A steak house might be described as Manly, Elegant or Down Home, depending on its location, target clientele and the type of image it wants to project. Open for under a month and centrally located just a few blocks west of Macy’s or east of Times Square, Desmond’s Steak House seems to indicate that one Steak House can be all things to all people, within reason of course. Occupying an 8,000 square-foot space (formerly the site an OTB) at 513 Seventh Avenue, Desmond’s is a welcome dining addition to a neighborhood that’s somewhat calling out for a renaissance. Before you even open a menu, the interior of Desmond’s offers you a choice of rooms and dining spaces in which to enjoy your meal, each with subtly different décor to suit your mood, or the size of your party.
Entering on 38th Street just east of Seventh Avenue, you’ll notice the restaurant’s ground floor meat locker, stuffed with cuts from Strassburger Meats (which also supplies steaks to Keen’s and Sparks) before ascending a glass block-encircled staircase featuring suspended deco globe lighting – very lovely and unique! At the top of the stairs a gorgeous, marble-topped wraparound bar welcomes you.
The front of the restaurant features tufted-leather booths that separate the bar from a private dining area – done in lighter finishes with distinctive architectural features like brick arches, fieldstone and porthole-like faux windows – that’s ideal for hosting a special event.
Follow the bar around to the right and you’ll pass a row of private booths perfect for a romantic dinner for two, before entering the massive, clubhouse-like dining room overlooking Seventh Ave – an open setting suited for anything from a family get together to a business dinner. No matter what the occasion, you’ll feel comfortable at Desmond’s.
To start our meal, we selected the Grilled Slab Bacon appetizer ($15), which was noticeably less fatty than the usual steakhouse pork belly, and the edges had a tasty crispiness. This dish is served with a smooth applesauce whose sweetness makes an excellent accompaniment to the tender, smokey meat.
The menu says that all meats are grain fed and aged 50 days, and as far as selection of prime cuts, all bases are covered. Red meat fans can choose from a NY Sirloin (which is their strip, available in 12oz and 16oz cuts), a T-bone (20oz), a Porterhouse (48oz, portioned for two), a Boneless Ribeye (20oz), a Cowboy Ribeye (bone in, 24oz) and a Filet (in 8 or 14oz portions). If steak is not your thing, they also have selection of delicious-sounding seafood entrees as well as a raw bar that we heard patrons seated near us raving about.
My dining companion and I chose to share the 14-ounce filet ($50). Served with a choice of five specialty sauces, we selected the Horseradish Cream. The generous portion of meat arrived with a perfectly pink interior, and was buttery tender with a flavorful, crispy sear, but we had a bit of an issue with the (unexpected) bone-in presentation.
It’s no secret that cooking meat on the bone enhances flavor, and while this is generally preferred with, say, a pork chop or fried chicken, on a filet it was just a distraction. I doubt anyone would argue the point that a filet is among the most consistently tasty cuts of beef available, and a fully trimmed cut would certainly not suffer for having the bone removed. Being as Desmond’s has an on-site butcher, perhaps they could consider offering a trimmed version of their filet in addition to the bone-in presentation. Since it is considered inappropriate to gnaw on a bone in a fancy restaurant, much of the delicious meat was lost to us – definitely the only disappointment of the evening.
As a second entrée, we selected the Grilled Veal Chop ($40) served with Horseradish Potato Puree and topped with sautéed Chanterelle Mushrooms. This grilled-to-perfection chop was thick, juicy, lean and scrumptious – qualifying as possibly the best veal chop in the city. My dining companion especially loved the Horseradish Potato Puree, declaring it to be the best she’d ever tasted.
For sides to share we chose the naturally sweet Creamed Spinach ($11), Mashed Potatoes ($9) and the sautéed Exotic Mushrooms ($11). I would say that each side serves 2 – 4 persons, depending on how many sides you order and individual appetites. The portions are definitely very generous!
We finished off a hearty meal with couple of small but satisfying sweet treats from Desmond’s enticing Dessert Menu. Vanilla Panna Cotta with Raspberries Three Ways ($8) was sweet and light with the best fresh raspberries I’ve ever tasted. The Warm Chocolate Cake ($9) has a delicious milk chocolate flavor but it virtually dissolved when we tried to divide it between us, so I’d advise you not to do, that unless you don’t mind the mess, which we did not.
Service at Desmond’s is top shelf and our server, David, was especially friendly, knowledgeable and accommodating. We look forward to exploring the menu further on a future return trip.
Update: Sadly, Desmond’s has permanently closed for business.