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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