179 W. Broadway
Reservations recommended (crowded on a Wednesday night)
Cuisine: French/Italian influenced American
Price: Moderate, not the most expensive but not cheap either
(I forgot to take a picture of the sign out front again, because everyone arrived at nearly the same time, amazingly!)
As we walked in, the main restaurant was in a room to our left, but we were ushered directly upstairs to a private booth. We had reservations, thankfully, as it was pretty busy, and with our party of 6 (no reservations for parties less than 6) they gave us the one private booth upstairs.
Interestingly, I feel that downstairs may have been slightly louder, but I cannot verify this statement. Our private booth was round and mostly enclosed by “walls” that extended upwards from the back of our booths/seats, and made for a cozy dinner. Service was almost over-attentive, but not in a bad way (like the guy at Punch who would refill our water every 2 minutes, while we drank from our glasses)- he actually got right into our conversations, which at first was weird, but after I got used to it, was amusing.
We started off with our usual, fried calamari (with a spicy tomato sauce) and I was pleased with their version of the dish. It was crispy but not overly fried (as poorer places tend to do, in order to get them crispy), and the tomato sauce wasn’t spicy at all, but seasoned well and tasted delicious. While the portion wasn’t that large, I didn’t feel that it wasn’t enough or that it was too little, because everyone was eating from it and it didn’t seem like it ran out all that soon.
Our waiter recommended a wine for us when we told him what we were looking for (a Riesling that was neither dry nor dessert-sweet, but closer to sweet than dry), which turned out to be a very good choice, and reasonably priced. I’m not sure I believe him when he said that it was market price or very near- the bottle was $36- though it wasn’t a huge markup as places usually do (I would guess the bottle was $20+ in a store). But the wine list was very extensive, although I did not peruse it.
We’d all heard good things about the steak here, although it was not technically a steak house, so we all wound up getting steak of various types.
First there was a portobello steak. My dining compadre really enjoyed this, giving it an extremely high mark. The fries were delicious, not greasy but not dry, either, with a nice flavor to them; not overly salty and not soggy, despite being covered with the steak on top. The salad to the side was very tasty too, with some sort of vinaigrette sprinkled sparingly throughout. With each steak, you could choose from a variety of sauces as well, which was a nice touch.
Next was the hangar steak (with a bearnaise sauce on the side). I have to confess that I was busy eating my own food and didn’t get too many comments or didn’t hear many comments but since everyone seemed to really get into eating, I’m going to assume that they all enjoyed their food thoroughly.
After that was the filet mignon, which came highly recommended by the waiter. I wanted to get this simply because it was so strongly recommended, but I’m not a big filet mignon person anymore, so I couldn’t justify ordering it. However, my friend did say it was really good, really soft, and it looks like it was pretty well sized, too- it looks larger than the filet mignon usually is served.
While this might not be considered a steak to some, tuna steak is called steak for a reason! I have to point out here that my fellow foodie turned to me after her dish was served and said, “Yvonne, there’s cockles in this dish.” What are cockles? Apparently a type of clam, but she felt it was very pertinent to point this out, so I thought I’d share with everyone else. When she was done, she proclaimed the dish excellent; not even a touch of fishy taste to the tuna and cooked just right.
The first semi-complaint of the night came from the person who ordered the strip, since when it came, well, it doesn’t look like a strip. It’s so much… well, thinner than a strip normally is, so she wasn’t sure if the waiter’d misheard her and thought she ordered the skirt instead. After eating the steak though, she was satisfied that it was what she ordered and thoroughly enjoyed her meal. I believe her seal of approval was given by the clean plate she returned to the waiter at the end of the meal.
And last but not least, my rib eye with chimichurri on the side. I was NOT happy that the chimichurri was spicy, but I’m beginning to realize that most restaurants only serve chimichurri in one flavor: spicy, whereas the divier Argentinian places I’ve gone to serve it in both non-spicy and spicy. But this steak was so delicious that I barely even used the sauce. I thought it interesting how they cooked this, since rib eye is normally cooked as an entire roast, then sliced into portions, but this one was clearly grilled. It’s possible that they roasted it, and then threw it on the grill to heat it up and get the grill marks, but it was so delicious, so perfectly cooked (once you cut into my piece, it was red, since I’d ordered medium rare), I was in heaven. The thing was huge, too, which satisfied my tummy very nicely, I even had a small piece leftover. The fries, as I mentioned, were fantastic.
Despite all the food we gorged ourselves on, we still had room for dessert. Interestingly, the menu lists 6 individual desserts for $3 each (cheap!) but then “all of them” for $15. So of course, with 6 people, although we normally only get 2 desserts and split amongst all of us, we got the “all of them” choice because we were celebrating numerous things, plus, why not! The waiter said they were the same size as they’d be if we ordered them individually, so it seemed like a deal.
Of course, when it came, I wasn’t too surprised that they were small, but a little taken aback by how small. Starting in the bottom lefthand corner, going clockwise: blueberry cobbler, nutella eclair, tiramisu, lemon tart, creme brulee, and chocolate mousse.
Ok, I have to be honest here, I know I took a bite out of every single one, but I don’t recall anything good or bad about them. True that at this point, I’d had a good amount of wine/alcohol, but none of it stood out for me. My big dessert love is tiramisu, and I recall thinking there was too much lady finger, not enough mascarpone, because when I dipped my spoon in, there was only lady fingers and it’s not like everyone else went before me and ate all the cheese. The creme brulee was okay, nothing outstanding, chocolate mousse, eh; lemon tart isn’t my thing, so I didn’t expect to and I didn’t like it; the eclair was fairly blah, and I guess the blueberry cobbler was okay, but sticky, and I hate sticky things.
Overall: I don’t think I’m the only one in our group who feels this way: I would go back. As one person said, it wasn’t special or exotic, but it was solidly good food, and reasonably priced (if you’re used to paying NY prices for good food). This is actually a strong rating from me because most of the other upscale/trendy restaurants we’ve tried, I wouldn’t go back. In fact, this is possibly only the 2nd one I’ve said this about, out of a lot (I think the first was Blue Ribbon). Definitely go here for the whole package: good service, great atmosphere, good food, and the trendiness of it as well, if these are things you look for in a restaurant. Enjoy!