I love T-Bar at 1278 Third Avenue (which is only a few blocks from my apartment)–it is my favorite neighborhood steakhouse and a place you can count on consistently great food. In its former incarnation as The Lenox Room (with the same owners) it tended to be more formal, while now it has the airiness of a downtown dining room. There is beautiful art and adorable stacked felt boxes inside the front windows; they also have some of the most comfortable banquettes in town.
While my favorite menu item is the 8 ounce filet mignon done medium rare, and have also often shared the huge 40-ounce Porterhouse with friends,there are many wonderful salads, desserts and sides that are truly the best of “Modern American” cuisine. There is truly “something for everyone” here as they say–if you love salads, the beet and endive salad is served in an elegant “parfait” style and features tender endive, fresh beets, pumpkin seeds and a lovely sherry vinaigrette. The Iceberg Salad with blue cheese, bacon and tomato is fabulous and is very filling. This is possibly the best iceberg salad I have ever had and it’s enough for two people to share. Many people order the Margherita Pizza as a starter–it has a golden thin crisp crust with luscious homemade marinara sauce and fresh mozzarella.
Fish lovers are able to choice from a huge variety of appetizers and entrees including Yellowfin Tuna Tartar (made with soy, ginger and sesame seeds), market oysters, Seared Spanish Octopus, Crusted Salmon, Chilean Sea Bass, Tuna Tartare and Grilled Branzino. Many of the seafood creations are super-healthy and done with a basic soy glaze, so they are an ideal-choice for the super nutrition-conscious.
The “sides” choices are abundant and T-Bar has the hugest baked potatoes I have ever seen while dining out–something like 7″ long and 4″ high and it comes with wonderful toppings like fresh chives, bacon bits and sour cream for you to mix and match. The haricot verts are super tender and sauteed with shallots and the roasted Brussels Sprouts are the stuff of neighborhood legend. Their mashed potatoes are so buttery and smooth and I love their Sweet Summer Corn With Shallots. They are the type of roasted veggie that you have to have every time you go to T-Bar. The Macaroni And Cheese is something not to be missed as it is made with gooey Gruyere and artisanal Parmesan.
The dessert list is incredibly varied and the “regular size” is big enough for two or three people to share; you can get the same desserts in a family size that serve four or five. My favorites are the warm Apple Crisp with homemade vanilla ice cream and caramel sauce and the Banana Parfait Mille Feuilles which features a coconut sauce, lovely buttery pastry on the bottom. The elegant banana dessert is torched like a Creme Brulee and gets the same sweet crisp brown layer on top as a result. This is one of their trademark desserts as is the Strawberry Sundae with its homemade ice cream severed with cut up chunks of homemade shortcake and pieces of meringue.
I need a T-Bar fix at least once a month not just because of the lovely menu but because of the friendly, attentive but low-key service. You can feel free to ask the waitstaff millions of questions about each item on the menu and they do not roll their eyes. If they do not know the answer to a question about a dish, they will go get details from the kitchen staff for you.
The T-Bar is an Upper East Side neighborhood “institution” and many diners are “regulars” who go there three times a week or more. Reservations are suggested as it fills up like rapid-fire around 7 or 7:30 every night. For more info, go to www.tbarnyc.com. I will be back there for their highly-touted brunch (which I have yet to try) very soon. The egg white frittata and Eggs Florentine are hugely popular according to my friends who go there for lunch every weekend!