There’s a palpable and unsubtle wave of “Mad Men”-era boys’ club vibe that hits you as soon as you walk through the door, thanks to the restaurant’s high ceilings, a stunning and almost broodingly dark décor and the faint scent of cigar smoke wafting down from the upstairs lounge. (Personally, we’d like to see that lounge inundated with power lesbians sometime in the near future, just to balance things out.)
Under the right circumstances, the place could be trés romantique. Or it could be the perfect place to say: “I’ve got money and a nice car ... Now I need bourbon!”
Either way, it’s not a bad place to be.
Appetizers at Reserve for the most part were of the quality one would expect at an upscale steakhouse, both in concept and execution. The fried calamari ($16) were especially light and crispy. The oysters Rockefeller ($16), a house favorite, were perfectly classic as well. The green asparagus soup ($7) was bright and flavorful (this coming from someone who normally doesn’t dig asparagus), but needed a pinch of salt to really bring it home.
On the other hand, the fried oysters ($16) were a bit of a letdown. Maybe our expectations were too high, but the oysters were under-seasoned — the herb remoulade on top had to do all the heavy lifting — and could have benefited from an extra 30 seconds in the fryer.
Lately, we’ve found that a lot of restaurants deliver most of their wow factor in the appetizer portion of the menu, but here it was the entrées that were total knockouts.
Remember that scene in “The Matrix” when Cipher was selling out Neo and Morpheus to the agents, all the while eating a steak? That’s how good Reserve’s certified angus beef filet mignon ($38) was: We’d gladly sell out our friends and/or coworkers to the enemy for one of these perfectly executed juicy and flavorful portions of beef. We can’t remember the last time we enjoyed a steak so much sans any kind of decadent sauce.
The biggest and most pleasant shocker of the evening came when we found out that Reserve is just as excellent in the world of fish. The grilled yellow-fin tuna steak ($28) was perfectly done and pleasantly thick, resting on the best bed of creamy risotto we’ve had in recent memory. The striped bass ($27) had a nice crispy skin and an amazing citrus relish.
Oh my. While we’re no strangers to good food and high-end adult beverages, Reserve really made us want to start wearing suits and get better-paying jobs.
Larry Nichols can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.