THE VIBE
I spent a large chunk of my 20s working in a Midtown office, and there were plenty of evenings-stretched-into-nights that took place around the area. Which is to say that: a) I am overly familiar with the sort of scene found at the new Midtown East barstaurant, Horny Ram; and b) I definitely would have wound up here more than a few times if I still worked at 483 Lex and it was, like, 1989.

The Horny Ram is the new project from the dudes who brought you the equally terribly-named Flying Cock in Murray Hill, and on Friday night at around 6 p.m. the place was crowded with suits, khakis and fleece vests. There are TVs tuned in to various sporting events all over the narrow, bi-level space, and on each floor most of the square footage is given over to a bar, with a few tables and banquets available if you get lucky. On Sunday evening, with no big game on, the mood was pleasantly chill.

The back room on the ground floor is weirdly decorated as a library of someone who doesn't really read very much, with candle holders and random old books-by-the-yard stacked near to two large televisions. Unsurprisingly though, most of decor involves stuffed ram heads with horns, and the "inappropriately good" motto. Music runs towards the Chainsmokers, and the young staff is solicitous if a bit scattered. Important: a sad kitchen misfire was handled immediately and graciously by the front of house crew.

THE BITES
Does the food matter at a place that sells a cocktail called #HornyinNewYork and M&M Pancakes at brunch? Probably not, which is why the quality eats here are that much more impressive. The Double Smashed burger, for example, could hold its own against many of the similar versions around town, with its juicy pair of Pat LaFrieda patties, gloppy melted American, zippy special sauce, hot griddled pickles and shredded lettuce. The bun could use an upgrade, but all-in-all, this is a deeply satisfying sandwich. The fat fries are better than they look, too.

If you're not feeling any of the five or so burgers (though, really, they seem to be the way to go here), the Philly Cheesesteak is a decent option, made with chunks of well-seared hanger steak, a Gouda/American cheese mix and a mushroom, peppers, and onions trio that threatens to, but doesn't quite, overwhelm. Again, though, the roll is the weak link. "It's too... bready," is how my companion put it.

In the starters-on-platters department, the Buffalo Chicken Nachos is a big winner. You have to dig for the chicken, but there are lots of tender, hot-saucy chunks under all the chips, three kinds of cheese, jalapeños, and smears of a surprisingly peppy bean dip. Equally crucial as the lively and well-balanced flavor palate here, the dish gets the chewy/crispy ratio exactly right.

The Macaroni and Cheese is oddly expensive, and needs more cheese and less cream, but it still does the job as a shareable side. The Blistered Brussel Sprouts, on the other hand, are very good exactly as is, that still-ubiquitous dish given fresh life with toasted almonds for crunch, chorizo for some gamey heat, and a deft touch of honey.

We passed on the Deep Fried Milky Way for dessert, but FYI they have one.


A familiar Midtown bar scene. (Scott Lynch/Gothamist)

THE VERDICT
Of course, you're not going out of your way to dine at a place like The Horny Ram, but for Midtown East residents and local after-work boozers, it makes for a solid alternative to, for example, The Smith right across the street.

The Horny Ram is located at 951 Second Avenue between 50th and 51st Streets, and is open daily from 11 a.m. to 4 a.m. (212-832-2021; Horny Ram on FB)