It was only a matter of time before Stephen Hanson, that past-master of formula restaurants, opened the ultimate formula restaurant, a steakhouse. David Burke’s Primehouse opened in Chicago last year, and now comes Primehouse New York, sans Burke, but with a very similar steak program.
Primehouse has a more modern vibe than the average steakhouse: a quieter version of BLT Prime. Booths and tables are more generously spaced than at BLT, and there are soft surfaces to absorb the sound. The space feels “dressy” by steakhouse standards. You could bring a date here, and have a conversation without shouting.
There weren’t any tables available when I walked in at around 6:00 p.m. on a weeknight, but the bar area is large and comfortable, with soft, high-backed chairs. Bar dining must have been planned from the beginning, as these are about the plushest bar seats you’ll find anywhere in town. Once you sit down, you’ll want to stay a while.
The menu offers typical steakhouse starters ($8–18), a raw bar (platters from $16–79), seven cuts of steak ($34–49) plus porterhouse for two ($86), eight other meat and fish entrées ($21–42), and side dishes ($9). At $46 for a ribeye and $48 for a New York Sirloin, Primehouse sets the high water mark for NYC steakhouse pricing (though the now-closed V Steakhouse was worse).
Are those stratospheric prices worth it? If the 20-ounce “Kentucky” bone-in ribeye aged 28 days (which my server recommended) was any indication, they just might be. The mineral tang of the dry aging was all you could ask for, and the marbling was as even as on any ribeye I’ve encountered. The kitchen executed without fault, with a deep char on the exterior and a perfect medium rare inside.
I also tried the Smoked Bacon Brussels Sprouts (top right corner in the photo). I liked how the musky taste of burned bacon enhanced the sweetness of the Brussels Sprouts, but the bacon bits themselves were tough and tried out.
The wine list is a large tome, and only high-rollers will be pleased. The reds go on for many pages, but I counted only seven bottles under $60, and only two under $50. None of the California Cabernets were under $60, and none of the French Bordeaux were under $80. If Café Boulud can offer an entire page of red wines under $60, it’s hard to believe that the prices at Primehouse are justified. I was glad to see a page of half-bottles, which one seldom sees at a steakhouse; more restaurants should have them.
Is Primehouse New York for you? It depends on whether you mind spending a few dollars more for a commodity item. But if future visits confirm that the ribeye I enjoyed was no fluke, then Primehouse just might be a top-tier steakhouse.
Update: Since this review, Brian O’Donohoe has replaced Jason Miller as chef. We doubt that this will make a tremendous difference to the average diner, but it is worth noting that O’Donohoe has stints at Le Bernardin, Barça 18, and Fiamma on his resume. Perhaps seafood dishes here will be worth a closer look.
Note: Click here for a review of the burger at Primehouse New York.
Primehouse New York (381 Park Avenue South at 27th Street, Gramercy)