Thursday, November 15, 2007

Primehouse


Last month I had the pleasure of dining at Primehouse on their opening night. I noted at the time that it was probably not fare to review a restaurant on their opening night but I was impressed enough to go back several times since then. It has been interesting to see the fine tuning that has gone on to the operation in general but especially to the menu; which now boast some bold and unique additions that were not present on opening nights and will distinguish Primehouse from its competitors. While the service is somewhat unsure of itself and inexperienced at the floor level it appears that Primehouse has invested heavily in their management, which appears to be very professional and effusive. Personally I love the modern room, although some might find it a tad clinical.


A slightly over dressed Caesar salad is prepared table side

The steak tartar is also prepared table side

The steak tartar is excellent, utterly tender with a very pure beef flavor

The bone in Kansas City strip is fantastic. It has an abundance of dry aged flavor, with the flesh closest to the bone being particularly pungent. In fact is trumps both the porterhouse and the regular rib eye in terms of texture and "moldiness." It is certainly one of the top strip steaks in NYC.

Personally I find all this table side preparation tedious and distracting. I suppose I can understand the theatrical intent behind it but if you order a caesar salad, steak tartar and a porterhouse for two you are going to be spending a lot of time with the servers.

The Porterhouse steak for two is excellent. Although it is not served with the shock and awe of the Perter Luger porterhouse, sizzling and spluttering with dire warnings from the waiters about the incredible danger of touching the serving dish, the table side preparation does allow the beef to rest a little more than at other steakhouses.

While the steak might look somewhat dry, especially compared to the butter saturated presentation of the Peter Luger model, it is actually very succulent and tender. Personally I far prefer a steak be served dry, allowing the taste of the beef to be fully revealed.

The reasonably priced Hanger steak with Chimichurri is a bargain at $24 and very tasty

A most welcome addition to the menu, not present during the opening weeks, are the Reserve Cuts. Steaks aged beyond the standard 28 days. I have only had the pleasure of eating the 40 days aged rib eye, pictured above, but I am looking forward to trying the 65 day aged specimen on offer. Be warned these steaks are not always available so you might want to call ahead to check if they are in stock. While I was not that impressed by the restaurants regular rib eye the 40 day dry age steak was incredible, perhaps the most tender rib eye I have eaten, barring true Wagyu beef. Ordered black and blue it fell behind the cities top rib eyes, Smith and Wollensky, Wolfgangs, Bobby Vann's etc in terms of char but certainly matched them in flavor.

The dry aging room is proudly displayed in the basement, an eerie black light casting the beef in a blue hue. Primehouse sources all their beef from Creekstone Farm in Kentucky. Whether you buy in to the whole story about all the beef coming from a single bull named Prime or not there is no doubt that the beef here is of a very high quality and has a unique flavor. By sourcing their beef independently of the commercial market Primehouse is not subject to the vagaries of pricing and availability and they can insure a consistent product.

While the beef is beyond reproach the sides and deserts are less consistent. The potatoes in general are a safe bet, as it the creamed spinach but the onion rings were far more limp than their phallic presentation might lead one to believe and the Brussel sprouts with bacon had an odd fishy flavor. The deserts are generally better, the chocolate cake and mini doughnuts are both very good, the baked Alaska not so much.


Mini doughnuts


A lackluster Baked Alaska

Several months ago, when I first heard about Primehouse's imminent arrival I commented that I hoped that they would be doing something other than parroting the tired but true NYC steakhouse formula popularized by Peter Luger. Thankfully Primehouse has moved steakcraft forward, by virtue of their vertically integrated sourcing of steer and by offering unique aging periods. The service might lack the familiarity and gruffness of an average steakhouse waiter, but is is generally competent. The room is, to my modern sensibilities, lovely and the steaks, especially the reserve cuts and the Kansas City strip are excellent. Highly recommended.

Primehouse
381 Park Avenue South
at 27th Street
New York, NY 10016
212 824 2600

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