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Reserve Cut at the Setai - NYC

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Reserve Cut at the Setai - NYC

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AdinaA | | Jan 24, 2014 11:41 AM

The first thing to know is that the space is fabulous. If there is a better looking, more stylish kosher restaurant, I haven't been there.

The menu emphasizes sushi, which I'm a little bored with. And
Since I was going to eat a steak, I started with a salad: HEIRLOOM TOMATO & CANDY BEET SALAD
Avocado, Micro Arugula, Basil Puree, Honey Meyer lemon
Vinaigrette

They sent mache in place or arugula, not a problem, though perhaps the waiter should have mentioned it. I don't know what they meant by "candied beets"; these were plain boiled beets cut in fancy shapes. The plate looked nice. But the "heirloom" tomatoes were tasteless winter supermarket tomatoes, granted, one was yellow. The vinaigrette was nothing special except that there was too much of it, the salad was drenched in oil and altogether uninteresting.

Other salad, similar story. Menu: ORGANIC BABY SPINACH
Artichokes,
Grilled Portobello, Balsamic Vinaigrette. A mountain of baby spinach heaped on sauteed portobellos, a couple of pieces of what seemed to be frozen artichoke hearts, all drenched in oil.

I ordered a side dish of WHITE ASPARAGUS WITH
WILD MUSHROOM. It was a large dish of white asparagus with sauteed mushrooms all drowning in oil. Really, what is the point? Dinner companion's meal came with "Potato Galette and Cider Braised Red Cabbage". This turned out to be a mushy slice of bland potato kugle and some cabbage sauteed in vinegar and oil. Two thumbs down.

So, the vegetables were a total disappointment. The chef made no effort, none at all. Not even the effort to buy tomatoes with flavor, which is a pretty minimal effort to expect of an upscale restaurant.

I ordered the house steak, Reserve Cut which, was at about midpoint on the price list. And it is the steak they give their name to. It was layered with slabs of fat. It was pretty good once I had cut the meat from these unpleasant fat layers. Came with a Bordelaise sauce which was merely OK. Really , all they had to do was choose a great piece of meat. And they didn't.

The rack of lamb was fabulous. Perfect. A simple, perfect cut of lamb roasted to a perfect medium rare, juicy, tender perfection.

In a perfect world, I'd order the Rack of Lamb at Reserve Cut with a salad from Mason & Mug.

Shared a Meyer lemon tarte , which proved to be two cylinders of sweet frozen lemon custard on a cookie crumb base topped with lemon gel. The frozen custard seemed to be suffering from freezer burn, but the lemon gel was delicious. Really lovely.

The service was so inferior as to approach insulting. We had booked a table for 8pm on a weeknight, the restaurant was about half full. The downstairs doorman was courteous. But the hostess conveyed the feeling that asking my name and seating us was beneath her dignity. The waiter was neither courteous nor helpful. The busboys hovered like vultures and cleared far to aggressively. A pleasant place to relax over dinner with a friend it is not. Even on a weeknight at an hour when many tables were empty.

So, the front of the house staff has no apparent interest in making guests feel welcome or comfortable. The kitchen staff did not, in my sole visit, demonstrate any particular interest in food beyond the ability to choose and grill a perfect rack of lamb. It's noisy. And dinner with a glass of wine will set you back ~$150 per person. Why go?

I think it's all about the look of the place. It really does look fabulous. Like a place where fabulous people enjoy fabulous food.

(That said, they've been open a year and things wear out. In the ladies' room, one toilet was leaking onto the floor and another wasn't flushing)

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