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Manhattan Steakhouse

Wolfgang's Steakhouse - first impressions

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Restaurants & Bars

Wolfgang's Steakhouse - first impressions

enrevanche | Mar 20, 2004 02:04 AM

After having to postpone and reschedule our dinner reservations twice, my wife and I finally had a chance to check out Wolfgang's Steakhouse on Friday night. (We're both big Peter Luger fans, and had been interested in trying this place--started, as I guess everyone in the world knows by now, by Luger alumni--since it opened.)

Short version: while it may not make us forget Luger's (yet), this is a very solid newcomer with great food and service, and any devoted carnivore would almost certainly enjoy a meal here.

Longer version:

The restaurant is situated in a lovely large room with low, vaulted, tiled ceilings and gleaming hardwood floors. Though both dining room and bar were hopping, we were seated right away for our 8PM reservation.

Though I'm hardly the drinker I was in my youth, I usually have a cocktail before a substantial meal of red meat. I ordered a Jack Daniels on the rocks... and, word of warning: the bartender at Wolfgang's, bless him, pours with a heavy hand. The drink they brought me would have been a double (or better) most places.

We started out with salads; my wife had the Caesar (crisp lettuce, and the classical Caesar dressing was light and tangy, with actual anchovy content - hurray!) while I had the "Wolfgang Salad," a chopped salad consisting of tomatoes, onions, shrimp, green beans and bacon, dressed lightly with vinaigrette. While the chopped salad was quite good, I would have enjoyed having a slightly decreased ratio of tomatoes-to-everything-else; the salad was overwhelmingly composed of chopped tomato, and the other ingredients were very tasty, so I wish there had been more of them. Fortunately, the tomato was very fresh and flavorful.

We moved on to the porterhouse for two, medium rare, with German-style hashbrowns and creamed spinach on the side. (There are other side dish options... asparagus, broccoli, sauteed onions, mushrooms, onion rings, and so on--but we're traditionalists.)

The folks at Wolfgang's have apparently cracked the Peter Luger formula for buying, aging and cutting meat. The porterhouse that arrived at our table, lightly charred on the surface and with a deeply pink, warm center, was a beautiful piece of steak, well aged, generously marbled, and bursting with flavor.

While the steak was up to the Luger standard, the house steak sauce wasn't; a little too sweet for my taste. In all fairness, it would be hard to top Luger's steak sauce. (I guess it would be very bad form for me to smuggle in a bottle of Luger's sauce the next time I go. Sigh.)

Both the hashbrowns and the spinach were very good indeed. The hashbrowns, fried with strips of sweet onion, may have been a touch too salty, but that didn't stop my wife and I from putting away a couple of good-sized helpings apiece. (We drank a lot of water after we got home.)

There's a short, well-considered and reasonably priced wine list at Wolfgang's, heavy on domestic reds. Most bottles were in the $30-70 range. After that monster-sized glass of bourbon, I couldn't really face a bottle of wine; next time, I think I'll skip the cocktail hour and enjoy a nice Cabernet or Merlot with my meal.

And though the dessert menu was tempting, we were really too stuffed to order dessert this time around.

The noise level is high, but not prohibitively so; I had no trouble conversing with my dining partner in a normal tone of voice, and in fact it was kind of pleasant to be in a large room full of people who were so obviously enjoying themselves.

Service was attentive and very friendly.

We'll definitely go back.

- er

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