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It’s a terrible thing for a food writer to admit, but here goes: I’ve only been to Peter Luger, the legendary Brooklyn steakhouse, once in my life, many, many years ago.Review By: Brian Scott Lipton
So I have to judge Benjamin Steak House, co-owned by Benjamin Prelvukaj and chef Arturo McLeod – both former Lugerites – strictly on its own merits and not by comparison. And I’m happy to report this eight-month-old eatery, located in Midtown’s trendy Dylan Hotel, is a most satisfying dining experience.
The large, multi-floor space -- complete with plush, chocolate brown leather banquettes and chairs -- looks as a steakhouse should: Clean, masculine, not much froufrou. The menu, likewise, lives up to steakhouse expectations, with a primary focus on meat for entrees, but plenty of fish and seafood selections for non-carnivores. Benjamin is also a wine-lover’s dream, with an enormous, well-chosen list, complete with a good selection of house wines by the glass (not listed on the menu, as it happens) and bottles as low as $40 and ranging well into three-figure-land.
We started our rather enormous feast with one of the house’s most popular starters, the lobster cocktail. A generous portion of the cold crustacean arrived in the shell (but easily removable), accompanied by a mild cocktail sauce, plus horseradish and Tabasco for those requiring a little extra kick. The tail meat was nicely tender, the rest was a tad tough but still tasty. We didn’t however, gild the lily, by ordering sides of Canadian Bacon, a decision we slightly regretted when we saw the meat at the next table.
We had no regrets, however, about ordering the splendid Benjamin salad – available only for two – a truly delicious tangle of mixed lettuces, fresh crabmeat, red onion, and avocado slices in a perfectly prepared, slightly creamy vinaigrette. If you want to sample the salad by yourself, come in at lunchtime when single portions are available.
If your appetite is less-than-giant sized, you may want to forego all starters and focus on the main event, since Benjamin’s prime, dry-aged steaks were among the best – and largest – I’ve had in recent memory. My magnificently charred, perfectly rare sirloin was served just-sliced on a sizzling plate tipped just so to let the juices run, and then transferred onto a warm plate in front of me by the solicitous serving staff. My companion couldn’t stop raving about his filet mignon – so good he finished every bite despite its rather impressive girth. And we were both duly impressed by the house’s cottage fries -- which were really like salty potato chips – as well as thin yet flavor-laden onion rings and the yummy creamed spinach, which was heavy on the vegetable and light on the cream.
In the interest of having the full dining experience, we soldiered on to dessert, opting for a very nice crème brulee and a decent key lime pie – complete with an excellent graham cracker crust – and served, in Luger fashion, with a huge silver bowl of homemade schlag (whipped cream). Somehow, we finished every bite.
Maybe someday I’ll make it back out to Brooklyn, but with the Benjamin so close by, I don’t really have much motivation.
Neighborhood: East 40s
Reservations: Click for reservations
Chef: Arturo McLeod
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