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Which steakhouse & WHY?

My boyfriend's birthday is in 3 weeks and I want to take him out for a great steak dinner. (Sorry Luger fans, Brooklyn's not in the cards for this night)

I know a lot of you CHers love Keens. But, I've got my brother telling me Old Homestead is the way to go. And I'm interested in BLT Steak, or maybe Palm Too.

Please help me choose & tell me why I should go to one place over another! Also, I don't know if it matters but we're looking for a casual place -- not stuffy.


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  1. Although all of the top places are fairly expensive, is money a consideration at all?

    I have enjoyed meals at Keen's and Old Homestead, as well as other steakhouses in the city, but Old Homestead in particular can really add up.

    1. I believe whichever Steakhouse you choose, you will have a good time and enjoy your meal.

      A close friend works for Buckhead Beef, a division of Sysco Foods who supplies all the top houses in the city, including Luger's.....unless they haven't paid their bills, says The Capital Grill is one of the best in the city that gets little recognition. My recommendation is the Rib-Eye Delmonico at The Homestead or Del Frisco's. Both have always been excellent whenever I have had them.

      1. I'm a Keen's girl. Love the food, the atmosphere, the service, and the laid-back clientele. It's not as business-expense-account-only oriented as some of the other upscale steak houses, including Palm, Del Frisco's, and Morton's. Haven't been back to Homestead since six of us had dinner there a couple of years ago and not one of us got our meat as ordered. Could just have been a bad night, but when I'm paying that much for a meal I'm no longer willing to take my chances.

        1. Even though I am from out of town, I have eaten at every major steakhouse in NYC except BLT and Strip House....most of them multiple times. I would vote as strongly as possible for Keen's. The historic atmosphere is interesting and the prime dry aged steak, (try porterhouse for two) is superb. One of the few steakhouses I did not care for was Homestead.

          Palm Too is okay,part of the Palm chain. One you did not mention, Sparks, is a major independent. Get the sirloin there. If you boyfriend is at all interested in wine,
          There is no choice but Sparks. They have a wonderful expansive wine list....notice I said expansive, but NOT expensive. They do not mark up wines 2-3-4 times like others.

          So, for steak and atmosphere, try Keens. for steak and wine, try Spark's. And enjoy.

          1 Reply
          1. re: steakman55

            If you are a creamed spinach fan, sparks does not serve it. Just throwing that out there.

          2. Regulars on this board know I'm a huge Keens fan. As I say so often, it's been in its 36th St. location since 1885 and, therefore, in addition to delicious food and excellent service (no surliness in this steakhouse!), there is the great charm of the unmatchable old NY ambiance.

            5 Replies
            1. re: RGR

              I have never been to Keen's, but someday I will. I like BLT Steak -- a bit overpriced, but I do enjoy it. I also like Del Frisco's food, but find the atmosphere boring. I dont like the Palm and Capital Grill only because you can go there in MANY cities. We're actually on our way to Porter House -- si I'll let you know how it is

              1. re: RGR

                Amen to that, RGR. Because of RGR's great reviews of Keen's, I was enticed to try it for myself. I took my parents there last Fall, and we had an excellent meal with fantastic service.


                1. re: RGR

                  Didn't realize Keens had been around that long! I have tried most of the talked about steakhouses in Manhattan but have never been to Keens. RGR is always an opinion that people consider useful - I am going to give it a try!

                  1. re: lovesfinethings

                    From your list Keen's would be my choice, hands down. (And don't worry about missing the so-called famed Luger's. It's a figment of the imagination these days.)

                    1. re: lovesfinethings

                      Thanks for compliment, lft. :-) When you try Keens, I look forward to hearing what you think about it.

                  2. Keens porterhouse for two is amazing.
                    BLT Prime porterhouse for two is awesome as well.
                    Uncle Jack's was great too, had the ribeye which they call the Fred Flintstone.

                    1. dylan prime might be a good bet as the food is delicious and the atmosphere can be romantic.

                      1. If money is not an issue, and all these places are not inexpensive, than Strip House would be my first choice. Great quality, inventive side dishes, and a romantic location and atmosphere. I would go there for the chocolate cake alone.

                        1. Just to add my two cents, I would narrow it to Keens and Striphouse, and choose Keens

                          Keens is my personal favorite - excellent steak (and their mutton chop is ridiculously good) - and the ambiance, history, character make it unbeatable in my opinion. It feels like a New York steak house. Great scotch menu. I really think you'll like it. I've celebrated a few of my own birthdays there already...

                          Striphouse - may have every so slightly better steak than Keens, but this probably depends on the night. Overall, I don't like it as much (service, decor), but the NY strip and chocolate cake are amazing.

                          I think Capital Grille is underrated and more than your average chain - but its too "corporate expense account-y" for me. BLT Steak is not great.

                          1. Sparks! Why cause they got giant lobsters to go w your steak!!

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: UES Mayor

                              Sparks only serves sirloin or filet mignon. They don't serve any of the better steaks that come on the bone- IE Porterhouse or Ribeye which is a really big turnoff for me.

                            2. Sorry to be the voice of dissent but I found my meal from Keens to be utterly disgusting starting from the bread on up. I wish I could report otherwise, since it is a cool looking old place.

                              Strip House is a great option as long as you avoid the filet mignon.
                              As for Homestead, I had an amazing meal there, and watched the tables next to me look miserable. The place is a drag but when the food is good it's very, very good.

                              22 Replies
                              1. re: sugartoof

                                I cannot imagine any dinner served at Keen's to be referred to as "utterly disgusting" Seriously, either your taste buds had an off night, or something truly freakish occurred. Some may have steak houses they prefer to Keen's, but I'm sure no one, and I mean no one on this Board would ever use the word "disgusting" in reference to a meal at Keen's!

                                1. re: Tay

                                  Well as much as I love tastebud accusations on Chowhound, and the notion that nobody could dare dislike certain sacred favorites is pretty absurd in and of itself, let me go into detail:

                                  You know when you cook a steak at home and get a tough bite of meat with fat running through it? You can chew and chew it, but it will not be chewed. Now imagine two entire steaks ordered like that, ordered medium rare and served in a pool of some watery liquid. We felt like we had accidently gone to Tad's. I couldn't tell you if it was an off night though. Is the creamed spinach normally lukewarm, and made without any seasoning? Worse it was like trying to eat a pile of stringy spinach stems which weren't cooked down properly. Does the bread normally taste like it's the frozen bake stuff, only in this case like it's been cooked the day before, frozen, and then only partially defrosted? Do they normally serve a wilted salad? Are the waitstaff doing some Durgen Park schtick or are they always that ridiculous? I do stand by my use of the word disgusting, because it describes my personal experience.

                                  1. re: sugartoof

                                    I apologize for the verbal disparagement of your tastebuds.:-} Of course, you can, and should write what you wish, RE: your dining experiences, but having eaten at Keen's many, many times, without more detailed specifics of your expereince, I thought "utterly disgusting" were not words that could ever describe a meal at Keen's. Not b/c I think of it as a 'sacred favorite' (You've never read my postings on PL's) I was just truly surprised, no, make that shocked at the dining experience you have described. I just cannot conceive of a dining experience at Keen's that would have nothing good to say about it. As for the service, I've never experienced anything but friendly and professional Servers.
                                    I'm guessing you let the bread go, but I'm assuming you sent back your steaks/spinach. What was the reaction when you told them your dinner was sub par.?

                                    1. re: Tay

                                      We really were just shocked after having read such glowing reviews, so we did our best to politely just ask for the bill with the intentions of settling up and trying to salvage our night... but the waiter insisted on bringing the manager over first.

                                      So eventually she arrived and confirmed that our food looked perfectly up to spec., brown lettuce and all, and acted baffled by what the problem was. When we explained that we literally couldn't chew our meat, and just wanted to pay so we could leave, she went on to tell us how everyone loves their food, nobody had ever sent food back in all her years there, the history of the place, how all their meat is the same quality, and so on.... before finally doing the right thing and taking the steaks/sides off our bill.

                                      1. re: sugartoof


                                        As a huge Keens fan who regularly recommends it on this board, I, too, am shocked by your description of your meal there. But we all write our reviews and offer our opinions based on our personal experiences. Obviously, yours was what it was, and no amount of extolling the virtues of Keens will change that.

                                        Of course, for those of us who have had nothing but excellent experiences, it remains a mystery why yours was so awful. I certainly can't come up with a good explanation.

                                        Since you called for the check with all your food basically untouched, I give high marks to your waiter for bringing the manager into the situation. However, I do not think she handled it correctly. After listening to your complaints, instead of all that blather about how wonderful Keens is -- like at that point, that would matter to you! -- she should have just apologized. But at least, as you said, she did the right thing by taking the offending items off your bill.

                                        My general motto is that a restaurant has only one chance to make a first impression. Quite a few years ago, we tried the Post House for the first time. The food was disappointing, the service was aloof, and the ambiance did not appeal to me. Needless to say, we've never gone back, and I would completely understand if you never went back to Keens.

                                        1. re: sugartoof

                                          RGR has said it all and (as always) said it very well. I am in total agreement. It's a shame you had such a dreadful experience at what is considered one of the finest steakhouses around. They should have just sincerely apologized and adjusted your bill. It's a shame but, of course NOW I understand why you referred to your experience as disgusting.

                                    2. re: Tay

                                      Trust me on this-mine was utterly disgusting as well-i will give it one more chance since it was my first time BUT sugartoof had same experience as I did.

                                      1. re: UES Mayor

                                        Was this a recent visit?
                                        I haven't been in about 3 months. Now I'm starting to wonder if some (bad) change has occurred,.

                                        1. re: Tay

                                          Absolutely not! Was there two weeks ago. There were 5 of us. One prime rib, one mutton chop, one lamb chops, and two sharing the porterhouse. I've forgotten the sides. Service and food just as superb as we always expect it to be.

                                          1. re: JoanN

                                            Whew! I was starting to worry!
                                            As someone who has had more than one meal there, have you ever encountered any food/service at Keen's even remotely close to to what these 2 other Posters encountered? I cannot imagine having that type of horrendous dining experience at Keen's. I suppose anyone can get a 'bad' piece of meat, but bad bread/steak/spinach AND service?... Hard to believe.

                                            1. re: Tay

                                              No, I can't. Friends come from Latin America twice a year on business. At first, each time they came we'd go to a different steak house. Then I took them to Keen's. They never wanted to try any more places (although I wish I could talk them into Ben & Jack's sometime). I've been at the very least twice a year for about 6 years now and never encountered anything like what sugartoof and UES Mayor describe.

                                              1. re: JoanN

                                                I go there about every 3 mos or so. I think in all my visits, I had one side of creamed spinach that was not warm enough. I asked the Server to please have it heated. They brought another order, an additional side and 'comped' both on the bill.
                                                I'll be interested to see what happened when suger complained, which I assume he/she did.

                                            2. re: JoanN

                                              Was there 3 weeks ago. Everything as good as always. Food, service. Its what I've come to expect from Keen's. Tried the mutton chop for the first time, though. Huge piece of meat. Enjoyed it with some mint jelly. Glad I tried it and did enjoy it, but will generally stick to the steak, I think,

                                              1. re: jdf

                                                I'm feeling relieved. All sorts of bad things were starting to scamper around in my head (A scary place to begin with)
                                                I'm still trying to wrap my head around a totally bad Keen's meal. I really cannot imagine it.

                                            3. re: Tay

                                              My first and only Keen's experience was about a year or so ago around the holidays.

                                              1. re: Tay

                                                it was two months ago-i ordered a 3-4 lb lobster in addition to steak-this was not the restaurant's fault but when i opened the tail of lobster it was only about a 1/4 inch long!! I thought it was a joke or someones leftover tail but i inspected it closely and low and behold there was a teeny tiny tail which must have shrunk during cooking. I am a total foodie and having eaten lobsters all my life never experienced such a thing.The steak was nothing memorable. Will have to give it another try.

                                                1. re: UES Mayor

                                                  Maybe it was an anomaly. If that happens again, call the Server over, point it out and tell him/her, you want a lobster with a tail!

                                          2. re: sugartoof

                                            What problem did you have with the filet mignon at Strip House? I don't usually order filet mignon but found theirs to be perfectly cooked and the meat was lean without losing any tenderness or flavor. It was the best filet I have had in New York. Just curious what you found wrong with it.

                                            1. re: bobby06877

                                              I love the Strip House, and would echo your sentiments, but they had trouble cooking my filet mignon the last two times. I found it arrived cooked drastically uneven, past well done on one side, and rare on the other. I figured they were having trouble with their ovens. They wanted to butterfly the replacement, which in retrospect I should have let them do, because they brought me out a steak that was entirely rare. I have a feeling that was more intentional then a mistiming in the kitchen though. My Mom ordered a Medium Well filet and it arrived well done, where in the past, we always championed Strip House for being one of the only places who knew how to do a medium well steak right. These visits were a year apart, so my sense is they're struggling to cook that particular cut to order.

                                              We noticed that it's now become the cheapest cut of meat on their menu. Also noticeable, they added an in bone-in filet mignon, which is dry aged and sold as prime on special. Does this mean their other cuts are not prime or aged? A little strange, since Strip House never used to have an extensive list of specials. My guess is they're trying to update themselves to compete with Primehouse type menus.

                                              That said, I've had incredible meals at Strip House. Pick another cut of meat, and I think it's a real sleeper, especially if you like your sides to be a rich important part of your meal rather then garnish.

                                              1. re: sugartoof

                                                Interesting that you have had some inconsistencies with the preparation of your filet. One of the reasons I always liked the Strip House is their ability to cook a filet medium. Usually when you ask for medium it comes out more well done or rare than medium. Strip House was always able to give me the nice char on the outside with a nice pink inside. I thought the quality of their meet was great, I hope nothing has changed with their meat supplier. Thanks for the feedback.

                                                1. re: bobby06877

                                                  I agree, Strip House can serve a masterful medium or even medium well steak, which is a rare thing. My guess is the thickness of their filet mignons can throw off their current crop of cooks. I will probably order the strip next time. The meat itself wasn't a problem at all. I took about half my steak home because it was so rare, and cooked it some more. The results were a very buttery great tasting piece of meat, and it had probably been a few days sitting in my fridge.

                                          3. If you are not sharing a porterhouse and want to order individually, I agree with those that have recommended Strip House. The cuts are to be expected and IMHO the taste is perfect. Although there have been some (including a friend that I usually go to steakhouses with once a month) that have said that the taste have been overly salty.

                                            1. i really like ben & jack's, sometimes doesn't get the best reviews on this board (not sure why). Like wolfgang's, its another luger knockoff, except i think the food is excellent (don't think wolfgang's is all that great). I'm probably going to get beat up for this, but i think its pretty damn close to luger's. Stick with the porterhouse and get the bacon (i think their bacon is definitely just as good)

                                              the decor is not inspiring although better than luger's and the service is good

                                              4 Replies
                                              1. re: Lau

                                                I've never been there, but I make up my own mind and am not influenced/impressed with "Big name" restaurants, so I'll have to try it :-}

                                                1. re: Lau


                                                  I guess you mean "beat up" in the metaphorical sense? lol Luger partisans do seem to have a certain (strident?) way about them. :-))

                                                  We've been to Wolfgang's and liked the food though I can't compare it to Luger's because --- shock of shocks! -- we've never been there. Since you say Ben & Jack's is better than Wolfgang's, next time we want steak, I'll consider giving B&J's a try.

                                                  1. re: RGR

                                                    haha yes i might actually get beat up! j/k

                                                    its become my go-to as i really love the porter house cut and the bacon is amazing (sometimes i even get two pieces)....make sure to order the porter house (its obviously their specialty), i've had some friends go there and tell me its good, but not great, but they didn't listen to me and ordered a filet or something else and then they went back with me and got the porter house and its now their go to place as well

                                                2. Ben and Jacks!

                                                  As good a steak as Luger's. Better service than Wolfgangs. And not jammed.

                                                  1. I will 44th Keens and I was there last week. BLT Steak is a fine choice and both times I have been, I had the Porterhouse for two which was on par with Keen's. I liked the little side sauces and broader range of app's at BLT however it was way more expensive then Keens. Both Keen's and BLT are Casual or what they call "Smart Casual". Even though it is not a steak house the Rib-Eye for Two at Babbo's was one of my most memorable food experiences ever, without question.

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: NYGJ

                                                      I am going to Babbo in a few weeks. I am a steak lover but have heard that their ribeye for two really isn't worth it. Is it really that great? Please give me some details! Much appreciated !