Tuesday, April 06, 2010

The Strip House: Getting Better With Age

A Tried and True NYC Favorite Keeps It Simple

The New York steak scene is brutal.

There are so many good options… and I mean great options… that to stay afloat you have to be on your game every night. Look at CraftSteak… gone. And even some of the old NYC mainstays have trouble in a tight economy to fill their dining rooms at times. So where do you go for a low risk, can't miss night of USDA Prime?

Welcome to The Strip House.

Solid. Warm. Delicious. That’s what you get in this Village spot. There is nothing spectacular, nothing groundbreaking… just solid steaks and sides, in a single room steeped in steakhouse history.

When I visited The Strip House last week, it had been quite a while since my last visit, but nothing had really changed. The room was still boudoir red, the bar stocked with my brand of single malt scotch and the lounge chock full of after work pals swilling cocktails and complaining about their bosses. Just how I remembered it.

Our group of four was met with a surprise floorshow on this Thursday evening, as the Governor of New York was seated directly across from our cozy booth with “company” of his own. He was accompanied by two guests, one resembled an official bodyguard type, and the other…. well didn’t. Let’s just leave it at that.

Our waiter was energetic and a tad cocky, but pleasant none the less. He was quick to remind the table about the way things are done at The Strip House (steaks charred, sides shared, etc) and the table was happy to hear it. La-dee-da.

The salads (we tried several including the Bibb) were terrific and perfectly dressed. But the star of the apps was easy the Roasted Bacon…. which reminded me more of pork belly than bacon. It was melt in your mouth good… and the table consumed with smiles from ear to ear. This was more delicate that the mountain of Lugar’s bacon we have come to know and love… and I liked it all the same. Crazy good.

Of course steaks were the call on this night, and again The Strip House didn’t disappoint. From the NY Strip, to the bone-in Ribeye, they were cooked perfectly, and were full of flavor. If sauces are your thing, The Strip House serves several that are house-made, including a Béarnaise that was an instant hit with our group.

The sides are also very good, but perhaps not on par with Quality Meats or Keens. The best item on our table proved to be the Potatoes Romanoff… and the Creamed Corn with Pancetta was solid…. but for some reason I now yearn for Buttered Edamame and Corn Crème Brulee wherever I eat steak. This is a bad thing. Damn you Quality Meats.


We came to the restaurant knowing of the cake lore that awaited… but had to skip this course as we were headed across town to finish our meal outdoors to take advantage of the terrific night of weather we were having… but make no mistake about it…. the chocolate cake is legendary and worth the trip alone to many who rave about the 20+ layers of magic. Next time. Next time.

So let’s summarize.

Sexy, attractive room. Check.

Celebrity/Politician sighting. Check.

Comfortable table and neat, timely service. Check.

Damn good steak. Check.

Well that just about sums it up. The secret to the longevity of The Strip House? This is a restaurant that doesn’t pretend to be something it’s not. It’s that simple. Do something well, and then do it again.

And those who appreciate a great meal will follow.

Even the Governor. And his friend.

+ sexy room is never as crowded as the younger, hipster steakhouses

+ steaks are top quality, wet aged, and charred to perfection

+ they serve goose-fat potatoes. Enough said.

- they sometimes charge for split plates

- the waiters can be a little to big for their britches, but are still harmless

- it’s so dark, you could bring your girlfriend and the Mrs. would never see you

The Strip House

13 E 12th St, New York 10003

(Btwn 5th Ave & University Pl)