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Dec 7, 2010 07:14 PM

Primehouse food disappointing

We chose this restaurant on a whim. While on our way to I Trulli for their famous pasta, my partner decided on steak so we stopped here, just a few doors down...big mistake. We enjoyed the $16 crab cake appetizer. My partner ordered the $38 Filet Mignon, and it was decent, plain, not a lot of flavor. I ordered the $28 Hanger steak, and it came very rare, too tough to chew, with a chimchuri sauce completely overpowering the steak with raw garlic. I sent it back. We also had the mac and cheese side dish, very thick, pasty and gunky...terrible. My $17 cabernet was good, I should have just stuck with that. Service was o.k. Atmosphere was nice. Next time we are in town, we will continue walking to I Trulli, I hear their orecchiette pasta is amazing.

Primehouse New York
381 Park Avenue South, New York, NY 10016

I Trulli
122 East 27th Street, New York, NY 10016

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  1. Wow, I have been to Primehouse several times, and have never been disappointed. I think you will find the pastas at I Trulli decent but not spectacular. For the best orcchiette in the neightborhood, go to Bar Stuzzichini. In any case, I'd prefer a dinner at Primehouse over both (to whatever extent you can compare a steakhouse with Italian restaurants - apples and oranges). The crab cakes, I agree, are great. But I only wish your husband had gotten the aged ribeye or the porterhouse instead of the hangar steak. Here, I just reviewed the place at, take a look at what I had to say:

    Few culinary institutions ooze Americana more than the good old-fashioned steakhouse. While the international community continues to, for the most part, stereotype American cuisine as nothing more than a cheap, tasteless scrapheap of plastic hamburgers and processed hot dogs, this is surely nowadays a misinformed view. There is so much more to love about American dining than just McDonald’s and Burger King. And no, I don’t mean so-called “fancy” tourist traps like Applebees or Red Lobster either. Truth be told, assuming a good quality of the primary ingredient and a solid preparation, I find it hard to believe that anyone who professes to love food (barring those with religious or philosophical reasons) could find fault with a well grilled steak, accompanied by a gut-busting yet requisite assortment of hearty side dishes. A slab of bloody beef, grilled to a sinfully crispy char on the outside, the flesh tender and juicy on the inside, the flavors so powerful and straightforward. The exterior so brusquely majestic, yet one cut of the knife revealing a seductive pink blush. What’s not to like?

    Primehouse is unique among New York steakhouses in that operates off a nicely constructed angle. If you have ever pondered how wonderful life could be, look no further than Prime the Bull, Primehouse’s namesake Black Angus love machine. This pampered 2,500 pound lothario cost the BR Guest Group $250,000 at the outset of the concept, and probably spends his days lazing around the free-range pastures at Creekstone Farms in Kentucky, swigging bottles of beer, receiving belly rubs, and generally being the center of attention. His sole purpose in life is to fornicate, as often as he can, and with as many cows as his bullsack can physically handle. Every single one of Primehouse’s steaks is purportedly cut from a descendant of this legendary beast, meaning Prime’s superior genetic quality should be apparent in the texture, marbling and flavor of the meat they serve. As if that were not enough, Primehouse ages its meat on site, in an underground room that at first glance looks more like a grisly wartime bio-nuclear testing chamber. An eerie greenish tint pervades the airtight compartment, and in the background, a faint ruby glow from slabs of 250 million-year-old Himalayan salt blocks illuminate row upon row of pallid meat, each hunk tagged as if a surgical specimen. Not entirely appetizing a sight, but what arrives at the table later on should put all doubts to bed.

    Primehouse, like any other steakhouse worth its salt, has a menu comprising four main sections: a raw bar, a selection of classic American appetizers, a list of sides, and the main event: steak. Across numerous visits, I have had the opportunity to sample most of what is on the menu, and there while some of the sideshows are merely so-so, the main event is always fantastic.

    While the donut-shaped bread rings Primehouse serves are decent enough, I have found them inconsistent across servings. Some are too salty, others (the skinnier ones) too hard on the inside. Start with a Shellfish Tower if you come with a large party. A selection of seasonal seafood goodies from the New Fulton Fish Market Cooperative at Hunts Point Terminal, this rarely disappoints. Freshness is virtually guaranteed, and among the highlights of this multi-tiered steel and ice behemoth: succulent Maine lobster, sweet Alaskan king crab, massive jumbo shrimp, crisp littleneck clams, a zesty tuna tartare, marinated mussels, and finally, briny East Coast oysters and their complex West Coast cousins. It is a hefty course to begin the meal, and those of mild appetite would do well to choose something else – the steak is more important. However, if you have the room, the Shellfish Tower is a must. For a more manageable bite of the sea, try the Jumbo Shrimp Cocktail. This is no ordinary shrimp cocktail; this is Bubba Gump on steroids. Four prawns the size of cellphones on shaved ice, with cocktail sauce and a mustard aioli. For the size, they are surprisingly crisp to the bite, tender and pristinely flavored on the follow through. Like lobster but lacking the same sweetness.

    Primehouse’s appetizer selection is solid if unspectacular. Big Eye Tuna Tartare with Micro Greens & Hijiki Salad is infused with a ginger ponzu sauce that lends the dish a citrusy tang. The tuna meat is tender, but lacking that savory, buttery quality which only really top tuna possesses. Shrimp Dumplings (with wild mushroom in a lobster bisque) are better – my only complaint being the pasta skins used here fall apart too easily, releasing their contents into the broth with the merest of prods. However, I can muster no objections to the Jumbo Lump Crab Cake, a pan fried patty that is simply bursting in flavor. A lusciously well-balanced dish – chunks of crabmeat fall apart in your mouth, the best of the ocean floor, only to leave a heady smokiness in the aftertaste, a kick right at the end provided by a Peruvian Pepper Aioli. One of the better crab cakes I have had in the city.

    And of course, the main event: the meat of Prime’s offspring. There are a variety of choices on the menu, ranging in texture from a barely aged Tenderloin to a Ribeye aged for more than two months. The quality of the meat is exceptional, and each steak is grilled just right, imparting a delectable char and a great beefy taste. The classic Filet Mignon is incredibly tender (as all filet mignons should be), and the crunchy, caramelized crust simultaneously salty and peppery. A Porterhouse Steak, dry aged and gargantuan on the plate, is the best of both worlds: a funky sirloin (medium rare and juicy) on one side of the T-bone, and a melt-in-your-mouth tenderloin on the other. There is a lot to be said about the sheer quality of the meat at Primehouse, and none of it bad. A bad day at work is easily cured here – just request the 65-day aged Bone-In Ribeye. This dish is a thing of beauty, a true tour de force: 20 ounces of luscious, fatty, soft, bloody, extremely flavorful goodness. Pair this with a side of Creamed Spinach (very creamy, not for the faint of heart or the calorie counter) or Roasted Brussels Sprouts (studded with bacon bits, and massive in portion), or maybe bottle of Estancia Reserve Meritage (from Paso Robles, let’s keep the American theme going here), and you have an instant remedy for even the most laboriously stressful day. Eat your steak without any of the sauces, it is good enough that you should savor the meat unadorned. If you absolutely must, the Peppercorn sauce is best among the choices (ignore the ketchup).

    All in all, Primehouse is an excellent steakhouse, one that rivals traditional heavyweights like Del Frisco’s and Strip House. It is not quite in the ultimate echelon of a Peter Luger yet, but still top class. It does have a few filler items on the menu (who orders chicken or salmon at a steakhouse?), but these are pretty par for the course at other steakhouses as well, and you cannot fault them for at least trying to cater to diverse tastes. Special mention must go to the dessert menu at Primehouse – portions of which are, for lack of a better phrase, mindblowingly massive. The Slice of Prime, a brick-sized chocolate cake comprising what seems like twenty layers of interchanging sponge and fudge but which only advertises seven, is a good choice if you have room for, well, a brick. It is incomprehensibly dense, unbelievably smooth, and with a forkful of the accompanying malt crunch ice cream, tastes absolutely divine. I swallowed each spoonful without even chewing. As long as Prime the Bull stays alive and continues knocking up his harem of bovine beauties, as long as his sons continue to yield meat of this caliber, I will continue to return.

    1 Reply
    1. re: restaurantbrat

      Great review; thanks. Going there Saturday night. I visit NYC often and always take in a steakhouse or three. Not gone here before and I love prime dry aged beef. Will stick with the bone in ribeye, probably the 45 day one. Looking forward to it. Previously, my favorite has been Keen's.

    2. I'm one of the few on this board who really like Primehouse, but I haven't been back in a while. As with most steakhouses in NYC, the key is to understand what cut is best at that specific steakhouse and order accordingly. That's why I started this thread a while back about different steakhouse cuts:
      For me, the 65 day dry aged ribeye + a slice of prime makes an awesome meal.

      As for OP, I don't get why anyone would order a filet then complain that there wasn't a lot of flavor. That's a given. It's a filet. That's why there's bearnaise accompanying it. As for the hanger steak, it's a cut that's known to be tough, and why most restaurants don't serve it cooked more than medium rare or else it gets too tough.