Bobby Van was a musical actor most probably known for his Broadway career in the 1950s and 1970s. People in show biz love to have their own restaurants. He opened his first one in Bridgehampton, Long Island where he tended bar and played the piano. The restaurant’s focus was prime USDA meats and fresh seafood. Although he died in 1980, his legend lived on in the form of what is now a chain of restaurants to include a steakhouse located at 135 W. 50th Street, the heart of the theatre district.
Not all Bobby Van’s are alike and at this steakhouse location Craig Jermin, the Executive Chef, prides himself on obtaining the best cuts of meat and from different purveyors and a few of his own signatures non-meat signatures and sides.
I noticed one most pleasant change in steakhouses…there were two female persons on the wait staff! General Manager Paul Modica and I talked about this since I have constantly seen only the male gender doing this work. It doesn’t matter here since the amount of space allows for carts, rather than arms filled with heavy plates. Years ago steakhouses were geared towards the male population and cigars. My how the years have gone, bye!
Appetizers to begin. Lobster Cocktail. A chick (one pound) lobster served with a cocktail sauce and mustard remoulade. For those who want to spice it up, a small plate with horseradish and a teeny bottle of Tabasco sauce is there, as well. The lobster was not of the frozen ilk.
A flavor bouncing Crab Cake appeared. It was a combination of fresh lump crab meat, eggs, mayo, heavy cream, and other goodie including fresh chives and bread crumbs. The amount of ingredients did not overpower the amount of crab meat in any way. It was served with a mustard remoulade, micro greens and lemon wedge.
What is a Harry Salad? Paul tells me that steakhouses tend to have salads named after someone that may or may not pertain to the restaurant itself but tend to have similar ingredients. Now get this one! It’s a combo of chopped shrimp, string beans, chopped tomatoes, red onions, roasted red peppers, and chopped bacon tossed in a shallot vinaigrette. Harry is topped with a non-chopped shrimp and the vinaigrette enhanced the salad. Hint, hint…this would make for an excellent lunch in itself. Photo shows only half a portion.
I have found that an accomplished test of the chef’s talent is not necessarily a steak, but seafood that has not come out of a shell, especially when Chilean Sea Bass on is on the menu. Craig must have done a lot of experimenting to get this obviously perfected dish. It cannot be overcooked nor have a “fish” flavor. In fact, I tend to recommend Chilean Sea Bass for people who “don’t like fish”.
What was done with this made it even more savory. This 10-oz cut was glazed with Tamari, over a mix of asparagus, shitake mushrooms, baby bok choy in a truffle broth. For those who are not familiar with Tamari…it is a Japanese soy sauce that is brewed with wheat to enhance the flavor and color. Tends to be stronger than soy sauce but not as salty. When they prepare the glaze the tamari is cut with miso paste in order to adhere to the fish. Spoon was nearby to enjoy the broth.
Now it’s time for the steak, a prime NY Sirloin. I requested it to be “medium” and it was. The center was a bit on the rare side (which is what I like) while it spread out to pink to well done on the outside. I have to admit that one of the reasons that I chose this temperature is for leftovers. I can heat it up and the center will simply turn pink. Salt and pepper on the steak along with a side of steak sauce (made by the now famous chef). Our waitress, Keri, another Queensite, presented this delish dish. Here, you can get a glimpse of the restaurant’s décor that screams mahogany, glass, mirrors and high ceilings.
I had to check on the sides; two more “tests”. Creamed spinach is one. I hate that after taste of cooked spinach…if you know what I mean. None here. Probably because the recipe called for fresh baby spinach, diced onions, chicken broth, heavy cream and nutmeg. The other is Mac and Cheese. Chef Craig gave a combo of English white cheddar and grana padada cheese along with heavy cream and some seasonings.
Yes, I did indulge in some of the desserts. They don’t employ a pastry chef so except for a few, they are handpicked from different sources. One of the most interesting in both presentation and taste is a 21-layer crepe with pastry cream in between each layer. The top appears to be caramelized. Enjoy an extra appetizer or side dish rather than hold out for a dessert.
Fresh berries in a chocolate "cup" can never be bad and I did sample the gelato. Unfortunately it did not live up to the one at I Dream of Gelato in Provincetown. Oh well.
Me and the chef are now buddies. :)
It’s Restaurant Week up until February 8th and Bobby Van’s is participating. A three-course lunch costs $25, dinner, $35. Check out their menu on www.bobbyvans.com