Keens Steakhouse

December 14, 2007

72 West 36th Street, Manhattan

Tucked amidst the hustle and bustle of discount shopping and commuter lunch joints that line the midtown stretch between Penn Station and Herald Square, an inviting bit of Old New York is waiting for you to discover it.

Keens Steakhouse, on 36th Street near the corner of 6th Avenue, is the last surviving remnant of what once was the regaled theatre district of Herald Square.  A former playground of the famous and infamous, Babe Ruth, Will Rogers and Teddy Roosevelt, among other notables, were all regulars of Keen’s members-only “Pipe Club”.  The “Gentlemen’s-Only” club might still be going strong today, if not for the efforts of actress Lillie Langtry, who in 1905 took Keen’s to court in protest, and won.

Lucky for us she did.  My father first introduced me to Keens as a teenager, and it still holds a magic for me that few NYC restaurants can muster. Stepping into the heavy oak doors is like stepping through a portal in time.  The main dining room, with its stark wooden booths, bathed in a kerosene glow, is the perfect atmosphere by which to enjoy Keen’s top-notch steakhouse fare.

Keens famous Mutton Chop is still on the menu, as well as a dizzying selection of house-aged prime cuts of meat.  Selections from the raw bar or lobster tank are also on hand, and doled out by black tied waiters who’s sometimes gruff demeanor only further enhance this quintessential New York dining experience.

While dinner in the main dining room can be pricey, Keens best kept secret is its delightful Pub Room, which offers not only more in warmth and charm than the main dining room, but a decidedly more affordable Pub Menu, with smaller cuts of steak, as well as an ample selection of raw bar choices, sandwiches and salads (try the prime rib hash – at $16.50, it just may be the best value in Manhattan).  The full dinner menu can also be ordered in this fireplace-lit room.

After dinner, sojourn into Keens wonderful bar, where a mural of the siren-like “Miss Keen’s” beckons you to enjoy a perfectly made classic cocktail.  As far as I am concerned, there are only 2 places in New York that can perfectly make a gimlet, and Keens is one of them.

– Kitty Jay, Brooklyn


Are you a chocoholic? Unfortunately, it would be the hardest disease to cure in my opinion, but don’t be disappointed. Here’s a solution; go to “Max Brenner” and get some really good chocolate!
“Max Brenner” is just off Union Square, on 14th street and Broadway. The first time I went there, I was disappointed. I was walking around Soho with my friend who loves chocolate so much, but just couldn’t pass the chocolate-filled shop. After much persuasion from my friend, I stepped into the shop. Upon seeing some of the price tags on the chocolates; I thought it was way too expensive, so I stepped right out. To me, it was just chocolate. However, I know to many; it’s NOT just chocolate.

The second time I visited, I didn’t even notice that we were in the “chocolate factory” on 14th street. Why didn’t I notice? Here’s the reason; it’s a unique combination of restaurant and chocolate shop; which I missed the last time because I was too engrossed with high priced chocolates. The first impression was good and comfortable, or should I say the second impression? It was little noisy, but not enough to disturb the riveting conversation I was having with my friend. Personally, I’d rather that kind of hustle and bustle. It shows me that the restaurant is a busy one, which in turn means the food is good. Since we had already had dinner, we ordered a Chocolate Fondue set. To my surprise, when they approached with the fondue set, it was this huge dessert! (In the end, we ate it all and even cleaned the dish.) When the fondue is ordered, you have three choices, chocolate; two out of three among Black, Milk or White. We chose black and white with caramel, and it is served with strawberries, marshmellows and bananas. Doesn’t it sound yummy? They’re known as the best combinations to be paired with chocolate. (When we saw those condiments with chocolate, we were screaming, we were so excited!)

If you are from an Asian culture and go there with only one of your friend, you would be worried about being tired of chocolate, much less eating the entire fondue by yourselves. However, we were not worried at all.  As I said before, we completely devoured the entire thing!
They don’t have a lot of lights, but use candles for lighting in the restaurant, which sets a very romantic mood. For that reason, many couples come here just for a light meal or a light dessert, or perhaps to set the mood for something extra special. However, it’s also very active and energetic, never missing a beat in the downtown area. In addition, there are pipes filled with chocolate running throughout the entire establishment. For that reason, I think children will definitely like Max Brenner because it’s kind of like, “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory!” Actually, I would like to add, “who doesn’t like chocolate? 🙂 ” Of course, they do not sell only chocolate; but many other dishes such as French toast, pancakes, etc, so you need not be worried about eating only chocolate.

I haven’t tried any of their other dishes, but I am really dying to have a taste because I’ve heard everything else is really good; just as much as the fondue! Why don’t you come into the chocolate world with me? Visit Max Brenner, you won’t regret it.

Monica Kim (Korea)

There is Japanese food, and there is Japanese pub food. The former has cropped up all over the place, with sushi restaurants- and shady outfits masquerading as sushi restaurants-dotting the national dinning landscape. The latter, however, are as rare as an undernourished sumo wrestler.
But you don’t have to book a flight to Tokyo to enjoy pub food with a Japanese twist. Fortunately, there’s a worthy outpost in New York City. In rapidly urbanized St. Mark’s Square, Yakitori Taisho does a raucous, bustling business. It’s a smoky, roughhewn place carved into the bottom of a building that transports you light-years from Manhattan. For something truly unique, it’s well worth the journey. The pub has a rustic ambience so far moved from hip that it’s become hip. The staff is all Japanese- a rarity- and they yell something incoherent at you as soon as you walk in. The clientele is also mostly from the home country, always a good sign when eating at any ethnic restaurant. I adore this place and it’s my favorite restaurant in New York.
When you walk in, you instantly feel a rush of kinetic energy, as if you’re in a bustling yakitori house in Tokyo. There are guys yelling in Japanese, flinging hot oil around (they cook right behind the bar, which runs along the length of it) and handing dishes off to the servers. There are hooks mere inches from people’s heads for hanging coats. If you sit at the (very cramped) bar, you’re low to the ground on these little cow milking type of stools. If it’s too full and you have to sit at a table in the back, you feel like you’re being escorted into the storage room or back kitchen to the hidden extra space. It smells warm and delicious, the menus consist mostly of photographs of the food, and the prices are great.
While I haven’t actually had yakitori at this place, everything I have had is phenomenal. I’ve had all three types of pan fried noodle dishes, I regularly order the onigiri (usually with umeboshi), and the unagi with tamago and tofu is to die for – great portion sizes as well. Sometimes the service is a little slow, but I don’t even mind because the experience is fantastic.
The highlight of a meal at Yakitori Taisho is the amazing variety of skewers. The small kitchen is dominated by a long grill, where the short, bearded, bandanna-clad “taisho” and his acolytes slap skewers of chicken, beef, chicken wing, shrimp, shitake mushrooms, scallions, and various other meats and vegetables. The shining star of this show is the mouth-watering chicken meatballs, a must try for anyone who visits the pub. The skewers are served on a bed of raw cabbage leaves, which make for a crude but surprisingly good accompaniment. While you’d be sorely amiss not to sample at least one skewer, there are plenty of other dishes on the menu to tempt you.
Even on cold winter’s night, New Yorkers are happy to line up on the steps outside the restaurant or squeeze into the narrow entrance hall to wait for a table. The orange paper lantern outside is like a beacon for the hungry traveler…

Sae Na Park (Korea)

Il Corallo Trattoria

December 6, 2007

Il Corallo TrattoriaOne night, some friends and I were having dinner together in a restaurant back in Korea. At that time, I was planning to come to NYC, so I told my friends about my plan. “I’m going to NYC soon.” Then, one of my friends at the table said to me, “I will give you a list of the good restaurants in NYC, and you should go all of the restaurants on the list before you leave; otherwise, I’m through with you!” Even though it was a little scary declaration, I was very happy to receive the list. I have had lots of good exotic tastes from my friend’s list since I arrived here, and now I want to introduce one of the restaurants on the list named “Il Corallo Trattoria”.

My friend strongly recommended the “ Black Taglierini” and a plate of salad for an appetizer when I decided to visit the restaurant. The salad has an interesting mix of arugola, endivia, mesclum, fresh tomatoes, mushrooms and sweet onions in an olive oil and balsamic vinegar dressing. I also recommend using the olive oil and balsamic vinegar with the serving of bread instead of butter. It really helps to make the appetizers more vibrant tasting.  The “Green Salad” wasn’t what I expected in a salad, it was much better.  If you are not a salad lover, I still recommend it because of the unique mixes of greens and veggies, not to mention the reasonable price.

Inside Il Corallo TrattoriaThe pasta was a taste of heaven.  I think everyone has had at least one unforgettable dish in his or her lifetime that reflects some specific place or scene in you memory.  For me, this is a dish that would reflect NYC after leaving. It’s made with black squid ink noodles with green peas, sun-dried tomatoes and shrimp in a light creamy tomato sauce.  Every ingredient comes together in this wonderful dish, it felt like the food was dancing in my mouth from the very first bite.  My initial thoughts? Black pasta and tomato sauce should never be combined. However, the result exceeded well beyond my expectations.  I’m thankful that I tried this dish.

Il Corallo Trattoria has good service and meets everyone’s criteria of customer service, but I really didn’t pay too much attention to that; I was too busy eating.  It didn’t matter to me when I had dinner at the restaurant, the environment was so welcoming, I could have stayed there all night.
By Monica Kim (Korea)

Thanks to the Times Square Alliance   Times Square

Diners Will Receive 15% Discount on Meals at Over 25 Restaurants

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, NYC & Company and the Times Square Alliance today announced Dining in the District, a special weeklong dining program intended to attract New Yorkers and visitors to restaurants in the Theatre District area that have been affected by the Broadway stagehand strike. The program, which kicks off Saturday, November 17, and runs through Sunday, November 25, will offer a 15% discount on lunch or dinner to all patrons at more than 25 participating restaurants:

‘21’ Club – L

Bangkok House Restaurant – D

Barbetta – L/D

The Blue Point – L/D

Bombay Palace – L

Bond 45 – D

Brazil Brazil Restaurant – L/D

Brooklyn Diner–Times Square – D

Broadway Joe Steakhouse – L/D

Charley O’s – L/D

El Azteca Mexican Restaurant – L/D

Etcetera Etcetera Restaurant – L/D

Firebird Restaurant – L/D

Kyotofu – L/D

La Rivista Ristorante – L/D

Le Tre Venezie Restaurant – D

Metro Deli & Ranch 1 – L/D

Murals on 54 – L/D

Nocello – L/D

Osteria del Circo – L/D

Pergola Des Artistes – D

Rene Pujol Restaurant Cooperative – L/D

Restaurant Charlotte – L/D

Scarlatto Restaurant – L/D

Sofia’s Restaurant – L/D

Trattoria Dopo Teatro – L/D

ViceVersa Restaurant – L/D

L = Lunch

D = Dinner

L/D = Lunch & Dinner


“Dining in the District is a great opportunity for New Yorkers and visitors to enjoy some of the best restaurants in the Theatre District,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “While we hope that an agreement will be reached as soon as possible, I encourage New Yorkers and visitors to take advantage of this great deal and help support restaurants that have been affected by the strike.”

“NYC & Company’s Restaurant Week has become a mainstay of New York City’s restaurant scene,” said NYC & Company Chairman Jonathan M. Tisch. “It’s great that we were able to react quickly to local businesses in need of support, and we’re pleased to bring together more than 25 great restaurants in the Theatre District area for a similar dining program that will provide a boost to the neighborhood.”

“We are pleased to join with the Times Square Alliance to create Dining in the District,” said NYC & Company CEO George Fertitta. “New York City is home to many wonderful restaurants, and we hope that this partnership will encourage both residents and visitors to explore the fantastic dining options in the neighborhood.”

“Every cloud has a silver lining, and in this case it’s the chance to get a great deal at some great Times Square restaurants,” said Times Square Alliance President Tim Tompkins. “Come on down, and afterwards stop by any one of the many live entertainment venues still open – jazz clubs like Iridium, comedy clubs like Carolines and live performance halls like Town Hall, the Nokia Theatre, BB King’s, Hard Rock and Roseland, to name a few.”

Dining in the District offers a 15% discount on a lunch or dinner bill at more than 25 restaurants from November 17 to November 25; the offer will not be available on Thanksgiving Day, November 22. Participating restaurants are located between 41st and 55th Streets and between Fifth and Ninth Avenues, including all of Restaurant Row on 46th Street between Eighth and Ninth Avenues.

A list of participating restaurants is available HERE. Information is also available at the City’s Official Visitor Information Center, located at 810 Seventh Avenue between 52nd and 53rd Streets and at visitor kiosks in Harlem (253 West 125th Street), the Financial District (26 Wall Street), City Hall Park (Broadway at Park Row) and Chinatown (at the intersection of Canal, Walker and Baxter Streets) as well as at the Times Square Information Center on Seventh Avenue between 46th and 47th Streets. In addition, hotel concierges will have information on the program to disseminate to visitors.


Have a delicious Thanksgiving in NYC!



Saigon Grill Review

November 20, 2007

picture-1.pngI can’t believe there’s no article about “Saigon grill”, which is the best Vietnamese restaurant in the city! There are a variety of dishes that suits every taste bud. My favorite dishes in the restaurant are No. 25 and 45, Vietnamese noodle, which is called “Pho bo”, and a dish of small pieces of beef steak with sauce and salad (unfortunately, I can’t remember the dish’s name of No.45). You have two choices for the size of the noodle you’d like, regular and large. I usually go there with my friend, so “One large Pho bo and the beef steak” or “Two regular Pho bos and the steak” was perfect.

There are three condiments on each table. One of them is hot sliced pepper; Jalapeño. I like hot and spicy food very much. For that reason, I am crazy about the Jalapeño! If you are also into spicy food, I’m sure you won’t be able to keep yourself away from it.
The sauce on the steak is sweet and sour. I really wonder how they make it and what ingredients they use. The meats are so soft, that when you put them into your mouth, they melt! It’s no exaggeration to say that I go there from New jersey just to taste the steak.

The mood is comfortable and relaxed. It’s good for not only a couple and friends but a family with children as well. They have many big tables for large groups and also a bar, so you don’t need to make a line to wait if the place is crowded. They have two venues around Uptown and the Union Square area. Their website is unavailable for the moment, but you can still call 212-875-9072.


Kim Hyo Ryeong (Korea) 

Firebird Restaurant

October 17, 2007

Firbird LogoThe Firebird Restaurant exudes an ambiance unlike any other restaurant in New York City. Located on New York’s famous Restaurant Row, the name “Firebird” is representative of Igor Stravinsky and his illustrious ballet that debuted in 1910. Take a walk through the Firebird’s large wrought iron gates and feel transported into Russian culture. Accompanying the authentic pre-Revolutionary Russian food, even the decor is pleasing to the palate.

A number of museum-like rooms with names such as The Ballroom, The Blue Room, The Library and The China Room, set the Firebird apart from other restaurants. The Ballroom has a dramatic skylight framed by a striking chandelier. The China Room is adorned with classic antique china collection and warm emerald walls. Perhaps most stunning is The Library. The large collection of rare Russian books lining the walls accompanied by family pictures lovingly placed on the walls exude Russian history.

If you’re planning a business dinner, the third floor Corporate Suite is ideal; with a large conference table that seats up to 20, a breakout parlor and an outdoor terrace, the suite comes complete with its own butler service.

Of course, at a restaurant, what good is an elegant and historic atmosphere without the food and drink to match? Firebird does not disappoint. You know this the moment the incredible taste of homemade brewed honey vodka, a specialty that you can only find at the Firebird Restaurant, hits your palate. The drink is fermented with twelve spices, then steeped, while honey is slowly mixed in to ignite a taste unlike any other. If honey is not your style, not to worry: the magnificent bar is stocked with over 140 types of vodka from around the world. Try the raspberry infused vodka, or the pureed raspberry martini with dark chocolate shavings.

Styling its seasonal menu from an era in the early twentieth century, Firebird offers rare dishes that New Yorkers can’t find anywhere else in the world. Chef Richutti channels this time period to create an “unparalleled dining experience.” And what an experience it is! Some of the cuisine on offer might not be familiar to those that are not of Russian descent, like “Selodka Pod Shuboi” which is the House marinated Herring, Pickled baby beets, Pickled Cucumbers, Soft Poached egg, and a Crisp Cracker. The taste is just as amazing as the presentation on the plate. The “Tunetz V Koriandre” is a Coriander rubbed tuna, fennel salad, potato fennel puree, red pepper, sour pickle relish, and balsamic vinegar: simply delicious and prepared beautifully.

For the fish fanatic, the “Tushenaya Osetrina”, a Poached Sturgeon, Champagne Nage, Chanterelle Mushrooms, Baby Beets, Green Onions, Grape Tomatoes, and White Truffle Oil, is an excellent choice. The sturgeon, a soft, tender fish, is imported straight from Russia and sits perfectly on your plate. Each dish brought out by the waiter is described and presented in an elegant manner. The service strikes the right combination of friendly and helpful without being overbearing.
Of course what dining experience is complete without dessert? The simple beauty of the pastries on offer, made in-house by pastry chef Jacqueline Zion, are breathtaking. Travelers of Restaurant Row sometimes even just stop in for a few scoops of the special almond flavored ice cream. The dessert menu, like the lunch and dinner menu, changes seasonally to ensure that everything is fresh. Highly recommended right now: the Lemon Soufflé and the Bananas Foster, which is flambéed tableside. Such delicacies are enhanced by an environment that this rich in culture and history.

Firebird’s dishes are not inexpensive, but there are special offers, like the Lunch and Dinner Prix Fixe consisting of a three course meal including coffee or a choice from an array of special Russian teas. The restaurant is packed during these times, which usually occur before the Broadway theaters open. Be sure to check the website for time restrictions.

The combination of good food, service and surroundings is worth a visit!

Story by Somah Persaud

Photos by Stephanie Weingart

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