Then again, neither is Quality Eats. Opened in 2015 by the Quality Group, the West Village grill serves plenty of fine beef, but it feels damn near antithetical to its NYC steakhouse pedigree. That’s intentional, says Michael Stillman.
“We tried to keep some of those classic steakhouse tropes, but make it a little smaller, more accessible, and make it fit with what I call the Whole Foods generation,” he says. That means its excellent steaks (mostly off-cuts) are not dry-aged, and much less expensive: A $26 skirt steak is the top of the line here, whereas at most true-blue steakhouses, the roasted half-chicken costs more than that. It also means the packaging -- from the cheeky doodle designs on the plates and menu, to the raw wood and bright painted-brick interior -- is decidedly void of the Bacchus-meets-bond trader gravitas of its big brother, Smith & Wollensky. Reviewing Quality Eats for the New Yorker last year, Shauna Lyon issued a call: “Reformed gluttons unite.”
Mar, whose revamp of the Beatrice Inn was as much a repudiation of its Graydon Carter-era pomp as anything else, is quick to point out the symbiosis between the city’s contemporary meat focus and its carnivorous foundation. “Just because my restaurant isn’t that classic New York City steakhouse, and we push the boundaries, doesn’t mean I think everybody should push the boundaries,” she says. In other words, she can hang a WhIsBe gummy-bear painting over the fireplace because Keens hangs pipes from the ceiling. The fact that Peter Luger doesn’t serve -- would never serve -- a massive tomahawk steak dry-aged in whiskey-soaked cloths for 120 days and smothered in cherries, is precisely why at the Bea, she’s able to.