A Beyond-Steak Steakhouse

Flames Bar & Grill, Briarcliff Manor


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The steaks at Flames, like this mighty porterhouse, are butchered and dry-aged in-house. 

When you go to a steakhouse, you order steak. Admittedly I’m not a huge steak person, so when I visited Flames Bar & Grill (formerly Flames Steakhouse) for this story, I brought my friend, The Carnivore, with me, only to end up calling dibs. The quality of the steak was no surprise—Donald Trump, who we’re sure knows a good steak— is a regular. The surprise was the beautiful broccoli rabe, cooked with garlic slices and completely avoiding the bitter/greasy syndrome. This reflects the background of Chef/Owner Nick Vulaj’s family of restaurateurs from Montenegro.

The family took over a dilapidated building in 1947 to open an Italian restaurant that was ahead of its time, serving dishes beyond the clichéd spaghetti-and-meatballs cuisine, before reopening it as a steakhouse 25 years ago. They butcher and dry-age their meat in-house. A recent high-end renovation added a meat display case inside the door, where Vulaj is happy to point out the distinctive marbling—a well-known characteristic of USDA Prime beef. 

There’s no sommelier—Vulaj has been collecting (and even making) wine for years, and Flames boasts a vertical cellar with upwards of 60,000 bottles, including some rare vintages. The wine-cellar banquet table is impressive, and the handsome new bar makes a mean Martini.

But you don’t hear a whole lot about the place, which received a “Worth It” review from the New York Times five years ago.

This isn’t the place to skimp, so revel in the full experience. Shrimp cocktail nets you large, meaty shrimp with spicy cocktail sauce. An appetizer special of bacon-wrapped day-boat scallops with capers and spinach is lovely, and chopped salad arrives in an adorable “bowl” of paper-thin cucumber. You’ll find seafood, chicken, pasta, baked potatoes, and more.

But you order the steak—which your server finishes cooking at your table, making sure everyone gets meat to the doneness they desire. You can’t go wrong with the Peter-Luger–quality, 16-ounce, bone-in filet mignon, but larger appetites might opt for Porterhouse for two…or three. Or four ($135).

For dessert, try zecchino: crème anglaise with fresh vanilla beans and white chocolate, topped with Belgian chocolate-mocha mousse. The signature neo-Napoleon is also yummy, its layers of cream spilling out from between stacked puff-pastry pillows. End with cognac for the complete experience.

533 N State Rd, Briarcliff Manor (914) 923-3100 | www.flamesbarandgrill.com


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