CENTER CUT: WHERE STYLE AND SUSTAINABILITY MEET
Main Dining Room. Photo by Sam Horine
Location Empire Hotel – 44 West 63rd Street, Mezzanine Level
New York, NY 10023
Phone/Fax Numbers 212-956-1288 (212-956-1CUT) / 212-956-1289
Cuisine Steakhouse classics interpreted for a modern audience using naturally-raised (hormone and antibiotic free) meats, including an extensive assortment of succulent A La Carte Center Cuts, free-range fowl and sustainable seafood.
Owner Jeffrey Chodorow – China Grill Management
Executive Chef Bradley Day
Sommelier David Carreon
Designer New World Design Studios, LLC.
Seating Capacity Total Seating: 190
Main Dining Room: 156
Dining Room/Bar Hours Monday – Wednesday: 5pm – 11pm
Thursday, Friday & Saturday: 5pm – 12am
Sunday: 5pm – 10pm
$39 Pre & Post Theater Prix Fixe: 5-7pm and after 10pm: 2 Courses (& Cookies to Go)
Bar closes 1 hour after restaurant
Price Range Starters: $9-$19; Entrées: $25-$78
Credit Cards All Major: Visa, American Express, MasterCard & Diners Club
Accessibility Wheelchair accessible
Reservations Highly recommended
Another Winner From Jeffrey Chodorow
Review By Nancy Walman
Photo by Sam Horine
Specializing in naturally and humanely raised meats and ocean-friendly seafood, Center Cut delivers old-world elegance and classic cuisine with a contemporary twist.
Like so many nightly performances at the neighboring Lincoln Center, Center Cut, the latest restaurant from Jeffrey Chodorow’s China Grill Management (CGM), interprets a classic form for a modern audience. Feeling very much at home in the historic Empire Hotel, much like its menu, Center Cut’s interior design exhibits a similar push/pull relationship with tradition. Chris Kofitsas of New World Design Builders worked to create a space that merges old with new, warmth with whimsy and the classic with the ultra-modern.
The restored mahogany paneling and terrazzo floors retain the elegant charm of the original space–creating a sense of old-world opulence heightened only by the dark leather VIP banquettes, custom chandeliers and dramatic sweeping floor-to-ceiling curtains. In contrast, a propensity for the playful (manifested in the mirrored “ballet bar” lounge), the inventive (a bar top of stunning “center cut” agate quartz), and the ornate (a recurring spiraling design motif that echoes itself in wrought-iron railings, embroidered upholstery and the Venetian plaster frieze) ensures you that this is definitely not your grandfather’s steakhouse.
A Menu Thirty Years in the Making
Steak Rossini Photo By Bill Horin
“The timing felt right and the location was perfect,” responded CGM’s Corporate Chef, Luke Rinaman, when asked why, after a career-long fascination with the ecology of food, he encouraged Chodorow to dedicate the menu at Center Cut to eco-friendly cuisine. “New York is one of the few areas in the country where this food is readily available and we believe that both the residents of the Upper-West Side of Manhattan and the patrons who attend performances at Lincoln Center are the type of people who appreciate where their food comes from, how it was produced, and how those factors affect the quality of their meal, their health and their environment.”
To transform this vision into a plate-by-plate reality, Rinaman turned to CGM veteran Bradley Day to serve as Executive Chef. Day’s culinary journey spans three continents and includes stints in Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s kitchen at Vong, Asia de Cuba in London and New York, and most recently as Executive Chef for CGM’s flagship restaurant, China Grill in New York City.
Classic Cuisine. Contemporary Conscience.
The menu of steakhouse “classics,” revives the grand style of a bygone era through its contemporary sensibility: a classic steakhouse with a commitment to serving naturally raised meats, sustainable seafood and local produce (when in-season).
The perfect meal at Center Cut begins with a selection from the Sea Bar where fresh, sustainable shellfish such as Pacific Olympic Oysters, Alaskan King Crab and Jumbo Pink Shrimp (the best in New York) and Stone Crab are served up with an array of inventive, house-made accompaniments like Oven-Dried Tomato & Horseradish Cocktail Sauce, Trebbiano Balsamic Vinegar & Lampong Peppercorn Mignonette, and Flash-Roasted Serrano Pepper Rouille. The housemade rolls are exquisite, but go easy. Portions are generous.
Many of the Appetizers at Center Cut offer a luxurious reworking of popular standards. Mushroom Strudel (below) Photo By Sam Horin.
The traditional stuffed mushroom gets a regal upgrade (with Maine Lobster Claw and chive butter); crab cakes are prepared with extra substance and style (with lump blue crab meat and blood orange marmalade), and bacon-wrapped scallops are elevated to the sublime (with plump diver scallops, black truffles, Berkshire bacon and apple ponzu brown butter). Soups are given a similar treatment: French Onion soup gets “inverted” (with a rich, three-onion soup served atop croutons and gruyère fondue); Double Lobster Bisque is “doubled” yet again (with chunks of lobster meat in a twice-reduced broth); and Manhattan Clam Chowder gets a rustic revision (with whole little neck clams and spicy house-made oyster crackers). Other stand-out appetizers include Bouillion-Poached Sable Fish with a champagne cream sauce and estate caviar and a Moulard Duck Foie Gras Terrine with a house-made concord grape compote.
Lobster Bisque. Photo By Bill Horin
Salads at Center Cut range from simple Seasonal Greens in a raspberry vinaigrette; to a Classic Caesar (with or without fried sardine fillets) and an Heirloom Tomato & House-Made Mozzarella Compression with opal basil and virgin olive oil.
Giving new life to the hallmarks of mid-20th Century haute cuisine is Center Cut’s selection of Modern Classics. Familiar, yet almost forgotten names like Oscar, Diane and Rossini are restored to their former grandeur thanks to some culinary ingenuity and the exclusive use of Brandt Beef, raised without hormones and fed a vegetarian corn-based diet for more than 300 days without the use of antibiotics.
Center Cut’s Steak Oscar is served with a blue crab-stuffed artichoke bottom and sauce béarnaise; fried oyster mushrooms and house-made oak-aged Worcestershire are featured in the glorious Steak Diane; a toasted brioche crouton slowly soaks up the juices of the succulent beef fillet and seared foie gras that lie atop it in the decadent Steak Rossini. Other Modern Classics include Steak au Poivre with red peppercorn crust and braised Belgian endive; Steak Brochette with sauce bordelaise and poached marrow; The “New York” Steak with mushroom caps and caramelized onions; and a mustard, scallion and herbed panko-crusted Colorado Lamb Rack.
The restaurant’s namesake is its extensive assortment of succulent A La Carte Center Cuts of meat and fish including an Australian Wagyu Tenderloin (served in 4oz or 8oz cuts), a 12oz King Salmon Steak and an 8-Hour Roasted Brandt Beef Prime Rib (served in 8oz or 16oz cuts) among others. Many of the center cuts are available in two portion sizes, making them a versatile choice whether your meal is the evening’s main attraction or simply a prelude or denouement to a night at Lincoln Center. Guests also have the option to upgrade any of the above entrées to “surf and turf” status with the addition of a half or whole 1&½ lb lobster.
Center Cut also features two outstanding rib dishes (the “Flinstone” Beef Rib with Lincoln’s BBQ sauce and Korean Style Short Ribs with a scallion and vegetable pancake), two hearty poultry dishes (Crisped Duck Breast with a wild rice and duck confit galette and Dijon & Thyme Crusted Free Range Chicken with roasted baby root vegetable ragout) and a handful of sustainable seafood preparations, including inventive creations such as Baked Ziti Lobster Thermidor and Hot Smoked King Salmon with poached asparagus, morel mushrooms and dried cherry butter.
To accompany their entrées, guests can choose from an assortment of scene-stealing Sides which, in addition to classics like Steamed Asparagus and Sautéed Spinach with Garlic, include Balsamic Caramelized Cipollini, Roasted Corn & Manchego Flan, terrific Eggplant Fries and Creamed Spinach and Artichoke Pie.
Sumptuous Sides. Photo By Bill Horin
Meals at Center Cut end in grand fashion as flambé carts are wheeled tableside for the preparation of Bananas Foster, Cherries Jubilee, Peach Melba or Crêpe Suzette. Guests seeking to indulge their sweet tooth without all the fanfare can settle into one of Center Cut’s signature ice cream sundaes and shakes, or opt for the simple pleasure of warm house-made cookies with milk.
Cocktails come in two categories: Classics and Center Cut Signatures. Classic cocktails are prepared precisely as they would have been half a century ago and include a Rob Roy, Tom Collins, Side Car and French 75, to name a few. Signature Cocktails feature contemporary top-shelf spirits in creative concoctions, often incorporating fresh herbs and/or fruit. Showstoppers include the Monteverdi Mojito with 10 Cane Rum, muddled basil and lime; Rhapsody in Blue with Imperia Vodka, Patron Citronge, Blue Curacao and cranberry juice; “Rum” Raisin Daiquiri with raisin-infused Leblon Cachaça, maple syrup and fresh lime; The Tristan with Glenfiddich Scotch, Bushmills whisky, orange juice and Angostura bitters and The Isolde (Tristan’s softer, sweeter counterpart) with Markers Mark bourbon, honey and muddled strawberries.
Center Cut also offers a two-hundred bottle wine list featuring an extensive selection of organic and sustainable wines, while a concise selection of craft beers runs the spectrum from a light and snappy Japanese white ale from Hitachino to a dark and nuanced Belgian dubbel made by the trappist monks of Westmalle Abbey.
Center Cut serves a nightly pre and post-performance prix fixe menu featuring a choice of soup and salad with main course and side, served in “two acts” with a bag of housemade cookies to go. For $39, this gets our vote as the town’s best buy in upmarket prix fixe dining. Service is friendly, efficient and helpful.
It appears that Jeffrey Chodorow’s name on a product is a guarantee of quality. Center Cut is certainly a class act scene-stealer in the New York restaurant arena and rates A Major on The Walman Report
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