The best beef in town right now isn’t a $140 porterhouse at jumbo steakhouses like Peter Luger or Wolfgang’s. It’s $28 Skirt Steak at Laurent Tourondel’s New Skirt Steak – where it’s the only thing on the menu. It’s just ridiculously spectacular. I haven’t had such a delectable steak in years.
For the record, the steak comes with unlimited fries and a Matterhorn shaped and large green salad worthy of a fine French restaurant.
Tourondel, the brilliant chef who created the BLT Steak chain that he is no longer involved in, is a man of many business models. He is also the owner of restaurant L’Amico and bar-lounge the Vine, both neighbors of Skirt Steak at the Eventi Hotel, as well as a manager and consultant at locations across the US.
Skirt Steak is something new for him: he bets the ranch on a single dish that either thrills the millions of diners or just kills the place. The lines stretching across the sidewalk indicate how the story will end.
Skirt steak, a thin, flat cut of the diaphragm muscle that is cheaper than ribeye and filet mignon, is often tougher than tasty. But Tourondel’s version is just delicious and deliciously chewy.
The beef originally came from Niman Ranch. But now, due to high demand, it comes from “a select group of producers of the same quality,” the restaurant’s representative said. But after a first taste, I didn’t care if it came from Mars. (American Wagyu is sometimes available as a special at an additional cost.)
The steak arrives cut into five strips and a pool of gravy, after being lightly marinated and nicely grilled. The exact marinade is as secret as a Bitcoin password, but I’m damned if I haven’t tasted hoisin and soy sauces. The understated Asian backdrop tasted fireworks with the musky complexion of wispy, flavoursome cabbage. Peppercorn Béarnaise is the only sauce option and the only one you need: presented in a small side vessel, it adds to the poly-culinary pleasure.
The one-price, one-steak format started in NYC with Midtown’s Le Relais de Venise L’Entrecote in 2011. It’s currently closed, but my memories of the mediocre sirloin steak don’t compare in the slightest to the skirt inspiration of Tourondel.
Each steak is served rare, medium or well-done (no intermediate grades). I recommend medium, but be aware mine was red enough for many people to consider it rare. Very French! But it was not the least difficult.
The sides live up to the steak. The crispy fries, which they refill at no extra cost in the unlikely event that you can eat them, and the mountain of still crisp Boston lettuce, dressed perfectly in shallot vinaigrette, will make you glad you came. Colorful, high-calorie pies and cakes displayed on a cart are also available.
Despite all the delights of the restaurant, there are many inconveniences. The room resembles a bare barn of plain wood, from floorboards to rafters. There’s no jacket check and no table or chair cushions to muffle the roar of a rock soundtrack.
No reservations are accepted. Lone diners like me should sit at the square bar in the center of the room. And, lovers of shared plates, be warned – there aren’t any. Everyone should order his or her own individual meal for $28.
My 8-ounce steak was four ounces more than I could finish. But the portion they wrapped up nicely for me made a great lunch for the next day at home — and a reminder to go back.