Like any New York steakhouse worth its weight in T-Bones, American Cut (courtesy of Iron Chef Marc Forgione) is giddily over the top. The bi-level space is comprised of a seemingly endless series of stylishly backlit rooms, sporting heavy rosewood tables, black leather banquettes, copper ceilings, brass chandeliers and gleaming marble floors. And they begin to fill, as the night stretches on, with slim-suited Tribeca high rollers, looking to blow a little money on Barolo, barrel-aged Negronis, and hulking cuts of wet or dry-aged meat, served topped, on request, with farm eggs, double smoked bacon, bone marrow, foie gras, or a whole, chili-spiked lobster.
If it all seems like a scene straight out of Vegas, well, it should — considering Forgione’s original outpost of the restaurant is in Atlantic City. But during the newly installed happy hour, at least, New Yorkers can opt for a dialed down version of the American Cut experience, electing to spend their evening at the slots, say, as opposed to a high stakes poker table.
Not that cocktails and nibbles in the lounge are devoid of razzle-dazzle. You can still order the signature Old Fashioned, featuring various components — Woodford Reserve bourbon, caster sugar, bitters — wheeled in on a cart, and poured into a glass that’s been smoked tableside, using an aromatic plank of singed maple wood. In fact, as well befits a steakhouse, fire is a key element in a number of seasonal tipples, including the Bacon Apple Boom, with smoked green apple, bacon-infused vodka and tarragon, and a Poached Fig Margarita, the syrupy fruit combined with dried orange and tequila, and rimmed with lime Maldon sea salt.
As for the selection of small bites, they reflect gussied-up gastropub staples reimagined in miniature, including a duo of gooey Wagyu Sliders on domed brioche buns, paired with two, outsized papadam-esque potato chips draped over a stack of thick-cut bread and butter pickles. There’s also a tasty (if over-conceptualized) play on Popcorn Shrimp, featuring grilled skewers of seafood propped in a popcorn-filled glass, meant for dipping in an accompanying ramekin of cheesy, spicy “Grits,” and tater tot-shaped Buffalo Chicken Nuggets, crowned with a carefully placed dot of funky blue cheese.
But like any clever casino, the relatively affordable alternative ultimately proves a gateway drug for the main event… those fancy sliders were good, but left us bound and determined to go big next time, and splurge on the steaks.