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Keens Review (very detailed)

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Finally went to Keens last night with my dad and treated him as a belated Christmas Present before the Knicks game. I must say after reading the rave reviews on here I was so excited to go and the fellow Chowhounders did not steer me wrong. The entire experience from beginning to end was flawless. Every individual we came in contact with was extremely polite and willing to go the extra mile for us. We arrived at 5:20 after having a 5:45 reservation and were seated immediately.

Atmosphere- I asked if it would be possible to sit in the Bull Moose Room and was told "Absolutely not a problem". The room was awesome and I felt like I was in a time warp (in a good way). The atmosphere was awesome with all of the pipes and various pictures of FDR.. really added to the whole experience. We walked around and checked out a few of the various rooms Keens has and they were all one cooler than the next- truly something you won't find in many other steakhouses in NYC.

Food- The food was tremendous- Started with the lobster cocktail which was very good, however for the price of $18 it isn't that large. But for an appetizer it was something I never had and really enjoyed it (but wouldnt get again for that price next time). Ordered porterhouse for two cooked perfectly as we had ordered- crust on the outside and perfect medium rare inside in a pool of its own juices. The steak was so tender you could cut it with a fork. Probably the second best piece of meat I ever had (to Peter Luger). Even though the steak didn't need anything I asked to waiter if they had any sauces. His response was "absolutely sir what ever you would like to try" (little did I know there was a $2.50 charge for each one, but I didn't mind). We chose to sample the red wine and porcini mushroom which were both fantastic. We shared sides of creamed spinach, mushrooms, and french fries well done. The sides were your standard steakhouse variety but all very very good-especially the fries which were actually prepared well done (seems like this is something many places for some reason have a hard time getting correct.) I prefer my fries a little thicker of the "Luger steak fries" variety, however I really enjoyed these. After consuming tons of incredible meats and the sides we were so full. However, at this point the damage was done and there was no point in skipping dessert to save calories (or prevent ourselves from being sick or falling into a food coma lol.) I love my dessert and couldn't leave without sampling some to make the experience feel complete. We decided on the warm chocolate bread pudding and hot fudge sundae. The bread pudding came warm with whipped cream and a caramel sauce. It was swirled with cinnamon, chocolate, and a hint of raisins. Don't really know why they call it chocolate bread pudding as this wasn't really the dominating flavor. Nevertheless it was delicious, super moist and melt in your mouth- tasted more like a cinnamon bun with a hint of chocolate. We got through about half but couldn't finish it. As for the sundae we requested half chocolate/ half coffee ice cream and it came with this unbelievably thick hot fudge and sliced almonds. The ice cream was so rich (think it might have even been gelato) and overall the sundae was really good but certainly nowhere near Luger's of BLT Prime's sundaes. Great ending though to a great meal (even if we could be accused of being gluttons and eating ourselves sick).

Service- I remember some saying that the service at Keens could be described as gruff or disinterested but for me this couldn't be further from the truth. They accomodated us in every single way from the room to our food requests. Everyone we came in contact with from the maitre d to the waiter to bus boys to the manager were incredibly attentive and super polite making our entire experience truly unforgettable. As a side note, Keens has its own parking lot across the street which really simplifies things for you. For ten bucks you can park there until midnight.

Price- The meal came to jus under $225 with tip for 2. Seems like a pretty penny and it definitely is. The lobster cocktail for 18 bucks was a bit of a splurge and like I said probably not worth it. We also probably could have done with only one dessert but hey you only live once right? Just to recap this is what we ordered- lobster cocktail, porterhouse for 2 ($90- a little higher than most), creamed spinach, sauteed wild mushrooms, french fries ($30 total for sides), bread pudding, hot fudge sundae ($20 total for desserts), 2 beers ($14). Overall a little expensive but I never mind spending money if it means quality and this was top notch IMO. Loved every minute of it and would be back in a second without question.

Overall- One of the best meals I have ever had in my life. The space is great, service wonderful, and I will definitely be back. Shame on anyone who gives Keens a negative review (not many) and thank you to all who have highly touted it as one of the true treasures in New York. Truly a pleasure to get to by train (R,N,W). I now have sampled PL (my favorite and absolute best), BLT Prime (unbelievable), Del Frisco's (very good), Ruth's Chris, and Keens is right there at the top with BLT Prime (however nobody tops Luger for me). I wouldn't rate it just as a top steakhouse, however a top restaurant overall. I can't wait to go back and try the King Cut Prime Rib....If you are looking for a great meal in every way head to Keens!

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  1. Great review, thanks!

    1. S

      As youknow a steak experience is very dependent upon the steak you receive and jfood is tickled that Keens gave you such a great steak. After jfood's experience he placed on the DNR because although service and oysters were perfect, the steak was not. Now that someone he respects has given such a glowing report, jfood will have to give Keens another try.

      thanks for the detailed and yummy review. If youlike oysters, try them next time, not cheap, but the west coasts were someof the best jfood has ever eaten.

      1. Great review! I plan on going here for the first time in a week or three. May skip the lobster. I have a question: Is it cash only or do they take plastic?

        Also, on the service review: I had heard tales of gruffness from the staff at PL, and honestly they couldn't have been nicer when I was there.

        5 Replies
        1. re: egit

          They take plastic.

          1. re: egit

            jfood was there last month, the service and people were very friendly, not the grusff shtick that other steak houses think is cute.

            1. re: jfood

              Jfood- I'm honored that you respect my input. Just out of curiosity what cut of steak did you order at Keens?

              1. re: steakrules85

                Here is jfood's review of Keens from last month:

                http://www.chowhound.com/topics/466776

                Your other aspects of the meal were spot on. Jfood steak was a Dickensism on a plate as jfood described in his review. glad you did not get the Potatoes McKeens as well. Next time try the oysters, think they were $4/each (making your $18 lobster salad a bargain compared to $48 for 12 oysters.

            2. re: egit

              As I have stated several times Peter Luger is my favorite restaurant. And I believe on of their strengths is actually the service! Don't believe the bad reputation.

            3. you'll love the king cut prime rib but ditch the train and plan on walking there so you can build an appetite. that cut is BIG.

              1. steakrules, You rule! :-) An excellent, detailed review. So glad we can add you to the ever-growing list on this board of Keens fans.

                1. sr85,

                  A place you were looking forward to for quite some time........

                  A very enjoyable meal.....great steak and sides....lobster not withstanding.....

                  To be able to share it with your Father and show him your success and generosity......

                  all positives for less than $225 is a bargain and should be cherished...........

                  Sorry you had to endure the Knicks Game......seems like the only disappointment you both suffered.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: fourunder

                    SR85 -

                    It sounds like you had an amazing time at Keen's. My husband and I unfortunately didn't get the goodness that you did. :( We split the Oysters Rockefeller. It was very tasty. I had a glass of Prosecco and my husband had the dinner flight of Scotches. For dinner I switched to a Nebbiolo which was fabulous. For dinner I had the T-Bone and my husband the filet and lobster. This is where things broke down a bit. Both his filet and my T-Bone were completely charred on the outside, almost like we'd asked them to be blackened!! The inside was pretty and juicy, but with the outside, it made it almost gravelly to eat. Not pleasant. My husband's lobster was terrific, though. Our sides were quite tasty--creamed spinach, asparagus with a side of hollandaise, and the hash brown. All tasty sides. Service was very good and our server steered me well with a suggestion for the Nebbiolo.

                    Maybe the charring is something that every steakhouse in New York does. That may just be the custom there. However, it is not something that either of us enjoyed. To that end, I think we'll be steering clear of steakhouses in NYC in the future. :(

                    The ambiance was great, service was great, and all of the food was tasty except the gravelly steaks. Oh, well. onto a new restaurant. :)

                  2. i think you and i have the same taste in steak because keens' porterhouse in my book is second only to lugers as well.

                    i actually had a late dinner at the bar room on tuesday night after a ranger game. i had a distiller's edition lagavulin which was just perfect, the steak tartare and fries, and creme brulee for dessert.

                    everything as usual was just perfect. the bar room is totally great for a casual dinner while the main room is just a great steakhouse all around.

                    1. The prime rib is indeed fit for a king.

                      1. Great review. I have been to Keen's about five times over the last two months and I couldn't agree with you more. It is nice to see a venerable restaurant like Keen's not just sit on the classics, but strive to improve them. In my mind it is the best steakhouse in the city (yes, better than that one in Brooklyn), if not one of the best restaurants in general.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: tbear

                          I used to live across the street from Keen's, so I am very familar with the restaurant, dining there at least once a week. However, I usually went to eat in their bar area. My experience with Keen's has always been nothing but fantastic service, both in the bar and in the dining room.

                          I also really like their steaks... I find them all to be excellent. One item on the menu that is frequently overlooked is the mutton chop (which is a misnomer since it is actually no longer mutton, but a very large piece of lamb). As one of their signature dishes if you don't mind the taste of lamb, I highly recommend it. One of my favorites. However, on top of their food, it is really their scotch and whiskey selection that is out of this world. I believe only one other place (The Brandy Library) has a larger selection of single malts. I used to think that I only liked American whiskey, but with their huge menu just continuously staring at me in the face every time I was there, I started to try out their single malts and I am very glad I did.