Note: Blair Perrone closed in 2008.
Nowadays, it seems every waiter with a Peter Luger stint on his resume wants to open a Luger clone in Manhattan. With Mark Joseph, Ben & Jack’s, Flames, and two outposts of Wolfgang’s, you are never very far from a faux Luger experience. The newest of the Luger offspring is Blair Perrone, which opened in late 2005. It’s the brainchild of Charlie Blair, who worked at Peter Luger in Great Neck, and Joe Perrone, who was a manager at Mark Joseph.
By steakhouse standards, Blair Perrone offers a comparatively refined atmosphere for your meal. The gargantuan restaurant occupies almost an entire city block between 47th and 48th Streets, with panoramic picture windows looking out on a fairly uninteresting stretch of Second Avenue. If only such a view were on the waterfront. The interior is dominated by the predictable dark wood paneling, but the tables are generously spaced, the seating comfortable, and the double-height ceilings give the usual steakhouse cocophany room to dissipate.
The menu is entirely unoriginal. Thick Canadian bacon ($3.25) was served in the usual Luger style. The NY Strip ($39) came pre-sliced on a sizzling plate, but the exterior char wasn’t as crunchy as the better examples in town, and the marbling was uneven, with several slices at the end not really worth eating. Creamed spinach ($9.50) was pedestrian.
Service was friendly and very good to start with. Joe Perrone himself came over to my table twice to say hello. But as the restaurant filled up, my waiter gradually lost touch with me as, other parties started to compete for his attention. The bread service (a basket of home made onion rolls) was excellent. I didn’t order dessert, but the choices were the usual steakhouse fare. Indeed, you could easily overlook them, as the after-dinner menu is dominated by an impressive selection of cognacs, brandies, single-malt and blended whiskies.
I was encouraged to see a wine list with plenty of choices between $35 and $50. In common with most steakhouses, wines by the glass are not listed on the menu. If you ask, the server simply says, “Merlot, cabernet, pinot noir, zinfandel, or shiraz.” At these prices, can’t they be bothered to put it in writing, so that you at least know what you’re ordering? Anyhow, I didn’t feel overcharged for a $9 glass of pinot noir, but I still don’t know what it was.
If the wine list is gentle on the pocketbook, the other prices are not. At the superior Wolfgang’s, the NY Strip is $36.50, the bacon is $2.75, and the spinach is $8.95. For some items, the differences are even larger. For instance, Blair Perrone serves a 40-ounce ribeye at $48, while the ribeye at Wolfgang’s is $36.50. I am not sure if Wolfgang’s serves a 40-ounce cut, but I’ve had it several times, and it is more than most people can consume, assuming you’ve ordered appetizers, side dishes, and wine.
The attractive space is Blair Perrone’s selling point. But it is surprising that owners who took such care in remodeling the space didn’t have a single original thought in the design of the menu. They have done a competent job at reproducing the standard New York steakhouse, a durable format that seems to do well almost anywhere. But unless you have other reasons for a visit to East Midtown, you might as well visit another steakhouse closer to home.
Blair Perrone Steakhouse (885 Second Avenue between 47th and 48th Streets, Turtle Bay)