Since 2013 Reserve Cut has been one of handsomest restaurants in the Financial District, and with the addition of Chef Richard Farnabe, a veteran of Daniel, Jean-Georges Vongerichten and Picholine, its food has never been better.
This isa kosher steakhouse, but working within rules that only affect dairy and shellfish products, Farnabe brings a new sophistication and variety to the menu. Owner Albert Allaham, who is himself a descendant of master butchers going back two centuries in Damascus and the owner of The Prime Cut market in Brooklyn, has access to the very best products, so you can be sure that because those ingredients are kosher, they must meet very high standards, from the USDA Prime beef to the sushi-grade tuna.
The sprawling restaurant uses a canny contrast of shadow and light, wood and glass, with dominant colors of deep reds and rich browns to give a dramatic flow to the two principal dining rooms. They are bisected by a glittering corridor of glass cases containing an exceptional wine cache that shows off the real quality of modern-day kosher wines, both in Israel and California. Thick white tablecloths, votive candles and roomy leather chairs add measurably to the comfortable luxury of the place. Puzzling, then, that the wine glasses are cheap when better examples are so easily affordable for a restaurant.
The menu is as huge as a mini-version of Cheesecake Factory, with dozens of sushi and sashimi options, a score of appetizers, six non-steak offerings and a dozen variations on steak, including wagyu galore. In addition there are nightly specials. Farnabe does command a very large kitchen with a brigade of cooks, but I doubt regulars or newcomers care that there are so many items to choose from. The margin of error seems risky.
Nevertheless, the sushi dishes we had were all excellent, beautifully presented and nicely seasoned, from signature rolls like the crunchy Volcano ($23) of spicy tuna, avocado, aïoli and tempura to generous platters of sashimi and sushi like the Reserve Chef’s Selection ($44). Also in the Asian mode with Latino underpinnings is a delightful item called “Blackened Tuna Bites” ($24) with avocado, pico de gallo, wonton chip and aïoli.
Then there is a whole section called “Appetizers from the Land,” like Moroccan lamb merguez sausages ($28) with slowly braised giant beans, red pepper and tomato; very juicy, flavorful short ribs tacos ($26) with a tangy-sweet grilled pineapple salsa; and wagyu short rib steamed buns ($26) with pickled cucumber to cut the rich fattiness of the meat.
Getting to the main courses, there are three fish offerings and roasted chicken. But despite all else on the menu, thisisa steakhouse, one that proudly serves first-rate Colorado rack of lamb ($76) with asmoked chile glaze, mashed minted English peas and romesco sauce. I don’t think the otherwise excellent veal chop ($65) gains much from being “bone marrow crusted,” which makes it a little steamy.
All steaks are USDA Prime, aged for a minimum of 36 days on premises, including a 14-ounce boneless ribeye ($65) with a delectable confit of trumpet royale mushrooms and crispy parsley. Farnabe is very good at side dishes that show off his real talents.
Regular readers of this column well know both my yawning lack of interest and suspicions about wagyu beef, which is now ubiquitous in American steakhouses. The wagyu cuts at Reserve Cut are touted as “Renowned for their unprecedented flavor produced by expending traditional Japanese all natural holistic techniques,” which sounds a bit more spiritual than beef descriptions usually get. In any case, the modest prices–$70 for a ten ounce cut with half roasted garlic and aromatic herbs—indicates this meat is probably not from one of those vaunted Kobe Prefectures so many steakhouses claim to have. For that, Reserve Cut has a 10-ounce Miyazaki cut for $149.
Because kosher demands that no dairy can be served with meat, desserts are not the high point of a meal at Reserve Cut, although the chocolate tasting $18) of chocolate caramel tart, peanut butter ice cream, molten chocolate cake is definitely worth sharing.
I am very happy to see that Richard Farnabe is now in the kitchen at Reserve Cut, making this beautiful, swank restaurant an attraction even for those who are not in the mood for a great USDA Prime steak. And with a wine list so rich in modern Israeli and kosher American wines, it becomes a singular destination in the Financial District.
40 Broad Street