It’s The Perfect Steak Experience At The New Wolfgang’s Steakhouse In The Heart Of Ortigas
What should we look for in a good, no, a great steak? And why are we willing to pay top peso to enjoy this ultimate homage to beef? The answers revealed themselves during my recent dinner at the second branch of Wolfgang’s Steakhouse, just opened in the newly refurbished The Podium Mall in Ortigas Center. Two years ago, this quintessential New York steakhouse opened its first Philippine branch in Resorts World Manila, with seasoned restaurateurs Raymond Magdaluyo and Marvin Agustin as its partners.
Many of Manila’s most dedicated steak lovers are already familiar with the Wolfgang story. German-born Wolfgang Zwiener worked for 40 years as head waiter at the legendary Peter Luger’s in Brooklyn where he learned how to produce the best-tasting steak—start with prime quality beef, dry age it, and cook it to perfection.
In 2004, Zwiener opened the first Wolfgang’s Steakhouse in Manhattan. While influenced by his Peter Luger experience, he created his own kind of steakhouse with a distinctive look and feel. These design elements include a long mahogany bar, wooden floors, mosaic ceilings, an alabaster chandelier, and white linen tables which are faithfully recreated in each of Wolfgang’s 19 branches across the United States and Asia.
While the steaks are the main attraction at Wolfgang’s—and we’ll get to them soon—there’s a lot more than steaks on the menu. Appetizers are seafood-centric, with the Seafood Platter brimming with steamed lobster, shrimp and lump crabmeat, served with cocktail sauce and lemon wedges. The salad selection, including the Beverly Hills Chopped Salad and classic Caesar, offers a fresh, crisp counterbalance to the steaks to come.
And then there are the steaks. The crown jewel is, of course, the Porterhouse—basically a larger version of a T-bone incorporating part of the tenderloin and top loin. At Wolfgang’s, it comes in three sizes—good for two at 1 kilo, for three at 1.5 kilos, and for four at 2 kilos. A word of warning: portion sizes are gigantic, so our good-for-three Porterhouse was more than enough to fill up our hungry table of five. The secret to these steaks is no secret, actually. It starts with only 100% USDA Black Angus Prime (which accounts for only 2% of beef sold in the US market), chilled and never frozen. Wolfgang’s dry ages the beef in a humidity and temperature-controlled chamber (there’s one in each branch) for an average of 28 days. This process allows the beef’s enzymes to break down the connective tissue in the muscles, shrinking the meat, yet achieving more intense flavor and tenderness. It’s the premium beef plus the process of dry aging that account for the higher price, and unfortunately, there’s no way around it to get that kind of steak experience.
Soon our Porterhouse, ordered medium rare, arrived at our table, still sizzling on a hot platter, already sliced to reveal an even redness inside contrasting with the crusty, slightly charred exterior. The platter was tilted on an inverted saucer, so that the steak juices could collect at one corner, the better to spoon them onto our steak. The meat was buttery soft, but retained a meaty heft, and with a more beef-intense flavor than, let’s say, a typical Wagyu. And that’s when I realized that as expensive as these steaks are, once you bite into one, any thought of price goes out the window. If you can afford it, all the better. And if you can save for it, why not?
With the steaks come a choice of starch and veggie sides—extra buttery and velvety mashed potatoes, creamed spinach, German potatoes, French fries, steak rice, and the list goes on. For those not in the mood for Porterhouse, Wolfgang’s also serves rib eye, filet mignon, even lamb or pork chops, and for non-meat eaters, grilled salmon, tuna, or lobster. Desserts are classic New York, whether it’s cheesecake, pecan pie, or key lime pie.
Definitely worth checking out is the lunch menu at The Podium branch, especially the “Taste of New York” set menu for two—caesar salad, a 600-gram sirloin, mashed potatoes, creamed spinach, and New York cheesecake—at a fraction of the cost of ordering those items at dinner. The lunch menu also serves smaller cuts of dry-aged rib eye, tenderloin, filet mignon, plus dishes like veal chops, burgers, salpicao, seafood, and pasta not available at dinner.
Wolfgang’s menu skews classic and traditional for a reason. After all, it’s hard to justify messing with what, in essence, is the perfect steakhouse experience. All you have to do is choose your steak, add some side dishes, enjoy the meal with a glass or two of red wine, and count your lucky stars that Wolfgang’s came to the Philippines.
A third branch will open in Bonifacio Global City later this year. G/F The Podium, 18 ADB Avenue, Ortigas Center, Mandaluyong City, (02) 505-6272 2/F Resorts World Manila, Newport Mall, Newport City, Pasay City, (02) 511-7009 FB: WolfgangsSteakhousePH
Photos by Chris Clemente