V Steakhouse, Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s high temple of Niman Ranch beef at the Time-Warner Center, is closing tomorrow. Vongerichten told the Times, “We were not doing enough business to make it pay for the rent.”
The restaurant’s business model was dubious from the start. Charging almost $70 for steaks available elsewhere for $40, V Steakhouse had to be almost impossibly good; it was merely average. Service was excellent, and V’s appetizers were well above the typical steakhouse fare, but a thirty-dollar premium for the entrées just wasn’t going to cut it.
Frank Bruni’s one-star review for the Times may have seemed unduly harsh at the time, but Bruni was prescient when he complained of “Elaborate Dishes, Assembly Required.” I was not impressed with V Steakhouse, particularly at its outrageous price point.
The original concept of Time-Warner’s “Restaurant Collection” was to create five restaurants under one roof that would all contend for three or four stars from the Times. Two of them in fact achieved the top rating: Per Se and Masa. Café Gray is apparently successful, despite a two-star spanking from Bruni. But Vongerichten has now failed, and the fifth tenant, Charlie Trotter, never materialized, due to escalating construction costs.
Kenneth Himmel, who operates the mall for Related Urban Development, says he’s now looking for a different kind of restaurant to fill the space. He told the Times, “It has to be a bistro or brasserie, a kind of neighborhood place. We have to get food and beverage that people can eat every day and not just for special occasions into this building.”
V Steakhouse’s quasi-bordello space now goes to the scrap heap.