By Hyon Jung Lee
Many steakhouses today offer all kinds of sizzle not found on the menu. At STK, a steakhouse which opened last fall in New York’s Meatpacking district, you’ll find a good-looking scene which is part steakhouse, part nightclub.
STK, short for steak, touts itself as “a steakhouse with a conscience and sex appeal.” Let’s put conscience aside for a minute, and focus on the sex appeal. STK brings sexy back. Designed by the NY-based Icrave Design Studio, the main floor features a lounge furnished in creamy leather, textured crocodile tiles, smoky mirrors and various hues of purple.
A walk to the bathroom is fraught with impromptu staring contests with strangers and dances with the busboys on the catwalks between banquettes. Eventually, when you get to the dramatically lit bathroom, an attendant is waiting to dispense paper towels, as well as gum, perfume, or hair spray.
A lounge, which is set in the middle of the room, is ideal for nursing one of STK’s sophisticated and savory cocktails, such as the Dirty Bird Martini ($14), a dirty Grey Goose martini garnished with fresh blue cheese stuffed olives or the Sparkling Lyle St. Cyre ($14), Inniskillin Cabernet Franc ice wine topped with a float of prosecco.
Even though you might have come to STK to gorge on meat and to ogle Sarah Michelle Gellar and friends having a birthday party, consider that many of the menu items at STK are seasonal. You’ll find not just the traditional iceberg wedge and romaine hearts on steakhouse menus, but bits of micro mint, mache, opal basil, and chervil, too. Executive Chef Todd Mark Miller, who has worked with many prestigious chefs, including Jean-Georges Vongerichten and Rocco DiSpirito, has created an exhaustive and creative menu.
You’ll find a traditional shrimp cocktail on the menu at STK, but consider the shrimp rice krispies ($14). Gorgeous grilled tiger prawns arrive on top of crushed shrimp chips and cilantro. Then, a rich shrimp bisque is poured tableside over the shrimp and chips. Lean in for the “snap, crackle and pop,” which beg to be heard over the pulsating music and chatter. Also consider the meat and potato soup ($11), which is composed of braised short rib and roasted onions in a heavy beef demiglace, which keeps piping hot under a layer of potato foam. Non-steak entrées include a Hudson Valley duck breast ($26), served with roasted fennel, Belgian endive and a shallot ginger confit. Chef Miller offers several seafood entrées, including wild striped bass ($28) with braised artichoke, baked lemon and fresh thyme, as well as skate ($24) with ponzu and shiitake brown butter.
And the steak? At STK, you not only get to choose the cut, and the degree of doneness, but the size, too. A variety of cuts are available in “small,” “medium” and “large,” for every appetite, waist size or maybe who’s paying. With a 6 oz. filet mignon ($22), you can still stay skinny in this season’s cut of jeans or just let yourself go with a 34 oz. cowboy rib steak ($49). The straightforward sauces ($2 for an additional sauce) arrive on the side. The salsa verde was excellent, but I found the blue butter a bit heavy. The signature STK Sauce, a tangy sauce that was a bit too acidic for my taste.
Side dishes ($9) are served a la carte, the best of which include Jenga-like stacks of parmesan truffle fries, and a creamy sweet corn pudding which could easily moonlight as dessert. The actual desserts ($10) are hit or miss. Linzer float, a raspberry-flavored twist on the soda-fountain classic, is served with almond cookies on the side. The crème fraiche panna cotta, served with green apple sorbet and garnished with a green apple chip, tasted regrettably soapy.
If you just want to eat your steak with creamed spinach or a baked potato on the side, go to a steakhouse. If you want to look at a 10-foot-tall lavender glass fireplace, or a wall of plaster cattle horns and eat your steak too, consider STK.