Steakcraft

Behind the scenes of New York's premium dry-aged steaks. An in-depth look at the aging, cooking, and presentation of New York's premium dry-aged steaks from beef expert Nick Solares.

Steakcraft: S. Prime, A Boutique Steakhouse in Queens

Slideshow SLIDESHOW: Steakcraft: S. Prime, A Boutique Steakhouse in Queens

[Photographs: Nick Solares]

Steak Fact Sheet

Cuts: New York Strip and Rib Steak
Grade: USDA Prime
Breed: Black Angus
Dry Aged? New York Strip 35 Days, Rib Steak 60 Days
Pre-Cooked Weight: New York Strip 24 oz., Rib Steak 28 oz.
Price: New York Strip $53, Rib Steak $65
Price per Ounce: New York Strip $2.30/oz., Rib Steak $2.30/oz.

"I am too much of a control freak to let someone else age my meat," declares S. Prime's executive Chef Joel Reiss when asked about his dry aging program. There are few chefs with more experience with steak.

Reiss has worked at such noted steakhouses as Maloney and Porcelli, Bobby Vann's, The Post House, and Smith and Wollensky, and with chefs such as Terrence Brennan and David Burke. The latter association in particular appears to have a profound (and positive) impact on Reiss's career. Many of the innovations that Burke popularized at Primehouse in Chicago, such as cooking beef exclusively from Creekstone Farms and using Himalayan salt to line his dry age room, have found there way to S Prime. The playful, humorous attitude that Burke brings to his food is also reflected on Reiss's menu.

But there is plenty about S. Prime that reflects Reiss's own innovations. At the Post House, the chef experimented extensively with long aging periods—the industry standard is 28 days, but Reiss was serving 120 day aged steaks as specials.

He is justifiably proud of his dry aging operation at S. Prime. The dry aging room is only opened once a day to pull the steaks for that nights service and to restock it with fresh beef. It is bathed in ultra violet light to restrict the development of undesirable mold and tiled with the aforementioned Himalayan salt to add flavor to the steaks. But he isn't finished. "I am going to line the opposite wall (of the dry age room) with oak from whiskey barrels" he reveals. He is installing the wood next week and hopes that it will add a further depth of flavor to his steaks.

If it does, I am looking forward to trying them. His steak already pack a ton of dry aged flavor with a notable tenderness. S. Prime's steaks are on par with the city's finest, and his signature item, a 60-day dry aged rib steak, is one of my personal favorites.

I asked Reiss to pick out the two steaks that best reflect his craft. He chose the 35-day aged New York strip and his signature rib steak. Take a look through the slideshow to see how he brings these from his age room to table.

About the author: Nick Solares is a NYC-based food writer, photographer and the Serious Eats Meat Bureau Chief. He has published Beef Aficionado since 2007, with the stated purpose of exploring American exceptionalism through the consumption of hamburgers and steak. He has written over 400 restaurant reviews for Serious Eats since 2008 and served as the creative director for the award-winning iPad app Pat LaFrieda's Big App for Meat. You can follow him on Instagram (@nicksolares) and Twitter (@beefaficionado).

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