[Pigging by Wilfrid: April 7, 2014]
Who needs yet another steakhouse in midtown East? That's a fair question to ask when confronted by a new contender, joining the ranks of Sparks, Smith & Wollensky, the Palms, and even Le Relais de Venise.
C'mon. It was a steakhouse. But if the likes of The Palm, with its cartooned walls and cartoon waiters with who-needs-a-menu? and slam-the-plates-down service is the acme of testosteroned beef consumption, Angus Club is at the other end of the spectrum--menu aside, it's off the spectrum completely.
Not only is service besuited and discreet, the surroundings border on the palatial. Black marble and cream walls in the intimate upstairs bar and dining room. Vintage mirrors, heavy chandeliers, deeply comfortable leather seats. Downstairs, surrounding a larger dining room, a string of private rooms each with their own themes (one has cork-lined walls). Money has been spent here.
As one predisposed to comfort above edginess, I was happy I'd accepted the restaurant's invitation to sample my way through the menu. The food did not disappoint.
After warm, salty--and hence appetizing--dinner rolls, a panoply of first courses. The winner was the crab cakes--loosely moulded from generous chunks of meat, and nicely seasoned. The Canadian bacon was good, but thankfully that's much more predictable today than it was back--again--in the '90s, where Peter Luger seemed to have the market sewn up for thick slabs of smoky pork. It's $5 a piece here, and that's good value.
Chef Edward Avduli, formerly of Benjamin Steakhouse, is aging prime Black Angus 35 days inhouse. The Peter Luger porterhouse (replicated faithfully at the various Wolfgang's around town) is a hard act to follow. Angus Club keeps to the playbook, serving the meat in slice around the bone, on a charger tipped so the juices drain. I don't think I got any filet, but the sirloin was appropriately tangy.
If sirloin is for those who like to chew, ribeye is for the melt-on-the-tongue fans. This was the quintessential American beef experience: black outside, blue inside, and cutting and eating like butter. That means plenty of fat, of course, but this was good beef fat, and I think I could handle the 22 ounce monster on my own given the chance.
The Colorado lamb chops pushed the fatty moistness a little far for my personal taste. The flesh is undeniably sweet and tender, and if you like your lamb this way you'll be happy. The salmon--with a nice Hollandaise--was correct, but probably not what you came here for.
Potatoes and greens go with steak, so I'd have missed the mushrooms if I'd been ordering. A mistake: they were the standout side, sautéed and earthy--beefy even. You expect the kitchen to get creamed spinach, home fries, and mash right, and it does.
Dessert? Are you kidding? I was a conscientious objector when it came to the massive slabs of chocolate cake and other gateaux passed around the table. Coconut-topped tiramisu were certainly unusual. I was happy with some sharp key lime pie, and a few spoonfuls of very good crème brûlée.
Prices are in line with midtown East steakhouses, and you should know what that means. Individual steaks (but you may fill a doggie bag) just under $50; steaks for two just under $100; and all sides, of course, à la carte. Next time you're in a Diamond Jim Brady mood--and I refer to his legendarily capacious stomach rather than his wallet--here's the website.