Travel

Gallaghers Steakhouse in NYC

We were in NY for my boyfriend’s birthday. This year, for the first time, I was totally in lack of inspiration to buy him a present. I’m still lacking of inspiration to be honest, but, with Christmas around the corner, I hope it will come back soon! Anyway, as the presents were crap (a travel book to complete a collection we have and a map referencing London best cocktail bars), I had at least to find a good restaurant.

I first looked for a romantic venue “with a view” over Manhattan. I remember than 15 years ago, I had an unforgettable diner experience in Hoboken (in New Jersey, I know…): it was a restaurant on the water edge, lighted by paper lanterns and with an amazing view. But things have changed in 15 years and I wasn’t able to find this place (that I might have embellished over the years) or any other that really suited me, whether in New Jersey, Manhattan or Brooklyn. So I gave up and refocus. My boyfriend wouldn’t be amazed by a nice view but he would definitely be amazed by a nice piece of meat! And this is how I got the idea to book a table in a steakhouse to celebrate his birthday. After checking and comparing many steakhouses, I finally found the perfect place: Gallaghers Steakhouse. I was convinced by the rich history of the place that opened in 1927 and is known as a NY institution, but also by the excellent Tripadvisor comments and ratings for the last month and finally by the meat locker that I was sure would make its impression and make my boyfriend (and myself) mouthwatering.

I directly booked online. Gallaghers is affiliated with Open Table, which make it very easy to book. You just have to select the day and the time slot and then to fill in a very simple formular. You also have the possibility to make a special request. Working in Hospitality, I know what it’s always worth to say when it’s for a special occasion. Indeed, there is nothing to lose. At the very worst, nothing will happen and at the best, you will receive a special treatment. This is why I mentioned that I chose Gallaghers to celebrate my boyfriend birthday.
When I spoke with my mother a few days after I made the reservation, I found out that she ate in the same restaurant when she was in NY last time. What a coincidence! Or maybe not. Maybe Gallaghers is just the best in the city!

I didn’t say a word to my boyfriend because I wanted to surprise him.

I made sure that we didn’t eat too much after breakfast to be sure to be hungry enough for the large portions served in US.

After a busy sight-seeing day, we got changed in no time to have the time to enjoy a cocktail at the “Wise man”, a renowned cocktail bar in East Village that my boyfriend wanted to try. From there, we could have taken the Metro (which I hate by the way) but opted for a taxi (which I love), a far better option with my high heels.  

However, it was a rainy Saturday evening and we got stuck in the traffic. It would finally have been a better idea to take the Metro. I began to stress that our table would be given. The restaurant is always busy and the reservation slots are for every 15 min. I had booked for 20:00 but we arrived at 20:15. Even in a hurry, we couldn’t refrain from having a quick look at the meat locker.

Then, the lovely hostess, welcomed us and told us that our table wasn’t ready yet and asked us if we wanted to wait at the bar. Of course we wanted! This is when we finally entered the restaurant itself.

Despite the fact that it has been refurbished this year, we felt like we were going back in time. The place is furnished with dark wood, that I usually hate, but that gave it a je ne sais quoi. The walls are covered with black and white pictures of famous people who used to come but also employees and … horses. The bartenders have almost, if not already, reached the age to retire.

And with his hat, the man at the other end of the counter could definitely have been a gangster. 

The cocktail list was very traditional. My boyfriend took an Hemingway Daiquiri and I opted for a safe Coke, the cocktails being far too strong for me.

After 30 min, I went back to see the hostess because I was afraid that she had forgotten us, which would have been easy as it was crazy busy. She hadn’t and I was impressed that she even remembered my name! Was it because of my French accent, my red dress or my boyfriend? 
 

Anyway, we were finally led to our table. In this room, we could definitely see that a refurbishment has been done: the kitchen area is pretty modern with an open kitchen for cold dishes and an impressive open kitchen wrapped in leaded glass for hot dishes.

The tablecloths have changed too: they were chequered in the pictures I saw, they’re now plain white.
The tables are quite close to each other but quite large too so it’s not disturbing.

As it was my boyfriend’s birthday, I asked him if he, for once, wanted to seat on the bench seat but he declined. I always seat on the bench seat. I like to face the room to see what’s going on and I like to think that my boyfriend likes to face me!

Once seated, we directly noticed the piece of meat on our neighbours’ table and wanted the exactly same. But we didn’t know the name of it and had to ask our waiter: it was a Porterhouse steak. So we ordered a Porterhouse steak for 2 with hash browns and sautéed mushrooms as main course. And my boyfriend started the meal with some oysters. Nothing for me, as I preferred to save room for the meat.
Like the bartenders, the waiters were all mature in years. It shows that Gallaghers must be a place that take good care of its employees and that they also must make good money! 
The advantage of being served by experienced waiters is that they really provide a top-notch service: attentive, polite, friendly and efficient. And we could see that they were used to work together, perfectly knowing the habits and gestures of their co-workers. Looking at their goings and comings was almost like looking at a ballet.
 

When the Porterhouse steak finally arrived, I was starving! The meat has already been cut and the waiter arranged it in our plate with some hash browns. The mushrooms arrived a bit later. I grabbed my knife and started to eat without delay. 

The knife was unnecessary big as the meat was as tender as butter and melt in the mouth. It was beyond delicious. No need to add salt to enhance the flavour, it would even be a crime. I’m not a huge red-meat eater, but I really enjoy a good steak from time to time. The secret to ensure tenderness is that the meat is dry-aged in the meat locker for 21 days at the constant temperature of 36°F, which is about 2,2°C.

Being French and even if I knew I wouldn’t be able to finish my part, I couldn’t resist the bread. The cinnamon-raisin bread was literally to die for. The waiter informed me that the bread was made on-site.

As I said, I couldn’t finish my part but my boyfriend was more than happy to have some extras. For my part, I think that I ate enough red meat for a year!
 
We had planned to go to another place for dessert but enjoyed so much our time at Gallaghers that we didn’t want to leave. So, to extend the pleasure, my boyfriend ordered a Banana Split and I ordered a Cheesecake.

Remember that I mentioned it was my boyfriend’s birthday when I made the booking? So, it wasn’t 2 but 3 desserts that arrived at the same time to our table, as we were brought a chocolate cake compliments of the house. And the icing on the cake (if I can say!), was that 4 waiters sang “Happy birthday to you” to my boyfriend. You should have seen his face!!! Would have it been in France, he would have killed me for sure. But here, it wasn’t shameful, it was actually even nice. 

Predictably, we couldn’t finish all the desserts. Once we had surrendered, I asked for the bill (or the check as we say in US). Obviously, as it was part of his birthday present, the bill was for me. It was quite expensive but it totally worth it. And me that normally always protest regarding the amount to leave as tips, I was more than happy to leave 20%.
 
To finish this amazing evening, we walked to Times Square and then we hailed a taxi to go back to our hotel.
 
I definitely nailed it! My boyfriend told me it was the best meat he ever ate! It was a birthday he would remember for long!
 
Tips 1: Don’t go to Gallaghers if you need to have an important conversation. You’ll be first too captivated by the waiter’s ballet and then you’ll want to enjoy your meal in silence. No room for conversation, only for a small talk.
 
Tips 2: If you go to the ladies, don’t forget to take a small note as there are always spotless thanks to an old-fashioned washroom attendant, called a Dame pipi in French. But no, there is no Monsieur Pipi, sorry guys.

 
Gallaghers
228 W 52nd St
NY 10019

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