steak_05 (clockwise from left) Nick & Sam’s hostesses, Châteaubriand, and artful interior. photography by Kevin Marple


2. Nick & Sam’s

Overall Score: 94.33
3008 Maple Ave.

Steak: If you can’t find a particular cut of steak on or off the regular menu at Nick & Sam’s, you are one hard-to-please carnivore. Some of the larger steaks appear to have been butchered by Fred Flintstone. Scores: filet (10 oz., $38) 97, Châteaubriand bone-in (22 oz., $140) 98

Service: Focused, friendly, and professional. Even though the dining room was packed, our server did not leave the table until he’d explained the whole menu. He brought out a platter with raw steaks and detailed the qualities of each and the best temperature to order them. He advised us to split the salads. He could have sold sand to the Saudis. One quibble: he sold us the Châteaubriand without mentioning the price. It is $140. 93

Wine sell: Without being asked, he offered us three of his favorite wines, each a California Cabernet over $150. After he listened to our request, he didn’t jump to Pinot Noir; he recommended Tignanello, a super-Tuscan at $220. Feeling like a frugal little old lady, I repeated my $75 limit. Flustered, he flipped the page and said, “Here’s a Damilano Barolo for $81. Any kind of Barolo is going to be the best Italy has to offer.” 80

Shrimp: Sophisticated, stacked presentation of three fresh, sweet shrimp served with pools of orange lobster tartar sauce and Bloody Mary cocktail sauce. (U-6-8, $14) 98

Salads: One huge chopped salad was divided in the kitchen and served as three generous portions. It was full of romaine, eggs, chunks of Maine lobster, and hearts of palm; tossed in buttermilk ranch dressing; and topped with thin, soft, fried onions. 95

Vegetables: Caramelized onions marsala and sautéed mushrooms. 95

Potatoes: The potatoes au gratin were nice, but use your calories wisely and order the miraculous lobster macaroni and cheese. 95

Dessert: Obscene triangular portions of four thick layers of carrot and chocolate cake. A half order is 6 inches thick. Both are excellent and will be in your refrigerator for days. 96

Ambiance: Sexy, dark, and clubby. Love the piano in the open kitchen, and owner Phil Romano’s softy lit, bright oil paintings bestow bold contemporary accents. Did we mention the complimentary caviar trolley in the bar? 98