The New York City steakhouse is perhaps among the most quintessential of dining institutions. I simply adore a well-prepared steak and particularly love when a restaurant transports you to an earlier point in time – where great service and great cocktails reigned supreme.
I have recently started a love affair with Wolfgang’s Steakhouse – which has three locations here in the City (TriBeCa, Midtown East, and Times Square) in addition to locations in Beverly Hills, Waikiki, and Miami. Wolfgang Zwiener was head waiter at Peter Luger’s for years until he decided to branch out on his own with Wolgang’s.
My first experience at Wolfgang’s was at their modern and airy Times Square (actually off Times Square) location. An expansive bar and dramatically high ceilings give it a stark cool vibe and the dining room while large still feels personal as you are not on top of your neighbors.
The level of service is apparent from the moment you walk in the door and are greeted at the front desk with a smile and warm welcome. You coat (it was winter) is immediately taken and you are quickly ushered to your waiting table – like you are the only guests in the restaurant. Your waiter appears immediately and is taking your cocktail order. Service here is a well-oiled machine but not at all overbearing – they are there when you need them and leave you to enjoy your company and conversation. The server also listened to my food allergies and put me at complete ease knowing that my meal would indeed be safe.
The food itself is the real star. Yes, I am sure that there are many who believe that steak is just steak but let me tell you there is steak and there is great steak. Great steak is few and far between and Wolfgang’s is indeed great. For a starter I had their mozzarella and tomato salad which comprised of gigantic perfectly ripe tomato slices paired with fresh mozzarella that melted in your mouth. It was dressed with the house vinaigrette. I also ordered an extra thick slice of Canadian bacon to accompany my salad which was, in a word – decadent.
For my main course I had their Prime New York Sirloin steak prepared on the bone but served sliced off the bone (though the bone is part of the presentation). I am normally a filet mignon kind of guy but this steak definitely changed my repertoire for the better. Tender, flavorful, cooked to medium perfection with just a hint of butter to finish off its preparation. This is truly the steak that dreams are made of. Sides are offered à la carte but are plentiful enough to share. We had a baked potato, sautéed broccoli, and sautéed mushrooms – all perfect.
Dessert for me was their crème brûlée which was served with a giant helping (off to the side of the plate) of fresh whipped cream. I could barely finish it – but I did.
My second visit to Wolfgang’s was at their Park Avenue location – which is their flagship location. Located in what used to be the old Vanderbilt Hotel this location exudes old New York. Its arched blue and white tiled ceilings were tiled by Rafael Guastavino and are simply stunning. This location is smaller than the Times Square outpost and feels more homey. I was meeting family there and was running a bit late. They were already seated with cocktails in-hand when I swooshed in forgetting I had my coat on. Our waiter saw I was a bit flustered immediately took my coat, checked-it, and took my cocktail order (which arrived what seemed like five seconds). Again, the service is exactly the same flawless experience I had at their other location. I opted for exactly the same menu items I had previously and the food was exactly as it was at their other location – thank goodness for true consistency.