The Empire Steak House located in Rockefeller Center is a classic New York Steak House. Run with love and pride by Jeff Sinanaj and his brother Jack. Both of whom are dedicated to quality food and to their patrons having a memorable dining experience. This devotion is evident from the moment one crosses the threshold where they are warmly greeted, often times by one of the Sinanaj brothers. When I arrived tired, hungry and thirsty from a day spent wandering the streets of New York, I felt instantly at home, welcomed by the manager Nick Velic.
I sank in my seat and took a look at the surroundings, crisp white linens and warm colors surrounded me. There was an atmosphere of excitement as happy diners discussed the menu. Do you want this, while I get that, and then we can share the… Featuring a menu which offers such succulent choices as dry aged Porterhouse steaks and fresh seafood flown in daily, who could blame those devoted diners for debating over the menu choices.
Speaking of steaks each cut of beef is aged in the Empires Steak House coolers for 21 – 28 days. All their beef is USDA Prime and is hand selected from area markets; chosen based on exacting criteria such as the mix of color and of fat to bone ratio. Their menu includes a wide variety of fresh seafood such as 4 -5 pound Lobster tails, Yellow Fin Tuna, Jumbo Shrimp, Maryland Crab and Chilean Sea Bass. In true steak house style, Empire Steak House has created and bottled their own steak sauce, not that their steaks need any help.
The cocktail menu featured current standards such as Cosmos and Martinis, as well as old fashioned cocktails which seemed completely at home in a New York steak house. The wine list is varied in price and has choices from most regions around the world. I asked Jack Sinanaj to tell me about the wine list, specifically what were some of his most exciting offerings and he couldn’t resist telling me about the Saudi Prince who had come in and ordered the $5,000 bottle of 1999 Masetto, drinking it as if it were water.
Feeling refreshed after receiving our drinks, my companion and I set about the serious task of what to order. For starters we ordered a fresh cold and crispy Caesar Salad, and the earthy Portobella overflowing with stuffed crabmeat. Oh, and Fresh Mozarella and Beefsteak Tomatoes, Mushrooms and Onions, German Potatoes and Asparagus,"Oh My"! Actually agreeing on something, we both went for the Surf and Turf. Then just as the diners mentioned earlier, we got very serious as we picked our side dishes. You have this, have that, then we can try each other’s and we’ll have a little variety.
The waiter tried to warn us by informing us that our order of two kinds of potatoes could possibly be too much, saying that dishes were served family style. We didn’t heed his warning well enough and were shocked at the abundance of food being paraded to our table. I was charmed as our server with two spoons in one hand dished up generous helpings onto our plates. I was embarrassed at our lack of ability to consume anywhere near all of the food brought to us. Nick the manager, came over to our table, concerned as a mother who thought her child starving, when they didn’t eat all that was on their plate. We did our best to assure him our ability to not finish our dishes was in no way a reflection on our enjoyment of them.
The food was prepared with great attention to flavor. The flavors melded together in unison and harmony. The steak was full of mouth popping flavors, juicy, and perfectly cooked. The lobster tails were huge and succulent. The only problem I had was that the German Potatoes were overdone for my taste. We were told they were cooked twice sautéed and then baked. I love caramelized but am not such a fan of charring.
The evening we were there, was full of festivity and celebrations. A pre-wedding party occupied one wall and in true New York style they were speaking another language. It took me all evening of eaves dropping to realize they were French. Two Birthdays were celebrated with candles and singing waiters, mine included. We finished off the evening with my yummy birthday, melt in your mouth, Chocolate Mousse Cake, tea and a frothy Cappuccino.
Happy, full and with taste buds and tummies satisfied, laden with two doggy bags, we said our goodbyes to the delightful and attentive staff and owner. As we left the restaurant I noticed awards, plaques, and portraits of famous visitors hanging on a portrait wall.
36 W 52nd Street
Learn more at the Empire Steakhouse website