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Wednesday, August 8. 2012
My older son turns 18 this year and heads off to Miami of Ohio. Sadly, he will not be home on his birthday, as classes begin that week. While discussing what he'd like for his birthday, we heard "I want to eat in a real Manhattan steak house". No argument from me.
There are plenty to choose from. Keen's, Smith & Wollensky, The Palm, Peter Luger (technically Brooklyn, but one of the originals), The Strip House, Sparks (I worked across the street from Sparks in 1985 and heard the shots that killed Paul Castellano - we all thought it was a car backfiring), Del Frisco's and The Old Homestead are all top notch. After some discussion, the choice was The Old Homestead as this is a classic, original New York steak house.
Each time the boys come to New York, I make them navigators. Subway maps are analyzed and paths charted. We rode the subway up to my office, spent a few hours working, then walked 50 blocks to the restaurant to meet my wife.
When we walk in New York, I like see if they know the section of the city we are walking through. It's a test to see how observant they are, or test their memory. It's also a great way to learn the history of Broadway (an old Indian trail), how many squares it runs through and their names (4, Union, Madison, Herald, Times) and experience the hustle and bustle of a major thoroughfare. We passed Lincoln Center, Columbus Circle, Madison Square Garden (hasn't been in Madison Square for years), the Post Office, the Hotel Chelsea and the Chelsea Market on our route.
To the boys it was a "Bore Tour" with dad, just a long walk to get dinner.
Upon arrival at the restaurant, we had some time before my wife would get there. We waited at the bar and I noticed a person eating dinner next to me, so I whispered to my son. He leaned over to take a look and his eyes lit up.
It was Kevin Connolly from the HBO program Entourage, not a show I watch, but I am familiar with his work.
I don't bother celebrities, so I avoided speaking to him. That changed when he ordered a second plate of whatever it was he was eating, and commented how delicious it was. I had to find out what he was eating, and asked. Kobe bacon, he replied, and he was losing four years of his life eating it. I laughed, and we struck up a conversation, which my boys joined. We didn't once mention the show, who he was, or ask for a photograph. I thought that would be a little too crass, even though he was a very likable fellow. He left minutes before my wife walked in, with a cheerful farewell and wave. My sons were very pleased...until the bartender told us he loved having photos taken. Missed opportunities happen, but I don't worry about them. We were being polite and trying to respect his privacy, I can't feel bad about that.
My wife arrived, and we were taken to our table, where the boys filled her in on their brush with celebrity. Then the talk turned to the steak house itself and the food we were to order.
The Old Homestead is what you think of when you think steak house, and I've eaten there several times. It went through a renovation four years ago. When I first ate there in the 80's, the first floor was a huge room with dim, smoky lighting and lots of wood. Today, it's got three floors of dining and new tin ceilings and paneling. It has an updated style, close to the original decor, though I miss the old style New York chop house. It's remained true to the feel and look, just newer and cleaner looking.
The meal was excellent. Mashed potatoes, onion rings, and the recommended Kobe bacon, all on the side. For entrees, my younger son had a Gotham steak on the bone (ribeye) while my older son and I ordered the 22 oz. on-bone filet mignon. This is really just a Porterhouse cut in half, since filet implies no bone. It's become a popular offering. I was introduced to it four years ago and I've become a fan of the bone-in filet. Medium, of course. My wife ordered sea bass, and cleaned the plate.
My wife had a glass of Cabernet from Argentina, Vicien 2009 with her meal. I had a pint of Old Homestead Amber Ale, which is brewed upstate for the restaurant at a microbrewery.
As birthdays go, it was a success on many levels. The boys enjoyed themselves and the meal, and there was plenty to discuss on the ride home. It was the kind of experience he'll be sharing with his new friends in a few weeks. I was pleased that they got more exposure to New York, enjoyed a great chop house, and had one of those rare experiences which make for great stories with friends.
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I love Keen's - been there many, many times. Pipes on the ceiling!
It's the first on the list - it was the first choice, but we opted for The Old Homestead after we decided Keen's and Luger's was a toss-up.
Mid American Conference...baby!
BTW, what's w/ all the MF spawn going to college in Ohio (Ahia if you're native)?
Something in the water, I'm sure.
There is 'something' going on out there in Ahia. Our school normally puts 1-2 kids in at MofO. There are 10 this year.
In addition, there are 4 headed to Denison and several other Ahia schools.
A good friend of mine who lives in Cincinnati recently followed her husband and his job to Wichita, and we just found out they may be coming back now. Something in that water draws you back?
The Homestead is an excellent steak house, friendly and low key and with truly good food. Definitely worth a detour for anyone visiting NYC, and for residents it offers a welcome break from the bustle of the Chelsea Market across the street.
When I go to NYC, I hit the Chinese bakeries. Pork rolls, coconut rolls. And more. Perfect for munching while walking the sidewalks of New York.
When I lived in NYC I only went to The Old Homestead a couple of time, same for Keen's, but I couldn't count the times I went to Peter Luger's. My steakhouse destination of choice when people visited from out of town. But then I lived in Brooklyn and had a girlfriend in Williamsburg, not far from P.L.'s so I had plenty of opportunities to drop in.
First time I went there I was with five or six and we ordered enough steak for all. I was hooked from the second the waiter brought it out, sizzling, propped the platter at an angle so the juice (and, apparently, a load of melted butter) ran down to one end. The presentation I appreciated & was doubly gratified that the steak matched and bettered the promise.
I even remember dessert, blueberry pie, and mainly I remember that because of the whipped cream it came with, which they called "schlag". It looked so dense and thick I wondered if a fork would stand up in it. Not quite, but it tipped over slowly!!
Now your son will spend the rest of his life explaining that Miami University and the University of Miami are completely different institutions. I should know having earned my Master's at Miami University. Beautiful campus, by the way. At least it was in 1969.
I wish you and your son a happy birthday, but I have never understood the attraction of a steakhouse. What could be easier than cooking a steak. I prefer a restaurant that cooks something I do not know how to cook. Gramercy Tavern for me.
My wife prefers to go to restaurants that can provide something she can't, or can do better than she can. So she's probably in the same place regarding steakhouses.
I don't believe I'm very good at preparing steak. I do a fair to adequate job of it, and I'm really not interested in learning all the details of 'doing it right'. If I want a steak, I know I have the skill to prepare a good one, and that's good enough for me.
But there are two reasons why I like a steak house. The first is the atmosphere, and the ability to get out and have something prepare food for me. Any food. Being able to sit down and have a conversation and not have to worry about preparation is a tremendous convenience. The second is that steakhouses have the best steaks, and know how to prepare them properly. The steaks are generally not frozen, they are aged properly, they are cooked properly. They are usually a very high grade piece of meat.
From what I've learned, Costco has some of the best meats available, and we purchase our whole filets from Costco, but cut them up and freeze them. There isn't anything wrong with freezing, but it isn't optimal either.
I've never had a bad steak when I've gone to a true steakhouse. I've definitely had a fair share of bad ones on the grill.
I stand in awe of the affluence that customers of steakhouses must have.
My Significant Other took me to a place in San Fran in January. We each had a steak, which were well prepared.... but by the time I had a $9 bottle of Steam Anchor beer and she had a couple of $12 glasses of wine, and the salad, and the side dishes. And the gratuity, we shot the hell out of $200. For two people! For one meal! My grocery bill for a MONTH isn't much higher than that. And the place was packed. They were turning people away. On a week night.
It is just too expensive for a country boy. Wow.
Most of that business is expense accounts. I've been to steakhouses, 99% of the time, on my company's dime.
I could never go on a regular basis - which is precisely why this was a birthday present.