Last night's challenge did hook onto a major dining trend here in New York City and that's the steakhouse. The list of exceptional steakhouses has grown over the years from iconic stalwarts like Peter Luger's, the Palm, Sparks, Old Homestead, and Smith and Wollensky to include high end temples of grass-fed, house-aged, and Wagyu beef like Chef Tom's very own Craftsteak, BLT Steak, BLT Prime, Porter House, Quality Meats, and most recently Steve Hanson's newly opened Primehouse, which I just reviewed last week on my blog, The Strong Buzz.
While many of the best steaks in the city are served at these steakhouses, what's even more impressive to me is when I find a great steak at a regular restaurant. Here are two of my favorite spots for just that: The NY Strip Steak at The Little Owl, 90 Bedford Street (at Grove), 212-741-4695. Chef Joey Campanaro was Top Chef Season One Harold Dieterle's mentor way back when they both cooked at The Harrison. They've both since departed, and you'll find Joey cooking at his snug little West Village gem, The Little Owl.
While the most ordered dish on the menu is his gravy meatballs sliders -- sliders made from veal, pork and beef and smothered in Sunday gravy and snuggled into homemade garlic Parmesan rolls -- my favorite dish is his NY Strip, which is one of the most flavorful steaks you'll find in the city. It's a rather gargantuan portion of beautifully seasoned buttery meat, grilled perfectly to medium rare (just the way I like it) and served with quick saute of radicchio, pancetta and balsamic that is shamelessly bold. If you are a fan of quiet little flavors this is not the steak for you. This one is a big bossy baritone.