STK transforms the concept of the original, old-moneyed steakhouse into something young and swanky. The result is food that feels less experienced than its storied elders.
Even in its Midtown location, miles away from its juiced up, nightclub of a sister in Meatpacking, STK still doesn't know whether it wants to be seen as a serious steakhouse or simply a raucous destination before the night's revelries. As such, arriving for dinner here still feels like unwittingly stumbling into a party you weren't invited to, and never wanted to go to anyway, particularly as you notice the DJ booth in the center of the large, dark space. As you watch someone spinning the turntables at 7:30 on a Friday night, you can't help but wonder if it's all just a huge joke, if someone at The ONE Group is laughing at the absurdity of a space like this right next to the corporate bastion of the Grace Building, and across the street from the powerfully glistening Bank of America Tower. For all of its emphasis on scene, it appears that STK has judged its surroundings in error, as the space never seems to be filled to capacity, and reservations are perpetually available at the very last minute.
It is unforunate, this seemingly dishonest pursuit of a nightclub's atmosphere, because some of the steaks on STK's menu are actually quite good. Whether STK's cultivated crowd actually notices the nuances of texture and adept handling of temperature in their steaks is up for debate. But the 10 oz. filet I recently sampled was richly seasoned and cooked to a luscious medium rare, more or less fairly priced at $46. I've had a lot less for a lot more. In order to cater to various appetites and budgets, though, STK organizes their steaks by small, medium, and large, and also offers cheaper proteins if you are not interested in turning steak into a pregame-like detour of the night.
Some appetizers are playful like the Foie Gras French Toast, but others fare less well, like the Parmesan Truffle Fries that desperately yearn for more salt and more nutty Parmesan to better balance the oddly dense cuts of whole potato. Yet despite its lack of inspiration and earnestness in dining, STK does deserve credit for transforming the tradition of the steakhouse into something new and sexy. If only it could still cater to the other young workers in the area who are just looking for a steakhouse to call their own.