Wednesday, July 1, 2009
Though one could argue that gay men respect and appreciate meat more than any other social, ethnic, or cultural group, the archetypal steakhouse has never been a place where we’ve felt at home. These Old Boys’ Clubs tend to have that cigar-stained, mahogany-paneled, raucous backslapping atmosphere that makes one whisper words like “Barbra Streisand” or “window treatment.” Not being one to give up easily, I waded through the Smith & Wollenskys, Capital Grilles, Peter Lugers, et al to find a place where I could have my meat and eat it too. Enter: Quality Meats.
After eyeing this place for months, I was recently lucky enough to join a friend and his family for a birthday meal at the Central Park south meatery. From the moment you descend to the subterranean host stand, you know you’re not in Kansas (City steakhouses) anymore. The décor immediately puts Ozian minds at ease. Entering passed a plaster cow’s bust opens into a dimly lit dining room adorned with wrought-iron chandeliers illuminated with Edison light bulbs and wine-packed walls. As we looped our way through the ground floor, it seemed a bit too dark; however, we ended up at a table by the window on the upper level, so we had ample light.
As the name would imply, Quality Meats, is, at its core, an homage to meat with the typical American leaning toward beef. While I wasn’t able to convince anyone at the table to opt for fish in the name of well roundedness, we did have a crab & avocado appetizer that was so fresh and delicate that it was hard to believe it was made by the hands of a butcher. The elegant and uncomplicated dish was a perfect preparation for our weighty entrees to come.
A few minutes later, my medium rare 18 oz. aged bone-in sirloin arrived, one of those few rare occasions when I feel like a man. This steak quickly took its place among the best I’ve had; at this level of cooking, choosing the absolute best steak is really a matter of splitting hairs. The most notable triumph was the steak’s textural juxtaposition. The well developed thick crust encased a juicy and tender center that rivaled that of filet mignon. Unlike a filet; however, the fattier sirloin cut and the lingering bone kept this cut full of flavor. As usual, I had a hard time keeping my mouth off that bone. Had I been dining incognito or with a band of Vikings, I would have sucked it dry. Unfortunately, my sense of decorum forced me to save my bone sucking for the bathroom at Splash.
Among our side dishes, all were good and none were exceptional. The buttered edamame with mint salt was fresh and perfectly al dente, but the mint salt was lost on me. The grilled asparagus was simple and well executed, but nothing surprising or outstanding about it. The parmesan fries were almost tooth pick thin and crispy. The texture was perfect, but the parmesan was too understated and left me a bit underwhelmed. As an entire meal, the less than exciting sides didn’t bother me. They were all good and let the steak shine, but it would have been nice if a few made me swoon.
The dessert menu had praise before we even ordered. I was relieved to find that steakhouse staples like crème brulee and New York-style cheesecake were supplanted with more creative options. My “Coffee & Doughnuts” was a scoop of coffee ice cream atop a thin slice of coffee flavored cake (not, “Coffee Cake”) and topped with a half-dollar sized chocolate-glazed doughnut. The ice cream was delicious and the doughnut was rich, but a bit too dense for my taste. As my fork quickly travelled around the table, I discovered that the blueberry tart was refreshing, but bland and the milk chocolate caramel tart was decadent, but too rich to enjoy more than a few forkfuls.
Quality Meats certainly holds its own among the city’s steak havens, and the fruit-friendly feel will keep this Gorgeous Young Boys’ club packed. Oh, and the sexy young executive chef can’t hurt.
Quality Meats – 3 Sparkles ***
57 West 58th Street
New York, NY 10019