After five plus years of dining in New York City, I know better than to wait until a restaurant’s open table magically appears. For some of the hottest restaurants in the city that take online reservations, I certainly didn’t mind waiting until the clock hits midnight to find the spot however many advances in advance that the restaurant accepts reservations. For 4 Charles Prime Rib, however, this process was especially frustrating. Whenever I logged into Resy app on my phone every midnight, all the available tables were either 5 p.m. or 10 p.m. and beyond. This being a steakhouse, I couldn’t take the risk of suffering from stomach issues after devouring a steak at 11 p.m. at night. 5 p.m. on a weekend, on the other hand, was more tolerable since my wife Jun and I have been used to a one-meal day to check out restaurants, usually during early dinner times. Could all this painful reservation process be actually worth it? Well, we both liked the experience at 4 Charles, but it wasn’t perfect to merit this huge rush to get a prime time table.
The rather concise menu from the team behind several Chicago restaurants (including the famed retro diner Au Cheval) features classic steakhouse dishes. Shrimp cocktail with cocktail sauce and Dijonnaise certainly caught my attention, for its impeccable freshness, although at $22, the portion could’ve been more generous. Everyone seems to be talking about the burger at 4 Charles based on the one at Au Cheval (unfortunately, I didn’t get to have the burger there when I visited Chicago). Make no mistake, It is a pretty good burger, but I’ve eaten better ones elsewhere in the city. Jun pointed that it has a bit too much buttery feel to it and the beef patty was somewhat buried underneath that sensation.
What about their signature prime rib? Among three different choices with varying sizes, we went for the one in the middle called Chicago Cut. The texture of the medium rare prime rib was marvelous, I don’t remember having a prime rib this juicy and tender in a long time. It was the seasoning that was an issue. When Jun and I took some initial bites, we observed how the meat lacked overpowering flavor to our liking unlike what most other steakhouses do. After five minutes, though, we took bites of other sides of the prime rib, and they turned out to be almost inedibly salty. How was the kitchen putting salt on top of the meat? Jun thought they must’ve just thrown salt on top of the rib like the Internet sensation Salt Bae does. At the end, the meat’s sublime texture still carried the day but the uneven seasoning made us wonder how a little more careful attention to detail could’ve made this dish even better. For dessert, we ordered the decadent sundae with hot fudge in the middle and various assorted candies in the surroundings. Jun being an absolute sweet tooth, she enjoyed every single scoop until the very end. After the dinner, though, we had to walk all the way from 4 Charles to midtown Manhattan for a friend’s birthday party.
Enough said about reservations. It doesn’t help that the dining space has only about 10 tables. I asked our server if there was any easier way to score prime time seats, and he shook his head. If you’re dying to check out this place, just pray something opens on Resy once midnight arrives. With all this mixed experience in terms of food, there is no denying that the intimate supper club feel of the venue was quite nice and ideal for a date night. There is full bar, and the cocktails we had at the beginning were pretty well-made. Is 4 Charles worth a journey? Jun and I had some aspects of our experience that we liked a lot. On the other hand, if a restaurant’s worth is supposed to proportional to how hard it is to get a table here, I can’t say 4 Charles makes that case. I actually had an easier time scoring a table at Eleven Madison Park for my engagement dinner with Jun.
- Creativity: 8.0/10
- Execution: 7.5/10
- Ingredients: 8.0/10
- Flavor: 7.5/10
- Texture: 9.0/10
Address: 4 Charles Street, New York, NY 10014
Telephone: (212) 561-5992