My Latest "Steak" Out

The moment I opened the door at 6:15pm, it was a lively crowd. We just arrived at Empire Steak House.
I had a sigh of relief, because when you dine out with a toddler, the last thing you want to hear is a pin drop. Noise is GOOD. Parents like noise when they go out with their kids so we don't stand out like an 80 year-old grandparents at a Nickelback concert.
On the other hand, as soon as the very friendly and attractive hostess gathered our menus to take us to our table, I knew immediately what the majority of their client targets were: Men. Yes - she was pretty and slender, but as a mom (of not just a toddler, but of two daughters, ages 18 and 20), I couldn't help but feel a bit awkward... I wanted her to put on some clothes that were properly sized versus a short-short dress that left very little to anybody's (male or female) imagination. It was a booty show with heels all the way to our table. I felt like I should cover my baby boy's eyes -but he was more interested in the new place with all the people since we just got there, so he didn't pay any attention. I was spared having to deal with a mini-gawker -at least on that evening. (The other men at the surrounding tables appreciated the view, however!)
The really nice thing, is despite her mode of (mini)dress, again, she was very friendly and was completely open to wherever we wanted to sit. As a parent with a little one who needs a high chair, again, I find that top-notch! We went with her location recommendation -as we just wanted to ensure that we wouldn't be in the way of other customers or waitstaff. Believe me, we know that it is not easy for anyone to maneuver around a highchair with a child that has octopus-like arms with the dexterity of a blind man playing a game of chess.
So far, so good! (Another sigh of relief!)
The waitstaff was very prompt -as well as attentive. Again, as parents: please let us dine and get the order moving so we can be out of everyone's hair quickly and efficiently. We don't want a meltdown tantrum or anything embarrassing, because we are also the type of parents that will go outside with our child until he's able to be civil in public spaces. We don't tolerate crying or any kind of misbehaving in a restaurant (or anywhere else for that matter). So having us settled in with drinks, appetizer and meals already put into the POS system, we felt well on our way to a great evening.
For the most part, it was!
Here's a little breakdown of our night out:
After we ordered our basic drinks, appetizers and meal, we didn't get a chance to look at the wine list -but my husband was interested in seeing what might be available by the glass. He had a choice: white or red. He chose red and the waiter rattled off typical broods of the drink, but nothing about vintage or winery. (Note to readers: my husband is a wine snob. Sorry. It's true. I love him but he's really big on knowing all the nomenclature and is especially well-versed in French wines, to the point where I am just a big ignoramus -and actually, I'm ok with that. I let him order for me!) I should also mention that my husband has a level of class that prevented him from being rude about wanting to view the wine list, and simply ordered a glass without asking a lot of questions from the waiter. When the wine came, it was just put down in front of him -no pomp and circumstance, no viewing of the label or a sample before agreeing to the glass. Just, "There you go. Enjoy." Final verdict from wine snob husband? It was fine. Not a real bump in the road, just a little inconvenient if you wanted to browse choices.
Here is the perfection....
The appetizers came (again, very quickly!)- lump crab and little neck clams on the half shell. I found the lump crab delightful - and I'll admit, I wasn't a fan of the clams. I should have known better - I don't do raw mollusks very well. Ok, I don't "do" them at all. It was all my husband -and again, he was happy with them. I found the lump crab tasty and a decent-sized portion. I only questioned if they might be just a tad too cold. That was a fleeting moment, because it was so hot in NYC that night, I welcomed the cool, buttery taste -with or without the accompanying cocktail sauce.
After the appetizer and without much hesitation at all, the Porterhouse for 2 arrived - not only their signature dish, but WOW!
I was impressed.
It was loudly sizzling on the platter. And oh! It was wafting an aroma that I think would make a vegetarian question their dietary choices for a moment...
How did it taste? It was cooked to sheer perfection. It melted in my mouth -and the steak sauce? My husband and I couldn't get enough of it -and we usually don't do sauces like that... ever.
Let me do a quick compare and contrast:
My New #1 Steak Sauce
Peter Luger's (which is the steak restaurant by which most are compared to in New York, and there is also a history that you can find if you go to the Empire Steak website that connects the two) - They have the same style of waiters as this place, but at Empire, they seem to be friendlier and not as "Just order, already and stop annoying me with your questions" as they can be at the Brooklyn iconic locale. Same "boys club" atmosphere, same lively crowd. Both have GREAT steaks.
I prefer Empire Steak House because they offer the steak sauce in a bottled container, versus an open-style gravy boat filled at Luger's. (It is cleaner and quite possibly, more hygienic.) The steak is not as heavily seasoned and has just the right amount of char (again, my personal preference - my husband thought they could go crispier and heavier on salt and pepper). The signature steak sauce played as a perfect compliment to the Porterhouse -without question. It's  also in MANHATTAN, which, I won't lie, is a better, easier commute for me and my family (even if it's Midtown). The space is pretty much standard for the type of restaurant, but not as old fogy-ish as Luger's. Another positive. And! Oh yes! They take various forms of payment versus Luger's cash-only (hugely inconvenient) model.
There are also more sides available, and the waiters aren't as brusk about throwing plates down at the table.
I would also recommend the German potatoes (aka "bratkartoffeln") to accompany your steak-very delicious and the portion was a hearty one.
Ahhhh..... We were enjoying a very, very good steak dinner for two with a toddler. And the baby actually had a couple of nibbles of Porterhouse, too! No meltdowns, no chaos.
The waitstaff promptly cleaned the table and we felt like a couple of stuffed holiday birds...
I'd love to comment on dessert -but we weren't shown a menu and I couldn't understand the waiter very well -(due to noise mostly) - I kept hearing "cake, cake and cake". With my husband's Celiac disease (he must eat gluten-free), I couldn't order dessert on my own! Not fair. We both commented that a hot fudge sundae a la Luger's would have fit in well. Plus, it does seem to be the typical after-dinner treat at many steak houses in the city -and quite notably, across the US.
We had a couple of coffees and asked for the check.
A final sigh of relief.
In summary, we ate very well. We thought the main dish was just right, the portions were generous and the waitstaff was very attentive. It is good to know that there IS a decent steakhouse in Manhattan and I'd recommend this place to locals and tourists alike.

And P.S. - I can honestly say that I really didn't need dessert -especially after seeking the skinny, attractive hostess before departing the restaurant...





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