Thursday, September 20, 2007

Strip House - Don't Believe The Hype

I have eaten at the Striphouse on a number of occasions and while I find there is much to like about the restaurant I have never understood the praise heaped upon their steaks which I find to be, frankly, far below the best in the city. Yes, Striphouse has an engaging ambiance, a decent wine list and some very good sides and appetizers but conversely the room is inevitably crowded, you will wait for a table even if you have a reservation and the room feels very cramped, the tables are just too close together. Despite the assumption that this is a "sexy" steakhouse and the perfect place to take a date this is not the place for an intimate meal unless you go on the off hours, you will be literally shoulder to shoulder with adjoining tables. I understand a restaurants desire to maximize turnover but Striphouse needs to strike a better balance.

A creamy delicious bisque comes with a generous portion of lobster

Clams Casino

The seafood at Striphouse is of a very high quality and better than what you can expect at a traditional steakhouse.

The rib eye steak

The rib eye steak is probably the best steak on the menu here. While it is served bone in it is also Frenched, removing a lot of the flesh that makes a rib eye so wonderful in the first place. I really appreciate steaks that are served "butcher style." The marbling on the rib eye has definitely gotten more prolific at Striphouse over the years but is still not that impressive.

Despite the restaurants name the NY strip here was not even close to what you will find at NYC's leading steakhouses. While it had a decent, not tremendous, level of marbling it lacked the complex dry aging induced mineral rich tang that steak lovers are accustomed to. It was tender enough but did not have that ethereal "melt in your mouth" quality that can be found elsewhere. However, the Striphouse is to be commended for turning out steaks that are perfectly cooked every time.

While the steak appears to have a decent although not great amount of external char looks can be deceiving, since the steaks here are rubbed with pepper most of the blackness is merely the pepper burning. Frankly if you have a beautiful piece of dry aged prime steak you should let it speak for itself. A pinch of salt will enhance the flavor, a pound of pepper will completely mask it.
If the steak fall behind the curve the sides are definitely ahead of it. The black truffle creamed spinach was absolutely delectable, the truffles adding a welcome earthiness to the already rich dish. The goose fat potatoes were also delicious, a hearty crisp golden crust giving way to a tender interior. While the sides are priced comparably to a traditional steakhouses the portion sizes are far smaller, this is not unwelcome given the richness of the dishes and the quality of the ingredients.

The service at Striphouse can be effusive but the room is so packed that waiters from adjoining tables will invariably impinge on your meal. The waiters and busboys work at a frenetic pace, looking not unlike the staff on an ocean liner rushing to accommodate their next dinner seating. Despite the noise and chaos the staff do manage to get the food out in a timely manner.

While the Striphouse does many things well the steaks are not the equal of those at any number of other steakhouses in NYC. Despite some excellent supporting sides and appetizers, a room that is leagues ahead of the drab confines of your average steakhouse and good service I find it hard to recommend the Striphouse, at least for their steaks.

13 E. 12th St.
(bet. 5th Ave. & University Pl.)
Manhattan, NY


gpincus said...

Thanks for all of your great reviews. I just wanted you to know that someone reads and appreciates them.

Nick said...

Thank you very much for your kind words, it is indeed heartening to know that this blog is appreciated.

Backyard Chef said...

I think the Rib eye is great there, too. I was going to disagree with your review and say they deserve to be on the recommend list, I just realized I've never felt the urge to go back...

Your reviews and photos really are great.

drew said...

this has been undoubtedly my favorite steakhouse experience for four years and counting. i try them all. i think the ribeye at striphouse WRECKS the palm, s/w, sparks, dylan or BLT prime, etc.

just my opinion...