With widespread appeal, Minetta Tavern is a New American steakhouse disguised as one with a storied past, delivering on all of its promises to be one of the top steakhouses in its class.
Can the steak really be that good? Because it seems that after Keith McNally refurbished this old gem of Greenwich Village and after The New York Times dubbed it the "best steakhouse in the city," reservations at this 70-seat space have been harder to come by than a seat on the 7 Train, unless you actively enjoy eating at 5 in the evening or 10:30 at night. That being said, at some point everyone should make a reservation a month in advance, and experience a steakhouse that is still doing some pretty incredible things with beef.
The filet mignon and the cote de boeuf are the two most divine cuts on the menu, but if you've read anything about Minetta Tavern beforehand, chances are you'll be desperate to try the signature Black Label Burger, which for $28 gives you a selection of prime, dry-aged rib-eye, ground and pattied, cooked perfectly medium-rare, and topped only with caramelized onions, as the chef recommends. The burger is juicy and so intesely pungent and flavorful for ground beef that you will forget about the fries on the side, just as salty and comforting as the burger itself. It is truly one of the best burgers the city has to offer.
To whet your appetite, however, several of the appetizers are worth sharing, particularly the Roasted Bone Marrow, served in a portion fit for a Neanderthal, with crispy baguette slices and a shallot confit and more caramelized onions on the side to add as a topping. The marrow itself is light and heavenly buttery, its rich fattiness then balanced by the crunch of bread and sweetness of the onion.
For an establishment that so perfectly recalls an era of elite steakhouses with its dim lights and cramped, red leather banquettes occupied by often loud and boisterous clientele, service is immeasureably kind and genuine. Pretention is left at the door, because everyone is just after a piece of phenomenal meat, making Minetta Tavern a place where you come as you are, and leave feeling like a rich man.
So the question remains: years after its opening, does Minetta Tavern live up to its hype as the best steakhouse in New York City? Only if you want it to be. Should you continue to prefer Keens or Peter Luger or Smith and Wollensky instead, well, that's your prerogative. But Minetta is still up to something special, fulfilling the highest callings of its kind, and always providing an immensely pleasurable meal.