As a birthday treat this year, my wife, Ruhana, asked around and booked a table at the Strip House, one of New York’s most popular (and some would argue finest) steak houses. I’m a steak fan though once every couple of months is enough for me and when I asked a couple of steak afficandos at work, they said you couldn’t go wrong with the Strip House. I read a few reviews online which were very positive (especially about the desserts) so I was psyched when the evening came around and I brought a huge appetite. My only real concern was that the staff was known to be a bit snooty and could ruin the evening.
Upon arriving at the restaurant, we were greeted by a maitre’d who was a bit gruff and joyless asked us for our reservation. We gave the name and it took him a while to get the reservation. Our reservation turned out to be an hour later than we had originally planned and given that the Strip House is known to keep people waiting we were concerned that we’d have to wait even longer than we anticipated. Nonetheless the Maitre’d reassured us that he could fit us and asked us to place our coats in the coat room.
We were delighted to see as soon as we were done checking in our coats, the waitress came by and said our seats were ready. We did a double take at first, shocked that they really did have a table for us but we didn’t question our good luck. We were seated on a booth side of the wall with plenty of pictures of celebrities and scantily clad women (part of the gimmick of the Striphouse is its play on words). Our waitress arrived shortly afterwards with a smile and warm bowl of bread. She explained the additions to the menu and patiently helped us pick our steak. As my wife and I had never shared a Porterhouse, we took the opportunity and ordered a side of their famouse Goose Fat Potatoes and Creamed spinach. Not big eaters, we skipped the appetizers though I’ve heard from others that their shrimp cocktail is quite good as well.
My wife and I chatted and soaked up the atmosphere while waiting for the food. The scene was busy and though the restaurant was dimly lit the buzz gave it a warmth especially on a very cold winter night. Our steaks took some time to come out which I was more than happy to wait for as I viewed it more as a sign that they were being properly cooked rather than burnt and rushed to the table. When the steaks finally arrived, the waitress hand carved it nearby and nicely arranged the strip and filet pieces of the porterhouse on our plates with a small garnish of garlic. The creamed spinach was served in a small copper pan and the goose fat potatoes were formed into a dome, crispy on the outside topped with chives.
The porterhouse was excellent and truly illustrated the concept “melts in your mouth”. We had it prepared medium wanting to preserve a little of the pink. The steak was beautifully blackened on the outside but surprisingly had not noticeable taste of char while the meat itself was pink on at the very center and fully cooked throughout. I’m a steak sauce fan myself and their house sauce was excellent with the steak. The goose fat potatoes were crunchy and a little on the salty side but combined with the spinach which was perfectly done, the two sides made for an excellent compliment to the steak. My wife and I both felt that the portions were excellent - any larger and we would have felt overstuffed and I imagine each piece would not have been as succulent.
After savoring our dinner, my thoughts turned to dessert. I read great reviews about their 21-layer chocolate cake which some argued was the real reason to come to the Strip House. I’m a huge fan of chocolate cake though rarely eat it outside but as it was my birthday, I was given special consideration from my wife and permitted to order it. The couple next to us who appeared to be regulars were amused by our choice though they warned us that we should be prepared to take it with us as it was nearly impossible to eat in one sitting. We soon found out how right they were.
The cake itself is probably 10 inches high and the piece filled up a large steak size serving plate. It was decadently rich - surprisingly so for its huge size. It had a beautiful layer of chocolate sauce on the top and alternated between layers of rich chocolate cake and luscious chocolate cream. It was richly satisfying and true to legend we were only able to finish half of it. We packed up the rest and took it with us. (Postcript: I’ve been nibbling on the cake while writing this review and, if you can believe it, the fact that it was outside made it even softer).
Overall, the Striphouse is a classic case of you get what you pay for. It was damn expensive (at least by my standards) but the service and most importantly food were definitely worth it.