We often laud St. Anselm (355 Metropolitan Avenue, Brooklyn; 718-384-5054) for its contribution to the affordable dinner market here in New York City. The Williamsburg restaurant from Joe Carroll, who also owns next-door beer bar Spuyten Duyvil and barbecue shop Fette Sau across the street, turns out deceptively simple steakhouse-ish fare at a good price, which you can pair to bottle of equally well-priced — and interesting — wine (like an orange wine from Long Island, which was pouring on tap last time we were in).
But given the flatiron we had at St. Anselm on a chilly night at the end of last week, it seems like a disservice to keep qualifying it as an affordable alternative to this metropolis’s major meat-mongers. Because that was, quite simply, the best steak we’ve had in a restaurant all year.
In addition to other meaty options, like a sweet tea-brined chicken and a hulking lamb shoulder blade chop, the restaurant has just two regular steak offerings, a hanger — which comes doused in garlic butter — and a Flinstonian tomahawk ribeye for two. We were sold on the flatiron, a special that night, not because of our server’s assertion that it falls texturally between the two regular offerings (though that’s true) but because the thing came covered with a snow shower of grated horseradish.
What came to our table was better than anything we could have imagined. The meat, infused with the tang of the grill you can see sizzling just beyond the bar, was encased in a peppery crust, and it drooled savory juice from its ruby center. That horseradish added a predictable nasal sharpness, though it also had the effect here of creating an edge to each bite, refreshing the palate of the unctuous meat and preparing the mouth for more. And you’re going to want more.
This is probably the first time we’ve ever had a steak in a restaurant where we didn’t even think about the sides as we consumed it — no potatoes necessary here; they just detract from that carnivorous hedonism. But the iceberg wedge is worth an order as a starter.
Bonus: St. Anselm is cozy in the winter. Get in and get you a steak.