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NYC hotel restaurant bets against $100 steaks

NEW YORK – Is it a sign of the times?

When Hilton’s luxury Conrad New York hotel opens early next year at Goldman Sachs’ headquarters, the highest-end restaurant there won’t have $100 Kobe beef on the menu.

Highly paid investment bankers will still be able to get a good steak dinner at the North End Grill, but they’ll pay less – a lot less.

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A good rib-eye there might set you back about $40 – or- even less, Executive Chef Floyd Cardoz told me after a panel discussion with acclaimed chefs Daniel Boulud and ABC Kitchen’s Dan Kluger during the American Hotel and Lodging Association’s fall conference last month.

Diners at the North End Grill will find other high quality yet less expensive local meats on the menu, says Cardoz, who will run the Battery Park City restaurant for noted restaurateur Danny Meyer’s Union Square Hospitality Group.

Meyer’s group also is running two other restaurants at the hotel, both of which are more moderately priced: a Blue Smoke barbecue restaurant and an already open Shake Shack hamburger joint.

Given Wall Street’s woes and bankers’ falling bonuses, Cardoz is betting that a $40 steak will look a lot better on an expense report than a $100 steak, especially in light of this report from Saturday’s New York Times:

“Even by Wall Street’s lofty standards, the compensation outlook this year is pretty bleak. Financial firms like Goldman Sachs, Bank of America and Citigroup are culling their ranks, and the remaining employees are resigning themselves to smaller year-end checks, at least in terms of the dollar amount. By some estimates, bonuses could shrink by as much as 30% this year.”

Grilled meats, seafood – and a scotch bar

Cardoz told me that diners can also expect to find oysters on the menu, plus a healthy selection of seafood, local meats and veggies that he’ll grill.

“It’s going to be a bar and grill, and we’re going to have a wonderful Scotch bar,” he said.

In terms of atmosphere, expect to find an open kitchen that you can look into – a fairly common touch for upscale restaurants these days.

The 463-room hotel – an upgrade to the less-expensive Embassy Suites that previously existed in the space – should open early next year, although Hilton’s own website previously stated that it’s “scheduled to open in late 2011.”

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Cardoz chats on Twitter

While you’re waiting for North End Grill to open, meanwhile, you may want to follow Cardoz on Twitter.

He told the audience at the Javits Center last month that he’s fond of Twitter, although he’s not the most consistent writer. He says he’ll send sometimes five Tweets per day and sometimes none.

“More people want to know what you are up to. They want to know where I’m eating, where I’m shopping, that I’m happy that the Jets won,” he said.

Cardoz, by the way, gained fame by working as the executive chef at the now-closed New York restaurant, Tabla, which specialized in New Indian cuisine. He won Season 3 of Bravo TV’s Top Chef Masters.

It turns out, however, that he got his start in his native Bombay in a hotel, according to his bio on Bravo TV’s website says. Cardoz attended culinary school and interned in the kitchen of the Taj Mahal Intercontinental Hotel.

The Conrad New York will be the fifth Conrad to open in the USA.

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