With sharp exclamations of delight, a table of Japanese diners dip their long tongs in a bubbling “pre-appetizer” of cheese fondue. Perhaps they will chase it with a frisée salad shot with bacon and crowned with a runny fried egg. Then on to a choice of four or five well-marbled steaks smothered in cheese, flanked by creamed spinach and fries dipped in garlic aioli. Finally, a crème brûlée, a crustless cheesecake, or—even better—an old-fashioned ice cream sundae heaped with whipped cream and washed down with a latte.
In the vanguard of the new steakhouse movement, Dylan Prime may be the most effective cholesterol delivery system ever devised by man. Except the chef is a woman. In a nation where the response to increased pollution and stretched natural resources is the gas-guzzling SUV, why wonder at a restaurant bent on obliterating nutritional common sense? But excessive or not, some of the food is quite good, especially if you dodge the showy innovations and stick to steakhouse standards.
Dylan Prime occupies a broad room once claimed by a cigar-themed eatery. The row of booths next to the glassed-in wine cellar is the most dramatic, barely illuminated by inverted yellow tulips hanging on long cords like drops of molten butter. The friendly staff urges every rich indulgence on the diners, including an array of $2 butter-bearing sauces poured from little white ceramic pitchers, and chapeaux ($3)—thick coatings annealed to the surface of the meat, the best featuring blue cheese, shallots, and chives. Even bareheaded, the 18-ounce Kansas City strip ($28) is a thing of wonder, perfectly aged to an almost crumbly texture, and charcoal-seared on both sides. Don’t bother ordering it cooked beyond rare—because rare is what you get. The truffled beurre blanc we ordered with it was an insult to this world-class steak, though quite tasty when poured over the mashed potatoes.
The smaller New York strip ($26) possesses the same rich flavor as the Kansas City, but you might want to deploy a chapeau on the 28-ounce porterhouse (a special, $48), which was tough on the sirloin side while the tenderloin was butter-tender, though totally lacking in flavor. The bone accounts for too much of the weight of this behemoth, anyway. The rib eye also bombed, so fatty and gristly that we refused to take the uneaten half home. There’s also a modest selection of steak alternatives—lobster, veal chop, and lamb rack—which no one seemed to be eating on our visits.
Among sides, too, high fat content seems proportionate to desirability. Favorites ($6 each) were a doctrinaire mac-and-cheese with a nicely browned crust, mashed potatoes predictably laced with plenty of butter, and french fries. Even though dabbed with crème fraîche, the minted peas were a disappointment, as was the small and tough artichoke parmesan. And though the allegedly “old fashioned” sundae was made with coffee ice cream, it did the trick, topped with crunchy glazed walnuts and plenty of chocolate sauce. If you’re counting calories, scrape off the whipped cream.