I had dinner at Sparks Steakhouse in late January. I was not impressed. The décor and servers come straight out of Central Casting. I suppose that somebody needs to act out the part of the cliché steakhouse, but because it’s a cliché there’s not a whole lot to distinguish it.
My unscientific survey of the surrounding tables suggests that most Sparks patrons do as we did, and order the prime sirloin steak ($38.95). You get a thick hunk of meat, which the kitchen prepared it to a perfect medium rare. However, I found it a slightly tough, and also a bit too salty. The steak also didn’t have much char on the outside. It was, in short, not the kind of world-class steak you expect from a high-end steakhouse.
I knew a huge steak was coming, so my colleague and I decided to split a shrimp cocktail rather than order separate appetizers. Without prompting, the kitchen divided the portion onto separate plates. That was a nice example of going the extra mile: not many restaurants would do that, particularly when it was unprompted. I have no complaints about this dish, except that $17.95 is awfully expensive for four shrimps (two apiece).
Sparks is known for its deep wine list. We shared a bottle of the 2001 Cakebread Cellars, which I mention only because it was terrific: an exceptional cabernet, at least to my untutored taste.
It was not a bad evening, but with so many other steakhouses to choose from, I won’t be rushing back.
Sparks Steakhouse (210 E. 46th St. near Third Avenue, East Midtown)