The Bull & Bear Review - UPDATE - No Longer New York City's Best Steak

UPDATE

Let me start out by quoting my publisher “Don’t bother, save your money and eat somewhere else”.

My publisher was in Manhattan for New York Fashion Week Spring 2011. After a long, exciting but tiring day being jostled by crowds and wowed by Couture he was hungry and wanted to get a taste of NYC. He had been at the Waldorf=Astoria and literally ran into the Bull & Bear. He recalled it having been given it a rave review in our magazine and wanted to try one of those fabulous steaks.

He introduced himself to the manager, explained we had written up the restaurant before and that he was excited to try it out for himself. The manager’s response was extremely negative. In fact he was aloof, arrogant and distant, leaving the feeling that he was being irritated and interrupted.  My publisher gave up trying to speak with him and had a very long wait before he was seated. He contemplated leaving and going somewhere else but was extremely hungry and didn’t know where else to eat. Not knowing the city he didn’t want to be wandering around looking for another restaurant. When he was finally seated he  ordered a steak and side of potatoes of the ala carte menu. When his steak came so did his disappointment. The steak was far from the prime cut Angus he had anticipated. It was fatty, extremely tough, of poor quality and cut. It was nowhere close to the being worth the hefty menu price. However, the side of potatoes were exactly right except they were cold. He called the waiter over and pointed out that the potatoes were cold. The waiter took his plate and sent it back to the kitchen. When the potatoes came out the second time they were hot but instead of being a beautiful mound of potatoes like the first time; they were runny and close to being a bowl of potato soup.  They were very much like instant potatoes. He asked to speak to the manager but the manager was nowhere to be found.

When it became apparent there was to be no resolution my publisher gave up sent the potatoes back and asked for them to be taken of the bill. At this point his meal was ruined and so he left the Bull & Bear, with much less money in his wallet and hungrier than when he went in. 

The following is  the original article written in 2004.

 

Perfect is defined by Dictionary.com as: excellent and delightful in all respects; lacking nothing essential to the whole; as well as being without defect or blemish. I'd like to add two new definitions to the word "perfect"; my visit to the Bull & Bear at the Waldorf=Astoria; and quite possibly the most perfect steak I've ever eaten.

Located on the ground floor of the landmark Waldorf=Astoria, is the clubby Bull and Bear with it's Edwardian décor, paneled walls, large cabinets displaying an extensive wine collection, crystal chandlers and oil paintings,.

Opened in 1960 the Bull and Bear restaurant takes its name from the bronze bull and bear statues, symbols of the stock market, which today stand proudly, over the rich mahogany pentagon shaped bar, and once adorned the bar at the original Waldorf, which used to be located on the present-day site of the Empire State Building.

Main Dining Room

Officially named the Men's Bar, the unforgettable bronzed statues led patrons to call it the "Bull and Bear." Today, the bar remains a popular watering hole for the financial crowd and was cited by the New York Times as one of the world's three greatest classic bars.  

During my visit to the Bull & Bear my party was greeted by Matthew George one of the managers of the restaurant. He seated us in the main dining room. A comfortable room, warm, cozy and decorated in rich dark colors. He handed us over to our server Boris Cimbra who along George graciously attended to our every whim. Long known for their excellent service, the Waldorf is the first hotel to offer room service, we were treated as importantly as if we were visiting foreign dignitaries or American royalty. During our conversation George asked if their was anything we wanted. I stated: "yes, diamonds," and my friend who was celebrating her birthday requested chocolate covered strawberries; neither of which was on the menu. Well I didn't get my diamonds but after dinner we were delighted with an array of luscious desserts, birthday candles and specially made chocolate covered strawberries in honor of the birthday girl. So I say one out of two special requests isn't bad.

The menu is full of robust hearty dishes; side orders served family style and an impressive wine list. To start of the meal we enjoyed a bottle of Chateau Bourgneuf Pomerol 1998. For appetizers we devoured crispy flaky crab cakes, shrimp cocktail and cold melon soup. For entrees, tender Filet Mignon, mouth watering Rib Eye and my choice, which I thought, beat out all the other steaks the New York Steak. As I said in the beginning of my story it was quite possibly the most perfect steak I've ever tasted.

The Bull & Bear is the first and only restaurant on the Eastern Seaboard (and one of only a handful in the country) to exclusively serve Certified Angus Beef? brand Prime, the highest quality grade of beef available in the U.S.  

Less than eight percent of all U.S. beef meets Certified Angus Beef? qualifications, making it the industry leader for consistency of flavor and texture.  And only 1.6 percent Certified Angus Beef? meets the program's Prime certification, which requires beef to pass six additional quality standards above and beyond those required of regular USDA Prime.  Indeed, the recently introduced Certified Angus Beef? brand Prime is not only the highest quality grade of beef available, it is the rarest, representing just .128 percent of total beef production.

After our meal we thrilled in a variety of desserts including Cr'me Brule, Chocolate Soufflé ¡nd the Coupe de Grais - chocolate covered strawberries made especially for our birthday girl. We enjoyed the desserts along with a delightfully fruity, berry flavored dessert wine, Eldorado Noir Black Muscat Russian River Valley 2001. We then indulged just a little bit more with spicy Cappuccinos.


Being three women alone on the town in a most beautiful city, legendary hotel and restaurant we thought it only fitting to end the evening with a nightcap at the famous Bull & Bear Mahogany Bar. Besides we wanted to meet the legendary bartender Oscar.

Bar

Many of the Bull and Bear bartenders have been at their posts for decades, including Oscar who has been practicing his considerable mixicology skills there for over 35 years.  He shares the name of The Waldorf=Astoria's legendary maitre d' Oscar Tschirky, who during his long career at the hotel became known as "Oscar of the Waldorf."  He died in the 1950's, but today's Oscar carries on his legacy of unerring hospitality. Indeed he is such a fixture at the Bull and Bear that it is not uncommon for people to send mail to regulars in care of Oscar, as they are more confident of his ability to deliver it than the U.S. Post Office! Oscar is well known for having served some of his regulars their first drink. He is as much a fixture as the Bull & Bear statues and the electronic ticker tape, hanging from the ceiling at the far side of the bar, keeping the financial wizards appraised of the markets meanderings as they grab a quick lunch at the bar. When the market closes it keeps running through the closing symbols all night until the market reopens in the morning.

Oscar was as good as his reputation, mixing us classical drinks and filling our heads full of compliments and charm as he took time to speak with us in Spanish and regal us with stories. Although like any good bartender he was quite tight lipped on juicy gossip and stock tips but I'm sure he has plenty of both; perhaps if we had just gotten him drunk? Oh well! It was a delightful cap on a perfect evening full of the most excellent service, great wine, delicious food and a most perfect steak.


The Bull & Bear is located on the ground floor of the landmark Waldorf=Astoria hotel
with a street entrance at 49th Street & Lexington Avenue, in the heart of midtown Manhattan.

Reservations are recommended call  (212) 872-4900.

Website: http://www.hilton.com/en/hi/hotels/information.jhtml?ctyhocn=NYCWAHH&key=DINING#bull

Open from Monday - Friday from noon to 11:30 p.m.
   
Friday and Saturday from 5:00 p.m. to 11:30 p.m

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