by Susan on November 6, 2007


Wolfgang Zweiner left his position as head waiter of the famed Peter Luger to open his own namesake steakhouse in the borough of Manhattan. The first Wolfgang’s emerged on Park Avenue in midtown, though last night we dined at his second outpost on Greenwich Street in TriBeCa. Decades at Luger’s certainly showed Zweiner the success a New York steakhouse can enjoy and no one can deny Zweiner’s business savvy for opening meat havens in the two financial meccas of the city. Zweiner has not strayed far (if at all) from the well established formula born out of Brooklyn and as a city dweller, his restaurants do seem more geographically accessible. I haven’t been to Luger’s in years, (a jaunt is currently being planned for December) but my memory and taste buds remember it being better than what we experienced last night. Perhaps imitation is not so easy.

Wolfgang’s design is typical steakhouse: wide-plank wooden floors, white linens, and simple cutlery. WolfgangsAesthetically pleasing arched ceilings are interrupted by medieval-style chandeliers that throw off an unappetizing yellow glow. Acoustics were excellent and it was easy to carry on a conversation. I’ve come to anticipate somewhat gruff service at steakhouses and Wolfgang’s lived up to this expectation. A waiter of few words took our order, haphazardly sloshed wine into our glasses, and spooned side dishes on to our plates with little abandon. The wait staff hustled and bustled about us through the entire meal, constantly checking in on how far along we were in the respective course, conveying the feeling that we should be eating a bit faster. After dessert, however, we were one of two tables left in the dining room and finding someone to bring us the check was nearly impossible.

Caesar salad, tomato and mozzarella slices, and slabs of Canadian bacon arrived at the table mere minutes after they were ordered. The Caesar salad featured meager, seemingly store bought croutons, and a bland dressing that left much to be desired. The buffalo mozzarella had wonderful texture, holding its shape atop vibrant, red tomatoes, but then dissolving in your mouth. The bacon strips are heavy with smoky flavor. The fat doesn’t quite render on these meaty pieces, leaving somewhat chewy, albeit flavorful, slabs of ham.

Wanting to try a few cuts of meat, our table of five opted for Wolfgang’s signature porterhouse, a filet, and a ribeye. The porterhouse was encased in a perfect, black coat of char that never tasted burnt. Cutting into the outer layer revealed beautiful medium rare meat, both savory and tender. The strip loin side of the bone was excellent; the filet side was exceptional. Not nearly as exceptional was the cut of filet prepared and served separately. While the filet was tender, it did not melt in your mouth nor cut like butter; two qualities I covet from a filet. The ribeye was the biggest disappointment and lacked the characteristics that usually make this cut of beef so appealing. Though well marbled, the ribeye was very tough and was dwarfed in flavor compared to the porterhouse. While some might say we erred to stray from the signature porterhouse in the first place, I would argue that all cuts of beef should be excellent in their own rite at a top notch steakhouse.

To me, the sides are an integral part of steakhouse dining. Wolfgang’s side dishes would benefit from some attention and and some serious improvement. With most pieces devoid of crispy edges, the hash browns were undercooked and underseasoned. The sautéed onions were caramelized to a warm brown and soft without being mushy. The creamed spinach had a nice consistency, but lacked richness and depth of flavor.

Before the pieces of pecan and key lime pie were brought to the table, we had a lively discussion surrounding the traits we look for in these particular desserts. As if on cue, the desserts arrived, devoid of all the imperatives we had discussed. The pecan pie was mushy and light on the nuts. The key lime pie had a good, creamy texture, but not the sufficient tartness.

The porterhouse steak was undeniably enjoyable, but I’m pretty certain I’ll venture across the Brooklyn Bridge to see if my memory serves me correctly before returning here.

409 Greenwich Street
New York, NY 10013
(212) 925-0350

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