The Lambs Club
132 W 44th St (6th Ave & Broadway)
City: New York, NY
Phone: (212) 997-5262
Site: Visit the restaurant site
Chef: Geoffrey Zakarian
2nd Cuisine: New American
Area: West 40s
It's hard to imagine being a foodie at age twelve. But that's my son whose love of cars is only surpassed by his love of food. His heroes are Gordon Ramsay, Morimoto and Geoffrey Zakarian. Last year we celebrated his birthday at the Maze by Gordon Ramsay and were thoroughly impressed by the impeccable food and thoughtfulness of the staff (which included a visit to the kitchen and a picture with the chef). I wasn't expecting that this time around, but I was expecting a top-notch meal. We opted for Zakarian's The Lambs Club at the Chatwal Hotel in Times Square.
It is impressive as you enter the wrought iron gates, as if you have just gained entrance into a private club as you take a step back in time. The actual Lambs club dates back to 1874. It's members included the likes of Irving Berlin, Cecil B. Demille, John Wayne and Charlie Chaplin.
Being that it was a spur-of-the-moment decision, and the dining room was booked solid, we were steered to an upstairs "mezzanine," a loungy space with comfy brown banquettes and a full-size bar. Lamps resembling the Empire State Building dangling above, giving the room a gotham glam feel, and my son quite a thrill.
As the meal began we feasted on crispy calamari spiked with fiery jalapenos, jumbo shrimp cocktail ($4.50 per shrimp) that tasted like it had just been plucked from the sea, and a super fresh yellowfin tuna tartare served with a citrusy foam. The house bread, sprinkled with black and white sesame seeds, is also worth coveting, especially when slathered with creamy butter. While my son had a soda, I sampled one of the signature cocktails, a Hemingway Daiquiri that was near perfect and quite strong.
As dinner progressed, we struggled a bit deciding on a main course. There was Chicken Fricasée with serrano ham, sautéed sea scallops with pressed pork belly, and whole roasted Dover Sole which was already sold out. I felt like steak and settled on the Delmonico, a Creekstone dry aged top sirloin that carries a beefy $64 price tag. Despite the price, we both agreed it was probably the best steak either of us had ever eaten. The meat was perfectly seasoned, even the gristle was mouthwatering. It was served with a wonderful batch of braised shallots. My son ordered the Long Island Duck Breast. Two large pieces of duck arrived, each nice and rare, with a delectable coffee mole sauce. But when my son tried to inquire about the types of fruits on the plate, our waiter was nowhere to be found. Our bus boy tracked him down and the answer was relayed to us, "It's probably figs." Turns out it was figs and huckleberries. That's when things started going downhill.
We joked about our waiter, who chatted away with the bartender when the room was slow, and seemed frazzled as the room started filling up with late night theatregoers. I likened him to the hapless British character Mr. Bean. Only I wasn't laughing. At this point, I wound up retrieving my own dessert menu from a nearby table. Our special meal suddenly turning into amateur hour. But when you are dropping close to $300 (tip included) you expect, and deserve, quality food and service. This was not quality service and certainly not worthy of an Iron Chef. But something tells me Chef Zakarian wouldn't stand for it had he known. But when you attach your name to something, it becomes a reflection of you.
We finally ordered our dessert. My son had the Chocolate Souffle with sour cherries and a scoop of vanilla ice cream laced with chocolate specks, while I went for the Pumpkin Seed Oil Semifredo with a butternut squash puree and spiced vanilla ice cream. Both were luscious and sweet. Unfortunately, my mood had already soured and I regretted the choice I had made for my son's birthday.
Review By: Thomas Rafael