Does NYC need another great steak place? Likely not. Does it need Desmond’s Steakhouse? A resounding “yes.” Here’s a restaurant with all the trappings of the best traditional steakhouses but with a warmth and atmosphere more like your favorite neighborhood hangout.
Desmond’s has a lonnnnng, luxurious marble top bar that seats 46 and perfectly compliments the rich mahogany paneling that covers the walls of this comfortable room. Dramatically located at the end of the bar is a Steinway grand piano, which is used regularly by patrons and by house entertainment on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday nights.
Patrick Kelly, the affable manager-owner of this newly opened eatery, told us that his major partner, Paul Hurley, named the restaurant for a family member, but Patrick was unsure if it was for Paul's father or young son, since they are both named Desmond. Either way, it’s a graceful tribute to family. This familiar and congenial theme carries over to their staff and food; the servers are friendly and professional, and the cuisine is artfully presented and skillfully prepared.
The bread plate arrived while having our wine. We both grabbed one of their unusual pretzel rolls, which tasted exactly like its name. They go oh-so-well with wine. We tasted a Pinot Noir and Sangiovese from their wine-by-the-glass menu. Both were excellent, and it’s worth mentioning that the Pinot Noir was an Oregon vintage, which we found vastly superior to the California brands many restaurants are pouring.
Our meal began with Desmond’s Royal Platter, a silver tray of fresh shellfish that included oysters, clams, muscles, shrimps, crab and a ½ pound lobster. We dove into this seafood bounty with gusto.
Our entrees consisted of the “Racquet Ball” Rib-Eye, sliced for us by the chef and presented along with the bone. It was huge! We also ordered the Seared Sesame Tuna with Pickled Ginger and Honey Glazed. Mmmm, this was a very thick piece of fish, cooked to rare perfection.
Desmond’s suggests that all entrees be accompanied by one or more of their deftly prepared side orders. Our sense was that these tasty dishes are not treated to second tier consideration, but given equal status to entree dishes. They offer 11 different sides. We tried four, including the rich sautéed mushrooms with truffle oil, steamed asparagus, creamed spinach and mashed potatoes. The last two are served in chic metal pots.
It seems you can’t just eat a Desmond’s steak plain. Our wait-staff, consisting of Mario and Rita, practically wouldn’t let us eat without sampling some of Desmond’s delightful sauce options. Our tasting consisted of the top four; béarnaise, poivre, port wine, and Dijon. These were serious preparations, and each as flavorful as the steak itself.
We were going to a Broadway musical after dinner and had the idea that maybe we should skip dessert since we didn’t want to be sitting for hours, too full from our meal. Oops, forget that! Mario and Rita had something else in mind. We just had to sample some Desmond’s desserts – all of which are made in-house. Keep in mind, this is a new place and the enthusiasm of the staff is at a high level as they endeavor, along with management, to make Desmond’s a success.
Remember the Royal Platter for starters? For dessert, they brought us a triple crown of treats – tiramisu, cheesecake and fresh fruit. We had a few delectable bites of each and then ran to the theater – both to get to the show on time and to burn off some calories!
Desmond’s Steakhouse is located between 34th and 42nd streets on 7th Avenue. Going to a Broadway show? It’s only a few blocks north to the theater district. Heading to Madison Square Garden or Penn Station? It’s just a few blocks south. Mario told us they were already attracting people from Garden events, and he pointed out a major football player at a nearby table who had just left an MSG event. Apparently, he was an early "discoverer" and has been enjoying Desmond’s steaks regularly since they opened.
Desmond’s address is on 7th Avenue, but the entrance is on 38th Street, a few doors down from the corner. Just walk east and look for a picture window, filled with aging prime steaks, and you’re there.
To us, the honor of who Desmond's was actually named for doesn’t really matter. What matters is that the food and “feel” of a place is right. Desmond’s has definitely got it right. You won’t go wrong eating here. We also found the pricing to be quite reasonable, given the exceptional quality and bountiful portions for a great steak restaurant.
513 7th Avenue (Entrance on 38th Street)
New York, NY 10018