Entries in Uncle Jack's Steakhouse (2)


Uncle Jack's Steakhouse


New York’s bustling steakhouse industry has settled into three distinct camps: classic, modern, and Peter Luger clones.

Classic steakhouses feature fairly predictable menus, old-school waiters (always men), and throwback décor (mahogany paneling, white tablecloths, oil paintings). You often see large, boistrous, all-male parties at these places; they’re much favored by investment bankers celebrating the latest deal, and so forth. Sparks and Keens are typical classic steakhouses.

unclejacks_outside2.jpgModern steakhouses are those that break the mold, usually by offering non-steak items you can take seriously, more inventive side dishes, friendlier service, and more contemporary décor. BLT Prime and Craftsteak head up this category.

The Luger clones are a variant on the classic steakhouse, but there are enough of them to list separately. The key giveaway is a menu that emphasizes “Steak for One” (Two, Three, or Four), the famous thick-cut Canadian bacon, and German-fried potatoes as a side dish. Examples include Wolfgang’s and Mark Joseph.

Uncle Jack’s Steakhouse is firmly in the classic mold, and it may be the best of the bunch. I loved my first visit there, 2½ years ago, even if my three-star rating was utterly crazy. I don’t know what took me so long to get back, as the Ninth Avenue location is practically on the way home. Anyhow, I finally got back again the other night.


I was enormously impressed with a truncheon-sized ribeye ($45) with a beautiful exterior char. Only at Strip House have I seen it bettered.

I was impressed with the wine list, too: a hefty tome with plenty of decent bottles below the $50 mark, and wines by the glass that are actually printed. At most of the classic and Luger-style steakhouses, the waiter just intones, “Cabernet, Merlot, Shiraz, Pinot Noir,” as if it were irrelevant which Cabernet, Merlot, Shiraz, or Pinot Noir they were serving.

unclejacks_inside.jpgThe décor, I must admit, is a little tacky, with “Lobster,” “Caviar,” etc. painted in big block letters along the wall. In other respects, Uncle Jack’s has the standard steakhouse ambiance nailed.

Service is better here, with waiters who don’t seem as bored as most steakhouse waiters, and who circle back frequently to check up on you.

Uncle Jack’s doesn’t get as much publicity as the other classic steakhouses, but I am not sure why. On the basis of my visits, I much prefer it to Keens or Sparks—to give but two eamples. There are now three outposts of Uncle Jack’s: the original in Bayside, the one I visited on Ninth Avenue, and the newest branch in West Midtown, on 56th Street.

Uncle Jack’s Steakhouse (440 Ninth Ave. between 34th & 35th Sts., Hell’s Kitchen)

Food: **
Service: **
Ambiance: *
Overall: **


Uncle Jack's Steakhouse

Note: Click here for a more recent review of Uncle Jack’s Steakhouse.

Uncle Jack’s Steakhouse doesn’t seem to get as much “foodie” attention as other New York steakhouses. I was working in the neighborhood one night in October, so I thought it was a good time to give Uncle Jack’s a try. The restaurant claims to be “New York’s Best Steakhouse.” While I haven’t tried anywhere near all of them, on the strength of one visit the boast is not an unreasonable one.

I ordered the rack of lamb, which came with a dijon mustard, rosemary demi-glace, and Japanese panko bread crust ($40). This was one of the top 2-3 lamb dishes of my lifetime. Absolutely outstanding. I also ordered the asparagus side dish ($10), which was cooked to perfection.

I don’t know where the custom arose that steakhouse portions are about double what they’d be in any other type of restaurant. The server described the lamb chops as “lollipop sized.” I suppose that’s true, but even at that size, I don’t think I’ve ever had more than four of them on one entrée. Uncle Jack’s served eight of them. The asparagus, too, was certainly ample for two people.

Having said all that, I was ravenously hungry (having missed lunch), and with the food being as good as it was, I ate every morsel.

My only pet peeve was the menu, or rather the lack of one. The captain said, “I am the menu,” and proceeded to recite the whole thing from memory. He was most patient, and his explanations were perfectly clear, but at these prices why can’t they be bothered to put it in writing?

The other sticking point is that diners not familiar with NY steakhouse prices might be surprised at the final bill, since the captain doesn’t tell you the prices. You could ask about each item, but it’s rather tedious to do so. He did make a point of mentioning that the Kobe steak was “on special” for only $100. I happen to eat out at steakhouses a lot, so I wasn’t surprised at my $50 tab (before tax and tip). Others might be.

That caveat aside, Uncle Jack’s is wonderful. I’ll be back.

Uncle Jack’s Steakhouse (440 Ninth Ave., between 34th & 35th Sts., Hell’s Kitchen)

Food: ***
Service: ***
Ambiance: **
Overall: ***