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Keens Steakhouse

Note: Click here for more visits to Keens Steakhouse.

Frank Bruni’s review in last week’s New York Times aroused my curiosity, so I dropped into Keens Steakhouse the next day to try that “legendary” mutton chop.

I arrived around 6:45. The matre d’ advised me that there would be no tables available in the dining room till 9:15, but I could put in my name for a pub table (where a full menu is served). I was advised there would be about a twenty-minute wait for that. I ordered a glass of cabernet at the bar, where the patrons were four-deep, and settled in.

Keens may have New York’s best collection of single-malt scotches (they say they’ve got 200 of them). The bottles cut an impressive figure across the back wall of the bar. Naturally they’re available individually, but Keens also offers “flights” of four contrasting scotches, which go for anywhere between $28 and $48. I wasn’t in the mood, but I’ll probably sample them on a future visit.

Before I knew it, the hostess advised me there was a table in the main dining room after all. It had only been ten minutes.

I don’t know if Bruni’s review has influenced business, but I could see there were lots of people ordering “mutton chops” (which, as Frank has now told us, are actually lamb chops). Keens must have its own network of lamb purveyors, as I’ve never seen a cut anything like this before. Who else but Keens could be serving it?

While I waited for the legendary chop, I enjoyed the complimentary warm bread service and chilled vegetables with creamy dipping sauce. I also enjoyed staring at the massive collection of churchwarden pipes that adorned the ceiling.

The chop finally arrives. It looks massive, but this is a bit deceiving, as it’s actually a T-bone, and the bone itself takes up a lot of space. After you savor a bit of the fat, you’ll want to trim the rest away, leaving yourself with a substantial, but not unmanageable portion. Still, at two inches (or more) thick, with a peculiar wing shape, it’s a meal to remember. Keens cooked mine superbly to medium rare, just as I’d asked. At $37.50, it’s one of New York’s better steakhouse bargains. (The chop came with sauteed escarole, which I didn’t care for.)

As I was leaving, the hostess inquired about my meal, and remembered me by name. That was impressive, given the hundreds of people in the restaurant, and the fact we’d only spoken briefly. I look forward to returning, and trying more of the menu. Including those scotches.

Keens Steakhouse (72 W. 36th Street, east of Sixth Avenue, West Midtown)

Food: **
Ambiance: **
Overall: **

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