Venue Review: Palm Beach Steakhouse
Steakhouse sizzles with a real meal deal
When it comes to dining deals, a few places inevitably come to mind. The buffets with their all-you-can-eat spreads of salads and entrees. The Greek diners that offer generous portions at fair prices.
But a restaurant by the name of the Palm Beach Steakhouse?
Well, let me clarify: The deal I'm talking about is an early-bird special, so it's only good from 4 to 6:30 p.m. daily. But it's such a singular value that it can't be easily dismissed.
Moreover, the atmosphere and food at this year-old steakhouse, situated on the island in the former Janeiro space, are of such high quality that I wouldn't think twice about coming back and paying the full-freight prices of $75-plus for a three-course meal.
So, here's the deal: On the early bird, that same three-course meal is $35. And that price includes a glass of the house wine.
What makes it extra special is that chef/owner Andreas Kotsifos, a Greek native who came to Palm Beach by way of New York, is letting patrons pick any three items (with the sole exception of the rib-eye steak). A sample meal might consist of the steak tartare (normally priced at $18) as an appetizer, the steak au poivre ($39) as an entrée and maybe a slice of chocolate cake for dessert. Kotsifos doesn't stint in any way: The beef is prime, the portions generous and the preparations extraordinarily refined.
Of course, the dining room never changes no matter what the time. It's a club-like space with a piano bar off to the side, all very reminiscent of the Palm Beach (or New York) of yesteryear. Tablecloths are linen, service is warm and knowing and the wine list has a bottle to fit every price range, from a $28 California Cabernet Sauvignon to a $450 vintage Champagne.
And as befits a club, the Palm Beach Steakhouse isn't really a steakhouse so much as an old-school continental restaurant, with a few twists here and there. The menu is full of forgotten favorites - say, steak Diane or veal Oscar.
But for me, it all begins with that steak tartare. The key to the Palm Beach Steakhouse's version is that it lets you create the dish yourself, providing the raw egg and the capers so you can season to taste. You might be scared of all that rawness, but the beef is unquestionably fresh and the cold, earthy feeling of it in the mouth makes for something so satisfying. If you're put off by uncooked meat, go for cooked, chilled seafood as a starter - in the forms of a shrimp cocktail ($18) with truly colossal shrimp or a beautifully presented avocado and crabmeat salad ($18).
With entrees, I'll go back to that steak au poivre: I love this dish for all its peppery kick, but I often find that restaurants don't get the sauce right - perhaps they're afraid of all that pepper - or they substitute a lesser-quality piece of meat mistakenly thinking the sauce will "hide" it.
At the Palm Beach Steakhouse, neither is the case: This is a 12-ounce strip of sirloin loveliness that's wedded to a sauce with subtle spiciness (the base is cognac) and just enough of those whole peppercorns for a good crunch. Add some truffled mashed potatoes and a little baby spinach - unlike the case at most steakhouses, sides aren't extra here - and you may have the best dish on the island at the moment.
But if you want a steak that's unadorned or another meat or seafood selection, it's all available. Over the course of two visits, I also tried some tender char-grilled lamb chops ($32) and a fine Delmonico ($38). And seeing Kotsifos prepare that steak Diane tableside in the traditional manner made me want to come back and try that as well.
But if I had another reason to make my way to the Palm Beach Steakhouse, it might be for yet another special. On Thursday nights, Kotsifos celebrates his Greek heritage by offering a party of sorts - an all-you-can-eat feast of Greek appetizers, salads, entrees and desserts (with all-you-can-drink ouzo - the potent Greek spirit - as well). Musicians and belly-dancers also are on the bill. The price? That same $35.
But again, it's not just about pricing: Kotsifos prepares Greek specialties, which are offered on the regular daily menu as well, with a finesse you'll find lacking in most Greek restaurants, here or elsewhere. His spinach pie is almost a delicate affair, using a less-sharp variety of feta cheese and taking advantage of some different spicing (cumin and nutmeg). And his Greek desserts - I tried a nut cake - are the best of the sweets on the menu. (Indeed, if there's anything I'd fault at the Palm Beach Steakhouse, it's the ho-hum non-Greek desserts.)
Kotsifos concedes he's running all his specials throughout the season mainly to get customers acquainted with the place, so that they'll willingly visit again and again at all hours of the day.
Perhaps the strategy will pay off: I know I can't wait to return.Brief