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Nov 24, 2010 07:39 PM

Rothmann's Steakhouse: Not Very Good

Well, I came up to LI for Thanksgiving to visit family. The night before we decided to go out for dinner. Figured we'd go to Rothmann's Steak House in East Norwich. Well let's just say that's the last time I'd go there to eat.

We arrived at 7:30 for a 7:30 ressie. We were greeted and seated immediately upon arrival. Which was a great sign even considering how busy they were for this normally packed night of dining. The place is very nice, has a ton of staff. Except for the annoying (read bad lounge-type singing act in the bar), the place had the right ambiance for a nice dinner.

Upon perusing the wine list, I was shocked and dismayed at the wine list pricing. Now coming from New York, I know you're gonna pay a decent markup for wine, but my goto wine the 2002 Duckhorn Merlot was listed at $165 for a bottle. I travel for a living and order this wine in many establishments throughout the country and the average price I pay is about $120-$130. So seeing this wine (which normally retails for $65 in a wine shop) marked up 260% was quite a shock. But hey, if people are willing to pay this, the good for them. However it was interesting to note that I did mention the high price to the manager John. And I was amazed at his response. He basically, looked at me like I had two heads and challenged me that I must be "mistaken" that the wine I was requesting normally sells for much less elsewhere. I thought even more interesting that he challenged me on the pricing structure or my experience. Rather than just taking note, he was slightly confrontational.

Moving to dinner orders. The appetizers were very good, and so were the salads. However the problem came with the entree order. I ordered the Petit Filet and asked for it to be prepared au Poivre (which shouldn't be too difficult for a premiere steak house), and was told "No Problem".

Upon receiving my steak, I was shocked to see the naked steak on the plate, no encrusted peppercorns, no au Poivre sauce...just naked. I inquired to the waiter for the au Poivre portion, and was told it would be brought out "on the side".

I was then brought out a watery, yellow sauce (with zero pepper in it) as my au Poivre. I tasted it to be sure and was met with an obvious beef broth based cream sauce, completely lacking any peppercorns, pan drippings, etc. I was then told that it is customary at Rothmann's and most customers prefer their sauce on the side so they prepared it on the side. Now as a person, that loves to make au Poivre, I fully expected a premier steak house on LI to prepare au Poivre properly, and not serve an inadequate imitation.

When I pushed on this preparation, the same manager from earlier (John) was brought over and he again confirmed that my preparation was normal. However, after pushing for what I ordered, he did offer to make the sauce again. I informed him that no proper au Poivre sauce would be prepared "on the side" and would greatly prefer mine to be prepared by traditional methods. My steak was removed and in about 10 minutes I did receive a close to normal Filet au Poivre. But by this time, everyone had finished eating and the shared sides (mashed potatoes and onion strings) were cold. I inquired about a fresh batch and they did get me fresh in a few minutes.

Needless to say, I was extremely disappointed in the way my steak was prepared, the way the manager handled both situations (the wine and the food) and that I was still charged full price (this was later adjusted upon questioning). I honestly do not expect a highly rated steak house to mass prepare au Poivre... especially when paying those prices.

Overall, I was not impressed with the whole evening... one of my dining partners thought his steak special, a 26oz KC Bone-In Sirloin, was not 26oz and was extremely tough.

So if you want an overpriced dinner, complete with a snooty manager then head to Rothmann's otherwise head to one of the other many great steak houses on LI.

6319 Northern Blvd, East Norwich, NY 11732

Steak House
PO Box 164, Thendara, NY 13472

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  1. average price of 2002 duckhorn merlot on winesearcher is $81. Not sure where you've been eating but most top restaurants mark wine up 2-3x and even at $65/bottle it's within range. Additionally, you're ordering an older vintage and it's possible the restaurant replenished their supply at auction. Finally, it seems to me like the restaurant did everything you asked:
    - they served their standard au poivre
    - you didn't like it, they offered to make the sauce again
    - you didn't like it
    - they made the steak the way you wanted
    - you asked for fresh sides
    - they made fresh sides
    - you complained about your bill
    - they adjusted the bill

    personally, I can't imagine why they would have adjusted your bill.

    4 Replies
    1. re: vinouspleasure

      FIrst off... no self respecting premier steak house would serve au Poivre made on the side. There is no way to do it. So its not that I didnt like it, its that the kitchen took shortcuts. For an overpriced steak house, I do not expect short cuts in the kitchen. Sure if I was at Outback, then that's what I would expect, but not at a true steak house.

      Second, it took TWO complaints to get them to make it over... and waited for 10 minutes for the manager, while my companions ate. All in all I ate 25 mins after them. And interestingly, something that I didnt mention in my original post, the manager looked at my steak and said shall I prepare it "medium" and I laughed and said, now you see my other problem... the steak was supposed to be medium-rare.

      As for the sides, the restaurant should have done that on its own.... its obvious that after 25 mins they are cold.

      Finally, I have eaten in NYC, LA, Chicago and San Francisco over the last year. Each time I paid $125-$130 for the 2002 Duckhorn Merlot. And its not just that wine either.... all of their wines are very over-priced.

      Finally, my point is, with tons of great steak places on Long Island, why would you eat there? Especially when you get get better food, better prices elsewhere. Sure my experience wasnt horrible, but I expect much better for a place that claims to be one of the best on LI.

      1. re: joco

        You know, when I read your "review" I was glad that I'm out of restaurant management. I still have nightmares about guests like this, that seem to come in looking for something to complain about, and not to have a nice time. I'm reading this as you ordered something (au poivre) that wasn't even on the menu (?) and they were gracious enough, on a busy night, to try to accommodate you. Perhaps you wanted them to know what an expert you are on this one particular preparation, for which there is not enough demand to offer on the regular menu. Hope I got that part right. Meanwhile you ruined your companions' dinner experience, and then to demand a refund would just be so embarrassing to me. I'm just glad I wasn't at your table! And if you didn't like the price of the wine, order something cheaper, this isn't Ebay! I don't know if I could have been as nice as John, to tell the truth. Your calling him "snooty" is the only thing that's "shocking" to me in this whole tale. I also wonder if your dining companion was just saying bad things just to calm you down. This seems like a very unfair review, even though I've never been there myself, but you haven't stopped me from ever considering it, sorry!

        1. re: coll


          Seems your time as a restaurant manager has made you cynical. And with an attitude like that, its perfectly understandable why you are no longer in restaurant management. I, myself, have managed a restaurant, ran a kitchen, etc. Never in my life would I treat a customer like you would. Especially In a tough economy, with so many dining choices you have to treat customers with respect.

          As for your assertion that au Poivre wasnt on the menu... you are 100% incorrect, and t. They will prepare a steak any way you like, including au Poivre. And this would have been completely been a non-issue if I was told UPFRONT that au Poivre was prepared on the side, I never would have ordered it.

          And the wine price, I have a right to complain. Its not like they advertise their wine prices on their website, so you have no idea before you eat there. They mark up their prices so high because they think they deserve it somehow.

          Take my review for what its worth. There is a reason Rothmann's has been getting lower and lower food scores over the last several years. They are no longer what they once were. And I'm sorry I will take my business elsewhere. Why go there... why overpay, when you can get better food, better prices elsewhere.

          6319 Northern Blvd, East Norwich, NY 11732

          1. re: joco

            I will remember your review, but probably never go there either way. I always thought of it as a family style upscale/old fashioned kind of venue. If I was driving that far for steak, I'd probably go to Peter Luger in Great Neck or Teller's in E Islip, or somewhere like that. Sorry but when you said you asked for au poivre and they said "no problem" it sounded like they were doing you a favor to me.

            I only looked at this post because we had our wedding reception at Rothmanns back in 1977 so purely for nostalgia reasons, it was a GREAT time and everyone said best wedding food they ever had, and believe me it was a food oriented crowd: so for some reason I feel affection for them. But it was a Burt Bacharach restaurant at that time, called the East Norwich Inn, between being Rothmanns, although I felt like the family was still involved somehow. Bet they still have the grand piano in the middle of the room! Haven't been in ages, I was just reacting in general and not defending a place I haven't been to since God knows when. You should ask us here on the New York State board next time you're in town and maybe we can steer you to a better place!

            Peter Luger
            255 Northern Blvd, Great Neck, NY 11021

            6319 Northern Blvd, East Norwich, NY 11732

    2. Sorry, Rothman's is not "premier." There is Bryant and Cooper, Peter Lugar, Burton and Doyle, Morton's, and Ruth's Chris, on Long Island, and Uncle Jack's a bit of the way into Queens, all better than Rothman's. although Rothmans is clearly a lot better than Outback and its ilk. I'd place Rothman's in the second tier of steak houses that are still quite superior to the mass market steak joints.

      Although you probably did not intend it, a small flavor of "chip on the shoulder" comes through in your posts, and I suspect a less than diplomatic manager may have felt a simialar vibe and reacted incorrectly. I do agree that wine pricing at 3-4 times retail is getting into the rip-off range, and it is happening all over around here.

      1. I always thought of rothmann's as a tourist trap steakhouse or a pick up joint. Try Bryant and coo per's down the road in roslyn. However, order your steak one level underdone as they sometimes slightly overcook. Although I am not the same kind of diner as you are, I did not read your requests as unreasonable and I too am surprised by the manager's reaction. Good luck and enjoy!