|Donohue's Steak House on busy stretch of Lexington Avenue|
on New York's Upper East Side
|The bar scene as one enters Donohue's.|
It is advisable to get there early in order to stake out a bar stool
among this crowd of hard drinking regulars
Donohue's keeps 'em coming by serving stiff drinks and straightforward, classic American fare that hasn't changed all that much since the Donohue family first opened the restaurant's doors in 1950. The decor appears to date from then, too, with black, button-tufted vinyl upholstered booths, red table cloths, and black and white checkerboard floors. I understand the interior has been refreshed over the years, but the Donohues have kept it true to how it originally looked.
|Donohue's dining room, before the evening's rush.|
Note tufted vinyl booths and paper place mats on red table cloths
Donohue's wood paneled walls are hung with landscapes of the "painted by a real artist" variety, along with a framed newspaper clipping or two about the restaurant dating from when Robert F. Wagner, Jr., was the city's mayor.
Donohue's is one of the breed of old-school, old-style, authentic American restaurants that are particular favorites of Reggie's, whose ranks have been sadly depleted in recent years. It is cut from the same cloth as the late, lamented Gino's, which used to stand only a few blocks south of Donohue's on Lexington Avenue. I am happy to report, Dear Reader, that Donohue's appears to be going like gangbusters these days. I hope it remains popular and in business for many years to come.
|Donohue's chalkboard menu says it all:|
You can have it baked, roasted, sautéed, or broiled!
I first ate at Donohue's twenty five or so years ago, when I was taken there for dinner by my friends Preston and Digby, who lived (and still do) in the nearby Manhattan House apartment building. It was with Preston and Digby that Boy and I dined there the night when I took the photographs for this story.
|Chopped iceberg lettuce, cherry tomatoes, a|
few shavings of carrot, and a
dollop of creamy blue cheese dressing
(liberal application of black pepper suggested!)
I remember being delighted during my first visit to Donohue's to find myself transported back to the "I Love Lucy" era, which even at the time (it was the late 1980s when I first went there) seemed impossibly long ago to me. I loved it!
|Please note sliced carrot and curly parsley garnish|
accompanying Reggie's perfectly cooked prime sirloin steak
|The table's Holy Trinity of Heinz Ketchup,|
Lea & Perrins Worcestershire Sauce,
and A.1. Steak Sauce
Donohue's entrées come with the expected sides of mashed, fried, or baked potatoes, or white rice. You'd get a funny look if you asked for brown rice there. Reggie wouldn't be surprised to learn that the vegetables served at Donohue's arrived on the premises frozen. Mind you, Reggie is not complaining—he likes frozen peas!
|The view of Donohue's dining room, looking towards|
the front of the restaurant and bar
Part of the fun of going to Donohue's (as it is for any restaurant, for that matter) is the people watching. As I mentioned before, Donohue's is popular destination for many who live in its UES neighborhood, any number of which have been regulars there for many years, and some of whom may even remember the restaurant from shortly after it opened. It is not unusual to see several canes hanging among the coats there. But not everyone sitting in Donohue's booths is a card-carrying member of AARP, Dear Reader, for the restaurant is a favorite of patrons under forty, too, who—like Reggie did when he was that age—appreciate the restaurant's strong drinks, hearty, reasonably-priced food, and "other era" charm. Our friends Courtney and Lowell, who are probably one of the hippest young couples we know, are fans of Donohue's.
|Leaving Donohue's, one is delighted by the multi-colored fairy lights|
that decorate the bar area of the restaurant
One needn't be budget-minded to appreciate Donohue's, though. I once saw David Rockefeller, who lives around the corner, eating dinner there one night. And our friends Preston and Digby told us they had once seen Kitty Carlisle Hart dining there with Elinor Gordon, the subject of an earlier post of mine. I once sat in the next booth to a young man who was at the time much in the news for having allegedly violated securities laws, and who was packed off to prison for it shortly thereafter!
|A lingering last look back through Donohue's window. |
Reggie rather loves the venetian blinds and the
DINING ROOM IN REAR painted on it
While Reggie is not what one would call a regular at Donohue's, he is always happy to find himself there dining with friends, and he always leaves it satisfied—liquored-up, contentedly full, and ready to totter off to bed. For those among his readers who appreciate the pleasures of such old-school dining establishments, Reggie highly recommends it.
Please note, Reggie has received nothing in return for writing this review nor does he expect to in the future. He is writing it solely for the pleasure of his readers, which is why he writes this blog in the first place.
All photographs by Reggie Darling