|The restaurant at Astor's swanky St. Regis Hotel, c. 1905|
"God! The restaurants!
New York has become the Florence of the Sixteenth Century.
Genius on every corner."
-Six Degrees of Separation
"No city in the world is better supplied with restaurants and eating-houses of every kind than New York." This observation in the 1896 edition of Rand McNally and Co's Handy Guide to New York City, Brooklyn, Staten Island, and Other Suburbs is true today. The city's reputation as a food lover's paradise is well earned. From street food to fine dining, the available fare reflects the very city itself in its diversity and energy.
|Delmonico's New York|
Throughout the city's history, the fanciest of restaurants have perhaps most captivated people's imaginations. The world-renowned Delmonico's, which first opened as a pastry shop in 1827, grew into a powerhouse eatery for the rich and powerful, and later boasted ten locations throughout the city. "To dine at Delmonico's," wrote New York Tribune writer George Foster, "two things are requisite: money and French" (New York in Slices, 1850).
The tradition of catering to the palettes of the elite was perhaps first established with Delmonico's fancy menus and tiptop service that drew wealthy customers into its doors throughout the 19th century.
Status conscious New Yorkers loved anything that granted patrons the air of high culture, and French cooking and service were pure bliss for diners who dreamed of being counted among New York's famous "400."
|Ritz-Carlton Hotel, NYC, Rooftop Restaurant, 1918|
|In the Kitchen at Elaine's: Andy Warhol with Elaine Kaufman, 1976, photo by Jonathan Becker|
|Snob restaurants, NYC: Everyone's a critic|
|A most unusual NY dining experience?: cooking in the kitchen, with Will Smith|
|Sirio Maccioni and Sons, 1986|
|Dinner Rush, Behind the Lines: In a TriBeCa kitchen|
|Chef DiSpirito made his name at Union Pacific before becoming a TV star|
Keller, of French Laundry fame, offers a $295 prix fixe dining experience (there is a menu, of course, but the website refers to a "menu approach"), and now diners can make their own reality TV show by filming their own food experience at Per Se: watch one diner's review.
The search for the perfect meal has taken many to Brooklyn, where, at the Chef's Table at Brooklyn Fare, only 18 lucky diners per service are allowed to sit at a counter as 20+ tiny plates of food are served--all for $225 per person (wine and service not included).
|Modern Day Lunch Counter: Diners at Brooklyn Fare|