On the menu: History

New Yorkers are used to seeing restaurants open and close in, well, a New York minute. But a few places have withstood the test of time. amNewYork takes a trip down memory lane, to check in at five of the city's most historic restaurants.

Delmonico’s
56 Beaver St.,212-509-1144
Dating back to 1837, Delmonico’s has been credited for inventing classic American dishes such as Eggs Benedict, Lobster Newburgh and Baked Alaska. These days, Delmonico’s serves many of these classic dishes to a mix of Wall Street dwellers and tourists. Although the menu and presentation seem a little dated, and the once-opulent room seems dusty and threadbare, service remains excellent.
Who’s dined there?
The Vanderbilts, The Whitneys, Charles Dickens, Nikola Tesla and Theodore Roosevelt
Why go?
To see how the rich and famous ate at the turn of the century
Try:
Chicken Ala Keene $28, Delmonico's Steak $44, and Baked Alaska $12

The Oak Room
10 Central Park South, 212-758-7777
The Oak Room opened in 1907 as a Gentleman’s Club. It officially re-emerged as a restaurant post-Prohibition in 1934. During the 1970s, the wood-paneled bar room was where New York’s glitzy set met up before heading to rooms at the Plaza for romantic trysts. These days, the restaurant features an updated menu from chef Eric Hara. The main dining room is still full of splendor. The wood-paneled bar room may looked a bit chipped, but it still carries the undercurrent of a wealthy reckless vibe that made the place so cool.
Who’s been there?
Everyone from Marilyn Manroe and Brigitte Bardot to Madonna and Morgan Freeman
Why go?
Located inside the Plaza, it’s still the best place to meet for romantic trysts and illicit affairs
Try:
Walt’s kingdom $20, a cocktail named after Mr. Disney, the Yellowtail Hamachi Mini Taco $16, and the Strip Steak $48

The Russian Tea Room
150 West 57th St., 212-581-7100
Opened in 1927 by former members of the Russian Imperial Ballet, The Russian Tea Room quickly became the hot hangout for artists, writers and entertainment industry moguls. Now, more than 80 years later, The Russian Tea Room still serves classic Russian fare such as Pelmeni, Chicken Kiev and Beef Stroganoff with a modern twist. Popular food forums reveal that the service is sometimes more post-War Soviet style than Czarist Russia. Diners can now buy souvenirs in the basement and have pictures taken by the wait staff.
Who’s been there?
The novelist Ayn Rand, and more recently, Johnny Depp and Katie Holmes.
Why go?
The sumptuous décor with its famous red banquette is a sight to behold. It is also one of the few places that still serve afternoon tea for $50.
Try:
Classic cocktails like Ivan the Terrible $16, then move on to Borscht $18 and Chicken Kiev $38.

Le Grenouille
3 East 52nd. St.,212-752-1495
While La Grenouille’s famous flower displays reportedly comes in at about $200,000 a year, owner Charles Masson assures us that it does not compare to what the restaurant spends on ingredients. Mr. Masson’s parents, Charles and Gisele, opened La Grenouille in 1962 to some pretty stiff competition from French haute cuisine spots such as Le Pavillion, La Cote Basque, La Caravelle and, later, Lutece. Almost half a century later, La Grenouille is the sole survivor. It never moved, never closed, never changed owners and never had a bad review.
Who’s been there?
According to Douglas McGrath in Vanity Fair? Every American president since Kennedy except George W. Bush.
Why go?
This is classic French haute cuisine at its best. Oh, did we mention gorgeous flowers?
Try:
The Pike Quenelles $22, the Frog Legs, $45, and the Dover Sole $47, and don’t miss the Grand Marnier Soufflé $17. Prices quoted are for lunch; dinner is a $95 three-course prix fixe.

Le Cirque
15 East 58th Street, 212-644-0202
Opened in 1974 by Sirio Maccioni, Le Cirque was the quintessential Upper East Side place for society dames. The restaurant trained mega-star chefs like Daniel Boulud and supposedly invented dishes such as Pasta Primavera and Crème Brulee. In its third location at the Bloomberg building, Le Cirque caters more to the financial crowd than to Upper East Side ladies. Chef Craig Hopson is now at the helm, with a more eclectic menu.
Who’s been there?
The Donald and Mayor Bloomberg have both been spotted at Le Cirque parties
Why go?
If you read the book and saw the HBO documentary on Sirio Maccioni, you have to try it.
Try:
The chef seasonal menu for $84. The Crème Brulee, $10, is a classic


 

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