High Steaks Dining
Recently, having done a considerable amount of work for an even more considerable fee for some good clients and friends, they were forward enough to strongly suggest that I should treat them to dinner for all they had paid me, so at their choice we dined recently at Bones. Luckily for me they did not know that for what I charged them I would have taken them to Bacchanalia. It had been a while since I had dined at either Bones, Chops, Hal’s or Rathbun’s Steak, which have the reputation as the places to go for high steaks dining, so in the future I will bite the bullet, leave my clients at home, and visit the other three with only Mrs. Curmudgeon in tow for a comparison. Those reports will follow.
It was boy’s night out for us, which seemed appropriate given the clubby atmosphere of the restaurant. As I entered, the bar was full, but with only two female patrons. Apparently Bones, or at least their bar, is a bastion of masculinity. Seated promptly, the four of us started with drinks, martinis for three of us and a glass of wine for the fourth. The martinis were well made and met my criteria of filling (almost) the glass. While I didn’t have to lean over to take the first sip (the benchmark) it was a respectable presentation. With the drinks came a hot boule, which curiously was not sliced, nor was a knife served with it, creating the problem that to have a piece of bread required tearing off a chunk, which not only scattered portions of crust everywhere, but the force required to perform that feat compressed the otherwise delectable interior into a heavy mass rather than a light and airy crumb. Nevertheless, it served the purpose keeping copious amounts of butter from direct contact with my hand. While it didn’t bother me or those at my table, diners less familiar with each other may have some qualms about others handling their food. Next up was an appetizer of foie gras for the table – two rather large pieces, each served on a slice of brioche lightly toasted, with a layer of melted brie under the foie gras. Dividing each piece in two made a nice start to the meal. With the appetizer came our salads. Two of us had very nice Caesars, served with boquerones rather than the more familiar and salty variety. The croutons, however, were bready rather than toasty. The other two diners had the well made crab and avocado salad.
At the point our glasses were empty, the waiter asked if we wanted another round. I and my wine drinking guest each ordered a glass of wine, requesting it be brought with our entrees, and the martini drinkers declined further libation. This led to two of the three service flaws that night. When we ordered the wine the waiter suggested we get a bottle since it was more economical. When I suggested that he bring us the bottle for less than the price of two glasses he back-peddled. Upselling and hustling have no place in fine dining. The second flaw was that our meals arrived without the wine, leaving me with the Sophie’s Choice of fine dining. Do I let my meal get cold while waiting on the wine or do I start the meal without the wine to enhance the experience? The wine appeared about three minutes later, but since my expectations for spot on service rise in direct proportion to the prices charged, I consider it a flaw. The third flaw of the evening was having to make two requests for more butter. Picky? Possibly, but see the aforementioned standard, and I have commented in a previous article that good service should be anticipatory rather than reactionary.
On to the food. I had a New York strip, two of my guests had the bone in ribeye and one had the filet. Each steak was prepared perfectly as to temperature, but across the board we thought there was heavy hand with salt in the kitchen. For sides we had truffled mashed potatoes, sautéed spinach and mushrooms. I found the sides to lack creativity. The mushrooms were substantially button mushrooms, and I found myself longing for the addition of some wild varieties. The spinach could best be described as spinach and only the potatoes stood out for the addition of garlic and truffle oil.
Well sated, only one guest had need of dessert. All of the desserts had the “made elsewhere” look about them, and across the board we were disappointed that crème brulee was not on the list. Nevertheless, the mile high ice cream pie, served with four iced plates and spoons, was a nice ending to the meal. All in for four people – $531.00. As I said above, it could have been much worse. Would I return? I’ll let you know after I visit the remaining contenders.