Tag Archives: steakhouse

M. Wells Steakhouse for Valentine’s Day

17 Feb

We went to M. Wells Diner in Queens a number of years ago, and I was anxiously awaiting the opening of their newest place, M. Wells Steakhouse, but the Queens location made it a bit tough.   So when it was Mike’s turn for the annual Valentine’s Day surprise meal, he thought this was a great time to visit.  I was thrilled when I realized where we were heading (which was AFTER arriving in Queens… silly me).

It was actually less than an hour door to door from our place in Riverdale (Bronx) through Grand Central to the restaurant.  Hard to beat that!


Since we were in the middle of one of the coldest weeks of the year, the few blocks from the subway were on the chilly side, so I was excited when we were approaching the address: 4315 Crescent Street in Long Island City.  But this was all we found:



Luckily someone poked their head out and motioned for us to come towards a side courtyard and door.


Walking in, I was very surprised to see that the inside is a really nicely designed space. Definitely not expected from the outside.


A peek at the menu from Valentine’s Day since it appears to change often:


IMG_2320  IMG_2322

Mike ordered a very interesting cocktail that was a take on a Gibson, but had some pickled pork tongue on it. It was very oniony but enjoyable.  And fun to try. (Yes… this is our idea of fun!)


We quickly received a little warm sack with a side of butter and mustard.


Inside was a delightful sourdough and pretzel roll.  Apparently the mustard was VERY mustardy so I stuck with my pretzel roll with butter.  Very good bread to start.


On the topic of adventurous fun, we saw lamb brains on the menu and had to try it.  I have had brain once before and it was thinly sliced and fried.  This was really a hunk of brain. (If you are easily queasy, you may want to skip the next picture and description)


This was the inside… very mushy, somewhere between bone marrow and melty cheese.  I enjoyed the crispy end but I couldn’t get past the inner texture.  Even me. And I can eat anything.  It was VERY rich as well, so I’m glad we tried it, but can’t say we enjoyed it.


On the more normal appetizer side, we got a caesar salad.  This was COVERED in cheese and was a really fantastic caesar. Lots of great flavor with a burst of freshness from the dressing.


We decided to split the tomahawk steak under the recommendation by many.  It was cooked perfectly and the char on the outside was fantastic.  Didn’t need a thing. Just great steak.

However, I was expecting a lot more.  The reviews had mentioned truffles (which was not true on this night), and the end slices were almost entirely inedible due to fat, so there were really only about 5 or 6 slices we could eat.  Granted, it was plenty of food, and we wound up bringing some home to have steak and eggs the next morning, however, I can’t say it was $160 worth it.  At all. Even “for two.”


It came with a side of a potato-y, chees-y, butter-y… something.  Looking it up now, it was on the sides menu: pommes aligot.  And thanks to Wikipedia, I now know it’s melted cheese blended into mashed potatoes. Yes!


The stretch on this was amusing and the taste was incredibly delicious.


We also ordered a side of “foie gras gnocchi.”  I was very confused when these two dumpling like things were set in front of us.


But it didn’t matter that this didn’t resemble the gnocchi I know.  It was foie on the inside, wrapped in gnocchi, then fried crisp, with onions on top.  Pretty heavenly, to be honest.


After our meal, we were served little tea cups of consommé from the tomahawk steak as a “palate cleanser.”  I have never had a savory palate cleanser after the meal, but the consommé was fantastic.  Not at all greasy and really savory.


For dessert, they were doing a Valentine’s Day special of a “fried banana split” that had chocolate, vanilla, and lavendar ice cream with honey brittle, butterscotch sauce, and hot fudge.  How could we resist?

And it was certainly beautiful.

I enjoyed this but wasn’t blown away.  The brittle was the best part, but the banana was a bit mushy and I just don’t like floral flavored desserts (my fault, not theirs).  Mike thought the banana tasted a bit like wet laundry, but I thought he was kind of crazy.


On our way out, we saw the dessert cart and it looked quite beautiful. Made me a little mournful that we didn’t get something from this, but hey, no regrets.


Overall, I walked out of our meal pretty wowed.  I also realized that I didn’t remember how much that steak cost. Now, looking back, I have to say that it was a really great meal but absolutely not worth the price. Perhaps the Tomahawk was our mistake, because as much as it was a REALLY good steak, I’ve had comparable for half the price.  Add in the travel to Queens, and I’m torn.  We really, really liked it. And we were very happy with the meal. I just can’t say I truly recommend it.

Total Nom Points: 7 out of 10 (probably would have hit 8 out of 10 had that steak been priced more reasonably)

nomscale- 07.0


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.


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.


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.


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.


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)


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.


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!)


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).


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.


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.


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.)


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.


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).


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.


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!


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

nomscale- 08.0

Peter Luger Steakhouse

15 Jan

Peter Luger is probably the most famous steak house in all of NYC, which is why I find it strange that it’s in Brooklyn. I’ve long wondered if that adds to the allure… “it must be good if people will brave the L train for it!”

I had been to Luger once before and hated to say I was underwhelmed. I mean, it was a very good meal, but I didn’t think it was better than places in NYC and didn’t think it was worth crossing the East River to eat.

But when friends from out-of-town wanted to try it, I was excited to go on a food adventure with them.

I certainly love the inside. It’s beautiful without being fancy.

Sept 30 2012 Camera Card 1598

Someone suggested we try the bacon. And BOY am I glad they did. This was probably my favorite part of the whole meal. It was thick cut, perfectly cooked, a little charred on the ends. Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmmm.

Sept 30 2012 Camera Card 1601

And they are famous for their tomato and onion salad. This… I do not understand. I mean I like tomatoes and onions just fine… but why is this special? 

Sept 30 2012 Camera Card 1604

Though they did advise that we pour the Peter Luger Sauce (which is on every table) on it, and I will admit, it made the onions and tomatoes very tasty (and added great, but not overpowering flavor to the steaks, too).

Sept 30 2012 Camera Card 1610

The steak ordering is incredibly easy from the menu. You tell them if you want steak for two, three, or four and out it comes. It’s a beautiful Porterhouse that they serve nicely carved and dish out to each person at the table.

 Sept 30 2012 Camera Card 1605

And you don’t get more perfectly Medium Rare than this:

Sept 30 2012 Camera Card 1606

We also ordered the lamb chops so we could try some different things.  These were delicious and I’m glad we had some variation (as much as I love steak!)

Sept 30 2012 Camera Card 1608

We got a side of creamed spinach, which I thought was really tasty and heavier on the spinach flavor than the cream (which I prefer).

Sept 30 2012 Camera Card 1609

Mmmm… meat.

Sept 30 2012 Camera Card 1611

Even though we were all totally stuffed by the end, we just had to try the ice cream sundae (which came with a chocolate cow on top).  This was heavenly.

Sept 30 2012 Camera Card 1613

As was the pecan pie.  It was super pecany and not overly sweet. And don’t even get me started on that homemade schlag!

Sept 30 2012 Camera Card 1615

As you leave, everyone gets some chocolate gelt to take home.  A nice little way to be reminded later of the great meal you had.

Sept 30 2012 Camera Card 1617

I certainly enjoyed my meal this time more than last time, and I think the key was variation. Definitely get the bacon, try some sauce on some tomatoes and onions (why not?) and then order up some amazing steaks with some lamb chops.  Leave a wee bit of room for dessert and you’re perfect.

Do I feel the need to travel to Brooklyn for this on a regular basis? No.  I still think the novelty is good for tourists, but as a local, I’ll stick with Keen’s. (Though my arm could certainly be easily twisted to return to Peter Luger!)

Total Nom Points: 8 out of 10

nomscale- 08.0