Steakcraft: The Steaks at Resto and The Cannibal0
Editor’s Note: Please welcome longtime contributor Nick Solares back into the Serious Eats fold. On Steakcraft, he’ll look into the makings of New York’s premium steaks, with lots of juicy photos along the way. Take it away, Nick!—M.F.
Steak Fact Sheet
Cuts NY Strip, T-Bone, Cote de Boeuf (ribsteak)
Grade: All USDA Prime
Breed:Black Angus, Creekstone Farms
Dry Aged? NY Strip/T-Bone 28 Days, Cote de Bouef 50 days
Pre-Cooked Weight: NY Strip, 40 oz.; T-Bone, 50 oz.; Cote de Boeuf, 36 oz.
Price: NY Strip, $100; T-Bone, $150 (both served al la carte); Cote de Boeuf, $120, comes with marrow bone, Bernaise sauce, and two sides
Price per Ounce: NY Strip, $2.50; T-Bone, $3; Cote de Boeuf, $3.33
We have always been big fans of Resto here at Serious Eats: New York. From the early days in 2007 when owner Christian Pappanicholas enlisted the peripatetic Ryan Skeen to craft a menu to compliment the restaurant’s largely Belgian beer selection, we loved the results. Skeen took Belgium as a starting point but infused all sorts of local flavor and a ton of pork fat in to his dishes. Even his burger, which garnered critical acclaim, came larded with pig.
Later, with the ascension of Bobby Helen to head chef, we ate heartily at his large format feasts, frugally with no loss of flavor at lunch, and best of all on the Cote de Boeuf for two. And we cheered when Pappanicholas opened The Cannibal, a butcher and beer emporium, in an adjacent space to Resto last year.
Despite the early Low Country influence, Pappanicholas always maintained that Resto was principally an New York restaurant. And just as the city constantly evolves, his sister restaurants are also in a state of flux. The recent hiring of Cory Lane as manager and Preston Clark as chef mark a new chapter in the Resto / Cannibal story.
Lane, who last worked in New York as beverage director of Momofuku before heading out to California to run a wine label, brought in his culinary school friend Preston Clark, and the two have set about implementing a serious steak program at the two restaurants.
Clark is well suited for the task. As the son of a James Beard award-winning chef (Preston himself is a JBA nominee) he practically grew up in the kitchen before being classically trained at the Culinary Institute of America and spending seven years in the kitchen of Jean Georges Vongerichten. Clark’s previous job was as chef of El Paseo chophouse in San Francisco. He brings classic technique and a high-end sensibility, but also an understanding of chophouse dining.
Lane sees the new focus on steak as a logical outcome of the popularity of the restaurant’s large format dining, as well as the meat-centric nature of the menu in general. Resto often ran a Cote de Boeuf for two as a special, but it is now a permanent menu item both there and next door at The Cannibal. Additionally, there is usually either a New York strip or a T-bone (or both) as blackboard specials. Only Black Angus USDA Prime beef sourced from Creekstone Farms is used, expertly aged by Pat LaFrieda and fabricated into steaks in house.
Because the kitchen lacks the industrial sized grills of a steakhouse, necessity became the mother of invention, and cast iron skillets were pressed into service. Steaks are seared in oil, then basted in butter, thyme, and garlic before being finished in the oven. The process is far more labor intensive than a simple grilling, but it achieves an equally commendable crust and succulent interior on the steaks. The basting process imbues the steaks with a wonderful flavor—redolent with garlic, the thyme adding a herbaceous punch—the perfect complement to the over-the-top flavor of the dry-aged beef.
Resto is not trying to be a steakhouse, but rather a neighborhood restaurant that serves great steak. Mission accomplished.
Resto / The Cannibal
About the author: Nick Solares is a NYC-based food writer and photographer. He has published Beef Aficionado since 2007, with the stated purpose of exploring American exceptionalism through the consumption of hamburgers and steak. He has written over 350 restaurant reviews for Serious Eats since 2008 and served as the creative director for the award-winning iPad app Pat LaFrieda’s Big App for Meat. You can follow him on Instagram (@nicksolares) and Twitter (@beefaficionado).