age when senators typically serve longer than restaurants,
the longevity of Kirker’s—it was opened in 1953 by Harry Kirker—is
astonishing. Susan and John Adams bought the restaurant from
Kirker almost 20 years ago, and have been guided by their
own experience (they owned the Trolley Restaurant on Central
Avenue) while keeping the menu and style intact.
room sports a look of rustic elegance. Nautical artwork decorates
the walls. Sturdy wooden tables, with crimson-backed chairs
or banquettes, get the elegant touch of white napkins. And
those tables and booths fill quickly, as I’ve seen during
a number of visits over the past several years.
you do get the annoying, “Hi, I’m ___ , and I’ll be your server”
spiel, they at least don’t perform the crouch-and-touch move
so popular at the chain steakhouses. (Some genius market-researched
this and determined that tips improve through such shenanigans.)
appetizers range from $6 plates of bruschetta or onion rings
to the $12 serving of grilled shrimp stuffed with horseradish
and wrapped in bacon. Twenty-six dollars gets you a platter
that includes the shrimp and bruschetta alongside crab cakes,
calamari and grilled portobello mushrooms.
those mushrooms (available separately for $8), which turns
out to be a plate of baby bellas wrapped in prosciutto and
topped with cheese, with an almost superfluous sprinkling
of roasted peppers as well.
of the day was made of chicken and rice, a classic, and it
tasted like a classic soup should taste: rich with flavor,
with large chunks of meat and some subtlety to the flavor
components. Contrast that with the French onion soup ($6),
where a big, beefy flavor shouts at you, complemented by cheese-department
relentlessness: as if Swiss, Parmesan and Romano aren’t enough,
here comes some mozzarella to thicken it.
of rolls hits the table once you’re settled in. We added a
$4 platter of garlic bread, which is topped with cheese and
served with a chopped tomato salad, letting you make your
own bruschetta-like munchies.
of soup or salad is offered with an entrée, and the salads
were commendably fresh, served with your choice of a standard-issue
offerings are very straightforward. Strip steak, cut from
Angus beef, is served in a 10- ($25) or 14-ounce ($29) cut.
Add blue cheese, melted on top, for a couple of extra bucks.
Broiled filet mignon is $25 (7 oz.) or $29 (10 oz.). More
economical cuts include Sliced Garlic Steak ($17), a marinated
cut basted with garlic butter and served over garlic toast.
the Delmonico steak ($20), a 12-oz. cut that gets a quick,
hot grilling (it’s a relatively thin slice) and carries all
the good flavor components of such preparation.
of the show, though, was prime rib. It’s a cut of meat that
frightens me, and my daughter instantly identified why (even
as she begged more and more of it from me). “It’s full of
fat,” she declared. “And it’s delicious.” The preferred term
is “well-marbled,” and, sure, that’s where the tenderness
lives and the flavors linger.
the 10-oz. English cut ($18) to a 16-oz. monster ($24), you’ll
get more than enough. The $20 12-oz. cut seemed promising,
but I could barely get through half of it, even with sharing.
the seafood was not intentional, especially given the more
than a dozen toothsome-sounding varieties. Salmon, scrod and
tuna are among the solos, with crab cakes, a shrimp- scallops-clams
combo called the Cape Codder, and even crab-stuffed tilapia
as inviting variations. They’re priced from $17 to $24—unless
you go for the $38 twin lobster tails.
of spring specials includes chicken cordon bleu, linguine
with white clam sauce, chicken carbonara and a shrimp sauté
over pasta, all $16 to $17. Sweet potato pork turned out to
be a meal of two thick chops topped with a sweet-potato purée
and apple glaze, with the components mixing very nicely into
a sweet but tangy finish.
of potatoes—fried, mashed, or a tasty serving of deep-fried,
cheese-topped baked potato chunks—and negligible vegetables
(overcooked string beans, in our case) finish the plate.
isn’t pretending to great food artistry here. It’s a throwback
to a time when we as a nation were frightened of more complicated
fare, and a steak dinner offered the zenith of satisfaction.
These days, it’s popular to dress up a steakhouse and artificially
inflate its pricing to convince Joe Prole that he’s buying
his way into the culinary upper class. But the steakhouse
milieu will always be solidly middlebrow.
not a thing wrong with that. So why shell out extra for veneer?
Kirker’s offers its good and satisfying food with no pretensions.
York’s state legislators weren’t tucking into such costly
steaks in downtown Albany, maybe they wouldn’t clamor for
the inflated salaries they enjoy. If you see one of them salivating
on the street, escort (it most likely will be a) him to Kirker’s.
But make it his treat. You paid for it already.