In a midtown littered with pre-theater menus and mega-delicatessans (Carnegie Hall), Quality Meats emerges as an unlikely dining destination that may just revolutionize the concept of The American steakhouse. After an impressive 22 year seafood-stint as the Manhattan Ocean Club, Alan Stillman, legendary restaurateur of The Smith & Wollensky group, has decided to do what he does best — steak. He’s even handed the restaurant’s reigns over to his son, Michael Stillman, who has magnificentally transformed the space into a butcher shop chic steakhouse with a greenmarket vibe.
Teaming up with AvroKo (designers of Stanton Social & Public), they’ve stripped the restaurant down to its original exposed brick walls and steel columns, adding authentic meat locker accents by way of butcher block stairs and chandeliers fashioned from meat hooks, pulleys and Edison bare bulbs. Oh, and did I mention the food’s nothing short of spectacular?
Though the name would imply its dedication solely to meats, Chef Craig Koketsu can’t help but show off his many talents on land and sea after earning his keep in both Manhattan Ocean Club and Lespinasse’s kitchen. My only complaint is how difficult it can be to pace yourself at the front entrance Charceuterie Bar, so you make it into the dining room for a meal to remember and still save room for dessert. So I’ve devised a strategic eating game plan to help you make a dent in this worthwhile New American menu:
- CHARCEUTERIE BAR – Home to the apparent Ferrari of meat slicers, grab a stool and nibble on rustic sliced meats, cheeses and homemade mostardas prepared daily (anything from rhubarb to pineapple-vanilla).
- BAR PITSTOP – Take a quick drink break (a dirty martini perhaps) at the white subway tile-lined bar and mingle among a hip, yet decidedly unpretentious crowd.
- DINING ROOM –Don’t linger too long or you’ll miss the main event . Dine by candlelight in the defiantly downtown first floor dining room or climb the stairs to a more-secluded space adorned with plush tan leather walls and a polished wood ceiling.
- APPETIZERS :
- Bone Marrow – Koketsu takes bone marrow to a new level, delivering a steamed then broiled, savory marrow perfectly coupled with red wine glazed root vegetables, a dish that could take on
the city’s toughest tasting menus anyday.
- Do-it-yourself steak tartare – Already pre-measured and ready to mix, a large wooden spoon overflowing with capers, dijon, yolks and onion, beckons you to gently mix and indulge in this exceptionally silky hand-cut steak. It’s like you made it yourself (almost)!
- MEAT – Every single steak is sourced from two family butchers, Abeles & Strassburger Meats, some of the cuts are even custom butchered for lucky Quality Meats customers. Try the melt-in-your-mouth bone-in sirloin medium rare and watch the show as servers snip herbs and prepare homemade steak sauce tableside.
- FISH – Whatever you do, get the fish. Did I just say that? Though the very notion of ordering seafood at a house of steak makes me cringe, I’d break my own rules for the tender pan-roasted halibut gently touched by a ginger lemon soy sauce perched atop a melange of shitake mushrooms and white and green asparagus.
- SIDES – Contemporary twists on classics give new meaning to sides. The savory-and-sweet corn creme brulee and a sharp creamed spinach souffle are not to be taken lightly.
From Quality Meats bottled water (in glass milk cartons) to exclusive butcher cuts, not to mention an impressive fish menu, the next Smith & Wollensky generation turns the Steakhouse upside down, creating a kindler, gentler anti-steakhouse of sorts. Quality Meats might just be worth investing in real estate in midtown.
57 W. 58th Street, nr. 6th Ave.
The Smith & Wollensky Group
Until next thyme, Restaurant Girl