Here’s a fun game to play the next time you run out of dinner conversation topics: What would you do if you were a passenger on the sinking Titanic? Crowd the decks and try to get into one of the few lifeboats on board? Swim for it and maybe hoist yourself onto a floating door that, years later, people on Twitter will deem big enough to fit two people? Or do what the captain did and just find the nicest room on the boat to hang out in while everyone else panics?
If it were us, we’d grab some abandoned, expensive champagne, maybe light up a pipe, and head to the ship’s library for a final blowout. We’ll never know exactly what that would have been like - but dinner at Alpen Rose feels close.
Once you’re inside this sort-of-hidden steakhouse in Midtown Village, sandwiched between two much larger, flashier restaurants, you get the sense you’re far away from civilization. Like, maybe, on a boat in the middle of the Atlantic, heading towards an iceberg. But, if there were some sort of looming danger in the world outside, you’d have no idea - because everyone here is splitting $100 porterhouses, drinking cocktails, and generally not worrying about whatever is happening outside the four walls of the restaurant.
While the menu is overall what you’d expect to find at an expensive steakhouse, with things like mashed potatoes and a shrimp cocktail, most of our favorite things are the smaller plates. The beef tongue, for example, is a must-order. Instead of your standard steakhouse beef carpaccio, this is like a deconstructed pastrami sandwich, with Russian dressing, sauerkraut, and rye croutons. The bone marrow toast is also excellent, and comes topped with beef cheek soaked in a red wine sauce - you scoop the bone marrow on top of it like it’s a savory ice cream sundae. And the buttery, salty parker house rolls are so good you won’t even care if the ship you’re on is going down.
The steaks are broken down into two sections - the first of which is “steaks, chops and poultry” - but you should focus on the dry-aged beef portion of the menu. There are six options, ranging from a $47 New York strip to a $125 tomahawk, and what you should order mostly depends on how many people are at your table. If you’re with a big group splitting a bunch of plates, go for the tomahawk. It’s tender, salty, and sliced tableside so you don’t have to worry about cutting up 45 ounces of meat for everybody at your table.
At the end of the day, Alpen Rose is still a steakhouse, but it’s an alternative to the traditional, large, clubby kind that is all too common in Center City. It’s small - almost cozy if you can imagine that from a steakhouse - and it’s a place to celebrate, whether it’s a milestone birthday or just to meet up with a few friends and ask them weird questions about a boat that sank a hundred years ago.
The beef tongue looks like a carpaccio, but with the russian dressing, rye croutons, and sauerkraut, it tastes almost exactly like a pastrami sandwich. A really, really good pastrami sandwich.
The toast itself is delicious - it’s thick and buttered, topped with shredded beef cheek in a red wine sauce. Add the bone marrow and this dish gets even better. Taking a bite feels like getting one of those star boosters from Mario Kart - you feel invincible.
Yes, they’re just rolls. But they come out steaming hot in a skillet and topped with big pieces of salt. You’ll find yourself perpetually disappointed in every other restaurant’s table bread after having an order of these.
All the other steaks on the menu are juicy and flavorful, but the veal tomahawk is sadly dry and underseasoned. With all the other great things on the menu, you don’t need to bother with this one.
The dry-aged tomahawk is the most expensive steak on the menu at $125, but it’s a huge 45-ounce slab of meat that can be easily shared between at least four people.
You’re celebrating, so you should order dessert. And if you’re getting dessert here, it should be the baked Alaska. They set it on fire in front of you, which should impress someone at the table, and even when it’s not surrounded in a moat of fire, the sweet, fluffy insides will impress the rest of you.