Meet Me at the Manhattan

December 1, 2016 Isa Baza

Some people have a sweet tooth, but I’m one of those who have what I call a “meat tooth.” Every once in a while, I get the hard-to-deny craving to eat a big, juicy steak. And although it’s not something I do every day, after a long week of glaring deadlines, early morning workouts, and quinoa salads, a cheat meal is in order—like in this particular date night. My stomach could not help but flutter in anticipation as the elevator at the Pacific Star Resort and Spa made its way down to the Manhattan Steak House.

For those who don’t know yet, the Manhattan is one of the island’s best-kept secrets.  Tucked away in the middle of Pleasure Island, the quaint and lounge-like establishment offers, among other things, comfortable seating, soothing music, and a fully stocked bar convenient for both a night out with friends or a date night for two.

As we made our way into the restaurant, I felt the staff knew just how hungry we were.  They whisked us away to a romantic corner table, and I noticed that the Manhattan was not your average steak house. There was a good mix of locals, military, and tourists. A toddler happily gnawed on his dad’s tomahawk ribeye bone. Three airmen laughed over beers, and an older Chamorro couple held hands as a waiter served dessert.

Chef Leland of Pacific Star greeted us at the table and told us a special dinner had been prepared. Promptly, an appetizer was served: salmon with fig. Simple enough, just like it sounds, I thought. They say don’t expect good seafood at a steakhouse, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. Our salmon came with a savory whipped cream and sat prettily on top of a bed of fig jam. The saltiness of the salmon—easily one of my favorite fishes—mixed harmoniously with the sweetness of the fig jam. I had to laugh when my date said it was his first encounter with fig not in “Fig Newton” form. When I dipped the fish and fig into a dollop of the cream and put it in my mouth, it was such a divine experience. The mixture was reminiscent of salmon and cream cheese, but on a whole other level.

 

They say don't judge a steakhouse by its seafood, but this appetizer is great!

For the second course, the soft-spoken and very polite waiter brought out a platter of soft-shelled crab salad. The greens were definitely not your routine iceberg lettuce. In front of us was a diverse and generous mix of greens—frisée, baby spinach, green oak leaf, and red and green romaine—topped by a light, crispy-fried, soft-shelled crab. The salad was not overly dressed, and the tanginess of the dressing complemented the richness of the crab, which I must say was masterfully fried and not greasy at all. I devoured the salad and found the acidity of the dressing cleansing my palate for the highly anticipated next course: the steak.

 

See what else Manhattan offers--take a look at their menu

Manhattan offers a wide variety of great steaks, most of which are dry-aged. Chef Leland explained that it means steaks are aged in a special chamber for one to five weeks to make the steak more flavorful and tender.

The steaks were brought out—a 24-oz. Certified Angus porterhouse for my date and a dry-aged 20-oz. Angus prime ribeye for me. My appetite had reached fever pitch by now because in front of me, finally, was the source of the great smell that first greeted us in the elevator: glorious, God-given MEAT.

 

Dry aging does phenomenal things to meat.

The steaks came with several serving dishes full of flavorful fried onions, pan-seared grape tomatoes, buttery zucchini, and fluffy mashed potatoes. Also included were small sauceboats filled with Manhattan’s signature sauces—salsa verde, au jus, and peppercorn.

The steaks (medium rare for the porterhouse, medium for my ribeye) were cooked to perfection. The conversation prior to the serving of the steaks had been busy, but our table fell silent as we fell upon the delicious meat.

Best. Steaks. Ever. At first I thought taking high-quality steaks and dry-aging them was over the top. Now I saw why—well, tasted why—Manhattan did it. Each bite was like going to heaven. The steaks were perfect enough on their own, but dipped in the salsa verde, the meat came alive as it danced with the basil flavor. The au jus and peppercorn sauces were equally divine. We couldn’t decide which of the sauces we liked best. My date joked that this was the first time he didn’t need finadene.

 

 

Isa isn't the only one who enjoys Manhattan

 

I was almost embarrassed by how clean our plates were when the waiter came to take them away. I had satiated my meat tooth, and as a farewell kiss, Chef Leland brought a baked Alaska, which the waiter flambéed with brandy tableside. Although I really thought I couldn’t eat another bite, the dessert with its creamy meringue peaks and ice cream center was the perfect epilogue to an amazing dining experience. I’m not one to quote Arnold Schwarzenegger, but to Manhattan Steak House, I say this: “I’ll be back.

 


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