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Review: MarkJoseph Steakhouse

Posted by gambit50 on May 25, 2008

MarkJoseph Steakhouse, Financial District, New York, New York

The original Peter Luger clone. Former employees copying the winning formula and transplanting it to Manhattan. Unfortunately, this is not mathematics and copied formulae do not guarantee the same success. So, let us see how this went.

I was turned onto MarkJoseph by one of my closer acquaintances and his roommate who lived in Battery Park City. They praised it, saying it was very close in quality to Luger and in Manhattan and easy to walk into. While I claimed that the last two attributes do not matter to me, I was assured it was nearly as good and the rest was a bonus.

I finally gathered a group to test it out. Reservations were made for a weekday evening and there we were. 6 of the boys sat down with the expectation of a great, hearty, steak dinner.

The restaurant is a bit isolated, north of the more bustling Wall St. area and on the inland side of what might be considered the South Street Seaport. We found it nonetheless, of course, and were not worse off for having a bit of a walk. It is located in one of the nice brick buildings right west of the water. Certainly, no crowds in this area.

We all arrived together, pretty much, and were seated right away. Since the place was barely half full this was not very difficult. I thought they brought us to a pretty poor table considering the space available but did not say anything at the time. It was not completely egregious so I let it go.

The room is basic and very Lugeresque in its lack of fine details. The low ceilings and darkness were not very endearing. This is not low lighting in the sexy, cool vein, it is just a lack of natural or artificial light for no reason besides that the space sucks. Poor carpeting, wooden chairs and white tablecloths. This place did copy the poor décor of P Luger but it is actually worse since this was a new venture. White linens did not cover up anything. Sure the paint on the walls was newer but overall, it was crappier than the original even. That is pathetic but true.

We ordered rather quickly since we know the Luger program. The staff was noticeably short and useless. Honestly, I had the feeling they were treating us like second citizens because we were relatively young and not in suits. That was my impression. Or maybe they are just dicks all the time. Since half of us came from the Street, I guess they did not get the memo that everyone down there does not wear suits anymore. I cannot say they did anything particular awful but certainly were not cool. They brought everything out and it was very rushed if anything.

As I mention often, I do not need a bubbly friend for a waiter but something above what a machine could do is in order for the amount of tip they receive. Actually, I rather have a machine, put in my order and have it come out and not have to tip. Anyway, not a huge deal we were there to eat up.

I must admit that I am not sure if MarkJoseph actually had the pieces of bacon appetizer before P. Luger. I never remembered it at the latter and had not had it the first few times I visited. We ordered some at this dinner and there were probably a couple of other apps on the table. The bacon was quite good and I did not try anything else. Everything was brought out very quickly and served in a less than friendly manner. Nobody had any complaints but were not gushing about anything, either.

So far, not bad. On to the steak. Porterhouses all around. 2 steaks for 3 were ordered. I believe both were ordered medium rare but I know the one I was involved with was ordered as such for that is the only way I order steak.

The plates were basically thrown down before us and I cannot imagine how little time had elapsed since we had started the meal. Not enough, that I know and I am used to the quick dealings of Luger. What I do know is that this steak was cold. Cold in the sense that the meat was too purple implying that it was rare instead of medium rare? This is an offense which should not happen but can be forgiven. But this was not the case.

While there was charring on the outside and the meat was too purple(and that is hard because I will accept a bit on the underside rather than over side of med rare), the whole thing was rather cold. How was this possible? Hot fire, quick serving, a left out plate? I do not know. It was not so egregious that I sent it back though I probably should have since they were such assholes anyway. Honestly, I never send back food and when I was younger I was even less inclined to do so.

Needless to say, even forgetting the lack of heat in the meat, this was not so tasty. Nothing near the top end of what steakhouses produce. That is the short and long of it. Possibly subpar beef for this type of establishment and definitely poor preparation and execution. Everyone at the table was mostly in agreement. I felt like a bit of an ass as the organizer of this dinner.

The sides were also not great, creamed spinach was good enough but the potatoes were not so good, both fries and hash browns. It seems they brought over this underperforming item from Luger too.

I do not recall if anyone ordered dessert but I can assure you there is nothing to speak about there. After all this, bad treatment and mediocre food, the bill came quickly, of course. Great, they charge more than the original if only marginally. Any bit is insulting. Obviously, they should since they are just as good and more convenient. What a load of crap. The reasoning that it is in Manhattan to justify the price is nonsense since there are other steakhouses that are better, in more expensive real estate that are the same or less. And just in case someone wants to know, yes, the wine list is better than Luger(what isn’t) but it still is poor. We did not have any(beer only), fortunately. I figured I would cover everything.

Besides fat, old guys with money and no sense on Wall Street, I do not understand why anyone would go to MarkJoseph. Convenience? The subway is not so close and if you are taking a taxi as most lazy people do, this is not any closer to most neighborhoods than the original which is just on the other side of the Williamsburg bridge. Then again, maybe nobody but the fat, lazy and ignorant of the Street do dine there. I hope that is the case, well, I really hope nobody goes at all.

Is it possible that another meal at this joint would be better? Yes, in fact probable. But you can never serve me something that bad for that much and expect me to get burned again. Some leeway for an off experience is one thing but it must be within reason and this was not. Why chance it with reliable, known quantities that have the same prices and are just as convenient? I won’t.


251 Water Street
New York, NY 10038

Summary: The first of the now many, Peter Luger formula clones. If you are not both desperate for steak AND cannot go more than 10 blocks away from Wall St., do not go here. There is no reason to. There might even be better steakhouses closer to the main streets of the Financial District. High prices, service with an attitude and most importantly poorly executed steak. Last visit, Fall, 2004. Cost: $85-90pp


Food: 77

Vibe: 69

Service: 71

Value: F

Overall: 71


2 Responses to “Review: MarkJoseph Steakhouse”

  1. Damien said

    I love the way that you claim to offer “nopinions” and be as objective as it’s possible to be and time after time in your “objective reviews” launch into stuff like this… well, pretty much every time – “assholes” “fat, old guys with money and no sense”, “not very endearing”, “the space sucks”… some day you might want to look up in your dictionary the difference between objective and subjective. Get over yourself. Like every other reviewer and/or blogger out there, you’re subjective. You have an opinion. Own up to it and get on with it. The info you provide is valuable, but admit that it’s your, personal, qualified opinion.

  2. gambit50 said

    Takes strong language to get a point across.
    Too much leeway leads to things like Applebees and such.
    Obviously, some people must think it is good so I just would rather people not support places that offer worse quality for the same money and similar other circumstances.
    I just try to point out that there is a difference. Is there not? Or is everything the same? If you even say, well, that example is extreme, the logic is the same.Places are either extremely close or not, why go to the worse one, mitigating factors not applying, of course. Although, I find most of those to be hogwash.
    If a restaurant falls below a certain level for the expectation it has with me, then that is it. Everytime there is another chance given, it is just more wasted money.
    I think what you did not understand about my point on my statements is that I am constantly vigilant about why I like something. I try to make sure I am not just in a rut or used to it. I certainly do not favor anything because it is the new thang or 2 blocks away from me. How many times will you see a question of what’s good asked and you see 20 answers, 10 of which you or anyone else besides the poster would say are absurd.
    At the same time, most new things are not better than the standards, unfortunately, but we hope for more great spots. Not more crap.
    Nobody could be more over themselves than I am, so you know.
    Thanks for reading.


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