Saturday, April 5, 2008

Restaurant: Angelo & Maxie's

Yes, I know, yet another steakhouse, but I can't help it if steak is popular, but at least this one is near union square and didn't take me to scary places like midtown west. On my trip to Angelo & Maxie's a group of 6 borderline professional eaters including myself were celebrating a recent engagement of a friend. We picked the steakhouse for a couple of reasons - it was steak, it could handle a rather boisterous group of guys, and it wasn't overly expensive. We went in with no pretense of expecting the best steak we had ever had, and we left knowing it was by no means the best steak we ever had.

We had three bottles of wine throughout the meal, but they were all somewhat after thoughts to the actual food. None of them were too expensive, and on average probably came to about $50 a bottle which is not bad at all for any restaurant, let alone a steak house. The bread was actually a pleasant surprise, including a nice selection of rolls, and soft doughy pretzel bread. We all decided to forego appetizers and just concentrate on tons of meat and sides. 2 groups of 2 decided to share the porterhouse for 2, while another person got the 13oz filet mignon with béarnaise sauce. I myself went with the 13oz filet mignon au poivre (a personal favorite when it comes to steak). The sides can be ordered as smalls or larges, and we of course assumed we would need large shoestring fries, onion strings, garlic mashed potatoes, 2 creamed spinach, and fried zucchini sticks. Our waitress suggested, and thank god she did, to split the fries and onion strings into a single large order.

The guys who had the porterhouse seemed very happy with their steaks, and all seemed to eat as quickly as possible to make sure they "got their money worth" in meat. The filet with béarnaise sauce also seemed to make the person next to me happy, although I tasted the sauce and it was extremely lacking in flavor, closer to a tartar sauce than a béarnaise. My steak, while very tasty was a little over cooked, and also lacked that certain flavor that the better steak houses seem to always have with their meat. Maybe it's how they cook it, how they age it, or just the quality of the steak, but I wouldn't even put it in the top five au poivre steaks I've had. While the au poivre part of the steak was good, the sauce itself lacked much flavor, and relied too much on the pepper and high quality cut of meat, and was a total after thought.

Apparently one thing that Angelo & Maxie's prides itself on is its portion size, which I guess would be great, if we had known that in advance. When the sides first started appearing we were a bit shocked. Depending on the steakhouse you will either get small sides, or bigger sides, but nothing like what we got. The same size platter that held the porter house for two contained foot tall piles of fried zucchini, and the other platter was just as tall split in half with fries and onion strings. The bowls of mashed potatoes and creamed spinach were equally huge, and we realized suddenly that we had extremely over ordered. Despite this we did our best to try to clear our plates, taking it up as a challenge. The fries, sadly, were nothing more than filler, but the onion strings were light, crispy and flavorful. Garlic mashed potatoes were just a bit too much garlic for me, and with all the other heavy foods on the table I had as little as possible. The two biggest standouts for the sides were creamed spinach and fried zucchini. We managed to finish both spinach bowls and even argued over who could get the last spoonful. It was rich, but the cream in the dish didn't overwhelm the actual spinach and made for a great classic side. The fried zucchini (arguably the healthiest thing eaten the whole night) was crispy when it first came out, and seemed to use the same batter as the onion crisps which meant you didn't just feel like you were eating fried dough. The horseradish dipping sauce was both cool and tangy, and almost refreshing compared with all the other food. Sadly, by the time we got the bottom of the huge dish the zucchini had become soggy and lost its crispness.

The idea of dessert was almost a joke, as we all sat around wondering how we could possibly go out drinking afterwards, but all in all the meal was a success when we realized that we got all that food for only $500 (including a very hefty tip). Angelo & Maxie's, while not on the same level as the better steak houses in New York, is a good deal, with good enough food and has a fun and easy going vibe to it.

There aren't that many steakhouses near union square...

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