It's Prime Time at 4 Charles Prime Rib
It is indeed the toughest chophouse to book this year in New York dining. This small speakeasy-style restaurant from Brendan Sodikoff of Chicago's Au Cheval fame is making a strong bid to become New York City's new bastion of beef.
I tried for months to score a table for 2 but no luck until our friend Rich used his magic Chase Reserve card, which offers concierge service to holders. Voila! A table for 6 at 6pm to celebrate our friend Paul's birthday! You cannot get more prime time than that so thanks Richie!
We arrived in time and noticed the outdoor seating area which was already packed by people ogling and geeking over the brick-sized cuts of prime rib and broiled steaks. We were then ushered into the street-level indoor dining area, which had probably about 10 or so tables max. It's a tiny place that exudes Jazz age vibes with dim lights, leather seats, oak tables, and framed vintage photos and prints from the Great Gatsby era.
We checked the menu online before we came in and due to the $125 minimum per person policy on Resy, we had a sound strategy that turned out completely wrong. The initial plan was for each person to have the top 2 menu items: the cheeseburger with fried eggs and pork belly bacon, and any of the prime rib cuts– English, Chicago, Double. Sheryl planned to have a burger and the dry-aged ribeye, which would also put her close to the minimum requirement. So for 6 people, that would be 5 prime ribs, 1 rib eye, 6 cheeseburgers, sides, and wine.
The plan was ditched the moment the server spoke. He said that the amount of food we originally planed to consume could feed the entire Chicago Bulls, including the owners. So he made a suggestion:
2 cheeseburgers as appetizers, cut in thirds
1 Chicago cut prime rib
1 English cut (requested by Rich, who made all things possible)
1 dry-aged NY Wagyu Strip
1 dry-aged porterhouse
2 elote corn
1 cream of spinach
2 bottles of Chardonnay
We agreed with our good server.
Of course the cheeseburger lived up to the hype. Brioche bun, 2 top-grade beef patties, cheese, fried egg with chives, 2 slabs of very thick pork belly bacon, and special sauce. Our server even tag teamed with another to put up a "drip" show. The burger is open on the plate, the bottom bun is topped by the patties, cheese, and sauce while the top bun has the fried egg sitting on top of it. The servers then lifted the top bun with the egg high above the bottom and then slit the egg with a sharp knife and let the creamy orange yolk drip over the sinful congregation of charred but juicy meat, cheese, and sauce. Call it the Jackson Pollock egg move.
The Chicago was truly like a brick but pillowy, fatty, moist, and succulent. Served au jus and horseradish cream, it brought out the Neanderthal in all 6 of us. The English cut however, was more dignified. A good blend of sophistication and raw brutishness. All the same phenomenal.
The steaks were as incredible. They were so tender it's almost cute like a bloody cloud. They were served with Bearnaise sauce which really complimented the broiled meats. They also added 3 full heads of roasted garlic, which to me was a nice touch. Delicious and sweet, the garlic is a good counterpoint to the high-cholesterol affair. At least you could tell people that you tried to mitigate.
The sides were also delicious. The Elote style corn was cheesy, salty, and creamy while the spinach was rich and worthy of Popeye's affection. I don't understand wine so I guess the 2 bottles of Chardonnay were ok. If anything it made me a bit confused as to whether the mild dizziness and slight face numbness was due to the alcohol or the fat.
I highly recommend 4 Charles Prime Rib. It is super hard to book for a reason so give it a go. You can also befriend our pal Rich or get a Chase reserve card.
I often say that in New York, any steak over $80 would all be the same. I still hold this belief. However. not every steak or chophouse at this level have the "Drip Show" or friendly servers like we had at 4 Charles Prime Rib. So in the end, what matters is the vibe, the staff, and how much fun people at that given moment.
Our total bill was $770 minus tip. We split it evenly so Sheryl and I ended up with $264, which is slightly over the minimum.