I’m on a mission to try all of the steakhouses in town. The other day, it was Staghorn Steakhouse’s turn.
Before I even tasted a morsel, I was struck by the austere décor. Frank Bruni (on his blog) thought that it was built on-the-cheap. I took it as a considered decision to break out of steakhouse clichés, and I’m glad they did. The blonde wood floors, white walls, and generously spaced tables made the space feel more relaxing than most other restaurants of its kind.
Service, however, was right out of the steakhouse playbook. Bread rolls were cold and stale. When I asked about wines by the glass, the waiter blurted out a list of grapes (merlot, shiraz, cabernet, pinot noir, chianti), but there was no printed list so that you’d know which shiraz they were serving. No other restaurant in its price range would be so cavalier about wines, but nearly all steakhouses seem to do it.
The meat entrées were the usual items, at the usual prices. I ordered the prime bone-in ribeye ($36), which was nicely charred and a perfect medium rare, but not quite as tender as some other ribeyes I’ve enjoyed, and marred by gristle in a couple of spots. I don’t hold the restaurant entirely accountable for this, as these days there are too many buyers chasing not enough beef. The server informed me that the steak was aged on-site for 28 days, which seemed believable.
The seafood menu (though I didn’t sample it) looked a bit better than some other steakhouses, including a Dover Sole and a Grilled Whole Branzini.
The restaurant wasn’t particularly crowded, although on a Thursday night in mid-August I wouldn’t draw any conclusions. However, the location isn’t in its favor. I’ve walked by a number of times, and it never seemed full. As Eater noted, Staghorn probably does good business before Knick and Ranger games. I don’t know if that’s enough to stay in business, but as it’s on my way home, I’ll probably be back.
On the strength of one visit, Staghorn Steakhouse seems a notch below the city’s better steakhouses, but it’s certainly respectable, and its calmer ambiance might be just right for some occasions.
Staghorn Steakhouse (315 W. 36th Street between Eighth and Ninth Avenues, West Midtown)