With so many outstanding steakhouses in this town, how do you decide where to go when meat is on your mind? Fleming's Prime Steakhouse just debuted some new fall menu items that will make your decision easier: The restaurant is now offering dry-aged rib eye and dry-aged New York strip, in addition to its traditional wet-aged Prime steaks.
Fleming's, which is in River Oaks, is warm and inviting, with a lively bar scene and a large, open dining room overlooking an open kitchen. Comfortable red booths line the walls, with four-tops and tables for larger parties spread evenly throughout the center of the main dining room.
Arriving late for a recent media preview dinner, I discovered that my dining companions had already begun their meal with servings of seafood from a chilled tower. My server quickly caught me up with the rest of the table, plating my dish high with shrimp, King Crab legs, crab claws and lobster. Sam Governale, the restaurant's operating parter, filled my glass with a bubbly Schramsberg Blanc de Blancs.
Governale had selected the wine pairings for the night, telling us about the impressive 100 wines-by-the-glass options at Fleming's. His choices for the evening were all very good, though the white Olivier LeFlaive Meursault from France and a dessert wine -- Chambers Muscadelle, from Rutherglen, Australia -- were the wines that resonated most with me.
The steaks were clearly the highlight of the evening, as was expected, and what was interesting about them was that we had decisions to make. Whereas most steakhouses are concerned mainly with the temperature of your steak, our waiter at Fleming's asked us three questions. First was whether we wanted our steak broiled or iron-crusted. Just the name "iron-crusted" had me weak at the knees, so I knew I had to have it.
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We were then given a choice of dry-aged Prime rib eye or New York strip; I chose the rib eye, medium rare. Fleming's also offers something fun called "steak companions." These are for diners who crave surf 'n' turf but really want the turf more than the surf. Of these, we had a choice of truffled poached lobster, diablo shrimp, king crab with herb butter or a flavor trio; I chose the truffled poached lobster.
And then, just as one does with wine, we were tasting the two types of meat -- dry-aged vs. wet-aged -- side by side. I found the dry-aged rib eye, which had been iron-crusted, more subtle in flavor, with an aroma and nuttiness that I wasn't accustomed to. It was delicious by itself, but when tasted next to the wet-aged tomahawk steak, the wet-aged beef much more closely resembled what my palate wanted.
In the end, as with many things, it's a matter of personal preference. I would have been perfectly happy with either piece of meat -- Fleming's steaks are almost without exception juicy and tender.
For a limited time only, Fleming's is serving a prime tomahawk two-course dinner for $99: Get it while you can.