Bowery Meat Company – Reviewed
It’s hard not to love Josh Capon. He’s one of those effusive, larger than life chefs who wears his passion for cooking on his sleeve. In the case of the Bowery Meat Company, it’s his unconditional love of meat that drives the menu. Though Capon’s no stranger to meat: He won the popular Burger Bash many times, and opened a bustling joint called Burger & Barrel just a few years ago. But Bowery Meat Company is his first “steakhouse” of sorts, a joint effort with executive chef Paul DiBari and restaurateur John McDonald, who’s built up an impressive empire of perpetually bustling downtown restaurants, which includes the power lunch spot that is Lure, El Toro Blanco, and Burger & Barrel.
Bowery Meat Company is definitely the place to eat right now. I don’t know why, but I never imagined a steak joint could ever be the “it” restaurant. Steak is a serious, roll me home endeavor; the kind that doesn’t really work with skinny jeans and pumps. But on a recent Saturday night, a chicly-dressed set were swarming the bar at this Bowery newcomer, angling for an “Adirondack” Cocktail, a blend of apple brandy, cynar, sweet vermouth and orange bitters, or a damn good “Hanky Panky,” a terrific twist on a Manhattan with Woodford Reserve Bourbon, Fernet Branca and Carpano Antica Formula.
The dining room is sleek, furbished with a mix of glossy wood & butcher block tables, clubby leather chairs, and blue velvet booths so big they make you nervous that McDonald and Capon are being just a little too generous with seating. The windows are cloaked with blue and white curtains for privacy and there are glossy wood panels along several of the walls. It’s got just the right ratio of clubby steakhouse and trendy dining destination without feeling like a place your dad would eat.
As much as McDonald and Capon don’t want you to call their new baby a steakhouse, Bowery Meat Company is part of an exciting, new breed of chopshop; the kind that considers the seasons, the pescatarian and even the vegetarian. The kind with a real deal and creative chef in the kitchen who does more than throw a stick of butter on the top of every steak. (Thankfully, Capon and DiBari refrain from the butter finish that institutions like Peter Luger and Striphouse are famous for.) Instead, they let their top notch, 40-day aged Diamond Creek Ranch meat speak for itself.
And just how is the meat? It’s pretty terrific. Especially a special Tomahawk we sampled one night, a Bone-In Rib Steak, sliced and served with baby potatoes. If you’re going to splurge on one steak this year (or in 2015), make it this bad boy. It’s charred to perfection, wickedly juicy, and drizzled with a mix of garlic, parsley, and olive oil. Then again, if you’re not up for a $148 steak, I get that. Order the $47 Bowery Steak instead. It comes in a close second, an immensely tasty cut of deckle meat (a cut you don’t see often), broiled, and sauced with an addictively zippy salsa verde.
And there’s more to the menu than just beef. The gorgeous, Herb-Crusted Lamb Chops are from not New Zealand but Colorado, so they’re uniquely gamey and flavorful. They come crusted in herbs and draped over a cucumber-yogurt sauce, which manages to tame some of the gaminess of the meat. The Veal Chop is sumptuous, served with a halved orange to squeeze over your manly chop, teasing out a bit of sweetness. Any of these hefty mains would pair well with Capon’s creamy Fondant Potato, browned ever so slowly in plenty of butter, the garlicky Spinach, or Orange Heirloom Carrots. But my favorite of all is the flawlessly crispy, golden brown Salt & Pepper Fries (I’m salivating just thinking about them).
Capon’s skilled at balancing succulence. Just sample his Short Rib Ravioli, anointed with bacon and rosemary butter, fragrant and hearty, but ingeniously offset by a potent dose of aged balsamic. And if you’re looking for something a little lighter for “pre-game” dining, there are plenty of shockingly light dishes on the menu here. There’s a raw Zucchini Carpaccio, showered with Feta, Chili Flakes, and Mint – a summery salad on the edge of winter. So is the Farmer’s Salad with paper thin radishes, cucumber, and avocado, dressed with a Champagne Dressing as well as the Live Sea Scallop, served in the shell with radish, apple, and pink sea salt. Like any good chopshop, Bowery Meat Company has a raw bar with three kinds of Oysters and a fine Shrimp Cocktail, a light start before you dig into all those meaty mains. But to be honest, the way to go here is the Eggs & Eggs, a decadent one bite wonder of a Deviled Egg, heaped with Northern Lights Caviar, 12.50 a half and worth every freaking penny.
Dessert isn’t quite as good as the main event, but it’s pretty hard to compete with meat this outstanding. Not to mention you’ll be pretty full by the time the dessert menus arrive at your table. I’d skip the Lemon Souffle, which is a tad too tart. Instead, stick with the gratifying Coffee & Donuts, which comes with sugar-dusted mini donuts and a velvety mocha pudding, topped with a warm coffee cream. Served in a glass, the arrangement looks, well, a lot like a cappuccino
Bowery Meat Company has raised the bar on a great steak dinner on many levels. Why have a butter-sopped steak in a stodgy, old room when you can start with Eggs & Eggs, gnaw on a killer cut of deckle with just as killer fries in a stylish, Bowery spot? Just saying…