Rails Steakhouse, located at the Towaco train station, is one of the most dazzling watering holes in New Jersey with three separate bar areas: Thirty3 a speakeasy lounge in the basement; Timber Bar/Lounge on the main floor; and the Rafters Lounge with a curved bar on the second floor. After dinner there, our party of four agreed that we would not hesitate to return for drinks and light fare but our experience at dinner was mixed. Surprisingly for a steakhouse, it was the beef dishes that did not hit the bull’s-eye.
RAILS STEAKHOUSE, TOWACO
Rails is stunning. There is a 150-plus year-old Douglas Fir from Oregon that soars from the first to second floor, a two-story brick wall with a fireplace (as well as a floating fireplace 15 feet higher with niches for candles) an open kitchen, a dramatic staircase to the second floor, (where a catwalk leads to another dining room with a dramatic wood jigsaw floor), a basement speakeasy that will allow you to enter if you know which book to move on a bookcase, a beef-aging room, wine cellar, and cheese room. The decor was more attractive than the food.
Starters were a fresh tasting hamachi crudo, served with chopsticks, which had a multitude of flavors from pickled Asian pear, jalapeño, and a yuzu-soy vinaigrette; a well done harmonious dish. Not as successful was the American Wagyu steak tartare that we thought was a cooked hamburger, as the outside was brown, not red, which meant that the meat had oxidized. Additionally, the beef was ground too fine and could best be described as pulverized.
Roasted Yukon potatoes served as a base for Goffle Road Farms rotisserie chicken served “Peruvian style” with a spicy aji verde sauce. The portion was large, the chicken juicy and the dish was praised by all. Panko-crusted, double-cut Colorado lamb chops were terrific. The meat was tender, the lamb flavorful and the accompanying tomato, stuffed with red pepper and feta cheese, added color and more lusciousness to the plate. Ask for the lamb jus on the side, as it distracted from the meat. Braised savoy cabbage with bacon and grain-mustard sauce were the highlights of the lackluster wood-fired salmon. A side of roasted cauliflower could have been cooked longer. The biggest disappointment was a beautiful looking, but tough and non-beefy or buttery, 20-ounce cowboy steak. The menu states: “Our steaks are dry aged for 28 days on premise in our aging room and hand cut by our butchers daily.” This may be true but the menu does not state if the steaks are prime, choice or select. We also had mixed reactions with dessert. The moist butter cake with blueberry sauce was fought over as it was that good. However, the accompanying whipped, unsweetened mascarpone distracted from its richness. Although the 10 layer chocolate cake with chocolate butter cream was humongous, it was dry and without flavor.
Rails Steakhouse is open for lunch Tuesday through Saturday; dinner and the Thirty3 Speakeasy, Tuesday though Sunday. If you choose to just have a drink and a bite, there are raw bar items, a burger, flatbreads, and salads on the menu, as well as a small-plate menu offered Tuesday through Thursday.
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