Mike’s Birthday Dinner 2013: American Cut

15 Oct

If you have been reading the blog for a bit, you know about our holiday/birthday surprise tradition.  This year, Mike requested steak for his birthday.  I was torn… I LOVE Keen’s and our meal at Peter Luger’s was pretty legendary. Where could we go that would be special for his birthday? I debated Strip House (where Mike has never been) and Porter House (where neither of us have been).  I even made a reservation at Costata, Chef Michael White’s new(ish) steakhouse.  I was leaning very heavily towards Costata after reading about the steaks being aged for 40 days or more.

But then American Cut hit my radar.

Opening just two weeks ago and with Iron Chef Marc Forgione at the helm, this steakhouse came with pretty great reviews from their Atlantic City location.  I tentatively made the reservation as soon as the reservation lines opened up, but held onto my Costata reservation just in case early reviews weren’t so good.  We also tried one of Chef Forgione’s restaurants for brunch, and we were not all that impressed.  I did a search and couldn’t find much, but what I did find was pretty good, so I took a chance and canceled Costata and off to TriBeCa we went to try American Cut.

The inside was pretty sexy, actually.  It was almost deco, almost rat pack… but somehow modern.  The seats were big (without being oversized) with comfy leather and tables that had a stripy grain and a lacquered look.  It looked like the kind of place that you could (and should) sign all of your 6 figure deals.

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The bread course starts things off quite well with an “everything” biscuit and vegetable cream cheese.  A little too well actually.  This biscuit is fantastically delicious and the everything crunches perfectly on top.  Unfortunately (though not too unfortunately), it’s quite a large biscuit and fills you up faster than you want to be filled up at a steakhouse with all the offerings.

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Mike started with the “wedge salad.”  This was flavored beautifully with a piece of bacon on top that was more like a porky crisp.  It had a great, light blue cheese and a really flavorful dressing.  The one really weird thing that I couldn’t get past was that while they called it a “wedge,” it was really just the chopped ice burg with a single large leaf across the top. Now it tasted GREAT… but a wedge has to be a wedge.  Call me a purist.

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I started with the bone marrow app.  I don’t know why I keep doing this to myself though… I REALLY love bone marrow but it’s just too much.  Every time I get it I’m overwhelmed.  It’s just so damn rich. And this was certainly gilding the lily with the addition of Burgundy Escargot (which was fried crisp) and Short Rib on the plate.

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The taste was great, and I absolutely love the fresh parsley with the marrow, but it was just too damn much.  Overkill. Also, the toasted bread tasted great but it was so sharp that it really cut up in the inside of my mouth. I hate that. Not that it stopped me from eating it though. What do you take me for? Like I wound waste one morsel!  (Sorry waistline)

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As for the main course, we tried two sides, including the latkes with apple, sour cream, and gribenes (crackling chicken skin with fried onions, similar to a pork rind but a Jewish variety).  This was heaven in a fried stack.  The potato pancake tasted like potato and was perfectly crispy.  Then the sour cream and apple were a great compliment (as always) and the gribenes was a nice twist.  Great side.  Highly recommended.

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We also tried the sunchoked spinach with fontina and smoked salt.  This was a nice side akin to creamed spinach, but not quite as heavy and with a nice cheesy flavor. (We took a good amount home with us and it made for awesome leftovers inside an omelette the next morning!)

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I got a steak from the specials.  This was a small filet minon with a “hunter’s sauce.” Our waiter instantly qualified this as “JUST a red wine sauce with wild mushrooms.”  By qualifying it as “JUST” a sauce kind of took away from the cool sounding “hunter’s sauce” but boy this was not JUST anything.  The filet was perfectly cooked with the tender, flavorful mushrooms.  The sauce was just glazed enough to stick to the meat and create a depth of flavor that really upped the ante on the filet. (Typically I choose anything other than filet because I prefer a richer, more deeply flavored steak that can only come from marbleized fat).

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Mike got the “New York City Cut” which was a 20 ounce bone-in ribeye with pastrami spices and smoke.  This was a very well cooked steak with a nice char and delicious spices.  And this was QUITE a portion.

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Mike chose to order some maitre d’ butter on the side and every steak is served with their own steak sauce, which was good but somehow unnecessary with how good the steak was.

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By midway through our meal, a little piece of me was regretting the biscuit. As good as it was, it was SUPER filling.  I am not sure if the same delicious biscuit could be executed in all it’s fluffy inner and crunchy outer goodness in a smaller portion, but it made it difficult to finish the meal. Though to be honest, I would do it all over again exactly the same way. Nothing wrong with leftovers! (Which they packaged up for us and then gave us a claim ticket to get from the coat check. Nice touch.)

We took a good amount home so we could have room for dessert.  We chose the Cracker Jack Sundae with popcorn ice cream. (Though I was very curious about the HB&J that came with hazelnut butter and concord grape semifreddo, as well as the AC Carbomb which was chocolate bread pudding, Jameson butterscotch, bananas, and Guiness ice cream.)

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I really enjoyed this sundae.  A mild, popcorn flavored ice cream (that could have been a bit bland on its own) was enhanced by a caramel sauce and pieces of crackerjack that by some miracle of food managed to stay entire crispy even when borrowed deep in this sundae.

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Our meal was finished with 2 little sweet bites.  I wish they told us what exactly they were, but I would venture to guess that the chocolate one was a chocolate mint cookie (that tasted a bit like a Girl Scout’s Thin Mint) and the other tasted like a Lintzer cookie with what I would assumed was raspberry and nuts.  (I preferred the latter).

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These tiny guys were quite good, but it hit one of my biggest pet peeves: 2 people… 1 of each cookie.  It forces you to nibble a little bite off of each to allow the other person to try it. Thank goodness I like my husband, otherwise we would be fighting over each morcel. Come now… serve 2 of each… 1 for each patron. Don’t make us split a thimble of cookie.

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But truly… this is nit picking to its extreme. Our meal was fantastic.  There were a few minor faults and hiccups along the way, but the food was great.

The service was pretty good. We did both notice, however, that the entire main course was served to our neighboring table while 3 out of the 4 of them were away at the bathroom.  That shouldn’t happen, but our service overall was pretty good. Though I certainly appreciated the warmth of the manager over the odd coldness of our waiter.

Throughout the meal, a waft of a delicious smoke would tickle our noses. We finally asked what it was and our waiter guessed that it was the Plank Smoked Old Fashion with Woodford Reserve, caster sugar, nicks bitters, and a maple wood smoked glass. He described the process of making it: they would invert the glass and fill it with the smoke before pouring the drink into it.  We entertained the idea of stopping at the bar to try one as we handed over our credit card and waited for a bit.  It didn’t seem like all that long, but the manager came up to us and let us know that the credit card machine had crashed and it would be  a few minutes.  He offered to buy us a drink, and Mike instantly perked up and asked for that Old Fashion.

I immediately felt bad because I had noticed at the very beginning of the meal that the drink in question was actually quite pricey at $20.But hey, he offered!

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And boy oh boy am I glad he did!  We were more than happy to split the drink and it was everything as good as it smelled.  I am not the person to EVER spend $20 on a cocktail, but this one would have almost been worth it.  The ice ball drove me nuts by bonking me in the nose every time I took a sip, but it didn’t stop me for going back for more.  The smokiness was just absolutely awesome and the cocktail was so well balanced and so well mixed.  Impressive.

So we added at least $20 extra to the tip and walked out of that restaurant feeling absolutely great.

Good job Manager!

Good job Chef Forgione!

Great job American Cut!

Total Nom Points: 8 out of 10

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