Monday, June 25, 2012

Ladies Who Lunch: 21 Club NYC!

As a dyed-in-the-wool New Yorker, I generally try to avoid touristy establishments.  However, there are a few instances where the establishment draws a tourist crowd, yet it is still worthy of attention.  An interesting atmosphere, consistently good menu or even a long standing reputation can tip the scales in favor of one of these places.

One week ago, I found myself perusing locales for a celebratory dinner and had a hard time sorting through the high quality restaurants that are in abundance in New York.  Aside from having an interesting menu, my number one criteria was that the restaurant had to be memorable.  I wanted a place that was distinctively New York.  Even more specifically, old school New York, of which very few places still remain.  This line of thought led me to the 21 Club.

In the Hitchcock film Rear Window, Grace Kelly brings Jimmy Stewart take-out from the 21 Club, which watching it as a child burned the name into my consciousness and created an allure that has remained with me to this day.  So it was definitely the 21 Club for that special evening.

It had been at least two decades since the last time I had dined at the 21 Club, so I wasn’t sure if it would hold up to my memories.  We were seated in the downstairs dining room, a room where the ceiling is decorated with hanging sports helmets, model trucks and airplanes, adding a bit of whimsy to what is a rather formal atmosphere.

I began my meal with a chopped salad consisting of savoy cabbage, romaine, bell peppers, snow peas, zucchini, garbanzos with a white balsamic dressing.  My partner began with an appetizer of lump crab served on radicchio, with grape tomatoes, celery and lettuce.  Both appetizers were light and refreshing, setting the palate for the main course to come.

As a first time guest at 21, my partner had to try the 21 Burger, served with melted cheddar cheese, tomato, frisée, haricots verts and carmelized onions.  Skeptical that the burger could live up to its $32 price tag, he dug into his meal and proclaimed that it was most likely the best burger he had ever had and it was cooked to perfection.  He especially liked the bourbon ketchup sauce that they served as part of the condiments.  I would have to agree about the bourbon ketchup as I managed to swipe several fries and dipped them in the sauce.  Super tasty!

For my main course, I had the Vegetable Tasting, consisting of a portobello mushroom tower with a light cream sauce, stuffed red peppers and a vegetable quinoa.  The dish was delicious, scoring extra points for creativity.  I was also impressed with the vegetable quinoa, considering that most restaurants when offering a vegetarian item on the menu completely overlook the fact that some type of protein is needed in the meal.

We ended the meal with a Chocolate Griottine Torte that was divine! Regrettably, I was so taken with the smooth and decadent chocolate torte with brandied cherries and sour cream ice cream, that I completely forgot to take a picture until the plate was cleaned.  Despite having no photo, it is definitely etched into my memory.
The 21 Club lived up to its image and was the perfect place to create memories for our celebratory occasion.  As fewer and fewer of the old New York establishments remain, it is somehow comforting that the 21 Club is still there, still quality and still able to transport you back to a New York rich with history.


  1. I guess there's a reason why 21 Club is an oldie but goodie! What a fun treasure - I will have to remember that when I'm back home next :)

    1. Thanks for your comment! 21 is definitely on my list again for future nights out :)

  2. Replies
    1. Thank you for your comment! And was as delis as it looks :)