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The Simpler Pleasures


Good Old Steaks and Chops


When my friend the Steak Loon wishes to recapture the grandeur of bull-market Manhattan, he straps on the old feed bag and heads to Jeffrey Chodorow’s brand-new retro chophouse, Center Cut, in the Empire Hotel near Lincoln Center, where he likes to sit in the cream-colored, heavily fortified leather seats and dine in regal solitude on standard beef-eater favorites like steak Diane and steak Oscar, made with choice cuts of meat from the famous Brandt Farm in California. Stephen Hanson’s cavernous beef palace, Primehouse, meanwhile, still offers the most impressive selection of all-natural boutique meat downtown, and if you’re planning to blow $46 on a single flap of prime rib eye from Creekstone Farms in Kansas, I recommend you spend an additional $8 for a rasher of crispy brown “old school” hashed-browns, dripped, according to ancient steakhouse custom, with sizzling bacon fat. Buttermilk onion rings and a king-size helping of “Mr. Pete’s” bacon-topped creamed spinach are my favorite artery-clogging side dishes at Michael Lomonaco’s Porter House New York, in the Time Warner Center. And whenever I grow weary of this kind of ritualized steak-parlor excess, I wedge myself into one of the elf-size tables at Shorty’s.32, in Soho, and call for the simple but generously cut $30 New York strip, which the kitchen serves with a little roasted garlic and a modest squirt of lemon.

The best non-steakhouse steak dish in the East Village remains the imposing, dry-aged rib eye from Four Story Hill Farm in Pennsylvania, which the dedicated nonvegetarians at Momofuku Ssäm Bar serve with a few token spoonfuls of sweet shallot confit. My beef-eater friends in Tribeca are obsessing over the colossal, improbably tender boneless rib eye that Marc Forgione serves amid the carefully gathered flea-market knickknacks at his nouveau-barnyard establishment Forge. And whenever they’re in the mood for something a little lighter, they trundle over to The Harrison to feast on new chef Amanda Freitag’s beautifully charred hanger steak, supplemented, of course, with bowl after bowl of the restaurant’s legendary duck-fat fries. For a veal chop prepared in a properly regal uptown style, my choice is Park Avenue Winter, where the Smith & Wollensky–trained grill masters cook their meat to a perfect pinkness, then bury it in drifts of crunchy green garlic-bread crumbs. And if it’s a relatively light Mediterranean-style red-meat meal you’re after, you’ll find it at my discerning Upper East Side mother’s favorite new neighborhood restaurant, Persephone, where the rafters in the cozy little room are painted in colorful stripes to resemble a seaside taverna in Greece, and the rustic little lamb chops are served over sautéed escarole and a pile of mercifully healthful wild greens.

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