The Cook’s Tour was recently invited to a media dinner at Strip House in Livingston. Think what you will of the saucy name; the food, service, and ambiance are all top drawer.
The restaurant is part of the Glazier Group, which owns Strip House along with Twenty Four Fifth and Bridgewaters in Manhattan, and also offers full-service catering for all events and meetings at the Westminster Hotel.
The Westminster has recently undergone extensive renovations, including the upgraded business center, an outdoor Zen garden, a spa/fitness center, and free Wi-fi throughout the space. The hotel offers 16,000 square feet of state-of-the-art meeting and event space.
I have been to the Westminster several times for corporate functions, however, I didn’t know that the hotel is a AAA Four Diamond award winner for seven consecutive years, nor did I know that only 2% of all hotels in the US have that distinction (and only 5 in NJ). Quite impressive!
Every one of the hotel’s 183 guest rooms features Hollandia sleep systems, bamboo-based linens and towels, and luxurious natural toiletries. All that touring made me hungry so the next stop was Strip House. Decorated in retro dark red, the restaurant has a seductive feel to it.
There are currently six restaurants throughout the country, and the Livingston location is overseen by Executive Chef Bill Zucosky, who had the privilege of opening the restaurant and is still there eight years later. A New Jersey native, Bill brings a low-key confidence to the property. Previous experience includes stints at the famed Frog and the Peach in New Brunswick, and the Hamilton Park Hotel in Florham Park. Bill developed his passion for food and cooking at a young age. When he was a boy scout in the Linden troop, he won the cooking contest and just kept on going from there. He graduated from the New York Restaurant School, but uses his Italian/Lithuanian heritage to instill a homey feel to Strip House.
Everything at the restaurant is fresh, nothing is pre-processed. Their prime beef is all corn-fed and hand-picked from Nebraska to give the customer a melt in your mouth steak. The fish comes from the Fulton Fish Market in NY fresh each day.
So what did we eat? Well, obviously, steak was on the table. A 20 oz bone-in strip cooked to a perfect rare temperature and served very simply with a head of roasted garlic on the side was sublime.
But to begin our meal, the Strip House Crab Cake with a Cajun remoulade bursting with fresh crab was in order. And, as you know, bacon is on everybody’s short list these days and Strip House is not to be outdone.
Their thick-cut Bacon with Arugula and Russian Dressing was just the right mix of crunch and salt and pork. And I loved how it played against the slightly peppery arugula and the creamy dressing.
One of my dining companions raved about the simply grilled, sashimi grade, farm-raised Atlantic Salmon.
Like many classic steak houses, Strip House offers many items on the side. We enjoyed their Ripped Potatoes, made by taking baked potatoes, “ripped” into bite sized chunks. The ripped potatoes are then crispy fried and tossed with grana padano cheese, chopped fresh parsley, and coarse sea salt. De-lish!
The fried onions, sauteed mushrooms, and goose-fat potatoes were my faves. I am not a creamed spinach fan, but the rest of the table loved them.
And if you’re thinking we could not possibly have dessert after this feast, guess again! Chef Bill sent out their signature Chocolate Cake, which seemed to be about 15 layers high of dark, rich moist chocolate cake and frosting. But did we stop there? No!
Being the cheesecake fiend that I am, I had to taste their version. And it did not disappoint. Light and luscious, made with a combination of mascarpone and cream cheese, with a lovely hint of lemon.
But wait, there’s more! We also loved the Apple Pie with Streusel Crumbs and Cinnamon Ice Cream, drizzled with caramel; and finally, the Brownie with vanilla ice cream.
If you are in the NJ/NY area, and feel the need for a classic steakhouse experience, make plans to visit Strip House. In fact, after a meal like this, you might not want to spoil that warm, satisfied feeling and deal with the stress of driving home. Lucky for you, there’s a hotel attached to this steakhouse. That’s something other steakhouses can’t boast.
Terry Krongold is a life-long passionate baker. In addition to a full-time job in the pharmaceutical industry, Terry has been involved with food for many years, including co-ownership of a dessert catering company in the late eighties called I Love Cheesecake, specializing in fine cheesecake and unique desserts. Terry is the author of The Cook’s Tour, a blog focused on food, baking, and travel. When not working, writing, or baking, she spends time planning vacations around restaurants to visit. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.