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21 Club for Special Occasion-Review

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Hello 'hounds, this review is long overdue. I posted a request for input on where to go for a special occasion. I was considering 21, but I was worried because of the obvious possibilities of finding it to be touristy, past it's prime, tired, resting on it's glorious reputation from years past, etc. Not to mention how I'd find the food seeing as how there really isn't a chef. Well, I ended up choosing 21 anyway, mainly because I'd been wanting to try it for years. I guess I have a silly, romantic image of classic New York restaurants from back in the day that I just couldn't shake. Here's what happened: we made sure we'd be seated in the Bar Room, and got very dressed up. (They have a dress code so you're going to get dressed up anyway). Got a good table, soaked up the atmosphere. OMG -- Mad Men. This will never be duplicated. Awesome. The service was absolutely outstanding, very professional, very warm, very old school. The menu was very nice, lovely choices. Of course prices were high. Surprise, surprise, right? Checked out our fellow diners. I'd been concerned that we'd be surrounded by tourists, or (god forbid) old people, or deer-in-the-headlights bridge & tunnelers out for the Evening of The Yeeah! (ok, I'm old and I'm a tourist, so who am I to judge)? Anyway, was pleasantly surprised to note the crowd qualified in a general sense as what I would describe as beautiful people. The food was absolutely excellent. Helpful sommelier, fabulous wine, dover sole, lobster. And then after dinner, we were treated to a tour of the basement and shown how the hidden door worked, etc. etc. So cool, so 1920s, so prohibition. A definite highlight. Overall, the experience had that old school vibe, but not at the expense of good service or good food. I'm really glad we chose it for that special night. I hope this helps anyone with their planning!

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  1. Thanks for the report back. Sometimes it's fun to do touristy things :) I've been to 21 Club, didn't regret it.

    1. Thanks for the report. I'm glad to hear 21 Club still maintains a high standard of service and food.

      1. Thanks for your thoughtful review, OMB.

        It's a good reminder, too (I myself always seem to need the nudges), that one has to pay close attention in NYC to how transient *all* commercial establishments are. I've lost count of the number of places that have always appealed to me -"must get there soon ..."- only to wake up one morning to find they're gone.

        EDIT: e.g. (and begging your indulgence), a list of old classics, most of them still with us:

        21 Club
        Barbetta
        Bridge Café
        Bemelman’s Bar
        Café Edison
        Caffe Reggio
        Chez Napoleon (1960s)
        De Robertis
        Donohue's
        Delmonico’s (new incarnation)
        Ear Inn
        Ecco
        Eisenberg's Sandwich Shop
        El Quijote
        El Faro (CLOSED)
        Fine & Shapiro
        Gene's
        Gino's of Capri (CLOSED)
        Hop Kee
        Il Vagabondo
        John's (East Village)
        Junior's (in Brooklyn)
        Katz's Deli
        Keen's Chophouse
        La Bonbonniere
        La Grenouille
        Lanza's
        Le Veau D'or
        Landmark Tavern
        Le Petite Auberge (CLOSED)
        Lexington Candy Shop
        Manganaro's Grosseria
        Marchi's
        Minetta Tavern (new incarnation)
        Nom Wah Tea Parlor (new incarnation)
        Old Homestead
        Oyster Bar (Grand Central)
        P.J. Clarke's
        Palm (on Second Avenue)
        Patsy's (on West 56th)
        Pete's Tavern
        Peter Luger
        Sardi's
        Symposium (1969)
        Vivolo
        White Horse Tavern
        Wo Hop

        SOURCE: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/697307

        4 Replies
        1. re: Phil Ogelos

          Although access is restricted to members and their guests, I'd add the Harvard Club to that list.

          1. re: Elisa515

            though she didnt eat a full meal my wife was recently at a meeting at the harvard club and described the coffee as worse than what you might find sitting around a days in lobby . . .

            1. re: tex.s.toast

              I was writing about the dining room. Food and service and ambiance are wonderful there. Wish we could still afford to belong.

            2. re: Elisa515

              Once I was invited to their charity event and they had a peking duck station and it was the best duck I've ever tasted. I wish I had asked the carver where he was from.

          2. Perfect example of how preconceptions about "touristy" restaurants are usually wrong! There is a place for them alongside up and coming trendy places. Personally I love 21 as I love all the old-school New York places.