Of all the steak houses in New Jersey that Lowell and I have eaten, we have dined at The Strip House at the Westminster Hotel in Livingston the most. Why? The food and service are consistently excellent; we have never been disappointed and we really love their steak. So when we were invited to a press dinner to introduce us to culinary director, chef Tom Valenti, and his signature dishes. We responded immediately with: “Oh yes we would not miss this event.”
Chef Valenti has an impressive resume having worked at Restaurant Guy Savoy (Paris), Gotham Bar & Grill, Alison on Dominick and Oeust, all in New York City. He is also partnering with Strip House owner/operator Mathew Glazier to launch an as-yet-unnamed new restaurant in the West Village. Additionally, chef Valenti is the author of three bestselling cookbooks, including Welcome to My Kitchen: A New York Chef Shares His Robust Recipes and Secret Techniques; Tom Valenti’s Soups, Stews, and One-Pot Meals; and You Don’t Have to be Diabetic to Love This Cookbook.
Before being seated, we gathered at the bar, had drinks and munched on addictive fried rock shrimp served with a spicy mayonnaise. Upon being seated, we were offered notable raisin, onion and baguette breads, and were told that our four-course dinner would be paired with Unionville Vineyards wine. Lowell and I would like to go on record that we initially turned up our noses, as we had never tasted any New Jersey wines that we liked. That has now changed; we were wrong. The wines we had (see pairings below) were so good that we would put them on a rotating list of wines that we drink. A fieldtrip to Ringoes, where the winery is located is now on our to-do list.
It was a revelation that the wine was so good, but we were here for chef Valenti’s food and he did not disappoint either. Endive salad was paired with pistachios, cubes of Stilton and crumbled pancetta; a well-balanced combination of textures and flavors.
(Unionville Home Vineyard Chardonnay 2013)
A creamy chive-butter sauce complemented grilled branzino with wilted spinach; a light dish that was also paired with the Chardonnay.
Two humongous platters of thick-sliced, medium-rare, double porterhouse steak were placed on the table along with family-style servings of creamed spinach (we think the Strip Houses version is the best we have had); mashed potatoes; French fries; onion rings; green beans; and asparagus. As always, the steak was buttery, rich, tender and exactly what we want when we crave a steak. The charred crust had a slight lip smackin’ spiciness from salt and pepper.
(Pheasant Hill Syrah 2012, my favorite wine of the evening, and Big O Red Montage, a Bordeaux style red blend, Lowell’s favorite, were poured.)
And what would be the best ending to this meal? Chocolate, of course! A chocolate trio consisting of pot au crème, slice of the Strip House’s 24 layer chocolate cake and a brownie with chocolate sauce were served.
(Cool Foxy Lady 2013, which was a late harvest Vidal dessert wine)
The Westminster Hotel
550 West Mount Pleasant Avenue
Double porterhouse steak
Strip House sides.
Photos courtesy of Lowell Saferstein
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