Bobby Van opened his first restaurant in Bridgehampton, New York, in the summer of 1969, where he tended bar and played piano. The restaurant quickly became famous with local musicians, writers, poets, and artists. Bobby Van’s legacy of quality food, service, and atmosphere quickly grew into a thriving year round restaurant in the Hamptons.
Eventually after 20 years, Bobby would lose interest in running a restaurant and he sold his business to four Manhattan restaurateurs; Joseph Smith, Joe Phair, Rick Passarelli, and Joe Hickey. The new operators soon opened a second location in the Helmsley building on Park Avenue. Considered by many the “Original” because it was the first official steakhouse of the Bobby Van’s group, the Park Avenue Bobby Van’s is unmatched for location, food, and service among steakhouses in New York.
Bobby Van’s Steakhouse, at least the location I went to on West 50th Street, that I would say they serve one of the city’s best steaks and lobsters to a loyal, local, and low-key clientele. While there are several other Manhattan steakhouses in the same quality range, few provide an overall experience as satisfying as Bobby Van’s, thanks to the combination of prime cuts of meat, attentive service, and fairly priced dishes.
Bobby Van’s has the masculinity of a classic steakhouse with the dark mahogany wood tables with white tablecloth, banquettes, and chairs but polished with the contrast of pearly white tile toward the back area.
My friend and I started with chilled lobster cocktail ($21.95) and sesame grilled Ahi tuna ($19.95) paired with a seriously excellent glass of Cabernet wine that goes great solo and especially for our steaks later on the meal.
The chilled lobster cocktail was delicious. A fairly large sized whole lobster (I would approximate 1.5 pounds) split in half and served with a tart, tomato-based cocktail sauce and a creamy Dijon mayonnaise that just worked wonderfully with the sweet, meaty lobster.
The Ahi tuna was fairly good for a steakhouse. It’s Japanese in flavors as large slices of silky, nutty, grilled rare tuna on a bed of seaweed tossed in a sesame oil based dressing. The slices of avocado and a pile of pink pickled ginger kind of reminds me of a tuna maki roll without the rice (in a good way).
On to the highlight of the meal…
When our waiter and one of his colleagues rolled up the our steaks and our side, they immediately started to serve slices of our divine porterhouse steak for two ($49.95 per person). Buttery tender slices of porterhouse that almost melts in my mouth. As Anthony Bourdain would say on some of his episodes in “No Reservations,” “Life does not suck.” At that time, it certainly did not.
The double-cut veal chop ($49.95) was very delicious. My friend requested it rare that its very pink center was cooked perfectly. What did surprise me (in a great way) was the funky, aged flavor we tasted in this particular chop that made it insanely satisfying and addicting to eat. And yes, it’s a high quality slab of meat that it’s fairly easy to cut through.
Our side of broccoli rabe (serving size for two; $11.95) was simply sautéed in olive oil and garlic. It’s not greasy, the rabe still has a nice crunchiness and bitterness that I adore and kind of want from all the heavy meat dishes.
For dessert, we had a pecan tart a la mode that was warmed just enough to slowly melt the vanilla ice cream. It was good and not too heavy. Unlike the beast seen below…
The banana split for two could have easily fed four people. A large martini glass lined with dense plain chocolate cake to absorb the scoops of chocolate and vanilla ice cream (that’s slowly melting and probably a pint’s worth of ice cream), hot fudge, clouds of whipped cream, slices of fresh strawberries, chocolate straws and topped with cookie wafers. Good god, we were thinking of the nostalgic banana split in a bowl and we’re so wrong!
This large concoction definitely brings the kid out of us as we literally dug in our spoons and get different parts of this confection. We usually conquer dessert but we simply could not finish this since it’s monstrously huge.
If you do have a craving for steak, Bobby Van’s is a great spot for it. Prices are reasonable, service was professional and attentive, the seats were comfortable, and you’ll definitely feel full by the end of your meal.
To view more photos of this visit, please view the slideshow below (or CLICK HERE for my photo set):