Every week, I document another dish that impressed and satiated me during my food adventures around New York City

KEENS STEAKHOUSE, 72 West 36th Street (between Sixth and Fifth Avenue), Midtown WestI have mixed feelings about the holiday season in New York. At times, my internal grinch comes out and is easily annoyed by the crowds, the consumerism, and the endless urban jingle bells.

But at other times, I get lost in the magic – the lights, the excitement, the city. And it’s around this time that I like to step back from my daily routine and remember that this is New York friggin’ City. And so many people come from all over the world to gaze at the skyscrapers and bask in the holiday spirit.

So we embarked on a wonderful “New York City” night a few weeks ago. We walked around the Bryant Park holiday market, drank some hot chocolate, got tickets for a big splashy Broadway musical (Honeymoon in Vegas, starring Tony Danza), and had an iconic New York meal.

Keens Steakhouse is one of those old historic steakhouses where you realize you’re dining in the same place as New Yorkers from a century ago. It opened in 1885 and catered to the famous actors and theatrical community of the day. There are still clay pipes displayed all throughout the restaurant from their famous collection when people would leave pipes at their favorite restaurants so they could always have a smoke.

In addition to their history and pipes, Keens is mostly known not for their filet or ribeye (although they offer both of those), but for their mutton chop. Mutton is a mature sheep and not something that we eat very often in this country anymore. It’s full of flavor and is as tender as any filet mignon.

Thick-Cut Smoked Bacon at KEENS STEAKHOUSE

The mutton was pretty great, but I was even more in love with their appetizer of grilled bacon. This is not like any bacon you’ve encountered before. It’s sliced very thick and is eaten with a fork and knife. I like to think of it as bacon steak except it’s even better than that. Subtle smokiness is rounded out by a lick of sweetness and a layer of caramelized fat. The entire dish is balanced by a bright side of greens and tomatoes.

Forget ham or goose, I want this big pile of meaty bacon on my holiday dinner plate. And my guess is so do all the tourists visiting New York this time of year. Every once in a while, I have to remember to celebrate the city with them.

KEENS STEAKHOUSE
72 West 36th Street (between Sixth and Fifth Avenue),
Midtown West
(212) 947-3636
keens.com
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About the Author

Brian Hoffman is a classically trained actor who is now a full-time tour guide, blogger, and food obsessive. He leads food and drink tours around New York City, which not only introduce tour-goers to delicious food, but gives them a historical context. He also writes food articles for Gothamist and Midtown Lunch in addition to overseeing this blog and a few food video series, including Eat This, Locals Know, and Around the World in One City.

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