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KristalBelli – $56 For Bacon and Worth It

Steak is a fantastic dish and should be celebrated. There’s no better way to show your love for it than to share it with your friends. That’s the whole motivation behind the World’s #1 Steak Club, SteakClub7; to eat, share & enjoy Steak with your friends. Which steak, where’s is prepared, how it’s made, well that’s up to your interpretation and for this month’s Steak Club outing, we chose to diversify up the palett.

If you love meat and are open to ethnic foods, I’ll take the safe bet that you’ve eaten and love Korean barbecue. Known as “Gogigui” in Korean which translates directly to “meat + roasting”, which is refers to their way of grilling meat. The dishes are prepared right at your table on a table top grill. It’s a fantastic way to dine and experience a little food culture. At NYC’s KRISTALBELLI, they take this to a whole new level.

Founded by Korean entertainer, music mogul and business man Park Jin-young (AKA JYP), KRSITALBELLI is a high-end Korean barbecue restaurant located in Midtown Manhattan. JYP and his restaurant group have worked to create a brand new style of grill fashioned from crystal. The convex surface provides high-heat retention with a perfect distribution and creates a perfect cooking experience.

From their website:

The advantages of crystal grill:

• Infrared-ray – When it’s heated, it emits infrared ray enabling the meat’s inside to get cooked simultaneously with the outside so the meat holds more juice and the outside is much unlikely to burn. (Infrared ray is known to be the most beneficial wavelength to humans.)

• Cook time – Cooks meat 2~3 times faster compared to traditional stainless or metal grills.

• Appearance – Its clear color and shape provides a visual attraction to the grill.

• 99.9% natural crystal – The stone does not create any harmful residues.

• Artistic grill and table: Kristalbelli’s grill/table is the 1st to be artistically designed when all Korean BBQ grills just focused on its function until now. Our roaster is equipped with the downdraft system, which drags in all the smoke downwards.

It’s not only authentic but it’s very stylish and unlike other Korean barbecue restaurants, your server handles all the cooking.

For the proper Korean barbecue experience at KRISTALBELLI, you’ll want to order a number of selections from the menu. It doesn’t have a lot of choice but they are all pretty great. The entire meal should be split so none of this “that’s mine” businesses, if it’s on the table, it’s fair game! We started off with 3 dishes:

Haemul Pajeon “해물 파전” – Mixed seafood pancake with scallions. I didn’t try this but I really don’t like Seafood. The rest of the guys were into it.

Japchae “잡채” – Stir fried glass noodles with vegetables. This was delicious and robust with all kinds of great flavors and spices. I could’ve eaten this as an entire meal!

The KB (Kristalbelli) Salad – Sauteed pork belly on top of mixed greens accompanied with soy ginger vinaigrette. Seriously, do not skip on this. It’s simple but incredibly tasty.

Korean meals often come with lots of sides, dips and prepared vegetables that are meant to be eaten with the main dish so be sure to try everything that comes your way.

KRISTALBELLI offers four cuts of beef, Filet Mignon, Wagyu Rib Eye, Wagyu NY Strip & Wagyu Galbi . We went with the latter 3 so as to be able to try a bunch of different types. It all comes with onions and mushrooms that your friendly and skilled server will cook for you. Once it was ready, we ate it faster than it took to cook the steaks. Amazing quality, taste, flavor, execution and style.

The steaks of course come with more sauces, vegetables and pastes. We actually asked for more of the chili paste (bottom, center) because it was so amazing. I want to bottle and sell that.

The Wagyu Galbi comes from the Chuck Tail and cut that is not easy to come by. In fact KRISTALBELLI keeps a limited amount on hand so be sure to get there early and order some.

Want to see what $56 worth of bacon looks like? That’s actually 2 full orders of the KRISTALBELLI Samgyeopsal “삼겹살” – Pork belly. You have never seen a table of men salivate until you’ve witnessed the SteakClub7 watching while their server prepared this on the grill. It was incredibly rich, succulent and fresh tasting. Ignore the cost and be sure to order it.

And like all dishes, the Samgyeopsal comes with more delicious sauces to dip in which honestly, it does not need. No matter, you should try them all!

Rounding out the meal we did as you should and ordered Kristal Bibimbap “크리스탈 비빔밥.” Bibimbap is a traditional Korean dish made with rice with seasoned assorted vegetables with chili pepper paste served either cold or hot (choice of beef or tofu) in our signature crystal bowl. As they mix it table side, the rice starts to stick to the bowl and crisps creating something like a moist rice chip. It’s incredible and if do not order this, you did yourself an injustice. We practically fought each other for the last bites.

KRISTALBELLI might be a little on the expensive side but you get what you pay for. If you want the best, you have to pay for it. That’s why I suggest going with several people so you can split and try a lot of dishes.

KRISTALBELLI is one of the most unique, high quality authentic ethnic dining experiences in NYC and the food, especially the Steak is nothing but delicious.

4.5 out of 5 knives

Prime & Beyond – Everything But The Steak

All hail the MeatGod.  At 9:58 am on the first working day of the new year, he emails the rest of Steak Club 7; “happy new year fellow carnivores! let’s get this year off to a great start- when’s first steak club?” Nothing kicks of the year like a gathering of the fellas to take down a juicy hunk of beef. After only a few emails, we had a steak on the books, just in time for joeC’s birthday!

Prime & Beyond first opened in Fort Lee, NJ in 2003 built a reputation serving USDA Prime Steaks. Built on the passion and knowledge of owner “Q the Butcher” and his brother Kevin, in 2011 the company expanded into a 2nd location in New York City. It’s a new age steakhouse with a modern decor and an exposed kitchen. The menu is primarily beef, both wet & dry aged with a few other accoutrements including a dash of Korean fair with kimchi, rice and bulgogi. Their supply of steaks come from Master Purveyors from the Hunts Point Meat Market.

With bacon, sausages, salami, hot dogs and steak, lots of steak, we were all pretty excited to eat at Prime & Beyond.

Our meal, started like it often does, with bacon, specifically the “PB Special Bacon.” This was my favorite part of the meal. It was smoky, had just the right amount of fat and cooked perfectly. Along with the bacon we also had the Wagyu sausage links which tasted like a smoky kielbasa.

Prime & Beyond serves a special salad that has a tangy Asian dressing over lettuce, cabbage & tomatoes.

Before preparing our steaks, the server, in a very cool act of class, brought the raw cuts over to the table for us to peruse. If that doesn’t get you excited to eat, I don’t know what will.

I don’t eat kimchi but the other guys seemed to enjoy it.

I really enjoyed the grilled vegetables especially the sweet potatoes.

It’s listed as a main course, but we absolutely had to have the short rib stew bowl to share around the table. I really liked the broth and the tenderness of the meat but wish they had removed the meat from the bones before serving it.

Matt ordered the wet aged filet and was a little surprised when it arrived pre-sliced.

A cold sweet egg omelet, like tamago came with our meal. I thought that was an interesting addition to a steak dinner.

The Big P.A. and I split a dry aged porter house for 2. We too were surprised when our steak arrived sliced in this bizarre fashion. However, I was elated to see the steak was cooked to an absolute perfect medium rare. The steaks at Prime & Beyond are served with a scallion salad, which the waiter explained to us is meant to be eaten a top the steak. I tried a couple of bites and not only was it unique, I liked the mix of flavors it created.

If the odd slicing of the meat wasn’t enough to warn me, the below room temperature of the meat certainly let me know something was wrong. Upon further examination of the meat, I found it to be extremely fatty and beyond what I would ever consider proper marbling. For a relatively small cut of a porterhouse, this may have been the first time the Big P.A. and I did NOT finish off a steak at one of our gatherings. It wasn’t just our steak either, it was everyone on the table.

We also order King Oyster Mushrooms and French Fries. I didn’t try the Mushrooms because I don’t eat the fungus but the french fries were decent.

At the insistence of the Big P.A. we ordered a couple of desserts for the table. They had a great presentation and the pecan pie was pretty good.

Up until the steak, I was really enjoying my meal. The oddly served, cold and fatty cut pretty much guarantees we won’t be returning.

1 knife out of 5

Wolfgang’s – Solo Mission – A Wolf In Sheep’s Bottling

The last time I paid a visit to Wolfgang’s Steakhouse in Tribeca, literally 2 months ago, minus one day, I had one of the BEST Steak dinner’s I’ve ever had in NYC. The SC7 gave them a glowing review with  4.5 out of 5 knives!! The restaurant has a beautiful dining room, great service and practically impeccable food. Read the review for the full skinny.

About this time every year, some of my friends from the music business and I get together for a yearly holiday Steak dinner. When the discussion came up this year on where to dine, I proudly pushed weight on scheduling at Wolfgang’s. Once everyone read the SteakClub7 review, it was an easy lock. The reservation was made and good times, good friends and good Steak was in our sights.

If you want to know how the food was, it was amazing. No need to recap the same review from less than 2 months ago. How was the company, I freaking love these guys and look forward to this event every year. Regardless of the fact that all we do is bust, rip and tear into each other, it’s a good laugh and a great way to enjoy each others company before we all disappear back into holiday mode with our families. I especially enjoy the annual shot of Steak Fat that my friend Ben and I share to commemorate the occasion. Try it, you’ll like it.

But the real story here, what I REALLY want to talk about is our server and the terrible attempt of a hoodwink that he played on us. Look at the picture below. Check on the left where the wine menu CLEARLY lists the Penfolds Bin 28 as a 2006 vintage. Then look at the actual bottle that was brought to our table. It’s CLEARLY a 2008 vintage. Had it not been for Paul, I wouldn’t have even checked but apparently this happened to him only a week at ago at Wolfgang’s Park Ave location.

No big deal right? Maybe the waiter made a mistake? Just bring it up and get it fixed? . He apologizes, brings the right vintage unless it’s no longer available, then he just adjusts the price. Well, yeah, that’s how it should work but that’s not how it went down this time. When we pointed out that the bottle he brought and what was on the menu was not the same thing, he just said “that’s all we have,” and shrugged his shoulders. As we were trying to ask him to tell us the adjusted price or see if they had any 2006, he proceeded to open the bottle and pour a sip into my glass for tasting. We asked again and his reply, after once again shrugging his shoulders, was merely “I am sorry. I can not help you.” We asked if he could get the manager to discuss the wine price and he said “no. There is nothing I can do. They haven’t updated the menu and the price is the same.”

What? WHAT? Are you kidding me? You mean to tell us that the difference in the years of a wine’s vintage have nothing to do with the price? So every single other restaurant, vintner, vineyard, grape grower, etc has been lying to everyone else this whole time and the difference of two years between vintages means nothing?

Clearly this guy thinks we are idiots and you know what, maybe we are. We decided to just let it go so as to not cause and scene and just go back to enjoying our annual meal together. But regardless of our salaries, social status, attire, or really anything else, the U.S. tender in my wallet spends the same as everyone else’s and to be treated with such disrespect is a show of bad business practice. When we were brought the bill, no changes were made, no free dishes, no special drink to apologize…nothing. That’s why we tipped 15% to the dollar. No need to return the disrespect we were shown by under tipping, but normally we would give a full 20%.

I wouldn’t normally use this forum to be negative as we try to be a deciphering mechanism to talk about great restaurants and awesome Steak, it needs to be pointed out to YOU, my fellow consumers, that if you eat here, this could happen to you too. I’m not telling you to NOT patronize this business, because the food is awesome but definitely be careful of what you order, what is brought and what you are charged.

So having said that, enjoy some amazing food porn and Happy Holi-Steaks.


No rating given out of sheer disrespect to us.

Prime Meats – Eating Outside The Box

This many years into running the world’s number one Steak Club, it’s not becoming any easier trying to find all the best Steaks around NYC and providing a point of discovery. But that’s what we do and that’s what you look to us for. We eat Steak. We eat A LOT of Steak. Sometimes it’s great Steak, sometimes it’s not, but we know our role is to help you find the best steaks.

The more and more NYC becomes the best of best for food, the more and more places serving a great Steak that may not be in a restaurant classified as a “Steakhouse.” Great Steaks are starting to come from all sorts of kitchens out there and it’s less about what the restaurant is called and more about what they do to the cut once they have it. Call it a Steakhouse, a grill, a chop house, a bistro, eatery, or anything else, caring for a Steak is what it’s about.

Enter The Box. When he was ushered into this elite Club of Steak junkies, we knew he loved the Meats but we didn’t realize the revolution he would bring to the group. Long story short, as coincidence would have it, The Box started pushing to eat outside the box, choosing places we wouldn’t normally have thought to get steak. Long story short, The Box has delivered us into the next evolution of SteakClub7 and with this month’s pick, he solidified the future of our elite group.

And that’s how we ended up this month in Brooklyn. It should also be noted that The Box has a car and is willing to drive. Prime Meats, no-reservations restaurant located in Brooklyn’s Carroll Gardens, has been hot on the scene for some time. The rustic looking tavern gone restaurant is always busy and as much as you would like to call ahead for a table, you can’t.  Run by childhood friends turned Kings County restaurant superstars, Frank Castronovo and Frank Falcinelli, Prime Meats is a German-inspired farm to table restaurant. The idea was to create a turn of the century style restaurant into fresh and interesting tribute to the past. All dairy and produced are sourced from the Pennsylvania based Lancaster Farm Fresh Cooperative, while the Pork comes from the West Village based Faicco’s Pork Store. The beef, all-natural Angus, is supplied by Creekstone Farms, a farm that raises it’s cattle humanely, allowing them to graze freely. Before processing, the cows are fed a corn-based feed that aids in the flavor profile of the meat.

Most Steak meals start with Bread and that’s why The Box ordered House-made Pretzel with Butter and Mustard for the table as soon as we were seated. Buttery, warm and extra specially tasteful in the Mustard, these settled the hunger in our stomach’s so as to give the rest of our meal a better focus.

After letting The Box lead us to another borough and through the tasty Pretzels, I told him, “I trust you implicitly here, so just order whatever you think we will like.” The first of which was “The Vesper Brett;” Alpine tasting board with house cured bacon, landjager, chicken liver pate, pastrami calve’s tongue, smoked maple ham and house – made pickles. Landjager, well that’s about one of the tastiest things to ever come out of Germany and Bacon, well say no more. The rest of the offerings, weren’t so much for me but everyone else loved them.

OH MAN, it’s one of The Box’s fave dishes and he was excited as hell to share it with us; Roasted Beef Bone Marrow with Radish, Gremolata, Roasted Garlic & Toast. Was it good? Yeah it was good but that’s the kind of word you use if you want to under play how “good” it tasted. I did say OH MAN right? This savory treat was unbelievably delectable. We fought over the last bits of the Marrow, hacking at the insides of the bones with knives trying to scrape out the last bits.

While a normal SC7 dinner has us eating various Potatoes and Greens for sides, tonight was going to be a little different. Our first side; Herb & Gruyere Cheese Spätzle. A popular dish in Germany, it’s made of boiled Egg Noodles and in this case, covered in Cheese. Oh yeah, they’re awesome.

Not only have I never heard of Sürkrüt Garnie before eating here but I haven’t seen it since! The dish is made of Slow cooked pork belly, Thuringian bratwurst, Calf Tongue & Knackwurst served with housemade Sauerkraut. It’s a Meatstravaganza unlike anything you’ve ever had or will ever have again and as far as I know, you won’t find anywhere but at Prime Meats.

DeBragga & Spitler Dry-Aged Côte De Boeuf  36 day dry-aged certified Black Angus served with watercress salad. Average – 27 oz. – 52 oz.. Yeah, we ate that. There’s really no need to go deep into a deeper description here after I tell you the following. Not only did it taste better than it sounds, we all fought over the rights to scrape the bone!

There are few words that light up the Big P.A., like “bacon” does, but one of the others is Merguez. The man loves it and if you have had it, you know exactly why. Elysian Farm Lamb Stew Lamb shoulder, cured Lamb Belly, housemade Merguez Sausage, White Beans & Marrow Breadcrumbs. Almost reads like a porno flick about food right? THAT’S EXACTLY WHAT IT IS!! The dish is practically a Cassoulet but not exactly. It’s just further proof that the people at Prime Meats are obsessed with great Food.

Damn. The Box rules supreme. Prime Meats is further proof that great Steak can come from any where. Eat there and you’ll understand, it’s not about one item or a couple of items, but moreover, about an outstanding meal top to bottom.

4.5 out of 5 knives

Wolfgang’s – Making A Spectacle Out of Steak

Can you imagine what it’s like to do something for 40 years straight, I mean other than like breath or brush your teeth??! I’m not even 40 years old so based on my own experience, doing anything for 40 years is unfathomable. But let’s just say you did something for 40 years? What would you do then?  Well if you’re Wolfgang Zwiener, you keep doing it but instead you do it for yourself.

You see, Wolfgang was the headwaiter at Brooklyn’s Peter Luger’s Steakhouse for 40 years and after leaving, he opened up a Steakhouse of his own. While the menu is very similar to that of Petey Luge’s, there are 2 important differences to note. #1. Wolfgang’s original location is in Manhattan and #2. they take credit cards. For a guys like us in the SC7, this makes all the difference int he world.

Since then Wolfgang has opened in Waikiki, Beverly Hills, Midtown Manhattan and now Tribeca. Even though every member of SteakClub7 has been to Wolfgang’s we have never had an official outing. The opening of the newest location seemed like as good a reason as any to make it finally happen. The Tribeca location is on Greenwich Street in a beautiful with high ceilings, a gorgeous dining room and a massively, massive 1000 bottle wine room.

Sounds like a perfect location for our monthly SteakClub7 feast!

In true to form fashion, The Big P.A. ordered slices of Wolfgang’s extra thick, sizzling Canadian Bacon. This is staple of the New York Steakhouse and something we dearly love.

I’m not a seafoodie but the other fellas claimed that Wolfgang’s had some of the best and freshest shrimp they’ve ever had in this town.

Normally I go for the wedge salad but opted on this occasion instead to split a Caesar with Jon. When the Box ordered a wedge and the very creamy blue cheese dressing showed up, I had no choice but to add some to my salad.

My great Grandma G.G. always reminded us to eat our vegetables and when it’s an SC7 dinner, JoeC and I always ask for sautéed broccoli. Wolfgang’s was fresh. hot and full of ripe flavor.

Soon enough the star of the show, the Steaks started to arrive. MattyWinks, as always, ordered up a Filet. This was no ordinary Filet my friends! This was the thickest, tallest, biggest cut of Filet I have ever seen!

As the porterhouse steaks came to the party, in perfect fashion, the friendly and well dressed wait staff started to dish out the food. I love that part. The steaks arrive slightly just under cooked to specification. The plates they server on are so hot that it finishes cooking right in front of you. Gotta. Love. The. Sizzle.

As always, we order an array of sides to go along with the beef. This time around we got the creamed spinach, cottage fries and German potatoes (not pictured.) The German potatoes were super delicious. The creamed spinach is not for me and as for the cottage fries, they’re just big, huge fresh made potato chips and while they are good, I’d rather have mashed, french fried or even more German potatoes.

This is practically the exact same meal I eat at every single SteakClub7 and every time I get it, its pure joy. It’s the prefect steak meal especially with a little Australian or Argentine wine. Every once in a while though, it’s better than it’s been before and tonight at Wolfgang’s was that night. The Steak was absolutely delicious! Cooked completely to perfection and with just enough seer on the outside with a little salt & pepper that all the natural flavor of the dry-aged, high-quality meat comes bursting out.

As per the norm, the Meatgod got his hot fudge sundae, no whip cream. The Big P.A. & JoeC plunked down on some cheesecake and an apple strudel for the group to share.

To say Wolfgang’s nailed this one, would be 100% right on the money. The Steak was phenomenal, the sides were great, the service was impeccable and in fact, the only real complaint; the 6 jerks with funny glasses that I had to eat it with.

4.5 out of 5 knives

The Palm – Justifiably Costly

I generally love The Palm, but I REALLY love The Palm location in Tribeca!

With the support and fantastic attitude of our waiter Nichole, we embarked on a fun filled, flavor laden, 3 hour gorge-fest.

Aps:  The Palm now has slab bacon!  I’ve had it twice at this location.  The first time it was simply divine.  On this night however, it was overly fatty.  Flavors were there but it’s tough when there is an 85% to 15% pure fat to meat ratio.

Shrimp:  Some of the best in world!  Huge and fresh.

Kobe Sliders:  Oh man they are good!  The creamy aoili is the kicker…

Hearts of Palm Salad:  My favorite and HUGE with just the right amount of dressing.

NY Strip:  Cooked medium and to perfection.  We were about 50/50 on steak preparation as a table.  A couple of the cuts for the table (bone-in fillet and porterhouse were bloody red even though they were ordered medium or medium rare).  Mine was incredible though.  It’s always good, trust me.

The other steaks…

The sides are what I believe to be the best and most consistently good of all the high-end NYC steak houses.  Cheesy crusted potatoes, hash browns, 1/2 and 1/2 (half frizzle onions, half potato crisps), creamed spinach,  broccoli “aglio olio,” and a spectacular sauté of three different types of mushrooms….all top notch, warm in temperature, and seasoned to perfection.

For desert, in honor of Box’s birthday, a huge slab of their legendary carrot cake, some of the best vanilla ice cream in the world, and of course espresso and Black Sambucca.

This was an expensive one.  About $185 for the drinkers and $130 for the soda-type folks.  We even had about $50 in gift cards!   In my world, it’s totally justified with the selection, portions, quality, ambiance and a great wait staff.

4 out of 5 Knives
(1/2 point lost for other guest’s steak temperature/doneness and 1/2 point off for price).

Les Halles – A Switch Up and a Swing For The Fences

It’s been nearly 6 years since we started what has become the “world’s #1 Steak Club” and one would think at this point, we had even nearly every steak in NYC. Truth be told, we probably never will and that is the beauty of eating great steak in the world’s greatest city. We started with 7 members and have since lost 2 both of whom were replaced with 2 more great members and still remain, focused on our goal of eating great steak once a month while, in the spirit of SC7 member, the Big P.A., “sharing out a night with the chaps.”

November was my month to pick the restaurant and the battle is the same every time; somewhere new, somewhere favored or something completely different. This time around, I decided to switch hit and pick a non-traditional NY Steak House and instead go for a restaurant whose entire menu is celebrated with positive reviews. I thought it was an appropriate move since our special guest for the month was Big Datti Marc, one of the Steak Club 7’s original members. This was going to be Marc’s last big meal in his home town before moving across the country to Las Vegas.

For those not in the know, Les Halles is the restaurant that put everyone’s favorite surly Travel Channel’s “No Reservations” show host, Anthony Bordain into the food spotlight. Choose from either the John Street, FiDi location where the menu is very French in nature or do as we did and make a reservation at the Les Halles’ Park Avenue restaurant located in an area of NYC known as the Gramercy. While still serving a primarily French influenced menu that includes Cassoulet, Clams Casino and Confit de Canard, this location also has an impressive list of steaks. Be sure to get a reservation as it’s, as you can imagine, very popular and tell em Steak Club 7 sent you, our table is #31. That may or may not get you anything but I can tell you that despite them being very busy, the entire staff is not too involved to stop by to find out your thoughts on the food, drink or service.

Everything at Les Halles is great and even the butter and bread appetizer is fantastic!

Les Halles as a great charcuterie that doesn’t just rely on cured pork meats. The Salumi is magnificent but don’t be afraid of pulled pork confit. The texture is not what you’re used to and a little creamy but it’s well worth trying. Personally I never liked pate but that’s because any I’ve had before didn’t taste like this!

It’s not on the menu but ask and be sure to ask VERY NICELY for an appetizer of bacon. ITS STUPENDOUS!!! Don’t expect any sweetness, as the flavor of all natural pork is savory and smoky.  If you are too timid to ask or just want more, you can get the same bacon on the bitter frisee salad. Chopped into smaller bite sized pieces, it’s tossed in a very, very light dressing that provides merely provides a background for the salad. Oh man the bacon!

Each and every steak is prepared with the utmost of care and attention and if you ask for it to be cooked medium rare, expect a steak that practically defines the cooking temperature.  My NY Strip was one of the most tender and well-cut steaks I’ve ever had the pleasure of eating.

Nearly every dish at Les Halles is served with Frites and there is a reason, these truly “French” fries taste like hot, full-bodied potato chips as opposed to just being a greasy blast of hot starchy grease.

Les Halles gained and maintain their popularity with the highest level of some of the best personal service and quality prepared foods.

4.5 out of 5 knives

Bonjour Big Datti, please hold us a table at Delmonico’s.

DeStefano’s Steakhouse – Definably Old School

After 5 years of running the world’s “#1 steak club” in NYC, finding a steakhouse we haven’t tried is rare (pun-intended.)  There is only so many times you can Google “best steak nyc” or hit refresh on “Best of Citysearch NYC” – Steak category and watch for new steak openings on New York Mag before you just run dry of new ideas. That’s why I got really excited when I just happened to walk by DeStefano’s Steakhouse in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. A quick peek in the window, followed by a few moments of research online revealed a cut of old school New York that I was dying to try!

Amongst the new buildings, hipsters and cool new posh restaurants, DeStefano’s stands as modern piece of Brooklyn history. It’s a restaurant that has been family owned, as is the building its in for the better part of a decade. DeStefano’s has a local oriented, family friendly, establishment where everyone is treated like a regular and regulars are treated like family. The walls are covered in local history, family memories and NYC nostalgia and with only a handful of tables, it’s the kind of NYC steakhouse that helps to create the definition.

With a later than normal reservation on 9 pm, we were among the only people in the restaurant. As a result, we had impeccable service from the overly accommodating staff. Something tells me though, everyone is treated that way, regardless of how many patrons are seated within. While we were still making our selections, the waitress came over and said “we don’t serve bacon appetizer but please try our bacon wrapped prunes with walnuts stuffed inside. Admittedly, my first thoughts weren’t that positive and I wouldn’t really call myself a fan of prunes. But after only 1 bite, I was willing to arm wrestle to get a second helping!! Thankfully, no violence was needed! After seeing just how fast they disappeared, the waitress brought over a second plate. Be sure to ask for these!!!

Orders were placed for various appetizers and salads. I got what was essentially a wedge salad with blue cheese and bacon. It was bigger than I expected and I ate as much as I could until I got full / bored. We also got bacon wrapped asparagus, shrimp cocktail and the item I was most excited about – the Short Rib Rolls with Horseradish Creme Fraiche. Covered in a  thin, light, flaky dough, these little numbers were essentially spring rolls stuffed steak, chived mashed potatoes and shredded carrots.

With a few glasses of this and little splash of that in our stomachs before we even began to eat, the vibe of the meal was pretty upbeat. The man you see below hiding is face is our very own joeC. Joe is a NYC transplant from the town that claims his favorite baseball team, the Boston Red Sox. Insert joke here ____________.

Before things got too out of control and a new curse of the Bambino was manifested in SteakClub7, the steaks hit the table. While I would normally join one of my brethren in a Porterhouse for 2, I let the BIG P.A. and the Meat God go for it, while I ordered a NY Strip. The quality cut of delicious beef was so big that for the first time in my life, I finally felt like Fred Flintstone ordering a Brontosaurus steak. Try as I did, I could not finish and therefore did not earn my Clean Plate club badge for the evening.

Each steak on the menu at DeStefano’s comes with your choice of 2 sides, a rarity in the NYC steakhouse. Most restaurants charges you for sides. We of course didn’t realize or expect that and ended up ordering more sides than we could possibly eat. It did however, give us a chance to really make our way around the menu. We tried nearly every side on the menu; Broccoli Rabe with Sweet Peas, Sautéed Spinach, Maple Glazed Carrots, Oven Roasted Potatoes and Garlic Mashed Potatoes. While the garlic mash were quite delicious, their closely related cousins, the oven roasted potatoes weren’t any really special. The maple glazed carrots on the other hand, were damn good and definitely my favorite side dish.

With extremely full bellies we all ordered our preferred after dinner drinks of choice and sat back in our seats, enjoying the company of great friends having a great time. The waitress then demanded we try the homemade cheesecake. Being close to rupturing from being too full, I lightly bit into the slice of dessert. It’s delicious flavor overwhelmed the senses and allowed me to get a few bites in before I had to stop eating.

We left the restaurant with huge smiles on our faces and bellies full of tasty treats. 2 signs on the way out of DeStefano’s best told the tale of our outing;

If you’re looking for a quality steak, a great atmosphere, fantastic service and look into the past that helped shape this wonderful city, I suggest making a reservation at DeStefano’s. Tell ’em the SteakClub7 sent you and don’t forget the bacon wrapped prunes!

4 out of 5 knives

Entrees12 oz Filet MignonSeared and Roasted to perfection this “king of steaks” is served with mashed potatoes and maple glazed carrots$38.8924 oz. Rib Eye SteakOur signature dry aged rib eye is enhanced with the sweet anise flavor of sauteed fennel – a fabulous complimentto the Rib Eye – which turns this dish into something Italian and special.$42.8940 oz. Porterhouse Steak for TwoDry Aged to perfection and simmering in its own juices, this meat lover’s cut is best served medium rarebut the chef – to his despair – will prepare it to your taste.$78.89Lamb Chops with Pistachio Nut CrustBaby Rib Lamb Chops rubbed with garlic and herbs and grilled to perfection. Finished under pistachios-butter crustfor added flavor and texture. Served with garlic mashed potatoes and carrots.$38.8920 Oz. Veal ChopRapidly becoming a customer favorite, this double thick French cut chop combines with mushrooms, sherry, baconand red onion to create a dish that is guaranteed to please.$44.89Skirt Steak ItalianoGrilled Skirt Steak topped with whole grape tomatoes that are sauteed in garlic and oil. Served with DeStefano’s Home Fries and Sauteed Spinach.22.89Hangar Steak with Pomegranate ReductionThe sweetness of the pomegranate combines with smoked paprika to create a unique flavor that enhances the steak without overpowering it.Choice of potato and vegetable.$22.89Chicken Cordon BleuSautéed Chicken breast stuffed with Ham and Fontina cheese drizzled with a white truffle cream sauce.Choice of potatoes and vegetable.$22.89Native Lobster RavioliOur lobster ravioli are filled with bite size pieces of lobster. These gourmet ravioli are served in a lobster infused cream sauce.$22.89Porcini Mushroom RavioliPorcini Ravioli in a delicate sauce of Cream Basil and Cherry Tomatoes.$16.89House SidesIndividual ………. $5.89 For Two ………. $9.89Broccoli Rabe with Sweet Peas, Sautéed Spinach, Maple Glazed CarrotsOven Roasted Potatoes, Garlic Mashed Potatoes, French Fries

BLT Steak – Guaranteed Solid Steak Experience

We eat steak in or near New York City once a month. As there are 6 of us now in the club, not only does each member get to pick 2 different locations a year but under the new policy, they also get to pick a new friend to join us for a meal. November belonged to the Big P.A. and when I emailed him to ask if he had chosen yet he replied with “Just seriously in the need of a solid steak experience.” You see, it’s a tough decision. Do you look for a location the club has yet to try? Do you go for an old standard? Well for Paul this time, it was neither; “Experimenting is out of the window for me this month.” Not only did Paul go with a place he loves but he told us (again via email) exactly how his night was going to play out…

BLT Steak
has recently been awarded the Best Steakhouse gong in the WNBC Golden Locals.  Chef Laurent Tourondel said “it’s an honour for me to be recognised by the people of New York City.  Thank you to all of our customers and friends who came out to vote and support BLT Steak”.

For me, I’m particularly looking forward to the grilled double cut smoked bacon for appetiser, perhaps along with a shrimp cocktail and I’ll no doubt roll straight into the portherhouse with creamy spinach, braised carrots and hash brown.  Don’t be surprised if I also go for some potato gratin.

The Meatgod will be happy to know that the menu features a chocolate chestnut sundae, I myself will be getting the lemon meringue pie.

See ya’ll there.

Big P.A.

If that doesn’t get your mouth-watering, this review will!! For his guest choice, Paul brought along a true steak fan, our friend Dave who is also known as “Box.” In an unprecedented move, as soon as we invited Box, he invited us to a scotch tasting the same night! What a guy!

After checking in, we were seated right away and before we could say “porterhouse,” Big P.A. was asking our sever if we could get some bacon. I knew we were going large so as much as I tried to stick to one rasher, P.A. was having none of it. He demanded 2 per person. After much melee in deciding upon which sides to order (heads were definitely hungry) the very attentive wait staff showed up with a sampling of charcuterie, cheese bread and pâté. All of which was gobbled up in a matter of moments. I had not had the cured meats at either of the BLT locations before but it was really, really good.

Up next, BLT Steak’s signature pop-overs.  As our server pointed, much to the Big P.A.’s liking,  these are hollow rolls made with egg batter and are similar to Yorkshire Pudding.They are so proud of them that they come with the recipe attached so you can make them at home. They key is to forgetting about counting calories and load these suckers up with the salted butter that they come with or, just stuff in some of the salty cured Italian meats.  Along with the popovers came the most anticipated part of the evening, the grilled double cut smoked bacon.  This is to die for! Covered in what comes across like chimichurri sauce, these little numbers are tangy, sweet and salty. It’s a veritable cornucopia of flavors and absolutely not to be missed while dining at BLT Steak.

In a very bold move, Box ordered lobster claws while the server talked the table into the tuna tartare with soy lime dressing. As I am not a fan of seafood, I did not try either of them.

Having already consumed more food than I had eaten all day, I still got caught in the moment of excitement when the rainbow of steaks and sides arrived. It’s as though a meat tornado swept through the restaurant, picking up cuts of this and plates of that, before settling down on our table. Big P.A. and I split a porterhouse for two, which comes topped with 2 discs of salted butter and a personal fave, a clove of roasted garlic. It isn’t the biggest “PH42” but at 40 oz, it’s still a large cut of beef.  The strip side was moist, filled with rich beef flavor and not too greasy but just juicy enough. The filet side was absolute melt-in-your-mouth divinity. Both sides were cooked perfectly with a nice char on the outside yet pink and juicy in the middle. It was practically a race to finish the steak.

If I had thought it was possible, I would guessed our server was telepathic.  All of our needs were met, our glasses were never empty and she kept suggesting items that were right up our alley. This time it was the massive stack of doughnut sized onion rings. Battered just right and fried nicely, they were so good. I particularly enjoyed the poached green beans that were crunchy and had a great seasoning. The hash browns as well, are always a crispy, savory, crowd pleaser. I tried the cheese filled cauliflower thinking it was mac and cheese and had someone not told me otherwise, I would’ve never know. You could only taste the cheese!! The french fries were good but didn’t really stand out against all the other great items on the table.

With a full belly, a tired jaw and a slight buzz due to scotch and red wine, I sat back in my chair and took a much-needed breath. Savory is my way so when it comes to dessert, I usually opt for my standard black Sambucca with espresso. However, the Meat God, BIG P.A. and JoeC demanded more! Chocolate Sundae, Lemon-­Cassis Meringue Pie / Lemon Sorbet and a Chocolate cheese cake were up next. All of which were nice but the winner for me, as always at BL, are the miniature, fresh-baked, powdered sugar-covered chocolate chip cookies!

This was one of the best steaks and accompanying apps / sides I had ever had in Manhattan. Although you couldn’t possibly go wrong with either, BLT Steak was better than BLT Prime, which I rate in my top 5 in NYC. Cheers to Big P.A. for picking a guaranteed winner and thank you to Box for great company. However, I hope you learned your lesson when it comes to “best comedy movies” ever. That lesson is, don’t bring up the subject.

4.5 out of 5 knives

Big Apple BBQ Block Party / Old Homestead – Solo Mission

This weekend in NYC was the infamous Big Apple BBQ Block Party. Held once a year in New York City’s Madison Square Park, the event hosts a dozen or more BBQ masters from around the country serving up their specialties.

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With so many to choose from and lines as long a 90 minutes, especially for the Salt Lick, from Driftwood, TX, the event offers up a “VIP” skip the line option for $100. If you aren’t into the investment you can  get their early to beat out some of the crowd. If you aren’t made of money bags and are a late riser, you can go our route; put a few people in line for the Salt Lick and send others to wait in the shorter lines and bring it back to those in the Salt Lick line.

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Each BBQ location brings their own cooking method, 1 or 2 of their signature dishes and their pit master. It’s quite and event, even for a city like this. We got there around 1 pm and instantly get in line for some of Michael Rodriguez’s Salt Lick.

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While we waited, Chuck and Molly ran out and got us some brisket from Fairfield, CT based Wilson’s Barbeque. The brisket was really good, especially the burnt ends. Some of the cuts were a little fatty and the sauce was a little too heavy on the tomato for me but overall pretty good. It just made me want the Salt Lick Brisket even more.

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The Salt Lick line reached from their tent all the way around the park and past the line for Blue Smoke. The restaurant from Robert Callagahn is located exactly 1 block from where the Block Party happens so even though the line was very short and their ribs looked great, we opted not to get any.

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While still in the enormous line for the Salt Lick, Chuck and Cara ran off to get us some baby ribs from Rack and Soul. Normally I wouldn’t suggest getting in line for something located in NYC but the line seemed short and baby back ribs sounded like a great idea. Let me tell you and moreover, let me tell pit master Charles Gabriel, they were the best damn ribs I have ever eaten in my life! The sauce was so sweet that it made the perfectly cooked ribs taste like peppered candy. I couldn’t get them in my mouth fast enough!!

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Just as we were polishing off 4 orders of Rack and Soul ribs, the bad news came down the line. Even though we were only about 15-20 people away from being served at the Salt Lick, they had run out of brisket. What is a Steak Club 7 member supposed to do? Stand in line and get some of the tasty Salt Lick sausage! I had them hold the coleslaw and added extra of the mustard base Salt Lick sauce. Good, God almighty, they make some damn fine sausage.

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That was it. I couldn’t eat anymore. Nona, Cara, Tina and Aaron all said the same. Chuck and Molly on the other hand, went back for some more ribs at Rack and Soul. Can you say MVPs? While we’re dolling out the awards, how about “Mom of the Year,” or “Best Use of a Stroller” for this lady?

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We met up with some other friends for a few afternoon beers and baseball. A few hours later and someone made a dangerous suggestion; let’s go get the bacon at Old Homestead. A few drinks in and one quick visit to www.opentable.com and we were on our way to bacon!

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The plan was for each of us to get a slice of bacon, a cocktail and that was it. Of course as soon as host Michael D. Florea sat us at our seat in the newly refurbished 1st floor dining room, the plan instantly changed. Molly and Chuck both got a slice of Kobe bacon and a Classic Homestead Burger while Rob, Kris, Cara and I split a burger and a porter house for 2. Now if you know anything about the SC7 (or our sister site Burger Conquest) you know that the Old Homestead is ranked #1 on both sites. If you don’t know us that well, it’s right there at the top of the page. How the hell am I supposed to go in there and not order a burger or a steak, let alone both? Clearly I can’t!

We started off with an appetizer of the Chef’s Special Bread Preparation; garlic bread in a Parmesan sauce. We ripped through 2 of those suckers as the hunger built in our stomachs for more meat. Along with the bread came the prized Kobe Bacon Slab. It is the best and biggest piece of bacon any where in the world. If you haven’t had one, get your behind to the Homestead with out delay! Admittedly, mine was cooked slightly less than I prefer but it was still darn tootin and don’t think I didn’t dip it in the Parmesan cheese!!

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The steak came out and it was still sizzling. I couldn’t wait to sink my toofusess into it’s juicy fillet and sirloin sides! The burger sat high on it’s plate with a wooden steak to keep it together. Once the burger was divided into 4 parts, the destruction began. Even though both the steak and the burger (much like the bacon) were just a tad undercooked, they were still amazing. You just aren’t going to find better than this! The meat at Old Homestead is bursting with flavor and with it’s own unique taste.

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Add in a side of broccoli sauteed in garlic, creamed spinach and their amazing pot of mac and cheese, and you have one super deluxe food feast. I’d love to tell you that I feel like more of a man after eating BBQ all day and beef all night, but I actually feel like I might need to go on an all grapes diet for a month.

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However, I regret nothing!!! At least what I am telling myself in the gym

Tell em Rob!

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Big Apple BBQ + Old Homestead:
4.5 out of 5 knives