How Old is that Beef?

January 17, 2018

Let me say, right at the top, that I love aged meat. Steak without age- no matter how prime – is just another piece of meat of meat to me.  So when Cote offered steak aged to absurdity – 160 days! – I couldn’t resist.

That alone would be reason to go.  This beef  is rich, primal, funky, with a flavor edging into bourbon and truffles.  This beef is so delicious that a single bite is completely satisfying (although more is even better).  Whoever is aging this beef surely knows their stuff.

It’s not cheap, but as they say in France, vaut le voyage.

But the surprise at this elegant  too hip for its own good restaurant is that the main meal – the “Butcher’s Feast” (everyone orders it), is really a bargain. For $48 a person you get so much food that you leap on the digestif they bring at the end hoping it will save you. If you avoid ordering one of the very fancy and very expensive bottles of wine on the list, this is one of the better deals in town.

Cote, which got a Michelin star right out of the box, is being talked about as a mashup of an American steakhouse and a Korean barbecue. And that would not be wrong. But it is also a brilliant business model of a restaurant, reminiscent of a very high-end Benihana. Everyone is eating more or less the same meal, in the same order.

You could certainly start with one of the appetizers, like the Korean steak tartare above, the cool, slightly chubby squiggles of beef tossed with bits of Asian pear and some sesame oil, topped with truffle and a few extravagant frills of fried tendon. It’s delicious – but not necessary. Because, with the butcher’s feast, you’ll be starting with these delicious pickles as a little palate tease.

And then the meat will arrive. Oceans of meat.

The restaurant chooses which four cuts they’ll serve each night; it might be hangar steak, flat iron, skirt…  But no matter what is on offer, my guess is that the kalbi (the marinated short rib in the top corner), will be the most seductive.

The chunk of fat is to grease the (smokeless) grill. A waitperson will come along and do the cooking, cut by cut.

 

You take your piece of meat, pick up a piece of lettuce, slather on some spicy ssamjang paste, fold in some of the scallion salad….

and eat with great pleasure. Then you do it again, with the next cut of meat. And again. It’s enormous fun.

By now you’re feeling rather full, but there’s more to come.  Kimchi. A couple of really delicious stews

A delicate souffle of eggs

And the clearest, most delicate broth filled with ephemeral noodles.

There is only one dessert on offer:

Which is served with a tiny bottle of the extremely necessary digestif:

Little wonder that Cote is so successful: the tables are roomy, the service is swell, and it’s hard to think of a better way to spend a few hours with a group of friends.

Not to mention that amazing ultra-aged beef….

 

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