Christian’s Steak and Grill

I visited Christian’s Steak and Grill with two fellow carnivores- my cousin Pete the triathlete and firefighter, and my personal trainer and MMA fight buddy, Peter V. Dell’Orto. Me and the Petes demolished pounds of delicious steak and sides for a ridiculous low price. This is the DP’s Pub of steakhouses, minus the pub: BYOB.
Check it out at THE BIG EAT!

The Churrasco Chileno:
Churrasco Chileno Christian's

The Big Eat: Dee Tale of DP’s Pub

The lobster roll
The lobster roll

This week’s THE BIG EAT at Devil Gourmet takes me to northern NJ’s best-kept seafood restaurant secret, a ’70s time machine disguised as a shanty overlooking the mighty Passaic… DP’s Pub!

Arthur’s Tavern – Steak

Arthur’s Tavern is a New Jersey steak institution that until recently, I had shamefully never experienced. And boy, do I regret it. I grew up going to Steve’s Sizzling Steaks and Alexus Steakhouse for my steaks, and they rightfully draw a big crowd- it’s hard to beat Alexus’s hefty Delmonico for the price, and Steve’s has been searing beef slathered with Maggi sauce since 1936, and doing it well. But I’m sorry guys, the 24 ounce Steak at Arthur’s for $21.95 bests you. Undisputed.

The two inch thick slab of steakasaurus is perfectly seared, giving it a lovely char crust and a juicy interior. The flavor is beefy and plentiful. I could eat only half of it, and the rest became the best Sunday steak & eggs I’ve had in a long time. They do a fantastic job for the price. I prefer the Maggi-soaked steak fries at Steve’s, but the paprika-laden roast red potatoes and hot cherry pepper were a welcome side. The a la carte creamed spinach was all I could ask for- cheesy, rich, perfect consistency. The table comes garnished with slaw, pickles and pickled green tomatoes and green peppers. There’s your vegetables- old school. Firecracker had the junior 12 ounce sirloin and it also came done perfectly.

We went to the Morris Plains location, where they serve Smithwick’s on draft- the classic Irish red ale- and Guinness, two perfect steak chaperons. I’ve found my new favorite mid-range steakhouse, and Arthur’s is it. They also sell a 48 ounce version of their monster steak. I know where I’m dragging Pete & Pete after our next hard workout.

© 2010 Tommy Salami

NYC Restaurant Week at Delmonico’s

This week and the next are Restaurant Week in New York. Dozens of popular restaurants are offering 3-course dinners for $35 per person, and lunches for $20 or so. Last year we opted for the excellent One if by Land, Two if by Sea, and followed it up with a tasting with wines shortly after- that’s the “catch,” really; after your bargain dinner you’ll be back dropping $400 on a gastronomic gallivant through their menu.

Delmonico’s is a historic restaurant that opened in the Financial district in 1837; they claim to have invented Lobster Newberg, Chicken à la King, Baked Alaska, Eggs Benedict, and of course, the Delmonico cut of steak. All have faded into culinary history but are still quite tasty if on the rich side, unless you’re getting your Chicken à la King out of a can, which is possible these days. Their clientele included such luminaries as Mark Twain, “Diamond” Jim Brady and Lillian Russell, Charles Dickens, Oscar Wilde, Teddy Roosevelt and Nikola Tesla. Several dining rooms are named after them, and the place looks as it should- dark, elegant, with classic woods and papers, unassuming tables and white linen. Dining with history.

Nowadays it’s more of a power broker haven than one for the cognoscenti, stuck on the corner of Beaver Street between William and South William, in the jumbled tip of old Manhattan. The building resembles the Flatiron in ways, and speaks of old New York. They may not be inventing the dishes bound to become future classics anymore, but they still run a fine kitchen of American standards, and still have a few cards up their sleeve.

They give you a good tease with their Restaurant Week menu; the choices aren’t quite what you’d want, but we got a deal of a meal. We choose the tuna carpaccio and gazpacho appetizers. The soup was not cold, but rather lukewarm, tangy and given just a taste of lump crab and avocado cream. It had a rich tomato base flavor that didn’t overwhelm the crab. My tuna was a delicate pink sliver that resembled hamachi and had a similar sweet flavor, well paired with some bitter greens. The thin cut of Parmesan cheese was forgettable, but I’m a cheese snob and expect reggiano to punch me in the face with flavor. This was mild enough not to stomp over the delicate tuna.

Second course, I’m afraid we both opted for the 8 ounce tenderloin; mine rare, hers medium well, which was more like medium rare. Sometimes the kitchen knows what’s good for you. Firecracker ate her steak and enjoyed it anyway. Mine was a thicker baseball cut while hers was more of a standard tenderloin. Both had a decent crust and a rich beefy flavor, from good marbling. I would definitely try a full Delmonico sometime. It sat atop a rich slather of buttery garlic mashed potatoes, with nary a green in sight. Typical steakhouse- if you want to waste time on vegetables, get it à la carte.

Dessert is what really shined; the chocolate mousse and the caramel custard were both quite delicious. The caramel on my flan-like dessert had smooth buttery notes and great texture, though the custard was a bit eggy. Even after the tasty steak, it won over my tastebuds. Firecracker’s mousse cake was quite good, with the rich chocolate on top of layers of smooth raspberry cream and milder chocolate cake. It was a bit difficult to eat easily, collapsing when you tried for all the layers, but it was worth the trouble.

Add two strong tonics- one gin and one vodka- and our bill came to $120 with a 20% tip. Not a bad deal for two 8oz filets at a fine dining establishment these days. If you love steak, you’ve got another week to try Delmonico’s at a bargain price. Opentable will reserve seats for you free of charge, and around the corner on Pearl Street you can grab a brew at Ulysses, an Irish pub, if that’s more your speed. They’ve got a bargain of their own- $95 for 2 lobster tails, 12 shrimp cocktail, and 20 each of clams and oysters for their raw seafood tower. But that’s for next time. It’s too bad Delmonico’s couldn’t put a Lilliputian Lobster Newberg cup in the appetizer column and a bit of Baked Alaska for dessert; though I suppose that’s what they want you to come back for.

Greasy Spoons: Taste of Portugal’s Steak on a Stone

From an unassuming little building in Newark’s Ironbound section, you can get some of the best steaks you’ve ever had. I’ve been to a few of the top-rated steakhouses in America– Manny’s in Minneapolis, the Chicago Chop House. But for half the price I’ve had a fantastic marbled filet cooked just the way I want it, without worrying about reservations or throwing on a sport jacket. At Taste of Portugal on Delancey Street.

If you’ve eaten in the Ironbound, you’re familiar with Portuguese restaurants, famous for their rodizio, the unending delivery of grilled meat on huge skewers, sliced directly to your plate. Those that don’t offer that up often have similar menus full of platters of steaks and seafood, huge slabs of sea bass or bucket-sized bowls of paella, the obligatory appetizers of charred Portuguese sausage, and the platters of potatoes, rice and vegetables shared on the table. Here you get the standards trimmed into a concise yet varied menu that touches all the meat groups, including a goat leg appetizer and occasional deliveries of wild boar. If the boar is offered, all bets are off- skip the steak and have it.
Their flagship dish is the Steak on a Stone, a baseball sized filet with good marbling. It comes on a searing hot slab of black granite heated in their ovens, and arrives at the table raw. Your server slices it into four smaller chunks and places them on the stone to sizzle, and tops them with huge chunks of garlic herb butter. If you like, they will stay to flip the pieces for you. If you’re a hands-on diner who would rather eat the stone than a well-done steak, you can flip them yourself. I opted to be the captain of my own destiny, and was rewarded with a terrifically tender filet mignon slathered in creamy butter.

The side is red beans and rice with chunks of Portuguese sausage, and a gravy boat of mushroom sauce; not a green in sight. Our appetizer was a special of shrimp and pineapple; this turned out to be shrimp cocktail, with half-round chunks of pineapple and twirled slices of prosciutto. The salty slices where not di parma, but the drier, thicker kind. It all went well together but was nothing spectacular, except for the huge shrimp. The desserts are good but average, including Italian specialties like tartufo and tiramisu, plus Portuguese ones like serradura, which I found sort of bland.

If you want a great and unique steak meal for a mere $26.95, hie yourself down to the Ironbound section and get to Taste of Portugal. You won’t regret it.