Monday, July 27, 2009

NYY Steak Review - Expect To Leave With A Full Belly And Empty Pockets

This review has been a long time coming. We took our first trip to NYY Steak back in May, but didn't share our experience as we did the unthinkable and had seafood. This past Saturday we returned to NYY Steak with plans for an NSI review fresh on our minds.

Our original intention was to head over to NYY Steak after the last out of the game. Unfortunately, the restaurant was unable to guarantee a reservation until 6PM. So, when Alfredo Aceves reverted back to Mexican League form, it was time for a late lunch/early dinner steak feast.

As expected, rumors of a packed house at the restaurant were greatly exaggerated - the place was a ghost town. Granted, it was the 8th inning of a fast-paced game so many fans were still in the seats. However, we can safely report that even as we left the restaurant after the game was over, it was still more than half empty. Because of this, we were immediately seated upon arrival which is always a positive when going out for a nice meal. (lots of pictures follow, so we'll have to insert a jump here).

We were seated at a table with a great view of a flat screen HDTV showing the end of the game, and the deconstruction zone formerly known as Yankee Stadium II. Unfortunately, we were also seated directly behind a well-dressed but extremely smelly gentleman. A typical high-end restaurant might not allow someone dripping with sweat to sit down at their meticulously manicured tables. However, the business-casual dress code at NYY Steak is barely enforced, as the overpriced establishment is wary of turning down any potential business that walks through the door. Therefore, expect some smelly company when visiting NYY Steak after a mid-summer day game. Just something to think about before dropping a couple of bills on a "fancy" steak dinner.

During our first trip to NYY Steak, we had multiple servers, all willing to take their time and explain the restaurant, as well as the menu. In the 2 months since our last trip, the shine seems to have worn off a bit. There were plenty of servers, but only one was at our beckon call. We were poured the special NYY Steak tap water (the product of some super-fancy charcoal filtration system), but the accompanying story describing the filtration system was missing. Perhaps we looked like stadium insiders, eager to shove food in our faces?

Apparently we gave off that vibe for our entire meal. Part of the allure of a fancy meal is the pacing at which you are served. A satisfying fine dining experience is one that allows you to enjoy each portion of your meal slowly, but with the next course seamlessly served when you are ready. Timing is always tricky, but when someone is spending a couple of hundred dollars on dinner for two, they don't want their $15 drinks pushed up against their $12 salad appetizer, and squeezed between their $9 side dishes and $54.50 porterhouse steak. Sadly, that is just what happened to us at NYY Steak.

We'll admit that the pretzel bread on baseball diamond plates with mustard and cheese flavored butter was a nice touch (and delicious).

However, by the end of our meal, we realized that the restaurant had the atmosphere and service of Mickey Mantle's, food quality somewhere between Outback and Ruth's Chris and the prices of BLT Prime - an interesting, but ultimately unsatisfying experience.

On the positive side, you will leave the restaurant with a full stomach. From the $7 French Onion Soup to the mammoth 28 oz. porterhouse steak for $54.50, prices are large and in charge, but so are the portions.

The quality of the creamy mashed potatoes and the porterhouse steak is definitely better than what you can get at Outback Steakhouse, but didn't measure up to the appetizers and main courses at the other fine dining restaurant in Yankee Stadium - The Audi Yankees Club. This was not completely unexpected, since the Audi Yankees Club's food is supplied by the underrated Lobel's of New York (already famous in the new Yankee Stadium for their great $15 steak sandwich). This porterhouse shouldn't be completely ignored - it is huge, the flavor is very good, the chefs cook it to the right temperature and it is tender enough to cut through without any trouble. It just lacks any unique qualities that set it apart from any other nice steakhouse.

Any way you slice it, this steak for $54.50 is bordering on a rip-off. The Yankee Stadium premium just isn't worth it here, and we wonder how NYY Steak can expect to be profitable during the offseason in a city so rich in upscale steakhouses.

The Menu in Depth

One of the more hyped menu options at NYY Steak is the lobster mac & cheese. This particular style of mac & cheese seems to be ubiquitous at steakhouses as of late, and NYY Steak is no exception. Unfortunately, their version is disappointingly subpar. Perhaps it is just our taste, but the bread crumbs sprinkled on top are a bit excessive. Our idea of a delicious mac & cheese is one that is creamy, warm and gooey. Breadcrumbs are worthy ingredients in some versions of mac & cheese, but they should be a bit more subtle in lobster mac & cheese.

Texture can easily be excused if the taste of the dish exceeds expectations. Unfortunately, garlic flavor overwhelms the subtle taste of lobster and the breadcrumbs overwhelm the cheese. The balance of the dish is off, and it is only memorable for the bad breath that it leaves in its wake.

Some people who frequent steakhouses are hesitant to go too heavy on seafood during their meal. In their opinion, patrons at a steakhouse are more likely to go with red meat, leaving the freshness of the seafood in doubt. NYY Steak assures guests that all of their clams, oysters, crab, lobster and fish are flown in daily to ensure freshness. On our first trip back in May, we enjoyed a perfectly cooked grilled tuna chateaubriand. We can vouch for the freshness of the seafood, as it was the one highlight from our two trips to the restaurant.

Fortunately, there are some interesting desert options, especially the "NYY Steak 151 Volcano". The vanilla bean ice cream covered with Heath Bar crunch flambéed tableside with a shot of 151 rum is enough to get a lightweight drunk and a an ice cream lover on a sugar high. It doesn't come without a price, however, coming in at $11.

The Verdict

Just like the rest of the new Yankee Stadium, the goal of NYY Steak seems to be to wow aesthetically, and scrimp functionally.

There are flatscreen TVs embedded in the mirrors of the bathrooms, but the paper towels are the same cheap brown paper products from the upper deck restrooms. The signatures of famous Yankees around the walls and the numerous HDTVs are impressive, but the view out the window of peeling paint on the elevated subway platform is permanently hideous.

We definitely won't go as far as telling you not to try out NYY Steak. As far as "premium" eating options at Yankee Stadium go, NYY Steak is the most accessible. To enjoy the Legends Suites, and the luxury suites you will need to be a high-roller, or know one. To go to dinner at The Audi Yankees Club, you need to be a member, or have a hook-up for a day pass. At NYY Steak, you can walk right in and spend your hard-earned money without any affiliation. Be aware, however that if each person gets an alcoholic drink, an appetizer, a steak, a side, and a desert you can expect to spend over $200 after the tip.

As an alternative for a dinner that is of even better quality and slightly cheaper, take the 25 minute subway ride to Grand Central Station and enjoy a meal at Michael Jordan's Steakhouse. The portions are smaller, but so are the prices, and the atmosphere far exceeds what you will get at NYY Steak.

Didn't get to try but wish we had:

The 10 oz. Prime NYY Steak Burger.

Described as 10 oz. of USDA Prime ground sirloin & chuck, bacon, choice of cheese and served with steak fries, this burger looked delicious when we saw it on the HD video board during a rain delay earlier this season. Unfortunately, it is only on their lunch menu (served until 4 PM), so we didn't get to try it out on either of our trips to the restaurant.

NYY Steak can be reached by telephone at 646-97-STEAK and on the web at
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