Entries in Waldy Malouf (3)


The Burger at Beacon

The folks at Eater.com asked me to submit a favorite restaurant for their late-summer feature, “You May Also Enjoy.” The premise is, “a favorite, somewhat oddball restaurant, bar, or place of note that perhaps exists mostly off the radar.”

A few places came to mind, but I thought I should have a recent data point before recommending anything. A couple of others we need not name flunked the test, and that brought me back to Beacon.

Yes, Beacon—nearly as far off the radar as you can get, but consistently dependable (previous posts here & here). I don’t think Beacon is in any danger of closing, but it does run more specials than most places, and I have never seen its large dining room full. It has received little press since William Grimes awarded two stars eleven years ago.

I came with no fixed idea about what to order, but when the host said that a burger, fries, and two drinks were just twenty bucks at the bar during happy hour, my mind was made up. You get a thick, perfectly-cooked rare burger, and the fries are spot-on. It’s not a LaFreida designer blend, but a rock-solid option, especially at the price.

The bar layout is a bit irritating. The little lamps every few feet are cute, until you realize they are permanently attached, and you cannot move them out of your way. Service was a bit slow.

The menu still emphasizes—as it always did—the kitchen’s wood-burning oven. Unless I am mistaken, the steakhouse theme has been somewhat deemphasized in favor of a more well-rounded modern American cuisine. Beacon was never a pure steakhouse, but I recall more beef on the menu than there is now.

Beacon remains what it was before, a very good midtown restaurant you can always depend on.

Beacon (25 W. 56th Street between Fifth & Sixth Avenues, West Midtown)


In Brief: Beacon

Note: Beacon closed in late 2012 after 13 years in business, due to a rent increase that the restaurant could not absorb.

I had the $35 prix fixe on Thursday, a follow-up to the pre-theater supper we enjoyed there the week before. (I gave much more background in my earlier post.)

I can’t stress enough how solid this place is. They’re not doing anything complicated, but what they do is executed perfectly. I had the wood-roasted oysters, the rotisserie chicken, and the ginger bread pudding. The chef–owner, Waldy Malouf, thinks of the little things, like serving warm milk with coffee.

Beacon (25 W. 56th Street between Fifth & Sixth Avenues, West Midtown)

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



Note: Click here for a more recent visit to Beacon.

Beacon, a midtown steakhouse, was completely off my radar until eGullet’s “Fat Guy” raved about the tasting menu served on Thursday nights. It’s currently $98 for 12 courses, including winees. That would be a remarkable value even if a few of the courses were duds—not that they are. Subsequent reports bore out Fat Guy’s recommendation (Frank Bruni reviewed it late last year), but it was impossible to get in (only 6 seats, only on Thursdays), and I don’t usually fancy such a heavy meal on a weeknight.

From the beginning, Beacon was more than just an average steakhouse. In the Times, William Grimes awarded two stars in 1999: “Organized around an open kitchen and a huge wood-burning oven, it delivers uncomplicated, big-flavored food, emphasizing fresh, seasonal ingredients. That’s all, and that’s enough.”

Like many restaurants, Beacon has felt the bite of the recession. The $35 “Restaurant Week” menu has been extended at least until the end of February, and perhaps indefinitely. Deals abound, such as a $44 pp. family style meal on Sunday evenings, with bottles of wine under $35, and no corkage if you bring your own.

The normal menu features dry-aged Niman Ranch steaks, but there’s a wide variety of other choices, most of them revolving around the wood-burning oven.

The chef/owner, Waldy Malouf, has a lot of seats to fill. On a recent Tuesday evening, the vast tri-level space was perhaps 60% occupied, which is better than many restaurants, but probably not good enough, given midtown rents. I also suspect that many patrons are doing as we did, and ordering at the bottom end of the menu.

A mixed green salad with herb vinaigrette and goat cheese (below left) was all you could ask of a $13 salad. The burger and fries ($21; below right) were terrific. It’s Niman Ranch beef and tastes dry-aged. I couldn’t help but compare it to the over-hyped LaFreida Black Label blend served at City Burger.

The Beacon burger is $5 more than the City Burger product. But City Burger is a fast-food joint with styrofoam containers, plastic trays, and minimal counter seating. Beacon is a full-service restaurant, with waiters, white tablecloths, cloth napkins, silverware, three kinds of homemade bread, etc. On top of that, their burger was better (thicker, juicier, tastier) than the one Mr. Cutlets has been shilling at City Burger, and their fries were better too.

It was about as impressive as a salad, burger, and fries can be.

Beacon (25 W. 56th Street between Fifth & Sixth Avenues, West Midtown)