from The New York Times
Bittens, we have done you a great disservice.
How in the world -- how in the world?? -- is it possible that we've never talked to you about Keens?
Keens is a steakhouse in New York City. But if you ask us, it's not just a steakhouse, it's the steakhouse. Open since 1885, Keens is housed in a gorgeous series of wood-paneled rooms on West 36th St. in midtown Manhattan. The neighborhood around it has changed, as all neighborhoods do -- most of the restaurants around Keens today are Korean BBQ joints.
Back in the day, Keens was a gentlemen's-only restaurant and bar. Men who frequently ate there could store their tobacco pipes there. More than 90,000 people ultimately were on the roster of the Pipe Club -- men like Teddy Roosevelt, Babe Ruth, Albert Einstein and J.P. Morgan -- and today all of the walls and ceiling of the restaurant are covered with pipes.
The ceiling at Keens (photo from Keens)
Anyway, it's the food at Keens that's truly outstanding. There's nothing in the world quite like a rare Keens porterhouse -- perfectly red in the middle and sizzling and crisp on the outside -- with an icy dry martini.
Oh, and some creamed spinach.
You have to get the creamed spinach.
We had Keens in mind after reading Mark Bittman's excellent feature in the New York Times Magazine a few Sundays ago. He talks about the best way to achieve a restaurant-quality steak in your own kitchen (low heat, then a blasting sear at the end).
Even more interesting (to us, anyway), Bittman included recipes for 5 killer-sounding steak sauces.
One was this creamed spinach sauce, which we just had to try. Basically, it takes that classic steakhouse side dish and turns it into a sauce.
We loved this sauce so much! It's rich and creamy, a perfect balance to the steak. Definitely, definitely, definitely whip it up the next time you make a steak at home.
We tried a couple other of Mark Bittman's sauces as well, which we'll write about in the next couple days.
Meanwhile, if you need us, we'll be dreaming of Keens...
Creamed Spinach Sauce
via The New York Times, recipe by Mark Bittman
5 ounces fresh spinach, trimmed and rinsed well
1 cup cream, plus more as needed
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
Salt and black pepper
Pinch freshly grated nutmeg (optional)
Bring a large pot of water to a boil, and salt it. Plunge the spinach into the boiling water, and cook for no more than a minute; transfer to an ice bath with a slotted spoon. Drain well, and squeeze with your hands to remove as much water as possible.
Put the cream and spinach in a blender or food processor, and purée. Transfer the mixture to a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the butter, and sprinkle with salt, pepper and nutmeg if you’re using it. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the mixture gently bubbles and thickens; add more cream for a thinner sauce. Taste, and adjust the seasoning and serve hot.