Monday, December 24, 2012

Bobby Van's Grill New York: Classic and Well Done

By: Anne M. Raso

There is nothing quite as rib-sticking as a classic steakhouse meal, and Bobby Van's Grill on 50th Street in Manhattan does the "steak and potatoes" thing to perfection. They keep their dishes pretty classic with the occasional Modern American twist here and there but the quality is over the top. I have no qualms about saying their filet mignon is one of the best I have ever had and that the portion is huge. Such a dish does not come cheap...but let's talk about the salad I started the meal with first. I was lucky I had any room left after eating the insanely fresh focaccia and raisin pecan bread that was put out promptly upon taking my seat. I positively did not have the urge to ask for butter or olive oil--they were divinely fresh as if they had come out of the oven in the past hour or two.
When I asked the waiter what salad he recommended, he suggested the Warm Crispy Artichokes & Fresh Greens ($15.95). It was a generous portion with topped with a homemade Parmesan crisp and I would call this a "salad with a kick." The portion is two to three cups and there are dozens of lightly fried artichoke hearts mixed with frisee, toasted coriander, garlic cloves, red pepper and chunks of Parmigiano Reggiano, then topped with shallot vinaigrette. It's nice that the Parmigiano Reggiano as well as the Parmesan crisp have such a nice kick to them--these factors make the salad a hit (as well as the tenderness of the artichoke hearts, of course)!
Warm Crispy Artichokes & Fresh Greens
I decided to go for the gusto and order their Filet Mignon ($49.95), which is an insane-sized portion of 15 ounces (pre-cooked weight) of grass fed USDA prime meat. It doesn't get better than this, folks. This is a classic case of "you get what you pay for," and the fifty bucks you have to shell out is worth it. My meat arrived perfectly medium rare as ordered and was juicy and flavorful. I could not finish it but it made for a nice lunch the next day. The manager told me that Bobby V's is not allowed to give up the name of their meat purveyor, but if they did, everyone would be trying to order their meat for personal meals at home. Not to rave too much, but I dream at night about going back and order this fantastic piece of steak! The filet is served with side of traditionally prepared BĂ©arnaise sauce but every steak gets a side of the Bobby van house steak sauce as well. It is reminiscent of the Peter Luger steak sauce, although slightly less sweet and includes the "secret ingredients" of grapefruit juice and horseradish mixed in with the more traditional molasses, vinegar, sugar and tomato paste. (Yes, it's definitely worth the money to take a bottle home with you.)
Filet Mignon
My sides were the classic steakhouse fare--Macaroni And Cheese make with Irish White Cheddar, Creamed Spinach and Hash Browns (all sides at Bobby V's Grill are $11.95). The portions were generous (about two to three cups) and if I had to pick a favorite it would be the Macaroni And Cheese simply because the Irish Cheddar and clarified butter used made for a rich taste that is hard to beat. This dish would be a crowd pleaser for people of all ages. The creamed spinach was made with heavy cream and very saucy and tasty, while the Hash Browns were done in a non traditional way (organic Idaho potatoes are cut in one inch chunks then baked in a round cake pan with a little bit of clarified butter, chopped onions and bell peppers, making them much less oily and more flavorful than the traditional recipe).
Creamed Spinach
It's hard to make room for dessert at Bobby Van's since their fare is so hearty, but if you need a sweet that is not too sweet to end your meal, try the Pumpkin Nuage which is a cross between pumpkin cheesecake and pumpkin pie in a not-too-sweet Graham cracker crust (all desserts are $11.95 and usually there are a couple of specials for the evening). Even less sweet is the 21 Layer Crepe Cake--it's very much like a Napoleon only with chewy instead of crispy layers. The filling is pure fresh whipped cream lightly seasoned with fresh vanilla bean and confectioner's sugar. I had a preference for the 21 Layer Crepe Cake because of the unique texture of the thin 21 layers (yes, it's hard to count but there really are 21 layers)--plus you can never go wrong with any dessert filled with perfectly textured whipped cream.
Pumpkin Nuage
The decor is Classic Steakhouse except that the wood paneling has a modern kick (as well as the unique light fixtures, which are masculine but have a bit of an elegant edge). The dress is business chic and Bobby Van's is the kind of place that has a cross section of people--some that work in the neighborhood and many that are both tourists and locals about to take in a Broadway play. Service is polite and attentive, and the waiters can answer your most detailed questions about the restaurant's cuisine, right down to wear some of the produce used for side dishes and salads were grown. This is unquestionably a very expensive eatery (even if you wanted to watch your budget and order their Homemade Lasagna, it would set you back $23.95) but the quality cannot be beat. You will never be disappointed in the quality of the food at Bobby Van's, and quite often, you will find yourself saying, "That is the best blah-blah-blah that I ever had."
21 Layer Crepe Cake
Bobby Van's Grill does offer price fixe meals, and on New Year's, you can stroll in there like it is any regular day of the year. There isn't a special "party" with a huge price of admission. There are several large screen TVs to watch games (making it an ideal "hang" on Superbowl Sunday or anytime there's a big game on). Another beautiful thing about Bobby V's is that there are as many women as men chowing down--not like too many other Manhattan steakhouses. And while they offer ever cut of steak under the sun, lighter fare like pasta, fish and salads are offered in many varieties. This is a wonderful place to take a family with very diversified tastes out for special occasions, and there are plenty of private rooms for when you really have something special to celebrate and want extra privacy and quietness. Bobby Van's Grill is a steakhouse but it's not just the traditional "manly man" kind of place!

Bobby Van's
135 West 50th St.
New York, NY 10019

Bobby Van's Grill on Urbanspoon

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