Thursday, March 20, 2008

Frankie and Johnnie's: Old School In Midtown Still Works

Quit over-thinking your pre-theatre dinner, and make the rezo

If you are a steak snob, you may not want to read this.

There are good steak houses in NYC, and they don’t have to start with LU and end with GAR’S.

Case in point, my recent trip to the old tried and true “Frankie and Johnnie’s” on W. 45th, right smack dab in the middle of the theatre district.

Why? Well, curiosity I guess. The place has history you know…. the legend has it that it was a speakeasy that used the passwords “Frankie” and “Johnnie”. That’s good enough for me.

Truth be told the steaks are delicious and the space is old New York. Cramped and, well cramped. But you know, on a cold NYC night… it can wind up being just the ticket. Romantic and old school.

First, when you visit, don’t flip out that you have to climb a set of steep-ass stairs. When you open the door of the place, you climb up, check your coat and open the door… to realize that you are now standing in the kitchen. I thought to myself… “I like this place”.

We crawled into our tiny booth space and ordered a perfect martini, and average glass of wine, and two spectacular lump crabmeat cocktails. Being from South Louisiana, I am picky when it comes to shrimp and crab, and this was good stuff. One splash of fresh lemon and I was off.

My steak choice for the evening was the filet mignon with the lobster tail. The steak was cooked perfectly and melted in my mouth. The meat here is dusted in a house spice of salt and pepper (and a few others that don’t intrude) so you don’t need to do much. It was a great cut, cooked perfectly and went down easy.

The lobster tail I could have passed on… as it was of the frozen variety and was overcooked… but the crab was so good, I took a shot. Maybe not next time. I’ll never learn.

My companion had the ribeye and equally enjoyed. With a mountain of lyonnaise potatoes and a platter of average at best broiled mushrooms, we had enough to keep us happy until post-theatre coffee and dessert. There is a decent wine list, but the cocktail and glass of wine seemed to do the trick.

The verdict? Well, I like it. Is there a bigger, better steakhouse in the area?... sure. Could we have walked to another place in the freezing cold?... sure. Is there a better place to eat in the theatre district in relation to the Imperial Theatre? Likely not.

Go and enjoy old New York… get a crabmeat cocktail and a juicy steak… and for the hell of it, knock on the door and say “Frankie”.

You never know… someone just might open it and say “Johnnie”.

Frankie & Johnnie's ($$$$$)

269 W 45th St, New York 10036
Btwn Bway & 8th Ave

Phone: 212-997-9494
Fax: 212-997-6851