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May 5, 2000 02:14 PM

All-time classic restaurants?

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Wait! Before you get mad, I've read the lengthy discussion that followed Melissa's probably earnest, if misguided, request for 'what's a good restaurant'-type of advice for out-of-towners.

I've also enjoyed quite a few of the 9 gazillion postings on this site, but they seem often to be focused on what's new. I certainly don't want to bore anyone, but I'm interested in what's not so new.

I would really enjoy hearing what chowhounds consider to be the classic spots. Russian Tea Room, 21, Le Cirque, etc come to mind. I'm talking about the restaurants that seem quintessentially New York to both people who live there and to people who read about it and visit from afar.

Thanks a lot.

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    Jessica Shatan

    Oh boy is this a can-o-worms. A pandora's box. Yikes.
    My 1st reaction to the restaurants you mention are: old.....washed up..... so much has happened since then!
    Union Square Cafe seems just as classic to me as the one's you mentioned. Or The Nice Restaurant in Chinatown.
    Le Cirque 2000 is what Le Cirque turned into and to me just seems like a spectacle. 21 is for the ladies who lunch and Truman Capote. Don't know much about the new RTR but doesn't sound good. I go to Firebird or the Russian Vodka Room instead.
    An old classic NY restaurant that still delivers (to my mind) might be Le Perigord, old world France, warm service, very lovely. Serious French food. Or The Terrace near Columbia University, with it's incredible architecture and dignified disposition.
    Why the interest in Old NY? I guess as a native NYer I don't really get it. NY is constantly reinventing itself... that I can't get a seat at PO for 1 month and it's this tiny (amazing) joint on Cornelia or that Gramercy Tavern has that tavern room is much more interesting to me than eating an $18 '21' burger with a bunch of social x-rays!!

    3 Replies
    1. re: Jessica Shatan

      The interest is sort of historical, a writing assignment. I'm from San Francisco, and I completely get it that these places that I've listed are not the places that one who lives there wants to eat at regularly, if ever. I appreciate the more interesting 'classic' suggestions.

      1. re: Erin C

        If you're looking old-old, Keen's Chophouse, McSorley's Tavern, Gage & Tollner (in Brooklyn), the Old Homestead and the Old Town Bar all opened in the 19th century, and all have something to recommend them besides pure historical value.

        1. re: Pepper

          I'd add Peter Luger's and the Four Seasons if you're looking for classic NY places that out-of-towners have heard about and locals still eat at.

    2. For me it's the Four Seasons. No contest.