An aging locker at Beefbar. Photo: Tammie Teclemariam

Despite New York’s dozen-plus name-brand steakhouses — LugerKeensCoteGallaghers, on and on — there is one thing this city has never had: a Beefbar. The Monaco-based chain, which operates outposts around the globe (Tbilisi and Bahrain are coming in 2025), moved into the original Nobu space earlier this month and brought many of its quirky signatures to town. Is it a worthy addition to Manhattan’s meat-heavy scene, or is this just Europe’s answer to Outback, luxed up to lure the jet set away from Cipriani or, yes, Nobu? There are no Bloomin’ Onions on the menu, but — as Tammie Teclemariam and Matthew Schneier discovered — there are emoji plates and Wagyu quesadillas. 

Tammie Teclemariam: When I first heard about the restaurant, my interest rose at the potential of a Monégasque restaurant and then quickly fell upon learning that it was a steakhouse “inspired by American beef” and not an ode to F1 tailgating. The culture inside of Beefbar can only be described as “Beefbar.” I was seated by tables speaking French and Arabic, but the bar seemed to be full of Americans. Did you go to the bar?

Matthew Schneier: Yes. I was ushered through the dining room into the bar, which I remember as Nobu Next Door in its previous iteration. I had a Waldorf-salad-themed martini.

TT: I couldn’t help but notice the presence of a $35 cocktail on the menu called “Little Tortilla Boy.” That was my first clue that this was going to be a chaotic experience. I was like, How did this get through?

MS: That’s where you see the European influence, I think — in the embarrassing nomenclature more than in the mixology.

TT: The actual bar was very dramatic, but the seating around the bar felt like a Holiday Inn. They only sell four food items at the bar. I got some gyoza and Wagyu spring rolls. They were fine, but also pointless.

MS: Each Beefbar evidently offers locally specific menu items. Or at least locally specific china: I noticed the plates had the Statue of Liberty and a Big Apple stamped on them.

TT: The cow on my appetizer plate was cute and on-theme, but the 👀 stamped onto the top of my steak plate was an emoji too far.

MS: The menu kind of goes in two directions. There’s what is essentially a classic steakhouse menu, and then there’s a kind of beef wonderland of appetizers and entrée preparations, some of which are canonically made with beef and others which … aren’t. Beef bacon, beef bao buns, beef gyoza. Anywhere that another meat might have been expected, beef was substituted. We started with the beef bao buns and then were talked into a kind of Jean-Georges crispy rice nugget topped with a combination of veal and tuna tartare. On the menu, I had assumed that it would be a few little pieces of crispy rice, half of which would have veal tartare and half of which would have tuna tartare. I was not expecting a raw salad of surf and turf on all of them.

TT: When the server told me about the crispy rice, he said that he liked it because you can’t really taste the veal, which I thought was the wrong thing for a server at a place called Beefbar to say. Was he right?

MS: If I had been given this appetizer blind, it would be hard for me to pick out exactly what protein we were eating. The overwhelming impression was of mayonnaise and sesame. There was a tahini-ish flavor.

TT: How did you like the space? Because that’s another thing where the “classic steakhouse versus beef fantasia” dichotomy happens. Did you have a good spot?

MS: We were put in one of the banquettes along the far side of the room from the entrance. As you walked in, there seemed to be a number of tables set aside for larger parties, the ones who are ordering the $500 40-ounce porterhouses. We had a little banquette with a full view of the space, so we could see what seems to be a pretty significant renovation after the couple years it’s been vacant. It’s definitely decorative. There’s the kind of floral bas-relief along the walls. And then the upholstery.

TT: And the fridges.

MS: Yes. I mean, in all dick-swinging steakhouses, you have to really see your meal aging in front of you.

TT: The fridges have this museum spotlighting and marble shelves holding up hunks of identifiably Kobe beef swaddled in a black napkin exposing the cut side and then just, like, a full tenderloin hanging on a meat hook. You wonder if the display is ever gonna get eaten.

MS: There was a “How much is that doggie in the window?” vibe. Although I didn’t necessarily see meat being cut from those specific pieces. Maybe that would have been a little too grim.

TT: How did you decide what you were going to eat?

MS: One must judge a steakhouse on its steaks and sides. I was curious about the idea of Wagyu Bolognese and the pretty normal-sounding Wagyu burgers and things like that, but it seemed like the way to go was steak. I took my brother with me, and we split two between us. I will say, the steak prices were fairly high — our final bill, for two, was $650 — but the portions were generally enormous. I think the only steak that was less than 18 ounces was the bavette.

A steak, some fries, and a plate with a cow. Tammie Teclemariam.

A steak, some fries, and a plate with a cow. Tammie Teclemariam.

TT: And the filet.

MS: I love a classic New York strip, and I do think a New York steakhouse should do a decent one. So we got an 18-ounce New York strip, and then something called “olive beef” from a little side menu of teppanyaki where they put the really exorbitant Japanese beefs. I Googled before going, and there are some things online that suggest that these cows are actually just fed on olives during their lives, although our server told us that that was not in fact the case. It was just beef with an olive flavor.

TT: How did it come out?

MS: The olive beef came as a sort of thin-sliced plank. I would say there was something a little bit kind of fajita-like about it. It came unadorned except for a pretty heavy scattering of coarse salt and a little pile of wasabi. It was certainly delicious as a piece of meat goes, but it was tender to a degree I don’t necessarily seek, and it was a little closer to a designer tartare than what I would look for in a good steak. I got a bit more out of the combination of rareness and char and chew of our good old-fashioned New York strip. It was temped pretty correctly, it had a nice crust on the outside, it was a good size. I wasn’t as taken with the accoutrements. We tried the Beefbar sauce. I don’t know if you had that one.

TT: I had the pepper sauce.

MS: If I were to go back, I would do the pepper sauce. The Beefbar sauce just tasted like mustard and cream. And then we got the fries. I know you got them too, and I’m curious what your thoughts were. I thought they were pretty good, but extremely suety.

TT: They really reminded me of the air inside a McDonald’s. I was into it, but compared to you I had a pretty low-fat steak, so it was probably a better match.

MS: I found the beef flavor of the fries to be so overwhelming. It was like eating little chicken-fried steaks or something, even distractingly beefy. And then our server recommended jalapeño mashed potatoes, which are not going to dethrone Joël Robuchon’s pommes purée anytime soon, but were perfectly fine.

TT: I did enjoy the steak a lot, for what it’s worth, and the pepper sauce was delicious, even if it wasn’t hot.

MS: It seemed to me to have the ambience, menu, and décor of a very expensive hotel restaurant, like it was prepared to offer a weary, jet-lagged, rich-but-baby-palated traveler the selection of apps and steak that one might expect.

TT: But some stuff is very weird. Like the fact that every single dessert is meant for two people to share.

MS: I completely agree with you. I think it is unconscionable not to have a single dessert “for one.”

TT: Did you get the marble chocolate bar?

MS: We got the marble chocolate bar, described as a sort of millionaire’s shortbread on the menu, and which was roughly the size of a gold ingot. It came on a little oval tray that a server came over and hacked at with a Beefbar-branded cleaver.

TT: For $45.

MS: Yes. It was a $45 chocolate bar. The chocolate inside was actually more of a chocolate mousse, so it had an entremets style to it. I would say it was fine. My preferred steakhouse dessert is usually a sundae, but that was not an option.

TT: Do you think Beefbar stands a chance in Tribeca?

MS: It was quite full when I was there — my brother pointed out a Major League Baseball Hall of Famer dining near us — so it’s clearly speaking to a constituency. And people love a big steakhouse. There’s no shortage, even in Tribeca. If you walk around the neighborhood, you will find American Cut and Wolfgang’s and more. Whether the bloom will fade from the rose in time is a good question, but for the moment, it seems to be working for the people who are in the market for sandos and quesadillas.

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