| 13 Aug 2014 | 01:25

    Steakhouses long ago earned a very special place in the hearts of New Yorkers, and the way new ones are appearing practically every week, that love shows no signs of waning. In July 2005, Ben & Jack?s Steakhouse arrived in its enviable location just a block-and-a-half from Grand Central Station. But the restaurant feels as if it?s been in our midst for decades. Owned and operated with palpable pride by four brothers, Harry, Ben, Russ, and Jack Sinanaj, the restaurant definitely has a familial feeling, partly because nearly the entire staff has been with the restaurant since it opened. The place is big?seating 250?and so bustling you?d never know we?re teetering on the edge of a major recession. But that?s because people obviously know they?re going to get their money?s worth at Ben & Jack?s. As in most steakhouses, the dining areas are overwhelmingly masculine?even butch?and so is the clientele, though we noticed that the women present were certainly comfortable. The main dining room past the enormous dark oak bar is all about thick crimson carpeting and wood and enormous mirrors that make the room seem even larger. There?s a glow to the lighting that flatters you and the food. Several private dining rooms are outfitted with frosted glass to guarantee that privacy. Great steakhouses are also all about excess, and Ben & Jack?s is certainly no exception. Even the cocktails are enormous. Blue Point oysters are scrupulously clean and fat and sassy (thank God we?re back in oyster season?yet another reason to love autumn in New York). And littleneck clams are particularly succulent. A rather unusual appetizer is Canadian bacon for $2.95 per slice. What is served isn?t what I grew up eating as Canadian bacon, those lean and hammy round slices, but rather a nice fat slice of pork belly. Maryland crab cake is 100 percent tender crabmeat, offered with a smoky paprika sauce. The steaks are all watchfully aged in-house, in custom-made aging boxes. A pudgy filet mignon benefits in flavor from that aging, and it?s spoon-tender as well. The unutterably?and unusually?tender ribeye steak is certainly enough for four?it?s the size of your entire head. You could gnaw happily on this chop for weeks. The meat is conspicuously well marbled throughout, resulting in deep flavors. And fortunately, the kitchen understands that meat this good doesn?t need a lot of seasoning. Steak fries are finger-thick and very lightly seasoned so that all their russetness comes through cleanly. I have a serious weakness for creamed spinach, as regular readers may have noticed. Ben & Jack?s gets it just right. There?s no visible sign of cream, but creamy it is, and emerald green. The spinach more thoroughly pureed than usual, with a delightful mouth feel. A big bowl of schlag (thick whipped cream) is brought with desserts, to tempt you shamelessly. The hot fudge sundae is indeed hot and fudgy, finished with a pecan on top. Pecan pie is also piping hot, thick, and wonderfully rich with a delightful salty/sweet counterpoint. We waddled happily off into the frigid night, bearing enough doggy bags to feed us both?and our doggy?another entire meal. -- Ben & Jack?s Steakhouse 219 E. 44th St. Between Second and Third avenues 212-682-5678 -- [tom@hugeflavors.com](mailto: tom@hugeflavors.com)