Christy’s Still Shines as the Original Steakhouse of Coral Gables
There was a time when, if you wanted to conduct a serious business meeting in Coral Gables, it would be over lunch at Christy’s. Here you could order a cocktail and prime rib, like an executive from the television series “Mad Men.”
Christy’s no longer serves lunch, except on Fridays. But on all nights of the week, it continues to deliver the same experience it did when it opened four decades ago: the fare and ambiance of an old-fashioned steakhouse, when men were men, steaks were thick, and martinis were strong and ice cold.
The décor alone is a dead-on retro rendition of what you imagine a traditional steakhouse should look like: Tuscan red walls, dark wood finishes, and candle lamps on the walls and the tables. Various paintings (tropical stills, primitives, Cubist) adorn two main dining areas. There is also a separate bar, warm and elegant with polished mahogany, and a private dining room. Throughout the restaurant, one thing Christy’s has done perfectly is the lighting: soft and intimate, yet not too dim to read the menu.
Christy’s does a few other things perfectly, as well. One of these is their Caesar Salad, still served the old way with anchovies (though you can ask them to go without). The dressing is so spot on (and proprietary) that customers come by just to order containers of it, to go. It is also a dry Caesar, with plenty of freshly grated parmesan and housemade croutons. You will not find a tastier version of this crunchy, garlicky classic salad anywhere, expect maybe in a time machine back to Delmonico’s heydays in New York.
The restaurant also prides itself on its shrimp cocktails, with each shrimp the size of a small lobster. An order of these for a table of four ($28) means one giant crustacean per person, hanging from a margarita glass of tangy cocktail sauce. Cold and savory. They also do a mean escargot and an exceptional oysters Rockefeller, with that same flavorful parmesan cheese, but the other standby – and stand- out – classic is their lump meat crab cake.
The list of entrees is not overly extensive, which is the way we like it. Keep it simple, damn it. We sampled the roast duck (crisp edged with a pomegranate glaze, just right) and a light, flaky herb-crusted sea bass, just to make sure they were delivering quality outside of the beef spectrum. We also ordered some excellent sides, including a plate of plump Crimini mushrooms sautéed in garlic butter with herbs, and a potatoes au gratin prepared like lasagna – thin sliced layers of the spud with gruyère cheese between.
But let’s face it. You’re here for the steaks, and Christy’s does not disappoint. They have changed their supplier of beef only once in four decades (about 15 years ago) and the quality of the cuts shows it. If you are lucky enough to get there in time, you can order the succulent prime rib of beef, roasted for two hours and served with horseradish sauce, housemade in the same old school fashion way as their Caesar dressing. Mouth wateringly good.
Outside of that it’s just a classic spread of prime cuts: rib eye, New York strip, filet mignon and, bending just a bit to the times, a 32-ounce tomahawk you could use as a caveman’s club. We tried the tomahawk (fit for two) and it was impeccable – crusty, salty and intensely flavorful on the flame-seared outside, but pink and tasty on the inside. We also tried the filet mignon. Like butter, as my Aunt Sophie would say.
Just when we thought we had reached gustatory nirvana, the dessert suggested by our waiter Christian took us to a new level: bread pudding with white chocolate and caramel sauce. Warm and chewy and delicious, worthy of loosening your belt another notch.
We also liked Christy’s ambiance of continuity and stability. This is where your grandparents would have had a great steak, in a surrounding that felt as safe and solid as a private club. The old guard that once dined here may have passed, but Christy’s is still very much part of the social fabric of the community. As long as it thrives, the Old Gables lives on.
3101 Ponce de Leon Blvd. 305.446.1400
Mon-Thu 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Friday 12 p.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Closed Sunday