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4 Charles Prime Rib

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4 Charles Prime Rib is the first New York effort of Brendan Sodikoff, the Chicago chef-restaurateur behind Au Cheval. Au Cheval is a sort of elevated diner (where everything, true to its name, has an egg on top -- and everything is incredibly rich). This, however, is quite the "real" restaurant. The lower floor of a brownstone on Charles Street (natch) done up in full Gilded Age style.

 

So intent are they on making this a "real" restaurant that there's only a service bar, which is a real pity. Anyway, the food -- if you like this kind of thing -- is excellent.

 

We started with cacio e pepe, which, the way they make it there, is richer than a carbonara. In other words, in true Au Cheval style. I would call this a don't-miss.

 

I then had (duh) the Prime Rib. They serve three cuts: an English cut, which is smaller; a Chicago cut, which is larger; and some other premium cut, which is on the bone (and probably requires sharing). I had the Chicago cut, and it was superlative. What can you say about roast beef? It was rich, meaty, cooked to a perfect pink, nice horseradish sauce on the side. I think next time I go I'll stick with the English cut, though. My dining companion had the burger, which looks like Au Cheval's famous burger but without the egg. Which is a good thing, as I thought the egg spoiled the burger by dominating the meat and making the whole thing too rich, even for me.

 

Cocktails are excellent, as you'd expect. The wine list isn't, as you'd also expect.

 

It's interesting that this opened so soon after the new Beatrice Inn, another meat-centric place. I think the Beatrice Inn has more interesting food that also provides more of a showcase for the kitchen's abilities. But you can't discount the immense immense appeal of this place. Pig that I am, I'm happy to have them both.

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Eating a dinner of leftovers from 4 Charles Prime Rib made me reflect on the oddity of its model.

 

You can't eat here before 11. (I mean, you could probably eat here at 5.) Now I don't want to be seeming to accuse them of hording tables to create false scarcity: this is a tiny restaurant (it looks like there should be another dining room through a passageway in the back -- but it only leads to a staircase up to some bathrooms). So it's more like Yale: so small you don't understand how anybody gets in. And I truly don't understand how anybody eats here during prime time. I've never seen an online reservation available then. Can they all be VIPS? Or do reservations simply dissipate within minutes of release online?

 

Adding to the strangeness is a remark a bartender made to me recently as I was waiting for a walk-in table a little after 11.* (Yes, that's right: you can never reserve here before 11 -- well, maybe at 5 -- but you can usually walk in after 11.) He said the place really comes alive at 11, "for some reason." I wasn't in the mood to pick a fight -- the book I was reading wasn't big enough to slam effectively -- so I didn't make the obvious observation that it must get livelier after 11, since nobody can get in until then.

 

And then, to make for premium oddity, there's the fact that this restaurant serves huge portions of very rich food. So you can only eat there after 11 -- but you can't eat this food that late. That's fine with me: it makes for leftovers to take home (which I then try to finish just as late, but at home). But it is odd.

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* Another oddity is that, owing to the tininess of the space, there are no seats at the bar. It's a tiny service bar. Maybe two people can stand there and drink while waiting for a table. They encourage you to go elsewhere and wait until they call you -- but I've made it clear that I'm old and staying put (as long as I can drink while I'm waiting).

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Also, they're often out of their eponymous lead dish by 11, when you can get in.

 

(The last time, though, I hit the jackpot: all they had left was what they called the "cap", and I'd call the "end": the part of the roast beef that receives most of the cooking and most of the seasoning, and is maximally crusty and tasty. They apologized, because it is more well-done than what they like to serve [or people like to order]. But I'll tell you what: my brother and I used to fight over that part of the roast beef when my mother made it. In fact, after I ordered it, I sent a text to my brother saying, "Beat you this time sucka." He had no idea.)

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yeh, this place does not excite me.. It would be hard to convince me to not hit up Minetta. I have not thought of one thing I had at Au Chavell outside of their matzo balls.

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well, that sucks to hear.

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i picked the right time to go vegan.

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Au Cheval is scheduled to open a NY location at 79 Walker Street, in Tribeca, during late summer 2018.

 

http://www.grubstreet.com/2017/08/au-chevals-nyc-location-opens-in-tribeca-next-year.html

 

Opening on Tuesday.  Lines around the block predicted.  Reading again about the burger, I don't see anything very special about it.  Is it just a name/reputation thing?  It looks like a very simple burger indeed.

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Well, it has this egg on it that makes it rather disgusting.

 

I read this description:  "It’s a simple American classic, made of two griddled four-ounce patties with American cheese, dijonnaise, and pickles on a toasted bun." But I think I can see an egg in the picture. I remain puzzled.

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The duck hash also has an egg on it (which, unlike the hamburger, makes sense).

 

In Chicago, at least, most of the menu items have eggs on top.

 

Hence, as I said, the restaurant's name.

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