Have you been to the first fine-dining restaurant in the United States? Well, I have! I had been dying to try Delmonico’s for as long as I can remember. Delmonico’s originated in 1837 as a small pastry shop and went on to become America’s first fine-dining establishment with the French designation, “restaurant.” It ultimately became the crown jewel of New York City’s culinary scene. In my opinion anyone who calls themselves a New Yorker should have to be inducted into the city with a meal here.
Delmonico is the birthplace of the Delmonico Steak, a boneless ribeye that is probably the most desirable steak on the market. Delmonico’s is also responsible for numerous culinary classics like Lobster Newberg, Eggs Benedict, and Baked Alaska. Not only is Delmonico’s food incredible but it’s truly a historical site. The restaurant was the first to admit female diners, to use tablecloths and to feature a hamburger on the menu. The locale itself is designated as a landmark and is actually older than the most famous NYC landmarks like Central Park, The Statue of Liberty and The Brooklyn Bridge. Even Abraham Lincoln liked it here! How could you not want to eat here?
The dining room is warm, has gilded ceilings and plenty of mahogany. I took note of the fabulous murals that graced the walls, especially the one in the back. I asked my waiter about it and I was informed that it was made by a local Brooklyn artist and that it was a replica of a photograph from the 1940s with one exception, it features today’s owner. Brilliant. Delmonico’s is the perfect spot for a manly dinner out with the guys. Since I have a manly appetite though I designated myself as worthy to dine.
We started off with the iceberg salad, which sounds boring but came highly recommended—and we weren’t disappointed. The bacon bits were crispy and the bleu cheese dressing was to die for. We also shared a crab cake, which was fresh and extremely meaty with minimal mayonnaise—just how I like it.
For entrees my husband and I decided to split Delmonico’s two signature dishes: Lobster Newburg and a Delmonico steak. The lobster was succulent and was covered in a sauce of butter, cream, brandy, eggs and cayenne pepper. It was topped with caviar and a couple small pieces of fried bread. I loved this.
When I order steak I always order a filet mignon and I dunk every succulent piece in béarnaise but this marks a day in history because this steak did not need any accompaniment; it was perfect plain and medium rare. When the waiter employed me to try it plain I acquiesced but assumed that as soon as he left I would go back to my béarnaise ways—but I was wrong. I liked it even better on its own. It was perfectly charred on the outside yet tender on the inside. It was covered in crispy onion straws—my favorite!
For sides we split the crab macaroni and cheese and the creamed spinach. I thought the creamed spinach was the best I ever had! Macaroni and cheese isn’t my thing but my husband gobbled up the entire thing on his own if that tells you anything!
Then it was time for dessert. You must know that while I love desserts like cupcakes, cookies, etc., generally fancy desserts aren’t my thing—until now. We ordered the Baked Alaska, which is a masterpiece for the eyes and the tastebuds. It’s a generous chunk of walnut cake, surrounded by ice cream and then covered in a puffy meringue cloud that is perfectly torched. Baked Alaska is another of the restaurant’s original recipes. It was created by Delmonico’s French Chef, Charles Ranhofer to celebrate the United States’ purchase of Alaska from the Russians in 1867. How do you like that slice of history? I had heard this dessert was incredible but never understood why until now. Oh, I should also mention that I usually only eat desserts if they contain chocolate so if you know me at all you know this dessert had to be a standout to win me over!
On my way out, I rubbed the famous Pompeian pillars that flank the entrance of Delmonico’s. Wall Street financiers often can be seen rubbing these for luck. I figured, it couldn’t hurt, right? I wished would be back here sometime soon!
56 Beaver St., New York, NY 10004