rip: ben benson’s

I couldn’t really say if Ben Benson’s was one of New York’s better steakhouses because funnily enough I’d never sampled one of their steaks but for my money they served the best crab cakes I’d ever tasted. Lump crab meat, onion, celery, Old Bay seasoning and a little egg to bind it all together. Somewhere between the size of a hamburger and a pancake they came seared and served two on a plate, unadorned save a wedge or two of lemon and a few flecks of parsley that always looked like an afterthought. They tasted like crab and the sea at the same time: sweet and briny. And although they cost a jaw-dropping $42, it always seemed like a bargain once I had the first forkful in front of my gob. Ben’s did a lemon pepper shrimp, too, with shellfish half the size of your fist. It, too, tasted as it was supposed to taste – like shrimp. Simple, to the point, without any pretensions or airs about it, I hate that I have to speak about the place in the past tense, yet after 30 years on West 52nd Street the restaurant was forced to close up shop in June when the landlord decided to treble the rent. I’m just glad I happened to be in town for one last meal before the inevitable curtain came down.

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