Omnivore - Drinking and dining and drinking in NYC

A lively, if pricey, weekend of drinking and dining in NYC


  • keens.com
  • Keens Steakhouse: Olde. School.

This past weekend, on a jaunt to Manhattan to celebrate the wife's latest round-numbered birthday, we sampled a bit of the new and the old — mostly the old — and found nearly everything more agreeable than we'd expected.

I don't eat steak all that often, but I've got a thing about old-school steakhouses. It's really more about enjoying the atmosphere and the memorabilia on display. If the food is decent, then all the better. And in New York, you don't get much more old-school than Keens Steakhouse, opened in 1885 just north of Herald Square. I've wanted to eat at Keens since first seeing a photo of the dining room, with walls covered with old photos and handbills, and thousands of ancient clay pipes hanging from the ceiling. But, after checking out the very New Yorkish prices, I became concerned about the prospect of paying a small fortune for mediocre food.

We arrive customarily early and wedge ourselves into the crowded bar, which — first good sign — boasts an impressive display of dozens of bottles of obscure Scotches and other spirits. Spotting a brand of rye I'd not seen before, one WhistlePig from Vermont, I asked the bartender how much it was. He couldn't recall but offered to look it up.

"Don't go to that much trouble," I said. "I'll take it in a Manhattan — unless it's, like, $40 a shot."

Famous last words.

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