It feels GREAT to be back on the NYC Restaurant scene — how I’ve missed it! I took a long hiatus until it was evident that the COVID vaccines were working. One of the first places we decided to patronize earlier this summer was Quality Bistro, the sister restaurant to Quality Meats and Quality Italian.
On a pleasant, sunny June afternoon in the streets of the re-awakening New York City, we found ourselves dining at Quality Bistro. A mere two blocks south from Carnegie Hall, the “steak-centric brasserie” occupies the middle of 55th St. between 6th and 7th avenues. The restaurant has one of the more ornate and thoughtful makeshift outdoor seating arrangements I’ve seen so far in this new world we find ourselves in.
All About the Ambience
The ambience and clientele of Quality Bistro reflect what one might expect of that area south of Central Park — an attractive dining area, low-lights and a blend of old and new wealth. Not loud wealth though, nuanced wealth. Quiet conversations surrounding current investments, summer houses and law school shenanigans were some of the things I heard to give a bit of context. The outside dining areas are also dog friendly judging by the several canines in our general area.
Butter Service Garni (Filone Bread, Jambon Cuit, Mushroom Duxelles, Cornichons, Radish, Leek in Vinaigrette, , Hachée Basquaise*)
French Onion Soup (Sourdough Croutons, Trois Fromages)
Filet Mignon (Au Poivre)
Apple Tarte Tatin Sundae (Cinnamon Ice Cream)
Mousse Au Chocolat (Malted Milk Chantilly, Shaved Chocolate)
Quality Bistro Butter Service! Oh, and Dinner!
The delectable Butter Service Garni was an amazing way to start our dinner journey. I know you might be thinking “who in their right mind would make butter a highlight”. Hear me out though. Imagine a butter so rich and blended with yogurt cultures that it creates a melt-in-your-mouth carnival of lightly salted flavor. Throw some chopped shallots, fleur de sel (regional sea salt), pimente d’espelette (regional chili pepper powder), and freshly ground black pepper on top of that mixture. Now put it on the accompanying Filone Bread and add a spread of the contrastingly sweet Hachée Basquaise* and take a bite. You will never look at butter in the same way. The fact that it is super fresh and “locally sourced” at Battenkill Farms Creamery upstate makes things sweeter.
The truth is, it could be an entire meal, but we were deliberate in our consumption and took some home with us… it was that good. We also wanted to have our other courses.
The French onion soup was delicious and served to whet my appetite for my 8oz Filet. Of course my steak was medium rare, and this restaurant provides several preparation options including Au Poivre – my choice – which is essentially cooking the meat with fresh ground peppercorn. Our side dishes were Pomme Purée (mashed potatoes) and Charred Brussel Sprouts.
I’m Full, but Dessert Is Calling
We opted for two desserts: The Apple Tarte Tatin Sundae, and the Mousse Au Chocolat, both excellent choices with larger portions than you might expect. As the less familiar and slightly lighter dish, we finished off the flavorful Sundae. With its cinnamon apple theme, it reminded me of a fall treat more than a refreshing early summer goody. The mousse was VERY rich with the slight bitterness of dark chocolate making the sweetness more manageable.
Needless to say, we left the restaurant entirely satisfied.
Should You Go?
Frankly there is no reason not to. The highlight was the Butter Service Garni simply because it was a new experience for me, but the food was terrific overall. The service could have been a little better, but we arrived near the end of our waiter’s second shift, and ALL NYC restaurants are short-staffed right now, so I’m giving them grace.
Until next time…
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* Hachée Basquaise is a blend of Chorizo, Parmesan, Sherry Vinegar, Smoked Paprika, Honey, Almonds, and Raisins