Is This $45 All-You-Can-Eat Ribeye the Best Deal in NYC? Only If You Like Bad Steak.
Here are 10 reasons to skip the Tao Group disaster that is Legasea
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Here’s a pop-quiz. Last Friday, I checked out the reservations for three popular restaurants. See if you can guess which one was most booked up over the weekend.
a) Claud: An intimate small plates place celebrated by every major critic.
b) Pastis: Keith McNally and Stephen Starr’s scene-y brasserie, a perennially-packed venue known for its superb people-watching and stellar steak frites.
c) Legasea: A TikTok-famous steak place on an anonymous block near Penn Station.
If you answered “C”, you are correct! There were zero tables at this Tao Group tavern. It’s a windowless, second-floor hotel spot where the most noticeable light source is a trio of flat screens showing poker, college basketball, and a TMZ documentary about celebrity stalkers.
Why is this place so full? Because Legasea is where $45 gets you fries, salad, and unlimited ribeye — and because social videos have brought over 2.2 million TikTok views to the Midtown spot. Just to put that into perspective: Daniel Humm’s appearance on Jimmy Fallon* last month had just 110,000 views.
Perhaps you think Legasea simply looks busy online. Alas, when I showed up on a frigid Wednesday at 9:30 p.m. — not exactly happy hour — there were just two bar seats open. When I showed up the following Monday at 8:30 p.m., Legasea was on a wait. It would’ve been an impressive turnout for any good restaurant. But for a venue that serves one of the city’s worst steaks — imagine a ribeye so gristly and gray it’s as if it spent the day under a movie theater heat lamp — I’d call the crowd spectacular, a miracle of marketing.
The Rise of the Steakflation Special
We can all expect more venues like Legasea, a cynical slop machine manufactured for internet virality. Just as humans will encounter more deadly pathogens as the climate warms — ready to dissolve our brains into liquid flan — more and more operators will look to satiate our insatiable demand for affordable beef.
These are the days of the Steakflation Special.
A fully loaded steakhouse meal in New York can easily hit $150 per person, and as I’ve said in scores of columns, droughts out West will likely keep beef prices high for some time to come. This is why venues like Legasea, Skirt Steak (the best of the bunch) and Le Relais (do not go there) are drawing in crowds with fairly priced steak prix fixes, a business model made possible by high turnover, lean spaces, and serious word-of-mouth.
Legasea, a former seafood spot that pivoted to steak deals a few months ago, takes things a step further. It’s the only member of the bunch to offer all-you-can-eat beef. And it executes that service at a price that’s a lot lower than at, say, a Brazilian rodizio.
Fueling this trend is that the Steakflation Special spots have a remarkable tendency to blow up on social. TikTok is now a place where 60 seconds of red meat influencer drivel can take off into the stratosphere. That’s bad, but don’t get me wrong. I’m not trying to say this fun corner of the Internet has to look like bond reporting in the WSJ; no one wants to watch some 27-year-old narrating a boozy night at Sushi on Me with the same fastidiousness as Jake Tapper reporting on covert military operations.
But it’s a frightening thing to witness media outlets laying off thousands — including writers who’ve spent decades serving the public with necessary skepticism and uncomfortable truths — while social media sites deprioritize news and profit off user-generated shilling…and stan culture.
Diners deserve journalistic rigor — especially when the price of dining out continues to go up. A restaurant like Legasea, owned by PokerStars billionaire Mark Scheinberg, thrives off of patrons knowing as little as possible, except that someone with an easy smile and 750,000 followers thinks it’s a “must visit.” This is a tourist trap for our age of disinformation, our era of thinned-out newsrooms. Legasea is the shady host beckoning you in off Rome’s Piazza Navona for a spurious deal, except these professional hucksters can reach millions.
So here’s precisely why you shouldn’t dine at Legasea. This’ll take a few seconds longer than a TikTok, but trust me when I say it’ll be a good time.
Ten Reasons You Shouldn’t Dine at Legasea
Do you want vile raw shellfish? The gorgeous thing about oysters is appreciating their plump bodies in a pool of briny liquor. Here, my bivalves were bereft of almost all liquid; they tasted as if someone shucked them hours ago and left them out in the walk-in cooler. This must be what it’s like to slurp chilled snot.
Behind the Paywall: Where to Get Great Affordable Steaks, Plus…
Precisely what makes Legasea’s steak so bad
Why you don’t really need all-you-can-eat steak
The case for Skirt Steak, another $45 spot near Penn Station
Why you should order the $45 strip steak at P.J. Clarke’s
The joys of beef suya at Lagos Times Square