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If you're as hungry as a wolf...
1 Nanson Road
#02-01 Intercontinental Singapore
Tel: 6887 5885
Open daily 11.30am to 11.30pm
THERE'S something drawing people to Robertson Quay, like lions who just got wind of an antelope barbecue in the African outback. It's a primal call, drawing predators of the shirt and chinos variety, drowned out by a pack of laughing hyenas working themselves into a deafening frenzy on the sidelines.
Welcome to New York, Singapore-style, as Wolfgang's Steakhouse turns its shiny new digs at the Intercontinental Singapore into a feasting ground for carnivorous urbanites. An army of servers moves seamlessly, settling you at your table before heading to rescue a couple stuck beside the aforementioned hyenas - a quartet of tipsy women prone to hysterics.
No expense seems to have been spared to bring a taste of old school Manhattan dining to Wolfgang's first outpost in Singapore, but 18th branch globally. It's named after owner Wolfgang Zweiner, who worked in the famous Peter Luger steakhouse in Brooklyn for 40 years before starting out on his own with his son Peter in 2004.
For some reason, all steakhouses need to look like a clubhouse for men, so the testosterone level is high in the vast dining room with its wood floors, servers in starched whites and a general mahogany-cigar feel. You almost expect to be served a Havana and port after the meal, although the latter is there for the asking.
The menu is also predictably steakhouse: starters of seafood platter, shrimp cocktail and salads that still use iceberg lettuce act as distractions until the main event - its showcase of dry-aged USDA prime cuts of beef.
The seafood platter (S$50) is enough for two at a tolerable price point, although it means oysters are omitted in this attractive presentation of large prawns, chunks of crabmeat and half a lobster. It's presented with a flourish on a "silver platter", on a bed of crushed ice.
You can't quibble over the size of the prawns, although taste-wise they border on average. Jumbo lump crabmeat is thankfully meaty and not powdery, so if they came out of a freezer or can, it's decent quality. The half-lobster fares the best of the trio, with sweet juicy flesh that says it was still alive recently. They all come with the ubiquitous cocktail sauce - a tangy, ketchupy condiment we've never been able to appreciate.
While we play with our stale bread (the kind you get at three star hotel breakfast buffets when they're feeling generous), we enjoy watching the flurry of activity around the room and the energy of the staff. It isn't all polished but they sure do try hard. We're well taken care of by our server Nickson, who's attentive without being in your face, able to anticipate our every need even before we know it.
For one, he thoughtfully splits our order of Wolfgang's salad (S$20) into two portions without us asking. It's not so much a salad as it is a meat-eater's grudging acknowledgement that greens exist in this world. It's really a pile of fried salty bacon chunks and chopped up prawns on a crisp lettuce leaf, garnished with some diced tomatoes and green beans. It's hardly enough roughage, but hardcore steak lovers aren't going to care.
Besides, the real event is going to outshadow any side dishes - and true enough, when our 22-ounce rib eye on the bone arrives, we have eyes for nothing else.
It's a single steak, served plain with no adornments at all except for a tiny plastic orange cow stuck on the meat to indicate its doneness - medium rare in this case. The meat is dry-aged from 28-36 days, which is long enough to lose some moisture and relax its sinews, without it going into a nasty funk from a longer ageing.
The meat flavour is clean and sweet, not super beefy but mild, and what wins you over is the cliched "cuts like butter" effect. The only indication of ageing comes from the fat which has a more pronounced, rich flavour.
Since the best vegetable is really the potato, Wolfgang's mashed potatoes (S$15) are a guilty pleasure with its creamy buttery texture and flavour.
Dessert is yet another old-school affair - apple strudel ($15) features solid chunks of apple wrapped in filo pastry, dusted with powdered sugar. It's nothing special, but it does have a comforting familiarity to it.
Even if the supporting cast doesn't shine at Wolfgang's, it doesn't matter. People are paying for the star of the show and just like the city it comes from, you can't help but be drawn to it.
WHAT OUR RATINGS MEAN
10: The ultimate dining experience
7-7.5: Good to very good
Our review policy: BT pays for all meals at restaurants reviewed on this page. Unless specified, the writer does not accept hosted meals prior to the review's publication.