Just when I thought there wasn't anything left to say about beef, I'm at Wolfgang's Steakhouse in downtown Miami.
The first thing to arrive at our table isn't Wolfgang's famous dry-aged USDA prime. It's a thick strip of sizzling hot Canadian bacon ($4.95).
It's salty and tender and chewy and even better with a dollop of Wolfgang's slightly sweet Old Fashioned Sauce. A bottle of the condiment sits conspicuously on each table.
I am in meat heaven and thankful that my cholesterol is perfect. Let the meat-eating begin!
Wolfgang's opened in Miami four months ago. Owner Wolfgang Zwiener spent 41 years at the legendary Peter Luger's in Brooklyn before opening his first Wolfgang's on Park Avenue in 2004. There are now seven locations — four in New York, one in Beverly Hills, another in Waikiki.
Here, Wolfgang's sits on the Miami River inside real estate developer Jorge Pérez's Related Group headquarters. With the average check $75 — a bit low for drinkers who order three courses — you'll need Pérez-money to eat here. The spot has housed three other restaurants, but I'm quite sure four is the magic number.
Wolfgang's seats 275 on three levels. While I've not dined here when the restaurant was full, the room was designed so that every table has a view of the river as well as the rest of the restaurant. I can just see the eyes of a certain breed of Miami power broker scanning the room for faces familiar and loathsome.
"I just love steakhouses," said one of my co-diners, as three of us sat in a half moon banquet on the second level. Wolfgang's is elegant but unpretentious, comfortable in the way that good steakhouses have perfected. White-shirted, black-bow-tie wearing waiters are of the professional variety, pitch-perfectly delivering and removing plates.
Bacon devoured, who knew that a simple sliced beefsteak tomato and onion salad ($15.95) with Roquefort dressing could be quite this good? Like so much here, it's built on incredible ingredients: perfectly ripe tomato and sweet onion. Ahi tuna tartare ($21.95) failed for the very same reason. The tuna wasn't quite fresh enough.
But then it's time for steaks, the reason you come here in the first place. This is the beef you dream of. The way streak is supposed to be served. It's prime and dry-aged on the premises and — quite simply — some of the best I've tasted.
The signature cut is the porterhouse, listed on the menu as steak for two ($93.90), steak for three ($140.85) or steak for four ($187.80). It's brought to the table thickly sliced on a hot platter, so hot you can cook those slices a bit more if you want to try a piece at a different temperature. But temperature will not be a problem.
A New York sirloin steak ($45.95), weighing 24 to 26 ounces, gets the same hot platter treatment. The 26- to 28-ounce, bone-in rib-eye ($49.95) doesn't. Each steak is better than the last.
There's not much more to the menu aside for filet mignon, lamb chops, lobster, sea bass, salmon and tuna. I don't know why anyone would come here and not eat beef, however. Sides include German potatoes ($11.95), which are Wolfgang's version of hash browns. I wanted them to be just a bit crisper. Fried onion rings ($9.95) were also limp. Creamed spinach ($11.95) wasn't overly nutmegged, but had the unappetizing dark murky green color of institutional greens.
Wolfgang's is all about steak.
And maybe something called schlag, the German answer to whipped cream that you'll find served alongside slices of densely caramelized pecan pie ($10.95) and on top of the do-I-really-need-this? hot fudge sundae ($10.95). Less to our liking was the cinnamon-heavy signature apple strudel. Even schlag couldn't transcend cinnamon.
Thankfully, it didn't need to. Wolfgang's steak said it all.
315 S. Biscayne Blvd., Miami
Cost: Expensive-very expensive
Hours: Lunch weekdays, dinner daily
Credit cards: All major
Bar: Full service
Sound level: Moderate
Outside smoking: Yes
For kids: High chairs
Wheelchair accessible: Yes
Parking: $4 lunch valet; $7 dinner valet