instead of spending. we will get there soon though. I can't wait.

                            1. re: mbw1024

                              RGR, just to confirm. The prices you quote are for one person- correct? Since you mentioned that you shared everything. So, for example, $94 was for one person, one steak, two sides, one appetizer, one dessert.? It sounds like a great place. Are you normally able to find parking or do you need to garage it? How pricey are the garages...not like Manhattan I hope. I do not frequent New Brunswick and am unfamiliar with parking accomodations in the area.

                              1. re: charmel


                                $94 (before tax and tip) was for the two of us since, as I noted in my report, my husband and I shared everything.

                                The first time we were there, we found a parking space on the street just up the block from the restaurant. The second time, we parked in the municipal garage very conveniently located directly across the street from the restaurant. I think it cost us $4. Last week, we again parked in the garage and were pleasantly surprised to discover that because it was a holiday (MLK, Jr.), parking that day was free!

                                And, yes, Steakhouse 85 is a great place! :-)

                        2. We tried Steakhouse 85 tonight . The Italian bread seemed like it didn't belong in a steakhouse. The ceasar salad was disappointing. A very small salad plate with some romaine lettuce,one tiny sliver of a white anchovy(i think that's what it was) and a small piece of bland toast on the side was not worth the $8. The oysters were fabulous. We shared the tomahawk chop and it was very good and more than enough for the two of us. The steak potatoes were fine. Warmed chocolate truffles for dessert could have been warmer and the coffee was delicious. The restaurant is great looking and on a Saturday night the place was hopping. The jazz combo playing wasn't too loud even for us dining in the bar area. I think we had 3 different servers during the meal including the manager. He asked us how was liked everything and we told him we thought everything was good but the salad was really meager for the price. He took it off the bill which was very kind of him. All in all I think we would go back again.

                          5 Replies
                          1. re: karins

                            What strikes me reading this thread is how little discussion there is about the quality of the meat. A steakhouse is all about the steak not the salad or coffee.

                            1. re: mickeydee


                              I've indicated in my posts that, imo, the quality is excellent. All the steaks are aged 28 days -- wet or dry, depending on the cut.

                              I hope you will try Steakhouse 85 and then come back to this thread to tell us what *you* think of the quality of the meat. :-)

                              1. re: RGR

                                Wet-aging is a marketing term. It does not compare to real dry-aged beef.

                              2. re: mickeydee

                                there are quite a few fish selections on the menu ..one of the owners use to own the fish market in east brunswick...

                                1. re: karins

                                  I went to Steakhouse this past weekend to celebrate my recent engagement with friends who were treating us to dinner. We had a fantastic meal with great service. We were taken in on time for our 7:30pm reservation. Our waiter was friendly and knowledgable. The raw oysters were delicious, even tempting the non-oyster eater at our table to try them. Three of the four of us had the filet mignon which was cooked to perfection....three different temperatures. The place was busy, but not loud, with a two piece jazz ensemble playing just to the right of the bar. We thoroughly enjoyed our meal and our evening!

                            2. My brother and I had dinner at Steakhouse 85 last night. It was our first time there and a last-minute decision. At 7:15 they were able to seat us in the area across from the bar, but the dining room was completely booked. I had popped into the restaurant to make sure we could get a table while my brother double-parked outside. Once I knew we would be seated, I headed to the bar for a cocktail while he went to park the car. I was totally ignored by two bartenders, one who was chatting up three heavily made up young women at one end of the bar, the other who was fiddling with his cell phone by the cash register.

                              My brother showed up before I could get the attention of either of them, we were seated, and greeted by a waitress who told us this was her first day on the job and we were her first customers. After taking our drink orders (my Manhattan was quite a bit sweeter than I would have liked it, but I never give specific instructions the first time at a new bar, preferring to see what the bartenders do on their own), our waitress asked if we would like to see the cuts of meat available that night. We said yes, and she brought out a platter (which she had obvious difficulty holding, but did so with aplomb) with the various steak options and went into her spiel about Premium Gold Angus beef, dry or wet aged for 28 days, blah, blah, blah. I asked her if the meat was choice or prime. She had no idea. It looked like choice to me.

                              For appetizers, I ordered Malpeque oysters which were served with an overly ketchupy cocktail sauce and a decent mignonette. My brother had the crab cake and we were both very impressed by it. Unlike the crab cake RGR posted about above, this one did indeed have good-sized chunks of crab in it.

                              For mains, my brother ordered the Tomahawk Chop without the garlic/blue-cheese crust and I ordered the KC Strip (a strip steak on the the bone), also sans sauces, which had been on the meat presentation platter and which we were told was a special that night. The waitress returned to tell us they were out of the KC Strip, so I ordered the regular boneless strip. My brother asked for his Tomahawk Chop medium rare and I asked for the strip on the rare side of medium rare. For sides we ordered the French fries and the creamed Spinach.

                              The waitress told us they had a wine special that night and we asked for a taste. She brought us each one. Nice touch. We thought it was rather harsh, so ordered a bottle of Erath pinot noir instead. We figured the price was about a 2.75X markup—which we considere perfectly acceptable.

                              My brother’s meat was cooked as requested; mine was a tad overcooked—especially since I’d asked for it to be on the rare side of medium rare. We each thought our meat was acceptable, but rather tasteless. We even joked that now we knew why they recommended sauces and rubs for the meat. It wasn’t bad, it just didn’t begin to compare to steaks at any number of NYC steakhouses. The fries were quite good, though, and the spinach was terrific.

                              On our way out the door I asked the manager if their steaks were choice or prime. He went right into the Premium Gold Angus, aged 28 days, blah, blah, blah spiel. I started to laugh. I figured I had my answer.