BY CAROLYN ONOFREY
The historic 21 Club had its grand opening on New Years Eve of 1930. Today, the 21 Club stands as a New York City institution reminding us of the grandeur of the time, which is still as relevant today as it was in the 1930s. My boyfriend and I dined at the 21 Club before a showing of the Pee Wee Herman Show on Broadway.
We were seated in the Bar Room, where the 21 Club’s famous collection of sport and corporate memorabilia is showcased, hung from the ceiling. The sommelier greeted us promptly with their wine list, a collection of nearly 1,300 vinos. He helped us find a bottle that would be to our liking; a Malbec for my boyfriend and one from the Rhone region in France for me, we requested that it be a good pairing with the 21 Club’s famous steak tartare that I knew in advance I would be ordering.
The $40 3 course, pre-theater prix-fixe menu we ordered was a steal, giving you a well rounded taste of what the 21 Club has to offer for the price of their “Speakeasy” Steak Tartare ($38).
The grilled calamari we ordered as an appetizer was light and fresh, when I finally realized the pickled cucumber was hidden under the lettuce leaf which cradled the nicely charred squid I was happy to discover it created a great pop of tangy flavor. The horseradish-crusted salmon and steak tartare were the next courses. Although prepared well and certainly tasty, the salmon was unmemorable. I couldn’t wait to dig in to the huge portion of the tartare, served with a side of rye toast. The tartare had a distinct horseradish taste and paired with the rye toast and mustard, I could have sworn I was digging in to a reuben sandwich. The wine suggested by the sommelier was the perfect accompaniment to each bite, making the wine even easier to sip.
Our dessert was a to-die-for milk chocolate tart. The smooth milk chocolate center melted in my mouth while the hint of toasted raspberry punctuated each bite just enough to keep the chocolate overload to a minimum. While we could have both easily gobbled up one each, sharing was what kept us wanting more instead of walking away with a stomach ache.
While the food at the 21 Club was certainly a pleasure to consume, the service is really what would keep me coming back. It was impeccable from the moment we walked in and were greeted by the maitre d’, to the waiter showing me the way to the restroom without even having to ask. We were treated like royalty.
*You can still celebrate New Year’s Eve (and the 21 Club’s 81st birthday party) at the 21 Club. For $175, start your night off with a 4 course prix-fixe feast and ring in the New Year with a champagne toast.