Sammy’s Roumanian Steak House, NYC

Sammy’s Roumanian Steak House

Cuisine: Jewish, Steakhouse
Neighborhood: Lower East Side
Price: $45 fixe prix dinner (family style) +$3.95 cover charge for Friday and Saturday nights + the necessary bottles of vodka encased in blocks of ice ($99.95 Ketel One, $129.95 Grey Goose) = $125 per person if you are going all out “Sammy’s Way”
Phone: (212) 673-0330
Address: 157 Chrystie Street, NYC 10002

NOTE: This review is considerably longer than normal… if you just want to know about the food, skip down to the bottom!

I have not had much exposure to traditional Jewish cuisine, with the exception of one Shabbat dinner I randomly attended… I was in college, I heard “free dinner,” and so I went to get fed whilst getting cultured.  From the limited knowledge I do have of Judaism, I can at least say for a fact that Sammy’s is most definitely not kosher.

Sammy’s is an experience.  And by “experience” I mean “a drunken shitshow.”

I had heard rumors abound about this kitschy dive restaurant that serves traditional Jewish comfort food and features live entertainment that induces patrons of all ages, shapes, and colors to start busting a move to Hebrew folk songs such as “Hava Nagila.”  Oh, and brings out bottles of vodka encased in ice blocks.  The last part is key.

It was my friend Daniel’s birthday celebration / last night in NYC and he invited a group of 8 of us to join him at Sammy’s for the festivities.  The birthday boy and his flatmate Dave were late as usual, and the rest of us decided to go inside to sit down at our table.  The first thing I noticed was the syrup type bottle containing a bright yellow-orange liquid.  The resident Jewish expert at the table told me it was schamltz, which is Yiddish for “orange juice.”

Well, it was chicken fat.  Yes, that is fat from a chicken.  Just sitting there like a centerpiece on the table.

The menus were a bit ghetto as they were stapled to a manila folder and smelled of schmaltz. On the table were also cards containing “Useful Yiddish Phrases,” although after saying a few to my Jewish friends, I found the phrases and their “literal” translations were not so useful at all.

The laggards finally arrived and made us go outside because Dan wanted to say something to all of us.  Some of us started to think something terrible had happened, but I just assumed he just had some cheesy farewell monologue to deliver.  He started off with the latter: “Guys, I just wanted to say that I have really enjoyed the past few years living in NYC and especially knowing all of you… I just wanted to express my gratitude and say that you all have been officially ICED!”  Dan busted out packs of Smirnoff Ice and proceeded to ice the whole group.  If you don’t know what icing is, click here.

This wasn’t the first or only icing at Sammy’s that night either.  Entire tables were icing each other the entire night.  I didn’t know exactly when Sammy’s transformed to the Frying Pan but it was quite entertaining.

Throughout the night, the music from DJ Grandpa was blasting and everyone would starting twirling their napkins in the air and head to any open space to start dancing.  There were mosh pits on the dance floor, congo lines snaking through the tables, middle-aged women getting down and shaking it, and yuppies getting iced everywhere.

We decided to leave our dinner decision-making to our jovial server, who said he would bring out a variety of dishes for all of us to share family-style.  The copious amounts of food we received could have fed a party twice the size of ours, and while I was happy to have sampled so many specialty dishes, I definitely would recommend ordering a la carte HALF of the fixe prixe menu portions.

All the dishes here are crafted as tributes to garlic, onions, fat, and the culinary art of deep frying.  If that sounds ideal, then this if the dining experience for you.  Dishes I loved included the potato pancakes, chicken chopped liver “Sammy’s Way,”  stuffed cabbage, and broiled chicken.  I wasn’t a huge fan of the fish dishes, so would skip those next time.

But DO NOT forget to order the vodka.  If you don’t order a few bottles of ice-encased vodka, you have missed the point entirely.

SCHMALTZ chicken fat on bread
It may look like melted butter on bread, but it smells like fat and most definitely tastes like fat

I can eat these pickles all day long!


CHOPPED LIVER “Sammy’s Way” mixed with grated radish, chopped onion, gribenes and schmaltz (chicken fat)
So fatty, so heavy, so friggin’ good.  I can’t help it but be fascinated albeit repulsed watching the yellow chicken fat being poured generously over the liver mixture…  and then you taste it and it’s all over from there.  I started spreading it on bread, but after a while I decided the carbs were getting in the way, and I just started spooning the mixture direct from the bowl to my mouth.

A nice refreshing break from the fatty grease… although I love how it’s essentially cholesterol in a different form just don’t think about it

FRIED KREPLACH fried dumplings filled with ground meat
Not a huge fan of this dish, just greasy fried batter filled with greasy ground meat

STUFFED CABBAGE cabbage leaves stuffed with meatballs
Savory and delicious!  This is the ultimate Eastern European comfort food and Natalya makes yummy golubtsy, which is the Russian version!

POTATO PANCAKES latkes with applesauce
Our Jewish and non-Jewish members of the party all agreed these were the best latkes we had ever tasted before!

In general, I am not a fan of fish steaks as I think they are always cooked way too dry… so obviously I am biased  here in saying “pass”

I didn’t love any of the fish dishes here, I felt this filet was better than the salmon because it wasn’t as dry but I feel that may be because it was sitting in a bowl of oil

HOME FRIED POTATOES silver dollars
Crispy and delicious

MASHED POTATOES with fried onions & schmaltz
Caramelized onions are great with anything

BROILED CHICKEN with paprika
Succulent chicken with a mild spicy kick

Sammy’s jewel in the crown — the steak tenderloin slathered in minced garlic.  Not the best steak I’ve ever had but quite satisfactory.

RUGELACH pastry with raisins and chocolate
Very light pastry with a hint of sweetness, great finale to our feast

One Response to “Sammy’s Roumanian Steak House, NYC”
  1. favorite recipes says:

    great post, looking forward to your next, if your on twitter follow me @favoriterecipe , i follow everyone back

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