Cheap Eats

Turf (Sans Surf)
Budget-friendly beefsteak

Two kinds of people order the $16.95 chopped sirloin steak at Gallagher's: the cheapskate and the connoisseur. The cheapskate surveys the classic steakhouse menu and quickly zeroes in on the least expensive hunk of beef he can find. The connoisseur, on the other hand, knows that a properly prepared chopped steak is a thing of beauty, whatever the cost. In spite of their common order, you can tell the two apart: The cheapskate will inevitably complain about the wait -- "Waiter, why's my hamburger taking so long?" -- while the connoisseur knows that hand-chopping the beef to order is the sine qua non of chopped steak and what elevates Gallagher's brawny, crusty, charred, perfectly juicy two-inch-thick version beyond the realm of burger heaven.

The chief draw at Tad's Steaks -- besides the bargain-basement beefsteak -- is the primordial thrill of watching the flames from the grill shoot up and pop around your T-bone while you wait, cafeteria tray in hand. It's what Tad's founder called a "steak show." So dazzling was the spectacle to a British friend of ours that he insists on returning every time he visits. To see if he was suffering from mad cow, we checked out the original Tad's branch on 42nd Street, which still has the aura of old Times Square, residing as it does next to the Peep-O-Rama. A faded bordello-red color scheme, fake Tiffany lamps, and Latino music add to the ambience. We ordered No. 6, the $9.75 Tad's Famous twelve-ounce T-bone (cooked medium, just to be on the safe side), which includes a side salad, a good baked potato, a grill-toasted slab of garlic bread, and -- the pièce de résistance -- a large ladleful of greasy gravy spooned over the entire plate. No threat to Peter Luger, but a surprisingly good protein fix for the price.

<<< Previous: Surf (Sans Turf)



· GALLAGHER'S, 228 W. 52nd St., 212-245-5336
· TAD'S STEAKS, 119 W. 42nd St., 212-944-6907