A. J. Maxwell’s Steakhouse arrived during the steakhouse glut of 2006, when new entries in the genre were opening every other week. Critics ignored the place, as there was no celebrity or concept to distinguish it from all of the others.
The location has a bit of history. In the 1960s and ’70s, it housed Forum of the 12 Caesars, where waiters donned togas, and praetorian helmets served as ice buckets. Elaborate faux Roman mosaics, which more recent restaurants had covered over, were rediscovered during the renovation. At A. J. Maxwell’s, you can see them again, in all their glory.
A few months ago, we dropped in for a pre-theater meal. It’s an attractive, comfortable space, and service is better than in most classic steakhouses. The menu is expensive, even by steakhouse standards, no doubt reflecting midtown rents. There are nearly a dozen seafood and fish entrées, and they don’t seem to be afterthoughts, unlike, say, the salmon at Peter Luger.
Thick-cut Canadian Bacon in the Peter Luger mold ($3.50; above left) was just fine. Dry-aged ribeye wasn’t bad, but at $47 it needed to be terrific. I suspect it was USDA choice (the default assumption when “prime” isn’t stated), as I didn’t feel or taste the marbling a first-class ribeye ought to have.
A. J. Maxwell’s offers a civilized midtown meal, but steak conoisseurs won’t be putting it on their regular rotation.
A. J. Maxwell’s Steakhouse (57 W. 48th Street between Fifth & Sixth Avenues, West Midtown)