Meat is back. Steakhouses are in. Alongside the rising tide of vegan/vegetarian restaurants in New York, menus are overflowing with pork belly, bacon, burgers and steaks that sprawl far and wide. As in politics, we are a divided nation. (Photo above, Restaurant Upstairs Dining Area.)
Restaurant Upstairs Bar
Catching the upscale steak wave is Manhattan’s brand new Angus Club Steakhouse. Discreetly situated on a quiet midtown side street, Angus Club is sleek, modern and luxurious, in a leather-and-wood Art Deco way. Housed in an impressive two-story space – with upstairs and downstairs dining rooms and bars, a large wine cellar and private rooms well suited to corporate events – it does feel more like a serene private club than a noisy steak joint.
Downstairs Wine Cellar
Executive Chef Edward Avduli
Angus Club is owned and operated by four friends with, collectively, decades of experience in the steakhouse business. Located in the same midtown neighborhood as Sparks, Gallaghers, BLT Steak, Pietro’s, and Wollensky’s, among others, it aims to give the competition a serious run for their money, and may well succeed. The food – from appetizers to desserts — is terrific. At a recent press dinner, the appetizers were outstanding. One could make a meal of them. Since they are all available on the lunch as well as dinner menu, that is easy to do. (Note: prices vary between lunch and dinner. Prices quoted are for dinner)
Prime Steak Tartar
Angus Club Salad
The pan seared Phillips lump meat Crab Cakes ($16), two to a serving, were absolute perfection, overflowing with fresh, delicate and heavenly crabmeat, held together with a minimum of breadcrumbs. How rare is that? Exceedingly rare. And the thick slab of Canadian (Pork Belly) Bacon ($5) was fabulous. As good as it gets. Actually, so sinfully good, that I cannot wait to devour another one again.
For those who still eat their meat raw, the Steak Tartar ($20) – chunks of prime sirloin and filet mignon mixed with pepper, capers and an uncooked egg — was rich and delicious. And while the Angus Club Salad ($17) was good – shrimp, peas, tomato, onion bacon, lettuce and roasted pepper tossed in a house vinaigrette – compared to the other appetizers, it was not memorable.
What is memorable at Angus Club is its emphasis on the highest quality ingredients as well as its attention to detail, from plates that arrive at the table hot to an interesting wine list, with an accent on small California vineyards.
All the Prime steaks and chops at Angus Club are hand selected at Master Purveyors (the holy grail of Angus prime beef wholesalers, preferred by the best steakhouses, including Peter Luger). They are then dry aged for 30 – 35 days (most steakhouses dry age their meat for 21 days), which reduces moisture and improves flavor.
Each of the medium-rare steaks sampled was outstanding. I happen to love the Ribeye cut (26 oz, $48); others prefer Porterhouse (steak for two, $98); yet others go for Lamp Chops (5 per order, $46). At this level, it’s more about one’s personal preference than anything else because the meat is minimally spiced, grilled to perfection, and all about the quality of the beef. Of course, as in every major steakhouse, there is seafood for the non-meat eaters, including three pound lobsters (($95), sushi-grade Yellow Fin Tuna ($36), Scottish Wild Salmon ($33), Surf & Turf ($69), etc.
Unexpectedly, the side dishes were really, really good and not just an afterthought. Should a meat eater arrive with a vegetarian friend, they’d do just fine with these alone.
Mac n’ Cheese
The Asparagus ($12) were fat, succulent and cooked a point. The Home Fries ($11) were the best I’ve ever eaten. And the same can be said for the Mac n’ Cheese ($12). It’s a dish whose charm has, until now, escaped me. But at Angus Club it was meltingly rich and, topped with Truffle oil, quite amazing. The creamed Spinach and sautéed mushrooms were also a cut above the rest.
The Hudson Valley Bakery, noted for its pure natural ingredients, supplies Angus Club with its baked desserts, all of which are accompanied by a big bowel of real whipped cream. My favorite – by far – was the divine, sour-creamy cheesecake. To my mind, nothing else came close. But others loved the Carrot Cake and Coconut Tiramisu. It was a fitting end to a classic American meal. (All desserts are $12 each.)
Angus Club Steakhouse is a winner, especially for those of us who like to dine at tables widely spaced, in a room where the loudest sound is that of one’s neighbor’s voice. If you are in the mood for a special-occasion steakhouse meal, this is the newest kid on the block and the place for you.
Photos by Eleanor Foa Dienstag
Angus Club Steakhouse
135 East 55th Street (Between Lexington & Third Avenues)