Knickerbocker Bar & Grill is one of those restaurants you walk by, year after year, and think, “I really ought to try that sometime.” You would have had plenty of chances to say that: the Knick has been on the same Greenwich Village street corner since 1977, remarkable longevity in a town where five years is a long run for a restaurant.
Knickerbocker has an old-skool look (Hirschfeld caricatures, vintage advertising posters) that would seem kitschy if it debuted today, but after almost forty years, they’re entitled. It’s alleged to be a celebrity haunt, though we didn’t spot any.
It’s a very good second-tier steakhouse. You won’t see it on any top-10 lists, as they serve U.S.D.A. choice beef, not prime—priced accordingly. Their signature dish is the t-bone, served like a Luger porterhouse, pre-sliced in portions for one, two, or four guests.
There’s also a 48-ounce long-bone ribeye ($85), along with humbler cuts (filet, shell steak, skirt steak), and a full menu of non-steak dishes. Every non-steak entrée is below $30, appetizers generally in the mid-teens.
There’s live jazz on Friday and Saturday evenings, starting at 9:45pm, for which there’s a whopping $3.50 cover charge. I think you can afford that. They must take it seriously, as the website lists the featured acts (different each weekend) for the next two months.
The t-bone for one ($43.50; above) was terrific. It won’t displace the top-tier steakhouses, but it was seriously good, for what it is.
All the steaks come with fries and creamed spinach, both excellent, which makes the deal even better, as most steakhouses in the city charge extra for sides, which could easily add another $20 or more to the bill.
My companions ordered the scallops ($29.50; above left) and an off-the-menu fish special, which I believe was cod ($29; above right), and gave high marks to both.
Knickerbocker is the essential neighborhood spot, but I’d sure love to live in that neighborhood.
Knickerbocker Bar and Grill (33 University Place at E. 9th Street, Greenwich Village)
Food: Steaks and other American cuisine
Service: No complaints
Ambiance: Old-skool New York