Saturday, July 11, 2009

Bay What?

I think the last--and possibly only--time that I visited Bay Ridge was in the late 1980s when my parents went to pick up their Volvo station wagon at the Bay Ridge Volvo dealership.  Pretty much the only details I knew about Bay Ridge were: 1. There was a Volvo dealership there, 2. It was farther into Brooklyn than Park Slope, and 3. My friend Peter lived there and drove to the train station in Sunset Park in the mornings because it was too dang far from the City.  

But I spend a lot of time in Brooklyn and I've learned that you can save more than a few pennies eating in the boroughs instead of eating on the island.  Last night was a terrific case in point.  A google search for "steak" led us to Austin's Steak House in Bay Ridge.  Decor is Sopranos-inspired.  Maitre'd might actually work for the mafia.  More than a few male patrons were wearing loafers without socks.  The woman sitting by herself at the bar in high high heels and a lot of lycra is, my date assures me, a prostitute.  Not that I really care.  A man in his 60s singing misquoted pop songs floats around the dining room with a microphone "delighting" guests.  Or whatever you want to call it.  I couldn't make this stuff up if I tried. 

We skipped appetizers, the traditional steakhouse platitudes: shrimp cocktail, caesar salad, crab cakes.  In retrospect, we could have skipped sides, too; our skinny asparagus with browned garlic came undersalted and mashed potatoes were too watery in consistency.  But oh, the steak.  I can't believe I'm writing this, but I'm pretty sure that's the best steak I've ever eaten in New York. 

It was a cowboy steak, otherwise known as a rib-eye.  It came on the bone, an inch-plus thick.  It had the black crust that only comes with super high heat and a butter glaze at the end of cooking.  It was a little too salty (believe it or not), but the meat itself had the dense funk of honest-to-goodness dry aging.  It was just as black-and-blue as I'd ordered it, with a perfect deckle at the top of the rib.  What can I say? I'd put that baby up against a Luger porterhouse any day of the week.  Even my date's filet mignon (ugh), definitely not my cup of tea, tasted remarkably good.  

Austin's is not a whole-package experience.  If you want that, go to BLT Prime, or another trendy steakhouse that serves overpriced and admittedly delicious side dishes and desserts (Austin's sources their desserts from elsewhere and we didn't even bother trying them).  But if you truly want the best rib-eye in New York, I think I've found it.  Trust me, I'm just as surprised as you are. 

Austin's Steak House
8915 5th Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11209

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