Not many restaurants can stake a claim that it has existed since the early part of 19th century. Delmonico’s, which first opened in 1837 before going through different owners and locations, has been an iconic restaurant in New York’s dining scene. Before Peter Luger and Wolfgang’s of the world, it has stood out as one of the go-to steakhouses. When a friend of Jun visited recently, I suggested we try this place since it was closer to where we lived and I realized I had never thought to check it out before. So was the old-school classic as good as the other newer signature steakhouses in the city? I wish I could say yes because the way Delmonico’s prepares steaks was somewhat off my personal preferences.
Everyone has different expectations when it comes to a steak. Some, including someone famous (or infamous, I might say) at the top of the White House prefers a well-done steak with ketchup (!). For me, texture of a meat comes first and foremost (I really can’t go a meat cooked more than medium, and medium rare is usually the way to go); the next most important factor is the seasoning. Depending on how much salt you put into a steak, it could make a very big difference in the texture. I often find, to my great frustration, that kitchens at steakhouses seem to think adding as much salt as you can as if your dining guests are all very low on sodium in their body is a good idea. Delmonico’s was no exception in this regard.
After some serviceable appetizers of shrimp cocktail and wedge salad, I was looking forward to the boneless rib eye that arrived in front of me. The meat which I ordered medium rare came out closer to medium (still the meat came out juicy and tender), but the biggest issue was the seasoning. I had to keep wondering why the kitchen needed to put this much salt. Usually I finish an entire steak by myself (and I came to the restaurant pretty hungry after a very light lunch), but I had to put down my fork and knife after two-thirds of the way. I also stole some pieces of filet mignon from Jun; her meat was a lot more moderate in seasoning (and I liked the texture of the meat slightly more than the rib eye), but it could still use a tad less salt. The sides that we had (spinach, macaroni and cheese and mushrooms) were mostly OK but not particularly memorable, either.
Getting a reservation at Delmonico’s was pretty manageable, although the classic dining room was quickly packed with people (a good mix of tourists and working crowd from FiDi area) during the course of our meal. There is a full bar with some potent cocktails and an extensive wine list to complement your meal. Sure, Delmonico’s is an old-school classic that deserves recognition for setting the stone for storied history of New York City dining, but that doesn’t mean that the food here is as good as you think it is or should be. Perhaps a reckoning that a steak doesn’t have to put in a ton of seasoning would be a great start to bringing this place forward to the modern era of dining?
- Creativity: 7.0/10
- Execution: 7.5/10
- Ingredients: 8.0/10
- Flavor: 7.0/10
- Texture: 8.0/10
- Value: 7.0/10
Address: 56 Beaver Street, New York, NY 10004
Telephone: (212) 509-1144