Credit where it’s due: The ribeye is a thick, handsome beast, freakishly well-marbled, rallying with age. It’s a star. But draped over the ribeye, like a luxurious crimson caftan, is a super-fatty, extraordinarily delicious cut known as the deckle, the calotte, or the ribeye cap.
Visually, the cap does not make much of an impression. At Bowery Meat Co. in Manhattan’s East Village, you’ll find it neatly rolled and sliced—a helix of fat and muscle—with dark, seriously crisp edges and a rare center, on a spill of buttery mashed potatoes. They call it the Bowery steak, and though it looks precious compared with more hulking bone-in steaks on the menu, its flavors are big: intense, mellow, and long.
Josh Capon is the chef here, and he occasionally paces the room in whites, congratulating a table on its ambitiously large orders, or joining in as some tipsy family launches into an off-key, off-rhythm, totally sweet rendition of Happy Birthday for their grandma. Capon is also the chef behind Lure and El Toro Blanco, and his newest restaurant draws the same crowd. There are bankers in their summer pastels, loyalists to Butcher King Pat Lafrieda’s meat, luxe business meetings from out of town celebrating a new deal, and dates casually dropping $140 on a côte de bœuf for two.
The dining room feels midcentury modern, with plenty of brass wrapped around wood, and soft leather. In short, it looks like exactly the sort of place one goes to focus on a big, beautiful, paprika-rubbed veal chop, with a nice crust and a juicy grilled orange—when you squeeze this over the top, the juice melds with the butter on the plate to make a sublime fennel-tinged sauce. As the blinds go down in the late evening, things would feel very deluxe—if Snow’s Informer weren’t blasting on the speakers.
Bowery Meat Co. may not call itself a steakhouse, but the steak list does go 13-deep, and almost everything is served in large portions, from the meatballs to the chocolate cake. The tomahawk ribeye, sliced off the bone, is meant to serve two but could easily serve additional people if you’re ordering other dishes (even more if you count your dogs—for whom you should of course bring home that absurdly long beef bone, still embroidered with a bit of dry-aged meat).
On a recent evening, the duck lasagna for two fed four adult humans. The top was thick, dark brown, and crunchy, layered with salty threads of duck meat and big pieces of melted cheese. The meatballs, which taste almost dankly beefy, as if hearts and liver had been ground up along with fatty wagyu trimmings, certainly weren’t cocktail size.
This is, to be clear, a steakhouse. And season-indicating vegetables beyond potatoes are mostly unwarranted because there is no spring, no summer, no winter, no fall for the steakhouse. In the stronghold of beef, it is always potato-o-clock (though if you’re looking for summery lightness and brightness and that sort of thing, you could spend a little time with the zucchini carpaccio). Skip the fries and the hash and focus your attention on the fondant, a wide piston of potato browned so convincingly, in butter, that it seems to have actually become butter, meltingly soft and creamy inside.
There is unnecessary weight on the menu. Bowery Meat Co., in the height of summer, is serving fried polenta with a hearty stew of mushrooms and tomato, along with short rib ravioli. These dishes are fine, but they’re obscenely heavy distractions from the task at hand: steak. And if you really want to enjoy it, you’ll have to strategize your order carefully. Some broiled oysters to start, still fat in their shells, under a fine, soft layer of breadcrumbs, cheese, and butter, is a smart way to kick off the evening. So is a wedge salad, if you really owe it to yourself to order a salad.
As you plan, keep in mind that the desserts are pretty mediocre. The chocolate cake looks stunning, but it’s cold and bland. The vanilla ice cream has a high, alcoholic, artificial edge. And there is no cheesecake. What kind of steakhouse is this, anyway?
Bowery Meat Company is at 9 East 1st Street (East Village); + (212) 460-5255 or bowerymeatcompany.com
Rating: 2/4 Stars (Very Good)
What to Order: Broiled oysters ($21); steak tartare ($21); little gem wedges ($15); duck lasagna for two ($48); grilled veal chop ($52); Bowery steak ($56); Tomahawk ribeye ($156); cheeseburger ($22)
Who’s Next to You: Bankers in their summer pastels; luxe business meetings from out of town; thirtysomethings on dates.
Soundtrack: As if a wedding DJ with a fixation on the very early '90s had taken over—plenty of Smiths in rotation with the Spin Doctors.
Need to Know: The house cocktails can be unpredictably sweet and out of balance, but the bartenders are excellent if you persuade them to make you the classics. Otherwise, stick with wine.