NYC — Spring 2017: Delmonico's

Tuesday, May 23, 2017
Once my friend and I had finalized our trip to NYC earlier this month, I texted my brother to meet up for a dinner. He was deciding on which restaurant to take us to when he asked if he had ever taken me to Delmonico's. I'd heard of Delmonico's a long time ago, mostly because it's a New York institution, but partially because when my brother first moved to NYC, he had said that it was there that he had the most epic steak of his life. Of course, he's had many epic steaks since, but Delmonico's will always hold a special place in his heart. Strangely enough, he'd never taken me there, despite this. We'd always get distracted by newer restaurants, or eateries that were closer to where we were staying. My brother said it was ridiculous that he had never taken me to Delmonico's after visiting him there for a decade, so it was decided.

Heirloom tomato salad and Billy's house-cured bacon

Delmonico steak with foie gras butter

If you've never heard of it, Delmonico's was first opened in the late 1820s in what is now New York's Financial District. In the 1830s, Delmonico's moved to the location where it still currently stands; with three stories, private dining rooms, and pillars imported from the ruins of Pompeii, it became America's first fine dining restaurant. It quickly gained a reputation as one of the nation's top fine dining establishments — they threw balls, hosted cotillions, and held dinners for the likes of Mark Twain, Charles Dickens, and Oscar Wilde. It is the birthplace of the widely imitated Delmonico steakEggs BenedictLobster NewbergBaked Alaska, and wedge salad; is credited with being the first American restaurant to allow patrons to order from a menu à la carte; and is the first restaurant to employ a separate wine list. So, basically, you're not just there to eat. You're there to experience fine dining history.

We started with the heirloom tomato salad, tossed with pickled red onion, feta, cucumber, and aged lemon vinegar — refreshing and tasty, with a most satisfying crunch. The sweetness of the tomatoes and cucumber meld brilliantly with the bite of red onion and the tanginess of feta. It's a salad that you can eat everyday and never get sick of. Of course, we had to contrast that with the house-cured bacon; thick, decadent slabs of maple-brushed pork belly. Smoky, sweet, fatty, and almost shamefully delicious. But on to the main show: the signature Delmonico steak. It is a boneless ribeye that is cooked to perfection: ultra-tender, super-juicy, and incredibly flavourful. And how do you make a $51 steak even more indulgent? Add some foie gras butter. I'm not usually a fan of foie gras, but in butter form on top of a perfectly cooked, exquisite cut of steak? It's like divine intervention. With sides of creamed spinach (which I still can't find anywhere in Toronto), whipped potatoes with roasted garlic, and button mushrooms with crispy shrimp, there was just no room for dessert. A bit of regret there, since you know, they invented Baked Alaska and all. But I will know better next time. Sometimes I forget just how insane the American portion size is. (In fact, none of us could even finish our steaks. My brother brought home so many leftovers, he had enough for another meal for him and his fiancée. Which they thoroughly enjoyed.) 

Service was impeccable, of course; our server was incredibly nice, informative, attentive, and had a sense of humour. Despite its elite reputation and historical prominence, it wasn't stuffy or pretentious or overly formal, and all of us really had a really enjoyable time. If you want a true, classic New York fine dining experience, Delmonico's is a must-visit. 

56 Beaver Street
New York, NY 10004
(212) 509-1144
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