Frankie & Johnnie's Dining Review

Frankie & Johnnie’s Steakhouse is a culinary oasis. It’s in the Garment District, an area that justifiably has never been considered a gourmet nirvana.

The not-quite-a-year-and-a-half-old Frankie and Johnnie's Steakhouse on West 37th Street is an offshoot of the one on West 45th Street (as are Frankie & Johnnie’s in Rye, NY, and Hoboken, New Jersey) that was established in 1926 as a speakeasy. Unlike the throwback-to-yesteryear original, where its many devoted customers won’t let its owners change any thing, this newcomer is a relaxing, spacious beauty. The owners intelligently retained the massive dark wood fireplace and paneled stained glass ceiling at this white table cloth, all-American steakhouse where the 37th Street Hideaway once stood. Its lineage dates back as John Drew Barrymore’s old townhouse.

The remainder of this classy, understated spot is all new: candles flickering on light yellow walls trimmed with dark wood, framed mirrors, temperature-controlled, glassed-in wine racks, carpeting, shaded lighting and subdued music. Experienced, snappily-dressed waiters provide smooth, knowing service. All the familiar American comfort food favorites are on the menu (shrimp cocktail, lobster bisque, french fries, creamed spinach, cheesecake and more) and the USDA Prime steaks are dry-aged for at least 21 days. Those steaks are also deeply marbled, juicy and arrive with a flask of sweetish Frankie & Johnnie’s steak sauce.

All systems are go at this high powered, quintessential, big city, red meat
emporium. The first clue comes with the bountiful bread basket filled with warm onion and fluffy white rolls, boards and onion focaccia.

First courses included onion soup capped with a think layer of cheese and dense sweet onions, a jumbo shrimp cocktail with four fresh, firm fellows accompanied by a lively red sauce, a refreshing pillbox of pristine tuna tartare and—best of all—a salad of crisp, crunchy frisee blanketed with crumbled bleu cheese.

These are no surprises among the entrees, and the diners who go to Frankie & Johnnie’s Steakhouse don’t want any. Steak reigns here. Try the gutsy, tasty sirloin or the sprawling, alive-with-juice T-bone. The latter is a good substitute for a single diner who plans to order a porterhouse, since they’re available only for two or three people.

Speaking of substitutes, patrons who enjoy meat-centered meals but aren’t in the mood for beef would be well-advised to order the two moist, mile high, double loin lamb cops that are full of flavor. An osso buco special with fresh green beans held a lot of soft, tender, fall away meat, and a rich creamed spinach side dish was a superior send up as were the mildly garlicky mashed potatoes.

All desserts are housemade. The number one choice is the tart key lime pie with real whipped cream and raspberry sauce. Second in line is the silky, chocolate mousse cake. Other worthwhile selections are the apple strudel and the cheesecake.

32 W. 37th St. btw. Fifth & Sixth Aves., 212-947-8940. (Also: 269 W. 45th St. @ Eighth Ave., 212-997-9494; Hoboken, NJ & Rye, NY)

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