By Danny, Reena & Sona
While Mac’s Steakhouse is well known for and excels in its traditional steakhouse fare, owner Mark Gelish and his team are taking steps away from tradition into more creative cuisine – stepping up their game without stepping up their price.
“You want your guests to expand their experience, but you don’t want to get to a place where you’re chasing everybody else,” Mark explained.
A graduate of the Culinary Institute of America with 40 years of experience in the business, Mark has focused on value, freshness and all-natural, from-scratch fare since taking the wheel at Mac’s some six years ago. Chef Raphael Salermon’s menu showcases top-notch selections from land and sea married with flavors that accentuate and elevate without overwhelming; Mac’s was one of the first steakhouses to take the plunge in composed-plate presentation rather than traditional a la carte ordering.
Seated in Mac’s cozy, homey wine room, which is available on a first-come, first-serve basis at no extra charge for special reservations, one is ensconced by warm wood, rich hues and a pretty epic view of some of Mac’s impressive wine collection. There are many bottles under $40 and a number of hidden gems to savor that feature heavily in quarterly wine diners. In those confines, Mark and company walked us through an array of new features on the menu.
A tenderloin meatball starter ($14) is one example. While deceptively simple – it’s salt, pepper and ground tenderloin – the tender meatballs are paired with a satisfying hot-and-cold medley of spicy cherry peppers sauce and ricotta cheese atop a bed of baby spinach. Juicy, succulent bite-sized short rib cakes ($9), in a rosemary au jus and topped with mild horseradish cream and pickled red onion, are also deceptive in a good way – despite all the crunch and juicy short rib flavor, it’s baked, because Mac’s is making a concerted effort to avoid the frying pan.
Also on the newer side is the zesty Peppercorn Sirloin Fromage ($39), drawn from the new Chef’s Steak Specialties selection of 14 oz. sirloins. Coated with fresh peppercorn and topped with gorgonzola cream sauce and stationed atop a crunchy, yet fluffy baked parmesan croquette, the prime beef is cooked to order and melts in your mouth with each bite. Traditionalists, however, can still delight in a range of a la carte dry-aged steaks.
Fall-off-the-bone Veal Osso Bucco, ($34), from the “Mac’s Grille” section, is another lip-smacking treat, topped with garlic mashed potatoes and spring vegetables. Mac’s Duck ($31), an array of seared duck breast and confit-style leg, comes paired with a sweet potato mash sweetened with honey.
“Mac’s Catch,” for those offerings from the sea, continues to boast favorites from our last visit, including Sautéed Shrimp and Lobster ($28), a hearty medley of a tender, buttery 1-1/4 lb. lobster and juicy jumbo shrimp paired with risotto.
Mark and company are also stepping up their lunch game with offerings like tangy chipotle shrimp tacos ($12), wrapped in lightly grilled corn tortillas that are soft and aromatic. Baked Chicken Casserole ($15) is a hearty rib-sticking blend of chicken, penne, spinach and a touch of cream sauce with delicately breaded, cubed chicken breast. For a light bite, pear salad with grilled shrimp ($16), topped with candied pecans and a roasted pear stuffed with gorgonzola over spinach is where it’s at.
New concepts in desserts are available – a salted-caramel tartufo, from which caramel oozes once you break into it, was a favorite. Strawberry sorbetto pairs the light fruitiness of sorbet with a touch of gelato decadence; and silky bread pudding brings homey hints of warm cinnamon.