Note: 7Square closed abruptly in February 2007 after it ran out of money. It just goes to show that having hotel guests and theater patrons as a captive audience is no guarantee of success.
Hardly a month goes by without a new steakhouse opening in Manhattan. The new restaurant 7Square seems to be yet another of these, with its billing as “A Modern Chophouse.” But of eleven entrees, the only one straight out of the steakhouse playbook is a ribeye. Other menu items that cater to carnivores aren’t steak per se, and would be at home just about anywhere: rack of lamb, pork chop, and short ribs, for instance.
The chef, Shane McBride, trained at four-star Lespinasse, and much of the menu at 7Square suggests that he isn’t content to replicate the steakhouse format by rote. A Dirty Rice Risotto ($12) is laced with duck confit, smoked duck ham, and andouille sausage. In pleasure given per dollar spent, it beats most risottos in town. Other appetizers caught my eye (though I didn’t try them). “HAM2” ($14), a “unique tasting of artisanal hams,” sure looked interesting. I’ve also heard good things about the steak tartare ($12). At these prices, it couldn’t hurt to experiment.
Main courses are $15–34, with most in the twenties. In the latest style, the menu tells you the biography of the animal you are eating. The pork chop comes from Niman Ranch, the veal chop from Upstate New York, the chicken breast from an Amish farm, the lamb rack from Colorado, and the ribeye from Wolfe’s Neck Farm. I tried the ribeye ($32) after Adam Platt raved about it. Served off the bone, it’s a slightly smaller cut than most steakhouses serve, which means you can actually finish it. The marbling and exterior char were first-rate—indeed, better than I was served at Porter House.
Sometimes the best bread service comes in the most unexpected places. 7Square serves warm rosemary cornbread that’s out-of-this-world. It would be worth stopping in for an appetizer, just to have more of that cornbread.
Located in the Time Hotel, 7Square’s decor is attractive and comfortable, but appropriately informal for the neighborhood. The service is a bit careless at times, but not annoyingly so. The food is actually good enough that you don’t need the excuse of seeing a show to dine there. This is one of the few restaurants in the Theater District that you can take seriously.
7 Square (224 W 49th Street between Eighth Avenue and Broadway, Theater District)