I think I heard my colleague Abe talk about Benjamin Steak House for the past two years, this place being supposedly the best steakhouse in town. I love my steaks and New York offers lots of options when it comes to meat, so I was eager to see if Benjamin Steakhouse would be the Holy Grail, topping the Ruth's Chris, Bobby Vans or Old Homestead. Yes, I did not mention Peter Luger that is another category that lives up to its name. In fact, the owners of Benjamin Steakhouse use to work at Peter Luger, not that it is a guarantee of any sort, as working in a steakhouse does not mean you know how to cook a steak. So, we went on a Wednesday night and I admit that the fact that the place was packed was a good sign.
When you enter the restaurant, there is a long hallway with the walls alternating bottles of wine and photos of celebrities.
We were seated on the first floor that was already impressive, with its very high ceiling in the center, going all the way up to the second floor that seemed also to be crowded. Like any steakhouse, it had this masculine feel, but I truly appreciated the fact that the lights were not too dim, so I could see what I was eating.
Menu wise, it was fairly standard and I did not see any dish that would have made Benjamin Steakhouse unique. Don't get me wrong: I was not looking for creativity, but solely for authenticity and taste, my choice being anyway set for a ribeye, my favorite cut. Of course, like most of the restaurants of that sort, it started of with the bread basket, that I only touched for the photo, pacing myself for what was coming.
For the appetizer, we shared a bunch of dishes:
Shrimp cocktail (ok, pretty simple, but at least it was jumbo shrimp that were perfectly cooked):
Crab cakes (nice, lots of lump crab, but slightly on the dry side):
And the best: the slab of Canadian bacon! Now that's a bonus point for this place and I wish all steakhouses would have that on their menu. It might be a heart attack on a plate, but when you go to a steakhouse, you know you will not have a healthy meal, even if you order steamed broccoli with your steak!!!
Between the smell and the taste, I was in heaven, especially after pouring a bit of Benjamin steak sauce on it.
Then came my ribeye: nice piece of meat, with a beautiful char on top. I ordered it medium rare and proceeded to cut it to see if it was cooked as ordered. The first cut on one side was a bit tough, so I tried somewhere else. The meat was definitely not as tender as expected and there were quite few nerves. Disappointing.
Then, I thought all the juice would be released when cut, but it was not really the case... Flavor wise, it was just ok. So, I can say that I was very disappointed, especially as I was expecting a great steak.
For the sides, we tried:
The French fries (not crispy):
Onion rings (well done):
Creamed spinach (delicious):
Fortunately, the desserts were delicious. I tried the key lime pie, that was not too sweet and the cheesecake, that was pretty good. Both of them were served with a scoop of schlag or whipped cream. At least, they could have brought a big bowl of whipped cream to make it a bit more spectacular!
I should mention that they have a nice wine list and we had a fantastic Châteauneuf-du-Pape ("The Pope's new castle").
Last was the service: rude and a bit pushy on the wine, probably because it is were restaurants make most profit. I guess some people feel that having a rude service is part of the experience in a steakhouse. Not me. Alright, so this is the perfect example that food is subjective. Abe likes it; I do not. So I guess you know what I will say if you ask me if I would go back...
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