72 West 36th Street, New York NY 10018; map); 212-947-3636 ; keens.com
Cooking Method: Broiled
Short Order: Crazy juicy and fatty, though underseasoned
Want Fries with That? They can be great, but were served a little greasy and stale during this visit
Prices: Burger and fries, $16.50
Note: Burger is only available in the pub room during lunch and dinner on weekdays.
Despite $50+ prices for dry aged steaks at night (plus more for à la carte side dishes), steakhouses can offer some of the best lunch deals in town. We've previously commented on a few of Keens Steakhouse's lunch steak options, as well as the awesomely decadent Prime Rib Hash, and I'm happy to report that if you're into brick-thick steakhouse-style grilled burgers, theirs is a steal worth braving the dark, oak-covered, and suit-filled pub room for. (Make sure to request a seat there or you'll be stuck with the far more expensive dining room menu.)
Like any good steakhouse, the burger starts with meat that's ground from trim off of their dry-aged prime steak cuts. The bartender couldn't offer me any more knowledge about the actual cuts that go into it, but suffice it to say, it's insanely juicy stuff—so much so that the well-toasted bottom bun (soft, slightly sweet, great for this style of burger) could have been wrung out about 3/4 of the way through the meal. Perhaps the right strategy here is to go with two people, split the burger in half, and devour it before the bottom bun fully disintegrates. You could always order a second if you need it (your probably won't—this protein and fat bomb is filling).
Ask for it with cheese, and you can expect a blanket of cheddar, swiss, or blue melted under the salamander to cover not only the bun, but a good deal of the plate as well. Biting into the large 7 to 8-ounce patty reminded me a lot of sinking my teeth into the outer section of a ribeye steak, with a rich fattiness coupled with tender structure, and a mild but beefy funk from the dry-aged cuts. My only complaint would be that the well-charred crust could have done with more salt.
A surprisingly juicy tomato is unsurprisingly flavorless (why do people insist on serving tomato months before tomato season?). Red onion and lettuce offer a bit of crunch, but are mostly unnecessary with beef this juicy.
Despite having heard great things about the fries at Keens from trusted sources, this time they were disappointing, with a greasy, re-heated quality. I should've opted to sub them for a salad instead (it would've been a welcome cleanser after this highly saturated meal).