Friday, May 11, 2012

Beef Aficionado's Top Ten Ribsteaks 2012

It has been four years since I last compiled this survey and, boy, have things changed in the world of steak. The economic crash of 2008 served to temporarily stymie the development of new steak-centric establishments as well as cull the herd of existing ones. The "nouveau" steakhouses - characterized by such places as Craft Steak, Kobe Club and Primehouse NY - were the first victims. Both Craft and Kobe Club are distant memories and Primehouse NY has gone "traditional" replacing the glass and marble with wood paneling and even lowering price, but not quality. With the traditional steakhouses either resting on their laurels or, worse, devolving into self parody, the way ahead for steakcraft was unclear.

And then a renaissance.

Suddenly there were steaks everywhere. Where as hamburgers and pork fat had been the obligatory menu items in the wake of the recession, the steak has made a big comeback in the last few years. And the trend is not one of quantity over quality. Quite the opposite in fact. Steaks are being aged for longer and longer periods and the breeding of boutique steer is leading to marbling that far exceeds USDA Prime.

Whereas dry aged USDA Prime beef was once strictly the purview of the top steakhouses and a handful of 4 star restaurants, you can now find it in all manner of places - trendy meatpacking-district supper clubs, locavore establishments in Brooklyn, gastropubs on the Bowery.

And, notably, steaks for two have become prevalent. While this is a roll traditionally played by the porterhouse, the ribsteak has become very popular as of late. Indeed, in my last survey all the steaks featured were for one, this time around half are intended (and priced!) to share.

The following list reflects the best ribsteaks I have eaten in the last year (rather than since the last survey). It should be noted that four of the ten restaurants didn't even exist last time I compiled this list in 2008. The exclusion of a number of the steaks from that survey should not discount them out of hand, in most cases I have not eaten them in a long time.

There are also a number of steaks that I have heard very good thing about - The Breslin, Perla and St. Anselm spring immediately to mind - but that I have yet to try. To reiterate - this is a list of steaks I have eaten in the last year that I highly recommend - it is not intended to be an exhaustive survey. So, in alphabetical order,  here are my top ten:

Minetta Tavern

My favorite restaurant. The best steak I have ever eaten was here - a Snakeriver Farms American Wagyu ribsteak that was a rare special and cost $260, It was heart-stopping in every way.

But the second best steak I have eaten is their regular ribsteak for two served with bone marrow. $124.

Minetta Tavern
113 MacDougal Street  New York, NY 10012

Momofuku Ssam Bar

I have eaten this one numerous times, it never fails to impress. Served for two. Market price (generally between $125-$150)

Momofuku Ssam Bar
207 2nd Avenue, New York, NY 10003

Peter Luger

The venerable Peter Luger traditionally only served porterhouse and strip steaks. However in the midst of the prime beef shortage of 2008 they started serving a delicious bone in ribsteak. It is every bit as good as their world renowned porterhouse. $37.

Peter Luger Steakhouse
178 Broadway
Brooklyn, NY

Porterhouse NY
Despite being under a decade old Porterhouse NY has become a venerable institution for the carnivore and lover of the traditional steakhouse. And you won't find a nicer fellow than chef Michael Lomonaco. $55.

Porterhouse NY
10 Columbus Circle  New York, NY 10019
(212) 823-9500

Primehouse NY

While Primehouse NY offers ribsteaks dry aged for 28 and 40 days I always go for the 65 day version. $49 (down from the $65 of the last survey)

Primehouse New York
381 Park Ave. S.
Manhattan, NY


529 Hudson Street  New York, NY 10014


Resto's Bobby Helen is one of the most underrated meat-centric chef's in NYC. His "large format" dinners are wonderful but the most captivating menu item remains the cote de boeuf for two served with marrow frites and Bearnaise sauce.

111 East 29th Street  New York, NY 10016

Smith &Wollensky

My favorite traditional steakhouse. While I generally get the prime rib here the "Colarado" ribeye, which was long an "off menu" item, is a masterful hung of beef. S&W does an exceptionally good job of achieving a char on their steaks.

Smith and Wollensky
797 Third Ave.
Manhattan, NY

The Standard Grill

The food at The Standard Grill is not only far better than it needs to be, it is also far cheaper than it could be. Take the Pat LaFrieda "Demi-Vache" Dry-Aged Rib-Eye Steak for Two - it only costs $65 and is good enough to make this list.

The Standard Grill
848 Washington Street  New York, NY 10014
(212) 645-4100


A masterful hunk of 40 day dry aged USDA prime ribsteak is cooked over coals, imbuing it with a distinct smokiness that compliments the pronounced tang from the aging.

359 6 Avenue  New York, NY 10012

The entire list is mapped out on foursquare.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Why would anyone serve or eat anything less. Great post,Yeah Ribeye!!