Tuesday, March 31, 2009

More Hashbrowns, Please

I love having a reason to celebrate. A good friend of mine recently celebrated a birthday so I took advantage of this special day and insisted we make a night out of it by going somewhere special for dinner. Because isn’t the most important part of a birthday is having a candle to blow out when dessert is served??

We decided to try Butcher & Singer, a fairly new steakhouse innovated by Stephen Starr and housed in the prior Striped Bass location. I have been anxious to try Butcher & Singer, despite my lack of enthusiasm towards steakhouses. The truth is, I am ridden with curiosity until I have the opportunity to experience any place with the Starr name attached to it.

The d├ęcor was all that I had hoped and then some. Having dined at Striped Bass when it was open, I was concerned that the formality and rather cold atmosphere that had infiltrated that particular ambience would remain, but I was pleased to find a much more comfortable, yet sophisticated feel in the dining room upon being seated. It has been described as having the feel of a 1940’s supper club, furnished with leather booths and ornate chandeliers. Most notable upon seating was the mural of the dogs-at-the bar which covered one wall of the dining room. I loved it.

We started with the Butcher salad which was more than enough for the two of us to share, and chock full of cheese, hams, vegetables and rich green lettuce leaves – a great start. I ordered the 8 oz. filet mignon, which was cooked to a perfect medium, and my friend ordered the Steak Diane. This is not to say my entree was anything but delicious, but the Steak Diane looked mouth-watering. It consisted of 2 four ounce filets, over mashed potatoes and smothered in a mushroom, Worcestershire sauce. I love the combo of steak, mashed potatoes and mushrooms – hence, this dish was right up my alley which is duly noted for my next visit. The highlight of the entire meal, however, was a recommendation given to us by our waitress – the stuffed hashbrowns. My description will not do them justice, but I shall make a gallant attempt. A huge portion of perfectly browned and crisp, stringy hashbrown potatoes were stuffed with cubed potatoes and sour cream. I must have had doggie-dinner-bowl eyes when our waitress placed those potatoes on the table. Instead of having visions of dead people, as little Haley Joel Osment did in The Sixth Sense, which coincidentally was partly filmed in the Striped Bass, I was now in the new and improved Butcher & Singer catching myself thinking, “I see carbs”, and I cherished every bite of those potatoes. I was in hashbrown heaven.

Finally, dessert was upon us and I allowed the celebrant to have full control of making the difficult selection, thus she chose the Apple Crumble. When dessert arrived, we were surprised to find not one, but TWO desserts placed on our table, with a candle in each! Fortunately my friend knew one of the members of the staff, and in hearing it was her birthday he arranged for us to have the Carrot Cake as well, both desserts compliments of the house. Could the night get any better? And the answer is yes, because after I took one bite of the carrot cake, iced in a rich cream cheese frosting, I had gone straight from hashbrown heaven and entered Carrot Cake heaven. Most importantly, my friend had the opportunity to make two wishes when she blew out her candles, which was the true icing on the cake.

I was completely satisfied and more than impressed with my experience at Butcher & Singer. I have been to Starr’s other steakhouse down the street, Barclay Prime, and will venture to say that my personal taste is much more suited for Butcher’s sophisticated, intimate ambience. And did I mention the hashbrowns? My restaurant journal entry for the night would be as such: “What an awesome surprise to attend the former Striped Bass where they used to fill up your water glass after every sip that you took, and have it be replaced with a wait-staff that is down-to-earth, unpretentious and appropriately attentive. Next time I will remember to wipe the carrot cake icing off my nose before I get up from the table, since stuffing my face in it is the only way I can imagine eating such a creation.” Next up, I will continue to stalk Stephen Starr as I attend Buddakan.


  1. My mouth is now watering and dying for a steak! I'll put this on my list of restaurants to try for sure!

  2. I love their hashbrowns. The Chef told me it was his creation, with secret spices too.


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