First Impressions: American Cut

I can’t say I was anxious to try American Cut, the new steakhouse in the former Trattoria Cinque (and before that, Devin Tavern) space on Greenwich. It’s the second outpost of what is presumably a burgeoning restaurant chain—which would be fine, but the first location was in Atlantic City. In its favor, however, the folks behind it are LDV Hospitality (the restaurants Veritas and Scarpetta are among its holdings) and Marc Forgione.

I went online to make a reservation, and I wasn’t surprised to see nothing available between 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. for Thursday through Saturday, but Sunday, too? I suspected that American Cut, which had just opened, was withholding prime times from OpenTable, the way some restaurants do. When I called to ask about Sunday, however, I was told that I could dine at 6:30 p.m. or 8:30 p.m. As anyone who had been inside the 250-seat Trattoria Cinque knows, the space is huge—and, as we’ll get to in a minute, American Cut isn’t cheap.

We walked in on a Thursday at 7:30 p.m., and although the place was packed, we had no problem getting a table, so perhaps they’re simply reserving a lot of tables for walk-ins (which doesn’t entirely make sense to me, because why not take the reservation?). Initial impressions were good: They’ve put a patterned covering on those imposing black “windows” and potted shrubs on the loading dock—and the cavernous room has been divided into several rooms or areas, so you don’t feel like you’ve entered a warehouse. There’s still a bar along the south wall; we were seated at the banquette across from it, which was a shame because that area appeared to be noisier than the rest of the restaurant, and what’s more, we had to look at a lot of saggy Dockers standing at the bar. The corner table was set for three, and the hostess—new to this line of work?—informed us that they’d be removing one of the place settings.

I have a feeling that they’ll iron out wrinkles like that, because otherwise it was all highly polished, especially for a big restaurant in its first weeks. People in well-cut suits could be seen hustling through the room, keeping an eye on everything. It reminded me of Scarpetta, where the smoothness can come with a corporate sheen, but I’ll still take it over sloppiness. And the place sure looks sharp, a mix of old Hollywood glamour (art deco light fixtures, a diamond-patterned floor, sophisticated lighting) and industrial Tribeca (chicken wire above the bar). My surreptitious photos are lame, so check out Eater to see what it looks like with the lights up.

I ordered the “Barolo Barrel Negroni,” which came with an attractive ice shard, and we dove into the menu. I don’t hold the prices against American Cut, because steakhouses are like weddings—people want to spend money on them. That’s part of the experience, especially when clients and an expense account are involved.

Adam and I don’t eat a lot of meat these days—and when we do, it’s rarely in slabs. And yet, despite Forgione’s involvement, I couldn’t really justify ordering the salmon. At a steakhouse, you should have steak. We pondered the the $140 porterhouse (mostly so we could take the bone home and make stock with it—Adam’s French onion soup is unbeatable), but 40 ounces is just too much. I didn’t want to be eating steak for days. Adam ordered the $42 New York strip, and I got the $32 hanger steak—I still have fond memories of Landmarc’s hanger steak from my carnivorous days. We also got salads to start (the Caesar for Adam, the special greens-squash-and-goat-cheese for me), and two sides, the “sunchoked spinach” and the cauliflower. It was too much, because instead of bread you each get an “everything biscuit” as big as the bagel I had had for breakfast. It came with some sort of herbed cream cheese. I couldn’t hear the waiter’s explanation, so I asked, but I had no luck the second time, either.

Someone brought over a bowl with the ingredients of Adam’s Caesar salad in it, for him to inspect before it was taken to a service station to be tossed. We were shrugging about the theater of it when the waiter said something about Forgione himself overseeing the tossing. Sure enough—as you can tell from the photo at right, sort of—the chef is not at all just loaning out his name. And I’m positive we weren’t getting special treatment.

Adam liked his steak, and I can tell you—we had the second half of his steak as a sandwich two days later—it was like butter. (Still, he wished we’d gotten the porterhouse.) I found my steak too smooth, too filet-ish. That probably means it was of high quality and perfectly cooked, but I happen to like a hanger steak because it usually has lots of texture and flavor. Both of the sides were fantastic. We thought the waiter had said the sunchokes took the place of cream in the spinach, and that may be so, but something (fontina? butter? fontina and butter?) made up for it in richness. And the cauliflower in Forgione’s “sauce proposal”—so named because women propose marriage, or something, to Forgione after trying it—was probably my favorite dish of the night. I do recall proposing that we get the check: Dessert was out of the question; I felt sympathy for the pastry chef.

All in all, I’m the last person who should be writing about American Cut, because it’s not really what I’m looking for in a restaurant. But if you want a cool, lively steakhouse, you’ll likely love it.

I went downstairs to use the restroom and peek around. The last photo below is a closed-off space that looks like overflow and/or private dining. When I returned upstairs, Adam said someone told him that there’s a private room seating 60, which might be that room or another one. And there’s also a room in the back of the main floor with an awesome star-chamber-like round table.

American Cut is at 363 Greenwich (between Franklin and Harrison), 212-226-4736;

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  1. tried open table, calling line always busy, reserving directly with AC but no luck anywhere. what is going on???

    have table for 2 saturday nov 23 at 7:30?

  2. It was so loud that you had to guess at what your server was telling you. I am among those who find noisy restaurants unacceptable (specifically those where there is either no attempt to curtail the noise or worse, where the volume is purposely amplified by decor decisions because there’s a theoretical advantage to maintaining a painfully high noise level). I know this is a big discussion in the dining world these days. I don’t think it should be open to debate. Oppressively loud noise and fine dining are, to me, definitively antithetical.

  3. David

    They play music in a restaurant? How terrible. I hope it is not too bright as well.

  4. Gregg: I do not understand what you are trying to say at all, I’m afraid. I sense it’s an attempt at irony (?) Are you criticizing me for not liking restaurants to be extremely noisy? I’m asking in all honesty. Music is played in all sorts of restaurants, everywhere, all the time, often to great effect. And? The second comment (“bright”) also eludes me. Have I commented on brightness or illumination anywhere? Again, I sense that you were attempting humor, or sarcasm, for a point. But, without meaning to be critical, I cannot understand that point. Sorry.

  5. In case anyone’s interested:

    At Acme, my friends and I finally resorted to writing notes on our phones and displaying the text to one another, as conversation without screaming was totally infeasible.