Monday, January 2, 2012
Old Homestead Steakhouse Mixes Old with New
This past week, Dan and I took a much needed respite, ironically in a place that never sleeps. Not Las Vegas, but the closest thing to it, Atlantic City. We visited the Borgata Hotel & Casino, which was a lot of fun and felt very much like a Vegas-style experience - fancy restaurants included. And the one we chose to indulge in was The Old Homestead Steakhouse. Very curious about this 137 year old NY institution, we were even more hungry to know what it'd be like when transported out of its original NYC locale.
Situated on the ground floor of the luxurious Borgata Hotel & Casino, Old Homestead is one among six fine dining establishments in the hotel. And unlike the other five restaurants, I think it draws the biggest crowds and interest, due to its long-lived reputation of serving "domestically raised, hand massaged Kobe beef." We experienced this demand first hand, as even after we made a reservation in advance, we had to further wait another 30 minutes just to be seated.
The space itself feels very much like a modern steakhouse, with classic wooden furnishings, masculine colors like dark blues and browns, sleek velvet booths and large artwork dispersed throughout. As you look around a bit, you'll notice this place is populated either with couples, enjoying a nice romantic meal, or groups of men. As I said, masculinity very much permeated the space not only in decor but also in clientele.
Overall, we found the food to be simple yet of very good quality. The steak itself was delicious, but unfortunately the sides fell a little flat.
Appetizers - We chose 2 apps including the clams casino and the fresh mozzarella and roasted red pepper salad. Both were very good, but we were especially impressed with the salad, which was gorgeous-looking and colorful, with bright red peppers, milky white mozzarella and forest green basil. The whole thing was very simple but so wonderful, as the ingredients were top notch and the flavors very clean. I especially loved the balsamic glaze (different than just vinaigrette, as it was thicker and more syrupy) that rested on the bottom of the plate, and was just perfect for dipping the other ingredients into.
The clams were also very tasty and quite fresh. My favorite aspect were the generous pieces of crispy bacon, which were placed on top of each one - the layering of smoky and fresh-water flavors meshing together really well.
Steaks - The piece-de-resistance were the steaks of course, Dan getting the signature Gotham Rib, while I ordered the Petit Filet Mignon wrapped in bacon. Dan's was the stand-out of course, a massive 34 ouncer that even he couldn't believe he'd make a dent in. While the meat had a massive bone going through the middle, as ribeyes do, there was plenty of medium rare meat to get through. I had a bite and really enjoyed the succulent meat, flavored simply but deliciously, showing that it didn't need much else to hold its own.
My Petit Filet was really good too, being cooked perfectly to medium consistency. I enjoyed the house steak sauce that came along with it as a condiment, giving the meat a bit more tang and personality. What disappointed me was the bacon that was supposed to be wrapped around the meat, but which instead rested limply along the side of the steak. While it was pretty good, I was expecting something thicker, smokier, and more substantial.
Sides - Our two side dishes included onion rings and hash browns that actually rested on the base of my petit filet. Both were pretty good but didn't live up to our expectations or to the excellence we experienced at other steakhouses such as Ben and Jack's. While the onion rings were crunchy enough, they were still on the greasy side and the hash browns lacked personality and pizazz. Besides not being seasoned enough, they fell flat on texture too, as they could've been crispier on the outside.
Service and Cost:
While the food was a little lackluster, the service was just the opposite. Despite the modern setting we were in, the service was old-school-attentive and courteous, which I loved. Our waiter referred to us as "gentleman" and "lady" on almost every encounter, which was charming and transported us to a different time.
I'm happy to report that all dishes were brought out in good time, glasses refilled when needed and the check expedited in a timely fashion. It was all on-point and I'm sure the original owners would be happy to see that.
Costs are not surprisingly very expensive, given this is a fine dining establishment in a luxury hotel & casino. The dinner set us back about $180 including drinks and all the above-mentioned food.
Old Homestead Steakhouse - 1 Borgata Way, Atlantic City NJ 08401