Keen’s Steakhouse, New York City, is very well known for their mutton chops. Keen’s is considered the main rival for the famous Peter Lugers Steak House (review coming soon). At Keen’s, we ordered the mutton chops and were outrageously disappointed. I highly regret not ordering their steak instead, as Keen’s steaks have made it to many top steakhouse lists for the USA and North America. Below is a more detailed review. (See here for my reviews of Toronto’s top steakhouses.)
Review of Keen’s Steakhouse, New York City
Decor and Atmosphere
Keen’s Steakhouse in New York City has been around since 1885 and the decor certainly reflects its history. The dining room is dark with very low ceilings and the walls are decorated with historical artifacts, portraits, photos, and newspaper articles. Most impressive is the world’s largest collection of churchwarden pipes hanging from the ceiling. To be honest, I felt uncomfortable in the atmosphere. I felt like I was in a dingy basement; the fixtures looked dusty and the tables were far too close together. In fact, the waiter had to move our table every time I wanted to get in and out of my seat. There was no privacy, whatsoever, for conversations.
Reservations are recommended. We went on a weekend and the restaurant was packed.
The meal came with complimentary bread, veggie sticks, olives, pickle, and dip. The bread had been left in the warmer for too long; it was so hard that it was inedible.
We both ordered the “legendary” mutton chops. Mutton is adult sheep. Keen’s mutton chop is a large and thick, bone-in cut of meat. They also have a low sodium option, so we ordered one regular and one low sodium just to compare. The regular wasn’t overly salted and came with nice, large flakes of sea salt. The mutton chops were surrounded by a thick fatty layer. Normally, when the fat is charcoal grilled nicely, it practically melts and becomes the best part of the chop. However, in this case, the mutton chop wasn’t cooked well, so the fat was unpleasant and difficult to separate from the meat. The meaty portions of the chop weren’t marbled enough and I felt that the meat was lacking in lamb flavour.
The menu did not list the guaranteed number of ounces for the mutton. Personally, I think that steakhouses should always list the weight of their steaks and ensure consistent portion sizes. Keen’s did a terrible job of ensuring consistency. John’s mutton chop was huge, whereas mine was very small in comparison. Not only were the portion sizes inconsistent, the meat texture and doneness were inconsistent too. We both ordered medium rare, but John’s was rare and mine was medium at best. The meat from John’s mutton chop was quite tender and soft, whereas mine was tough and dry.
The mutton chops came with a little bit of au jus that was quite flavourless. The side of stir fried escarole was too oily and had a very sharp and acidic flavour that rubbed off onto the mutton chop. The acidity did not pair well with the meat, in my opinion.
We received very poor customer service. For example, we sat at our table for quite some time before our waitress finally addressed us. She asked us for our order before having given us the menus. She was friendly, but inattentive and not very competent.
Before going to Keen’s, I was skeptical that a large and cheap cut of old meat could be prepared as wonderfully as the reviews claimed. I was not prepared for how poorly executed it would be. I was beyond disappointed; I was angry that I had wasted precious time and money on such an overpriced, poorly seasoned, poorly cooked, and poorly serviced meal. I would have much rather spent that time and money trying something else, anything else, during my short trip to New York City. So, needless to say, I do Not recommend Keen’s. Although their beef steak appears high on many top steakhouse lists, I have no plans to return or to try them, given the uncomfortable atmosphere, complete lack of consistency, and over-hyped mutton chops. I much much preferred their rival, Peter Luger Steak House (review to follow).