November 19, 2008
NYC Food Guy likes steak. Unfortunately, steak doesn’t fall within the Food Guy’s budgetary constraints — until today. Enter Angelo & Maxie’s $20.99 Lunch Special, served Monday through Saturday, 11:30AM to 3PM, and comprised of three courses: 1) Soup of the day or Caesar/House Salad 2) 11 oz. NY Strip, 8 oz. Filet or Filet Au Poivre, 10 oz. Broiled Salmon over roast veggies, or Herb Roasted Chicken 3) Fruit plate, cheesecake or ice cream. Sounds great, but does a good price mean a good meal? Read on to find out…
French Onion Soup, 11 oz. NY Strip, Marble Cheesecake w/ Raspberry Sauce
Once you’ve tasted the best…
For those of us who have eaten great steak, this meal is going to disappoint, especially if you’re not willing to spend much more than the original $20.99. Keep in mind, the lunch special comes with no sides. What’s a steak meal without some potato, fried onion or creamed spinach? Unfortunately those will each cost you $7.95 for “small” sized portions. We’ll talk more about sides later, right now it’s steak time.
Looks Can Be Deceiving
I went with the 11 oz. NY Strip over the Filet because the latter is devoid of fat and therefore flavor. I was pleased with the size of the cut and the puddle of juice on the plate. My first cut into the meat spelled trouble. Very tough. This was surprising considering my medium rare order (red and warm) was delivered upon. Unfortunately, the steak just wasn’t very tender. I made sure to cut against the grain, but still, chewy and a little tough.
Naturally I still finished the entire piece, the outer char and inner beefy flavor were nice although they were not enhanced by the watery and bland steak sauce. Once you’ve had Peter Luger’s steak sauce, brimming with horseradish punch, it’s hard to enjoy another.
Although the Filet Mignon looks tender, my cousin said it was overcooked and flavorless.
Can You Mess Up Bread?
If the answer’s “yes”, then you know the meal’s in trouble. In regard to this bread basket, the answer was “slightly.” The onion rolls were stale and cool, a big disappointment, but the house roll was tasty and slightly warm and the flat crackers, dotted with bits of garlic and caraway seed, were fresh and crisp. Everything tasted a little better with the standard butter.
Go Green Instead
Soup of the day was either Split Pea or a $2.50 step up fee for French Onion Soup. Go big or go home right? French onion soup it is. The result was lackluster. In my mind, there can never be enough melted cheese on a French onion soup.
This version was more of a cheese yarmulka, barely overtaking the edges of the bowl. Inside, the requisite bread was a soggy variety of who-knows-what swimming in an over-peppered broth filled of sweet onion. It was edible but my cousin’s Caesar salad, crowned with two anchovies, looked much tastier.
Standard Sides… With One Exception
I was dining with both of my cousins, who can generally pack in as much food as the Food Guy, so we ordered three sides at $7.95 each: Onion Strings, Hash browns and Creamed Spinach. The onion strings and hash browns met the minimum steakhouse expectations, simple and moderately effective, but the creamed spinach was some of the worst I’ve had.
The onion strings were the best of the three sides. Crispy, light and plentiful, they tasted fresh and weren’t overly greasy.
The hash browns did what they were supposed to, provide the necessary potato aspect of the potato-onion-steak bite. Salty and bland, these hash browns merely sufficed; a crisp outer shell hid chopped potato, onion and pepper. Maybe we should have opted for the shoestring fries we spied on a neighboring table, they resembled a poor man’s Houston’s fries.
The creamed spinach was awful. It was salty, congealed almost instantly after hitting the plate and didn’t taste like spinach at all. People fall victim to ordering this side because it’s known as one of the steakhouse “basics.” I can honestly say it disappoints more often than not. The best I’ve had is probably at Rothmann’s Steakhouse in East Norwich, Long Island. There’s also a NYC Rothmann’s on 54th b/t 5th Ave & Madison.
When It Comes to Cheesecake, Quality Matters
Just like the steak, the cheesecake looked good but lacked star quality. The raspberry sauce was the saving grace for what was obviously a generic wholesale marble cheesecake. It was creamy but lacked the delicate quality that separates good cheesecake from medicore. The “marble” aspect was more decorative than flavorful and in the end, I left half the slice over. Should have went with the ice cream (chocolate or vanilla), you can’t mess that up.
Save Your Money For a Real Steak Meal
As they say in Vegas, the house always wins. I ended up spending $45, including a beer and tip, on a filling but lackluster meal which started at $20.99. The company of my cousins, one of whom was celebrating his 21st birthday, was the best part of the experience.
In the end, there’s no cutting corners when it comes to steak. Save your money. Go to a real steakhouse like Luger’s and become one with your inner carnivore. Your stomach and integrity will thank you.