My boyfriend, Kamran, and I base most of our Restaurant Week dining decisions on the inventiveness of the menu, which is why we chose Primehouse New York over Smith & Wollensky or Delmonico’s on the 31st. Passion fruit and gazpacho? Yes, please.
• APPETIZERS •
Passion Fruit Gazpacho
Lump Crab & Avocado
Grilled Double Cut Bacon
Roasted Figs, Frisée, Maytag Blue Cheese
Heirloom Tomato & Goat Cheese Salad
Micro Basil, Sea Salt, Aged Balsamic
• ENTREES •
English Pea & Mushroom Risotto,
Preserved Lemon Beurre Blanc
Marinated Hanger Steak
Grilled Portabella & Arugula Salad, Roasted Pepper Salsa
7oz Dry Aged Petit Sirloin
Caramelized Summer Vegetables
• DESSERTS •
Bittersweet Chocolate Tart
Ladyfingers, Nutella Ice Cream
I don’t care for seafood and absolutely can’t eat tomatoes, so even though a salad is the least-appealing appetizer in the world to me, it was my only choice, and it turned out to be one I didn’t regret. The lettuce was lettuce, but the goat cheese with the bacon was perfect for the glutton in me, and figs are one of my favourite fruits. There was a upper-thick slice of bacon on either side of the plate, and while one was perfectly crisp, the other was chewy and fatty. While I’m usually much more of the burnt bacon type, I welcomed the diversity.
Kamran ordered the passion fruit gazpacho, of course. It arrived with the mound of crab and basil (or tarragon–we weren’t sure) looking rather lonely in the center of the large bowl, but then the waiter poured the soup around it for a delightful presentation. I don’t know that I’ve ever had gazpacho in my life, so I’m not sure how it’s supposed to taste, but this tasted exactly like salsa. A really, really good salsa. The kind you always want in Mexican joints but never actually get.
Kamran and I like to get different entrées and sample each other’s, so when I decided on the filet (obviously), he went for the hanger, thinking he’d appreciate the larger size. But no. The moment he saw the look on my face as I tasted my first bite, he knew he’d made a mistake.
I know the steak looks a little crusty and the vegetables a little drab in this photo, but the dish was very much the opposite of both these adjectives. Kamran’s hanger was a little bit embarrassing next to my filet, and although he tried to tell himself that it was just delicious in a different way, it wasn’t. It was decent and nothing more, and Kamran didn’t even want all of the extra portion size in the end. Sorry, hanger.
We didn’t even discuss getting a side, but as soon as our waitress walked away, I casually mentioned macaroni and cheese, and so it was. It was very homemade-tasting and had a nice crunchy topping. It was pretty standard, but standard mac and cheese is still pretty special.
My bittersweet chocolate tart was rich and fudgey, although the cake crust dumbed it down. No complaints, though. I ate every last bite of it and mopped up the chocolate drizzle on the plate with the sliver of chocolate stuck in my ice cream, too.
Kamran prefers a lighter dessert, so he was happy with his strawberry shortcake. The crunchy coconut slivers provided a nice texture, and there was no chance of the coconut sorbet with fresh strawberries being bad. I finished Kamran’s dessert for him, too, if you must know.
For the remainder of Restaurant Week, Primehouse appears to be lunch only, but we went at night and were surprised at how many couples weren’t trying the Restaurant Week menu. All around us were tables with raw bar towers, and one in particular caught Kamran’s eye, because he swore Tom Colicchio was sitting at it. I wasn’t convinced, so we called it a truce by deciding that it was his younger brother, Rod Colicchio. (Who doesn’t really exist, of course.) But watching to see how the supposed Rod Colicchio was enjoying his food became the focal point of the dinner nonetheless.
I really thought my filet at Primehouse was as good as any I’ve had in the city, although I hesitate to say that, knowing that the restaurant is part of the B.R. Guest restaurant conglomerate. However, a waiter near us flaunted the fact, telling his table that their size allows them access to the best ingredients. And they’re serious about what they serve, going so far as to have their own Kentucky bull (named Prime) that provides all of the beef they serve in the dining room. So maybe I shouldn’t be embarrassed to have liked it so much.
The only thing the older steakhouses have on Primehouse in my mind is the environment. While I appreciate a more trendy setting for a date, I also like how the sparse, serious décor of a steakhouse like Peter Luger lends itself to more of a focus on the food. Primehouse was full of soft chairs, floor-to-ceiling mirrors, and an inexplicable slick 80s feel. It was lovely, don’t get me wrong, but it wasn’t my grandpa’s steakhouse. Which may be just what you’re looking for.