This is it! After visiting the oldest pizzeria in the US (Lombardi's), here we are at the oldest steakhouse in New York City: Keens Steakhouse that opened in 1885. So, Keens, that is considered by many as the best steakhouse in the city is known for two things: its churchwarden pipes and its mutton chops. A few people at work went there and had mixed feelings about that place; it was time for me to try it.
This is a big place, with its three floors (we were on the second floor, in the Lincoln room). The atmosphere is definitely the one of a traditional steakhouse: dark wood and dark leather banquettes with tons of political drawings.
But what makes Keens unique is the decor: the ceiling is covered with churchwarden pipes. Keens is said to have the largest collection in the world. I have tried to find the number and it seems to be more than 90,000. The tradition, as they explain on their website, comes from the 17th Century, in England, where travelers were checking in their 15 inches long pipes made of clay at their favorite Inn, the pipe being to fragile to be carried.
These pipes are a strong reminder that steakhouses were originally only reserved to men and women were not allowed! To the point that, in 1905, Lillie Langtry, an actress, sued Keens for denying her entrance and won in court!
Interestingly, at Keens, each table has a small pad, so you can take notes.
After we ordered our food, they brought us some veggies with an addictive blue cheese sauce.
It was celery, carrots as well as some olives with ice on top to keep it cool!
But we did not come for this! We came for steaks! Jodi ordered a filet mignon. It was served with a roasted pepper.
I admit that when it came, it did not look that appetizing. It looked more like a dry piece of overcooked tuna. It is the first time I saw a thin slice of filet mignon like this! And the taste was just ok, the quality of a filet mignon I would expect in a regular restaurant, not a steakhouse. It was not as juicy as I like and fortunately, we ordered some delicious béarnaise sauce.
On my side, I had to order their signature dish: the mutton chop!
This was a gigantic piece of meat, a 26-ounce saddle of mutton, that has been on their menu on day 1. If you love lamb, you cannot go to Keens and not try that! It was cooked medium, was juicy, with enough fat and a nice char. However, I think that it was way overpriced and restaurants like Dino & Harry's offer lamb chops that are tastier with a fabulous char, for a cheaper price.
However, I loved the mint jelly that I guess was homemade!
With the meat, we ordered French fries:
They were just ok and I thought the quantity was small compared to what other steakhouses would serve.
Last was dessert! We could not leave without it! We went for the banana foster with dark rum and vanilla ice cream.
It was good and I loved the bananas that were caramelized. It was sweet but the ice cream kind of neutralized the sweetness of this dessert. Hopefully the price ($14), that is high for a dessert, was justified by the quality of rum...
At the end of the meal, we were disappointed and a bit more when the bill came...
It was definitely some bad news...Overpriced and not as good as people say. I would add also that the service was just ok: they barely checked on us and did not make us feel welcome. So the only reason to go to Keens Steakhouse would be for the history, not the food!
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And Remember: I Just Want To Eat!