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Quality Eats, NYC

Reimagining the steakhouse experience with affordable (but still decadent) cuts of meat

by Nara Shin
on 01 April 2016

TGIF—and what better way to treat yourself after a week of hard work than a steak and martini? Making this reward easy on the wallet and perhaps even a regular occasion, NYC restaurant Quality Eats (opened last November) has a surfeit of affordable, decadent gifts in meat form. With steaks ranging from $19 to $29, it discards higher prices along with the stuffiness and formality of traditional steakhouses in the way its older sibling Quality Meats has been doing just south of Central Park. Yet, it's a far cry from Outback or Sizzler (interestingly, owner Michael Stillman's father Alan Stillman founded the first TGI Friday's in NYC, back in 1965). The West Village space pays attention to design—work by NYC-based Reunion Goods & Services, also responsible for The Happiest Hour across the street—keeping the attitude casual and approachable.

Quality Eats centers their menu on off-cuts like the bavette (first image), top blade-flatiron and long-bone short rib, all the while bringing in refreshing creativity in recipes. (Much has been written about their Nueske's bacon appetizer served with peanut butter and jalapeno jelly, for example.) Their Don Ameche is an "Italian" twist on the French dish Tournedos Rossini (center cut filet, truffles, foie gras, and Madiera Sauce), transforming it into sliced filet, chicken liver, balsamic and roasted onions. We completely devoured their indulgent sandwich version.

"When cooking bavette versus a prime cut of meat like rib steak, ribeye or sirloin, you need to keep in mind that they are leaner cuts, and because of that, you need to compensate by cooking with more fat to get a better sear," explains Executive Chef Ryan Bartlow on the differences in preparation and approach. "Also, a cut like bavette isn't a uniform thickness, so you need to accept to a certain extent that the meat will not be as evenly cooked throughout as a prime cut would be. The bavette has a more pronounced and coarser grain line which means the cooked meat needs to be rested longer before you cut it. The larger the grain of meat, the more likely that you will lose juices when you cut into it. It's important to cut against the grain of the meat, so it's not overly chewy. To achieve a more tender texture is the final part of the process of serving an off-cut. Slicing is also a form of tenderization."

For the less beef-enthused, there are plenty of options: start with the shareable mezze platter topped with butternut farro falafel (note: there should more mezze on menus everywhere); try the grilled octopus which is cooked to a perfect, firm texture; and, while it comes with the bavette, be sure to dip a spoon into the sweet corn creme brulée.

As you avoid the guilt of overstuffing your face and spending too much—which is what happens when trips to the steakhouse are reserved for special occasions—Quality Eats might dangerously become a regular habit.

Quality Eats is open Wednesday to Friday for lunch, daily for dinner, and brunch on Saturday and Sunday.

Backroom interior image courtesy of Nicole Franzen, all other images by Nara Shin

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