Marge: Homer, I have to go out to pick up something for dinner.
Marge: Money's too tight for steak.
Marge: Eh, suuure... steak.
(This quote is really only used because any time Paul or I say the word "steak" the other persons launches into this quote. Because we're losers.)
Last Thursday was Jeeves's birthday, and to welcome him to his late 20s, I took him to The Strip House. Neither of us had been before, but we had both heard great things about it, and so, were quite excited.
While getting a reservation was no problem, I was surprised to see that the restaurant was nearly full when we arrived. Regardless, we were immediately seated. If you've been to or heard about The Strip House, you already know that the decor is noteworthy. The space is small with a bar area in the front of the restaurant, and tables that run along the walls and one row of tables down the middle. I was actually surprised by how small the space was. The bar area feels trendy - not remotely steak house-ish. But just past the bar, the restaurant mellows out and while you don't feel like you are in Luger's, you definitely feel like these people will know how to cook a steak.
The walls are covered with old bordello shots for the 1920s or earlier - shots that I am sure were risque for their time. The wallpaper, the seating - it's all red, but surprisingly not overwhelming.
There were service missteps early on. Jeeves wanted a rye Manhattan and asked the waiter if the bar carried rye. He wasn't sure, but felt comfortable giving a dissertation on the difference between a rye and bourbon Manhattan, and his personal recommendations for what type of bourbon Rajeev should choose if he went with the bourbon (they did have rye, and that's what he had). I asked for a menu of wines by the glass, and was delighted to see that they had Angus "the Bull" cabernet sauvignon from Australia (2003). Mike and Gena got me into this wine at one of their tastings and it's definitely a steak-worthy red. But the waiter took forever to take our drink orders. When the waiter did bring Jeeves's Manhattan, he attempted to pour it with a flourish, but really just wound up splashing it all over Jeeves's arm.
Anyway, that's neither here nor there, because the food came promptly and at a good pace. We started off with the foie gras appetizer, which was marked as a table share. Indeed. It was an enormous piece and we couldn't finish it. It was served cold, which I wasn't expecting, and I wish the menu had been explicit about that. As it turns out, the menu says it's "foie gras torchon" but until tonight, I never knew what that meant. In fact, it means the foie gras was wrapped tightly in a towel, briefly poached, then cooled in a liquid (frequently sweet wine) for several days. Regardless, it was delicious, but very large.
For the main course, we split the porterhouse for two, medium rare, along with creamed spinach and goose-fat potatoes. The creamed spinach is cooked in a truffle oil, which my boyfriend Bruni went on a rant about this week. Regardless of what he thinks, the creamed spinach was un.believable. Rajeev went so far as to call it the "best creamed spinach in the city." The crisp goosefat potatoes were also lovely, especially because of the crispy skin in which they are baked (think chunks of potato cooked in a crispy shell), though I must say I thought they were a little too salty. And the steak? Perfect. Sure, sure, the strip was yummy and flavorful. But the filet! Oh, the filet - tender and melt-in-your-mouth, but still piquant, largely because of the peppery rub on the steak. I will most certainly dream about that filet.
Of course, we had dessert, because one needs something sweet at the end of a meal like that, and also, I had asked them to stick a birthday candle in whatever we ordered. We had the profiteroles - large and rich, and in my opinion, disappointing. But it didn't really matter - I was completely stuffed and only needed a few bites for satisfaction.
Other than the initial missteps, our service was solid (and I would be remiss if I didn't mention that the bread was also quite good). I have been asked how Strip House compares to Luger's and all I can say is that a comparison doesn't seem right. If you want steak and bacon, no frills, Luger's is where it's at. If you're up for more of a restaurant experience, with ambience, a nice wine list, and creamed spinach that simply cannot be beat, you'd have to go with Strip House. More aptly put - perhaps Luger's is where you would like to go for an outing with your poker buddies, but a gentleman friend's birthday calls for the Strip House. If you're companion happens to be both, then I suppose you can let him choose.