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There is no shortage of beef here! Whether it's an old-school joint or upscale restaurant, steakhouses remain all the rage, as they have for more than 100 years. There is a substantial difference between the original houses that became popular in the late 1800s and the new-wave steak joints, though, including Michael Jordan's and
Strip House, which have emerged and flourished during a time of revolutionary cuisine.
The establishment carnivore cathedrals are Peter Luger's, P.J. Clarke's, The Palm and Keens, where the menus -- prominently displaying at least four types of dry-aged beef -- might as well bear the slogan "Show off the beef." Lugers' advertises proudly that its USDA prime beef is dry-aged in its own aging box, and Keens' steaks are similarly hand-picked and dry-aged on the premises.
The Strip House in Las Vegas, designed by David Rockwell, includes art noir photographs expertly shot by Studio Manasse in Vienna in the early 1900s.
Most of the entrees at these restaurants are steak, of course, but diners shouldn't skimp on the other courses. The iceberg wedges, bacon, creamed spinach, beefsteak tomato, oysters and shrimp cocktail, while sounding run-of-the-mill, are fresh and honed to perfection -- all part of an unforgettable repertoire.
The originals also have a flair for the past in decor, which tends to have a masculine swagger reminiscent of an exclusive saloon. The Palm features caricatures of the famous (and sometimes infamous) who have been regular patrons. Keens Steakhouse owns the largest collection of churchwarden pipes in the world. (Members of the Keens Steakhouse Pipe Club include Albert Einstein, Babe Ruth and Teddy Roosevelt.) Even more charming is the pay phone and cigarette machine at P.J. Clarke's -- where Johnny Mercer penned the song "One for My Baby" -- which are out of order and will likely remain that way forever. New York Gov. David Paterson apparently
secretly swore in Dick Ravitch as lieutenant governor at Peter Luger's.
So while there might not be such great variation among the menus of the classic steakhouses, they have created a delicious recipe for success.