Wine X Staff
Life in Manhattan ain’t cheap. Those of you who live there, man, I don’t know how you do it. I’m not sure what’s worse: the prices or the fact there are so many delicious and interesting things to spend your money on. Walk down just about any street and you’ll find storefront after storefront that beckons your senses.
It has been told to me more than once that it takes two or three visits to NYC to get your bearings. Think: Sensory overload meets expansiveness – in a way that no travel pub can possibly prepare you for. My first visit was about survival, Naked & Afraid style. It was on my follow up visits that simple strolls in one direction or another revealed one familiar piece of pop culture after another. A little more confidence allowed me to take more in. When you do that, what you’ll see that the modern American narrative was written with Manhattan as its backdrop.
If you dig going old school, let me tell you about date night, OG style.
What is “touristy date night” in Manhattan? Come on, let’s all say this together. 1…2….3: Dinner & the Theater. Duh. You don’t even have to like the live arts to enjoy Broadway. No matter the year, there are always a series of shows that appeal to EVERYONE. I’m Serious…… Not sure where to start? Just go watch Phantom or Chicago. You won’t be disappointed. And of course, plan a bite before.
Yeah, that second part isn’t super hard, but a little advance planning helps. Most shows on and off-Broadway start 8p sharp with no late entry. It’s also worth noting that life smiles on those that dine within walking distance because traffic slows to a near crawl as showtime starts. While there are a number of famous restaurants that cater to theaters goers, a reservation really helps. REALLY helps. Just for giggles, go to Open Table now and search for reso’s at Carmine’s tonight. You’ll see stuff before 5p and after 7p….. But the magical 6p-6:30p window that will get you to your seats in time is POOF. Do not… I repeat, DO NOT test the gods of time by sitting down at 7p or after…. Unless you’re doing pizza by the slice, and even then, that might be standing up….or outside on the sidewalk.
Life rewards the flexible and so its not out of the question that you can go prospect for an open table. Be willing to walk past a lot of booked places though. It’s all good though.
So speaking of OpenTable, I patted myself on the back for three straight days after scoring seats at one of Manhattan’s most famous restaurants: 21 Club. The OG-yist of the OG. More about 21 in a moment. But first: Did you know that there is a 21 in England? Newcastle-on-Tyne, England to be specific. Go search OpenTable for 21 & Manhattan and you’ll find it. It comes up first. Thanks, OpenTable…yeah, you guessed it, my precious reso’s were NOT around the corner at my bucket list restaurant but instead exactly 3.329 miles away,
I know machine learning and robots are going to rule the world one day, but it ain’t happening yet. Know what I mean?
Sooooo 5:45 in Time Square, 8p Jersey Boys tickets in my hands, and now checking out the street vendor hot dogs as my dinner fall back. We walked a block or two just to see if there was anything that looked both good and open. Notsomuch……but sometimes you get lucky….I did the wholly un-male thing…..I called 21… And after apologizing upfront for the stupid question, I was A-MAZE-ED to find out they could get us in….. I’m not normally this lucky, not sure what to say other than….ILL TAKE IT!
21 Club has been a Manhattan mainstay for nearly 90 years. First as a speakeasy, and then later as a restaurant and legit bar. Over the years, the restaurant has become the favorite haunt of U.S. Presidents, CEO’s, movie stars, and sports celebs. When you go, ask your host whose table you’re at. Our table was jointly owned” by John McEnroe and an airline CEO. Often, above each table are toys once owned by a VIP, but today hovering over a favored table as if it is animistically marking space.
21 plays its theater role marvelously, offering a well time-managed experience and dinner option that include a prix fixe menu that is guaranteed to get you fed, smiling, and out-the-door on time. Paired with a well-curated by-the-glass wine list and a larger marvelous roster of bottles. We got in & out in under $200 including gratuity. That’s not cheap, but it’s surprising reasonable for the experience.
As an aside, Jersey Boys, it strikes me, is like the story of Bon Jovi but set some thirty years earlier. I can see it now, “Livin on a Prayer” opening gon Broadway in 2032. J/K. I had not previously seen the Jersey Boys movie or the traveling production and so it was all new to me. Loved it. Go. Do not delay!
OG Broadway night out gets a XXX rating. No doubt. Add it to your bucket list, thank us later.
Lesson learned – Don’t be bashful. Make the call. Sometimes you strike gold.