Thursday, July 20, 2006

Quality Meats: The Miracle On 58th

The New Kid In Midtown Gets It Right... In A Big Way.

When it’s great, it’s great.

Quality Meats is not just great… it’s out of this world.

One of my pet peeves in this life is going to restaurants that get to the 1 yard line and don’t get into the end zone… you know, the details. One thing is great, another sub-par, another not so good. I think to myself “if they would just do a few things different.. what an experience this would be.”

Well, before Quality Meats opened it’s doors, someone sat down and figured it out. And they got it right.

Let’s start at the door.

Upon entering this funky, industrial space… you notice the uber-cool light bulbs hanging from the exposed ceiling. The darkish lounge area is highlighted by a small bar and a few seating areas. Cozy.

At first glance, most places this stylish are telling you that your food is going to be average. But as I turned my head I noticed something that would end that theory in its tracks. A prosciutto bar.

Oh yea. I’m not kidding. A 6-seat thing of beauty, with a guy slicing fresh ham, salame, coppa, bresaola and spicy sopressata. If the meats don’t quite do it for you, there are fresh cheeses, including a Manchego, a Humboldt Fog and a Cabrales. Homemade potato chips and cheese condiments complete the bar, as if it needed additional greatness.

I knew then we’d likely have a killer meal.

After a frosty Ketel One Martini, we were met in the lounge and escorted to our table.. and I must admit, I was shocked at the size of the space. What looked to be a one room, typically smallish steak house opened into a 2-story masterpiece… with a wine bottle-encased stairway in the middle of the space. This climb led to an upstairs dining room, well appointed and full of hungry meat eaters.

Our table was set perfectly, with a crisp, white lined tablecloth sporting the embroidered initials “QM”. Detail is everything.

We were quickly greeted by our server, and presented with wine and meal options. This was going to get tough, as the wine list and menu are jammed full of winners.

The dinner menu includes a small selection of regional oysters on the half shell, but I opted for the Lobster Cocktail… a half chicken lobster, cracked and served with several unique sauces. Truth be told, the lobster was so delicious, I skipped the sauces altogether.

Additional starters and appetizers include shellfish bouquets, steak tartare, crabcakes, amazing salads, corn chowder, scallops and soft shell crabs… but the standout was not to be topped.

Roasted bone marrow.

Now, if you haven’t indulged in this gem, let me convince you to do so. It is a taste and experience not to be missed… and Quality Meats does a great job. On the platter with the two roasted meat bones, are a gathering of crispy toast points and a small dish of pork tasso and herbs. Now I know why my dog Coltrane freaks out when I walk through the door with one of these from the butcher. If he could talk, he’s have me pop these bones in the oven and slice up some bread. This is good stuff.

About this time, a gentleman with a small, wheeled cart rolled along side the table, and began to make a tableside steak sauce. Yes, you read it correctly. Homemade, tableside steak sauce. Into the motar and pestle went a bevy of ingredients, including freshly sniped rosemary and thyme, garlic, tomato and orange puree, a raisin paste along with a few other items. Before we knew it, we were slathering the stuff on just about anything we could put our hands on. Detail is everything.

Shortly after the steaks arrived, and didn’t disappoint. I had a butterflied Filet Minon, cooked perfectly. This steak was tender and full of flavor… and I soon learned that I wouldn’t need a knife to cut it.

Alongside, we opted for 2 of 9 mouthwatering side dishes…. the Corn Crème Brulee, and Gnocchi and Cheese. Both were terrific and different, and not just for the sake of being so. Next time, we’ll choose from Buttered Edamame with Mint Salt, 3 different varities of potatoes, and market fresh onions, spinach, zucchini and asparagus.

Have I mentioned to you that I love this place?

For you fish mongers, Quality Meats carries a nice selection of fresh fish, including Tuna, Sole, Halibut and Salmon. We didn’t indulge, but I would guess that I would have been happy with just about any of these as well.

Not having room for dessert, I ordered anyway… a rhubarb crumble “pie of my own” with homemade vanilla ice cream. It was spectacular (all 4 bites), and next time I’ll make a greater effort to save room for this course, as the dessert menu looked to be carefully crafted. The pie list included a Key Lime, Banana Cream and Pecan Bourbon Chocolate Chunk… along with four delectable tarts. The special was a cantaloupe sherbert… highlighting a list of mouthwatering ice creams including Blueberry Pie and Coffee and Donuts. These are also sold by the quart.

As the night drew to a close, the leftovers were wrapped to take home. At Quality Meats, the take home goodies are not carted back to the table to sit on the floor, but rather delivered to the coat check room to be picked up as we exited for the evening. Detail is everything.

There may be flaws at this midtown newcomer, but if there are I couldn’t find them on my first visit. This experience is what dining out is meant to be… putting your faith and dollars in someone else’s hands and letting them do their thing. Deliver a perfect experience. It’s not cheap, but few things in this city worth raving about are. The only thing I’ll do for sure next time is call well in advance for reservations.

Quality Meats

57 W 58th St
New York 10019
Btwn 5th & 6th Ave