Written by Hulda Lawrence
Don Shula's Restaurant, America's Steak House, is located in The Westin New York, 270 West 43rd Street at Eighth Avenue, (212) 201-2776. For those who are not familiar with his name, Don Shula was the famous coach of the Miami Dolphins football team who won it all in 1973. Now he is partners with his son and the Graham Angus Farm, with more than twenty steak houses in the U.S.
One enters from Eighth Avenue and takes the small self-operated elevator to the restaurant level. This is a man's place that women will enjoy. The décor is a la football with huge photos of Shula and his winning team throughout. The menu encased in what looks like the pigskin of footballs proudly sports the name "Shula."
At luncheon day we were seated at a good-sized table and noted that there is plenty of space between tables. We were introduced to Pedro from Ecuador who proved to be an excellent waiter with both suggestions of choices and speed at serving them to us.
Our cocktails were a Cosmopolitan for me and a Negroni for my companion. From the very full menu we decided to begin by sharing a Beefsteak Tomato and Gorgonzola Salad with onions and lettuce. The tomato was outstanding and the vinaigrette dressing brought out its flavor even more. The salad is $7.95 as is a Traditional Caesar Salad. Caesar Salad can be ordered with Seared Salmon, Blackened Chicken Breast, Grilled Colossal Shrimp or Grilled Filet Mignon. A Fresh Fruit Salad is $10.95; with Roasted Chicken Salad it is $12.95. The Caesar salads are from $12.95 to $17.95.
Appetizers include Shula's Steak Soup at $8.95 and Lobster Bisque at the same price. Oysters and clams are available as well as Lobster Cocktail, BBQ Shrimp or Shrimp Cocktail from $12.95 to $15.95
With the emphasis on Certified Angus Beef, we shared a 12-ounce Filet Mignon which arrived rare as ordered with a fine béarnaise sauce. A rolling table displays the different cuts of meat available and the list is mouth-watering. 12 ounce Filet Mignon, our choice; 16 ounce New York Steak; 20 ounce Kansas City Bone-In Strip Steak; 22 ounce Cowboy Steak, 24 ounce Porterhouse Steak, 48 ounce Porterhouse Steak and 22 ounce Lamb Loin Chops. Prices range from $39.95 to $79, for the 48 ounce Porterhouse. An eight ounce filet Mignon at lunch is $25.95. There also is London Broil at $19.
For those who prefer food other than meat there is Grilled Norwegian Salmon; Chicken and Lobster Oscar, sautéed Breast of Chicken with asparagus; Maine Lobster and hollandaise; and Barbecued Basil Shrimp, from $15.95 to $18.95. We selected the Basil Shrimp as our other entrée. The huge shrimp were stuffed with fresh basil, wrapped in apple smoked bacon, basted with a BBQ sauce and accompanied by a warm cucumber salad. There are two pasta dishes Penne Pasta with Sauteed Shrimp and Angel Hair Pasta with Roasted Chicken, $14.95 and $17.95.
Luncheon sandwiches include Grilled Marinated Chicken Breast with Mozzarella Cheese or a Kaiser Roll; Sirloin Steak Sandwich; Grilled Mahi Mahi Sandwich; Certified Angus Beef Hamburger with Cheddar or provolone cheese and Blackened Prime Rib Sandwich. Sandwiches at lunch are $10.95 to $18.95.
There is a complete bar on the restaurant level and a lounge and sushi bar on a lower level. There are private rooms for party functions and those who enjoy the 48-ounce Porterhouse can become members of the "48 oz. Club" with a personal plaque on Shula's website and communications via e-mail: www.donshula.com.
We ordered the featured wines by the glass: Ruffino Libaio Chardonnay and B.V. Rutherford Cabernet Sauvignon at $12 and $13.
Portions are large, but we still had room for sampling a very good Key Lime Pie, a Seven-layer Chocolate Cake and a very Creamy Cheese Cake. Desserts are $9 each.
Since it is located in The Westin New York Hotel, breakfast is served from 6:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Lunch is served from 11:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. and dinner is served from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m.
The dinner menu is quite similar to the luncheon selections but the breakfast choices include Maine Lobster Benedict; Half Maine Lobster Tail with Bagel; Breakfast Panini and Sun Dried Cherry Challah French Toast.
Hours: Breakfast, lunch and dinner served daily
Pampano at 209 East 49th Street, just off Third Avenue, 212 751-4545, is a restaurant unlike most in New York City. Devoted to Modern Mexican Seafood, it is a joy to visit and the food is excellent. When we arrived at luncheon, the upper dining room was light and airy, with fascinating fans moving the air. The white-washed decor adds to the feeling that one is far, far away. The outside terrace is ready for warmer weather when diners can sit outside. This upper area is reached by a carpeted stairway, but for those who cannot maneuver steps a cozy downstairs dining area complete with bar is available.
Manager Rubens Meza from Peru greeted us and after sharing the story of Peru's evolution and urging us to visit Machu Picchu he explained that "Pampano" is Spanish for the fish we call pompano and introduced us to our waiter Eduardo from Ecuador.
There are many special drinks mixed to the imbiber's taste, but the Margaritas de la Casa with salt on the rim were just fine. Several Mexican beers and Sangria by the glass or pitcher are available.
From the enticing menu, we selected Tacos de Langosta, Lobster with black bean puree, chile de arbol salsa and avocado on flour tortilla. It was a delight and we also shared Mahi Mahi with citrus, tomato and chile Serrano, a delicious ceviche.
Next we had Quesadillas de Pescado, red snapper with oaxaca cheese, crema fresca and salsa followed by a marvelous Ostiones Pampano, blue cornmeal crusted oysters with black bean-mango pico de gallo, tomato-chili chipotle vinaigrette. Both these dishes were excellent and were served slightly warm.
From the Copas de Vino, wine by the glass, we chose a Chilean Sauvignon Blanc, Casa Julia, Maule Valley, 02 and a German Zeller Schwarze, "katz" '01. Wines are $7 to $12 with champagne at $18 and sparkling Shiraz at $10. There are red wines from California, Chile, Italy, Spain and western Australia, $8 to $12. Tequila is served in many ways and is listed according to its age and flavor. For example: Casta Gusano is described as woody, rich, spice and black pepper. Tequila comes from the fermented-distilled sap of the pina or "heart" of the blue agave plant indigenous to Mexico. The many tequilas are $9 to $39.
We had Enchilada de Chilorio, Mexican style pulled pork in a crispy corn tortilla with black bean, cotija cheese and crema fresca. Then came Pampano, pompano with Mexican chorizo, cactus leaves, clack beans, and garlic chile guajillo sauce. This was $20. Other entrees include Mone de Pescado, striped bass steamed in banana leaf; Camarones Pampano, shrimp with goat cheese Anaheim pepper, spicy bell pepper-tomato broth; Arrachera, grilled skirt steak, roasted garlic-chorizo mashed potatoes, chile pasilla-ancho sauce; Pollo, chicken breast with achiote-truffle emulsion, plantain-rajas puree; Salmon, piloncillo salmon with white corn, chayote and cremini mushrooms. These choices are $17.50 to $20.
We sipped and tasted and felt that all was well with the world as the sun streamed through the glass doors leading to the terrace.
Our desserts were Pastel de Elote, warm corn cake with coconut flan with candied pecans. Desserts are $8. Ending our lunch with cappuccino without liquor was our choice, but a variety of liquors are available.
The menu is all-encompassing, starting with Guacamole with accompaniments at $8, followed by oysters, calms and shrimp properly sauced with a minimum of three pieces per order. Then came Ceviches, a three-ceviche tasting is $22.50 with such dishes as Camaron: shrimp, lime, avocado and chile chipotle aioli; Atun: tuna tomatillo with chile poblano and mango and Macarela: mackerel with citrus-achiote and chile habanero. Ceviches are $9 to $11.50.88
Salads include Lobster with baby spinach, sweet potato puree and hibiscus vinaigrette at $14 and a mixed salad is $9.50.
A special luncheon at $20.04 consists of three courses: Ceviche de Mahi Mahi, Quesadillas de Pescado or Sopa de Frijol Negro or Ensalada Mixta. The second course is Quesadilla de Camaron or Salmon Glaceado con Piloncillo or Pechuga con Achiote. Dessert is Natilla de Cajeta, custard with caramelized banana, ice cream or sorbet.
For an unusual experience of fine food in a charming atmosphere go to Pampano. The owners are one of the greatest opera singers in the world today, Placido Domingo, and the brilliant innovative executive chef, Richard Sandoval.
Hours: Seven day week. No lunch Saturday and Sundays, Lunch is served from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Dinner is served from 5 to 10:30 p.m.
The dollar sign indicates the approximate cost of dining for two persons, excluding beverages, tax and gratuity.