Just like his attitude in the face of Kitchen Stadium battles, Iron Chef Marc Forgione‘s approach to the restaurant business is fearless. This longtime chef and the winner of The Next Iron Chef, Season 2 opened his first New York City eatery, Restaurant Marc Forgione, in 2008, and since then he’s gone on to launch American Cut in Atlantic City and Khe-Yo, also in New York. To that list of accomplishments Marc can now add one more venture: a Manhattan outpost of American Cut, located in the downtown neighborhood of Tribeca, just blocks away from his other Big Apple businesses. Overflowing with inspired creations like tender hiramasa, fish floating in a sweet and spicy miso broth, and succulent bone marrow with short ribs, plus tried-and-true dishes done correctly, like moist crab cakes, perfectly seared porterhouses and creamed spinach, the menu at American Cut offers perhaps the ultimate steakhouse experience — and in a space that is as comfortable and welcoming as it is chic and refined.
FN Dish visited Marc at American Cut in New York City and chatted with him and John Meadow — a co-founder of LDV Hospitality, which owns and operates the restaurant — about their journey in opening the business. Read on below to learn more about their inspiration for American Cut, and find out what Marc says are a few must-have menu items.
How is American Cut different from your other restaurants?
John Meadow: This is our loftiest, most ambitious restaurant we’ve done. It’s the highest design. I think the notion of taking classic American fine-dining cuisine and doing it at that level represents a very ambitious task that we’re glad Marc is our partner in the process of doing so.
Marc Forgione: If you go to Restaurant Marc Forgione, it’s for one thing. If you go to Khe-Yo, it’s for another thing. If you go to American cut, it’s for another thing. We want to make it so that you can eat at all three in the same week and have a beautiful, consistently different experience.
What were you hoping American Cut would offer to the dining scene in New York City?
MF: Our goal from the get-go was to bring steakhouses “back to their glory.” Most people forget that steakhouses started fine dining. I think a lot of people forget that because a lot of steakhouses have kind of gone the other way. We’re trying to bring steakhouses back to the rightful place of some of the top dining destinations in the city.
JM: That in and of itself is a very lofty ambition. It makes it totally unique to the steakhouse realm, whereby it’s not the good ol’ boys’ club; it’s not just a sexy scene. This is American fine dining at its highest level.
What made you want to bring American Cut from Atlantic City to New York City, and what was different about the Manhattan restaurant compared to the one in New Jersey?
MF: It was a lot shorter drive to get here! They both created their own unique challenges. This is a freestanding restaurant, which I think helps you and hurts you, depending on which way you’re going.
JM: The simplicity of just taking a lease in a freestanding, independent space in a charming neighborhood in New York City and just opening a restaurant — of course it’s hard work, but there’s something very simple and black-and-white about that identity that is very satisfying. And, fundamentally, it’s at the core of what we all aspired to do at the beginning of this whole thing: open a great restaurant.
All three of your restaurants — Restaurant Marc Forgione, Khe-Yo and now American Cut — are all in the Tribeca neighborhood of Manhattan. Was that on purpose?
MF: I love Tribeca. I didn’t do it on purpose. I didn’t try to find my first restaurant in Tribeca … It’s kind of happened very organically and naturally, kind of the way I like to .… live my life anyways. I’m letting it all kind of just fall into place the way that it is.
From the dim lighting and leather seating to walls of mirrors, the interior design of American Cut creates an exceptional atmosphere. What was your inspiration?
JM: The steakhouse being American fine dining and then bringing that to life and making that relevant for 2013. So we always joke in terms of accents: Take the roof deck of the Chrysler Building, take his black leather jacket, fuse it together, and this is American Cut. And there’s points of New York City. There’s points of Marc Forgione, his personal sensibilities and everything. It all kind of comes together …. It’s very relevant, specifically to New York and Tribeca.
If someone could come to American Cut for one meal alone, what would a complete order look like?
MF: For your entrees, the surf and turf (pictured left) with the tomahawk and the chili lobster on top of it. For the appetizer, I mean, it’s tough. I’m so proud of the classics: the Caesar salad, the shrimp cocktail, the crab cake.
JM: It has to be an indulgent feast. It doesn’t have to be, but it should be.
MF: And our kind of mantra, too, when it comes to the food and the service and the restaurant in general is just – It might look fancy. People think I’m fancy — but at the end of the day, it’s about fun, getting six people at a table and having fun.
What’s been your approach to those classic dishes?
MF: I don’t think I’ve tried to update them. I think I’ve tried to bring them back to what they originally were. There’s no such thing as a classic that wasn’t incredible when it first started. It wouldn’t be a classic. So the more research I did, it was … really just stripping the layers down from it and going back to the original Caesar salad or a spicy shrimp cocktail that you actually taste. Going back to I’m sure the way it was 100 years ago.
Click on the photo below to take a tour of American Cut, and see inside the restaurant, more snapshots of Marc and his top dishes.