Never order steak and oysters, even at Wolfgangs

OK, so those of you who know me will know that for the past 24 hours I have not been well. As hardy as my stomach is, I simply appear to have very little tolerance (any more at least) to oysters. Raw oysters, that is. I’m sure I’d be fine with oysters Rockefeller or similar.

So, putting that to one side, I had the pleasure of visiting a veritable institution in Manhattan, Wolfgangs Steakhouse on 32nd and Park. Wolfgang Zweiner was, for many years, a waiter in one of New York’s finest restaurants so you would imagine that he would know a thing or two about good service and good food. Well, that certainly held true in our visit.

The inside of Wolfgangs is worthy of a mention in itself. Tiled in extravagant arches by the same artist who tiled Grand Central, you are immediately immersed into a feeling of at-home cosiness (well, if your home happens to have a famous tiler in the dining room). Wherever you stand or sit, you can’t help but allow your eye to be drawn to the ceiling which, I have to admit, is both fascinating and spectacularly beautiful. Clientele is, was expected, predominantly men who were feeding with consummate gusto.

Onto the steaks. Rather unsurprisingly, there were every type of steak on the planet available : filet mignon, New York strip, rib-eye, and so on. The rib-eye I ordered, still on the bone, was the size of a small city. I often buy aged rib-eye back in the UK (as you’ll read about on these pages in due course) but not only were these over twice as thick as the cut in the UK, they were a LOT bigger. That said, it was cooked to an absolutely perfect medium-rare which is no mean feat for a steak that size. Clearly plenty of practice. I have to admit to being put off sometimes by New York portion sizes. This level of uber-excess doesn’t sit well with me, since it either implies obvious wastage or obvious fatness. Somehow, I didn’t feel that with Wolfgang’s though, possibly because everyone round the table actually finished their steaks (apart from me, and even then it was bagged for someone to take home). The wine list was excellent, with a Cabernet blend from Napa going perfectly.

It’s interesting, the steak culture in New York. You can get reasonably good steak in almost any restaurant so you have to do something really special to maintain the reputation as one of New York’s finest. Sure, Wolfgangs obviously source, age and tenderise some of the best meat you can get but they serve it in an ambience that actually does make it feel extra special. With more restaurants opening all the time, I think Wolfgangs will retain its crown for a long time to come. Only next time, I’ll pass on the oysters.


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