68 West 58th St., btwn. 5th & 6 Aves.
TYPE: Swanky Steakhouse
VIBE: Clubby lounge dining OCCASION: A date or festive group gathering DON’T MISS DISH: Roasted bacon with black truffles DON’T BOTHER DISH: Crab cake “double stuffer” DRINK SPECIALTY: Netsuke fizz PRICE: $70 & up HOURS: Dinner, 6 days a week, Mon – Sat, 5:30 PM – 11:30 PM; Late-night dining menu, Thur – Sat, 11:30 PM – 2 AM (beginning in January). RESERVATIONS: Reservations highly recommended, especially on weekends. RESTAURANT GIRL RATES: 7 (opening night rating)
FINAL WORD: Despite its uber-swanky setting, Kobe Club deftly deals in juicy Wagyu from around the world.
Attempting to erase the memory of Mix, Alain Ducasse’s failed attempt at casual French/American home-cooking, Jeffery Chodorow has literally raised the roof, dangling 1865 Samurai swords from the ceiling, and refurbished the modern space to evoke a Japanese den of sin
If one of these weapons of death were to accidentally fall from above, I suppose a last supper of Wagyu and truffles wouldn’t be such a bad way to go. After replacing Josh DeChellis (Sumile) at the final hour, amidst much speculation, Chodorow put his kitchen in the hands of a relative unknown, executive chef Russel Titland, formerly of Chadwick’s, a no-nonsense Bay Ridge steak restaurant. But Kobe Club takes the genre of genteel steakhouse to a whole new level, hoping to “razzle dazzle” New Yorkers with its sexy nightclub vibe and “Kobe-style” cuts of beef.
Outfitted with chocolate leather banquettes, chain curtains, maple leaf-accented light fixtures and leather ropes that drip from the walls, Dodd Mitchell Design, the team behind Double Seven, has taken every liberty to make this moody, 95-seat spot, an exercise in decadent dining. There were two unfortunate accents – a flat screen tv with a running fireplace loop and a DJ booth, which conjured up flashbacks of a noisy, bridge & tunnel dinner at STK, involving tragically fashionable and flavorless steaks. But unlike STK, Kobe Club takes its steaks very seriously.
Though slightly miscast as “Kobe Club”, the menu focuses its attention primarily on Wagyu with a generous seafood selection, including seared wild salmon, tuna tartare and dover sole meuniere. Though “Kobe” is scattered throughout the menu – American “Kobe” short ribs, American “Kobe” beef cheek ravioli & “Kobe beef” cuts – the term Kobe always appears in quotes – there’s even a menu disclaimer, which explains that Kobe beef refers to only “100% full blood Japanese wagyu beef” raised in the province of Kobe, Japan. In other words, most of the steak served here isn’t actually Kobe, but rather Japanese Wagyu from outside Kobe or Kobe-style Australian & American wagyu.
I began with a supremely fresh, sake-cured salmon, essentially three appetizers in one: thin slices of bright, wild salmon coated in fresh herbs, are pleasingly accompanied by truffle-laced, deviled quail eggs, and mismatched mini bagel chips with an uneventful smear of tobiko cream cheese. There are truffles in practically every dish on the menu – from a fragrant dish of kobe beef cheek raviolis, immersed in an intense black truffle broth, to a not-so-simple side of lobster mashed potatoes. Thick slivers of black truffles even make a notable appearance on a plate of slow roasted apple wood bacon, perhaps the best dish on the menu. Kobe Club gives Luger’s a little friendly competition with thick, defiantly greaseless strips of divinely flavorful bacon. However, the crab cake “double stuffer” – crabmeat strangely sandwiched between two lackluster crab cakes with a garlic & ginger aioli – was crab overkill, and better left unordered.
I tackled a smattering of entrees, including a roasted Japanese pork chop, lean and meaty, doused with a smoky bacon & shallot sauce, and a delectable dover sole, coated in fresh herbs and served whole. But if you’re going to fork out the cash to dine at Kobe, which isn’t cheap, you have to order one of the “Kobe-style” cuts. Hell, for a whopping $190, you can invest in the Samurai’s Flight – a trio of Japanese, Australian and American wagyu – and conduct your own “side by side” comparison. Despite my patriotic tendencies, the American filet was the least impressive of the three, but I was torn between an extremely well-marbleized Australian cut, and a supremely tender, Japanese wagyu. The sides didn’t fare as well as the entrees. While a sake white truffle creamed corn was a perfect match for the Australian filet, I could’ve easily lived without a tastleless creamed spinach and a trio of mashed potatoes, the best being the wasabi potato, the sour cream & chive, completely skippable.
Most of the dessert menu seemed surprisingly uninspired: cheesecake, chocolate cake, berries & cream. I
tempted the “bee hive” baked alaska, a delicate, honey ice cream,
buried in an airy whip of meringue, cutely served with
chocolate-covered fruit loop bee.
Until we eat again,
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