Having worked under Gordon Ramsay for nine years–and gone on to open over a dozen restaurants in England and Asia–chef Jason Atherton set his sights on New York with a restaurant in the newly opened EDITION hotel overlooking Madison Square. If you can navigate the frustratingly high-tech elevators (there’s a single touch screen on the wall that guides you to the right set of doors), you’ll arrive on the second floor, where chic minimalism fades in the warmth of wood panels, pool tables, and vintage photographs. The Clocktower, named after the timekeeper some forty floors ups, has the energy of a social club with the service and selections of casual fine dining. Though the menu travels between Britain, France, and Asia in its influences, the eye-catcher is undoubtedly the côte de boeuf.
Weighing in at 32 oz. and costing an equally hefty $125 on the dinner menu, the bone-in ribeye (which is “designed to share”) is served on a hardy wooden board with bone marrow jus, potato gratin, and a green bean and foie gras salad. Let me preface this report by admitting that I did not share a bite of this meal with anyone. In fact, I enjoyed a wonderful pigeon pie with Waldorf salad before it and a lovely pistachio soufflé afterwards. The côte de boeuf can certainly be split among two or three guests, but I would advise any carnivore who’s used to battling porterhouses not to hesitate due to the amount of food.
With the table finally set for my boeuf feast, including an obnoxiously large-handled knife and fine china plate emblazoned with a skull, I reach first for the piping hot crock of gratin. By far the smallest element of the meal, the potatoes were hardly enough for four full scoops onto the plate. I’m not quite sure how two people could even split them unless they only wanted the faintest taste–and there wasn’t, in fact much to taste. Though not lacking at all in creaminess, the gratin could’ve used more Gruyere and was in desperate need of seasoning. The potatoes were nicely cooked in the crock–with nice browning on the top–but that tends to mean little when they just taste of cream. I would complain more, but the potatoes proved to be such a meager and passing element of the dish that they were quickly forgotten.
Looking to cleanse my palate of the gratin’s richness, I dove into the green bean salad. While a bit skeptical about the inclusion of foie gras as a sort of cop out, the salad was refreshingly cold, bright, and acidic. Not only that, it was a large, properly shareable portion with a wonderful contrast of texture from the snap of the beans, crunch of the hazelnuts, and creaminess of the duck liver mousse. That the foie gras is incorporated as a handful of distinct cubes is a bit confusing, and, though I did enjoy their presence, it would make more sense if they were omitted. Nonetheless, the green beans were a real surprise and, surprisingly, only available to guests who order the mammoth steak. A dish this simple but elegant deserves its own place on the menu, a listing that could more sensibly justify the presence of the foie gras as well.
With a quick survey of the sides completed, I turned my attention to the meat of the matter. The côte de boeuf itself was impressively imposing: over an inch thick and removed from the bone in six glistening strips. Dusted with large flakes of salt and garnished with a singular roasted clove of garlic, the presentation showed that the Clocktower knows better than to overcomplicate such a thing of beauty. Perfectly medium rare on the inside (I would suspect finished in the oven given what a feat that is for such a thick steak), the ribeye displayed a golden-brown to black crust all the way around. Being dry-aged for 40 days, the beef delivered on the sort of rich, savory meat flavor anyone looking to down a two pound steak is surely after. The thickness of the cut meant it was hard for each piece to be amply seasoned, but the bone marrow jus formed a great complement and provided a burst of rich, umami flavor as needed.
Though the price tag is clearly inflated from what you’d pay at a more dedicated steakhouse, the Clocktower truly does put out an impressively large and satisfying piece of beef. Keep your expectations low on the gratin, prepare to be delighted by the green beans, and soak in the intimate but engaging clubhouse vibe that just begs for an overindulgence in animal protein.
Date Visited: 9/28/15