To keep up with younger and hipper steakhouses, Michael Stillman—son of Smith & Wollensky founder Alan Stillman—shuttered Manhattan Ocean Club, a 22-year-old seafood palace in midtown, and replaced it with Quality Meats. It is literally the choice of a new generation.
True to its name, Quality Meats gets its beef from two respected purveyors: Strassburger Meats and Milton Abeles. The menu gets a tad esoteric in the entrée section: There are meats (filet mignon, rib eye, lamb) and then there are custom “butcher’s cuts”—like the pricey 64-ounce monster cut for two attached to a Flintstones-sized rib. Great meat requires great preparation—and chef Craig Koketsu (Lespinasse) nails the straightforward steaks, but he gets in trouble when he adds more than any plate needs. In “the three filets,” he divides a 12-ounce filet mignon into distinct four-ounce cuts and then transforms them into steak au poivre (actually more sweet than peppery), beef Wellington (which wears a token piece of crust) and beef Oscar-style (adorned with crabmeat and a cream sauce). During one meal, the trio meat was virtually cold, as if it had been waiting for its clothes for some time.
The desserts are high-concept—maybe overly so—and organized into three categories: pies, tarts and ice creams. The pecan, chocolate and bourbon combination “pie” turned out to be crustless and way too boozy. The homemade ice creams, however, were outstanding; the coffee studded with donut chunks and crowned with a tiny, fluffy donut.
In a city where too many steakhouses seem exactly the same—and the Smith & Wollensky group takes some of the blame—Quality Meats is a welcome addition to the family. Just remember to order simply and let the meat do the talking.