Donohue’s Steak House- Where Everybody Knows Your Name

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  • scene: Cheers for NYC; a long, dark wood bar, vinyl booths, old time servers
  • sip: A real cocktail- martini, old-fashioned...or beer, wine...Don't embarrass yourself by requesting anything to be muddled
  • savor: Cheeseburger; Turkey
  • sit: At the bar with your love for a low key, classic date night; with any picky relatives who are not into the "hustle and bustle of NYC and all its fancy food"
  • spend: $$
  • address: 845 Lexington Avenue (between 64th and 65th)
  • phone number: (212) 744-0938

Donohue’s Steak House is one of my favorite restaurants in NYC. It is old school and transporting, charming but not time-warped. It is a real no frills sort of joint, serving solid, no-nonsense food with a side of hospitality and local flavor. The best way to experience Donahue’s is to sidle up the dark wood bar and have the friendly bar man make you a martini while you read the menu. This might require some strategy and elbow maneuvering, because Donohue’s has a devoted following of regulars who are greeted by name and spend hours on the bar stools, chatting with the server, each other, and after a few drinks, even themselves. While its location of “Bloomingdale’s north” on Lexington between 64th and 65th might not seem so diverse, all sorts of local characters feel at home at Donohue’s, including the always dashing Matt Lauer and somebody’s grandma who likes her gin.

The “steakhouse” name is not a misnomer, and although the dishes at Donohue’s do not fall soley into slabs of meat territory, it is all hearty fare. There is a turkey situation that is like Thanksgiving on a plate, and there are soups, shrimp cocktail, London Broil, ham, you get the idea. The menu items could be straight out of the 1950’s, when Donohue’s first opened, and if it ain’t broke, why fix it? This is not the place to expect a dandelion salad with an emulsion of bullshit grown in the rooftop garden- a salad is iceberg lettuce, cherry tomatoes and some shredded carrots, and you will love every bite of it. Every thing is old-fashioned, down to the chalk-board containing daily specials like chicken francaise and different kinds of meat pies. The portions are filling but not grotesque, and everything tastes as it should, and probably as it has for the last 50 years. My favorite is the cheeseburger-a straight-forward beef patty, melted cheese, crisp iceberg, tomato and onion on a potato roll. Wide, crisp fries complete the plate and with a game on the TV at the bar, there is no better place to be, especially on winter nights. In a city where such a premium is placed on being the newest, hottest and most innovative, Donohue’s is a timeless classic that really stands out as something different.

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