Back in the Borough: Dinner at The Monkey Bar

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You guys … The Monkey Bar. What can I say? I have officially found my favorite restaurant in Manhattan.

If you come to visit NYC, and you’d like to go a classic, old-timey New York restaurant (and you’re willing to dish out some dough) — this is the place for you.

Okay, so some history first. On the heals of the end of Prohibition, the Monkey Bar opened in 1936 on the ground floor of Hotel Elysee in Midtown (which was, at the time, one of the fanciest hotels in the city). It quickly became the go-to hangout for old-school New York celebrities like Tallulah Bankhead, as well as the place “a number of significant events” occurred (says the site) — like when Tennessee Williams mysteriously choked on an eye-dropper and died there.

Seriously. You can’t make this stuff up.

The bar was purchased in 2009 by Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter and his wife, along with hotelier Jeff Klein.

And the mural. Oh this mural, my friends. Created by illustrator Ed Sorel, the three-paneled mural runs along the entire length of the back wall of the restaurant, and then onto some adjoining walls as well. It features many significant figures from the Jazz Age, those same figures that used to call the Monkey Bar their favorite hang out. You can click on the mural link above in this paragraph and it’ll bring you through the entire mural and explain little histories about all those on it.

One of the many, many things I loved about this place was how it felt like two completely different places. The front entrance (reached from the street) has the feeling of a really fancy, old-school bar, with a real live piano player in the corner and a bar with monkey murals in the background.

But then move through the bar area to the back of the joint, and the actual restaurant area is much more subdued and romantic.

Plus — the monkeys! Monkeys, monkeys everywhere! And yet somehow — they managed to be tastefully done.

(I apologize in advance for the graininess of these photos. As I mentioned, it was quite dark, and since it was, you know, a somewhat classy joint, I was trying my best to be discreet with my photo taking. Chris may or may not have been mortified.)

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photo 6^^ I mean, look at this menu! So detailed!

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photo 8^^ The dessert menu was just as beautiful as the main one.

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photo 10^^ This mural guys. This mural.

photo 11^^I was convinced this was Marilyn Monroe. Chris said no.
Unfortunately he was right. (I hate when that happens.) It’s Mae West.

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And the food was not outdone by the ambiance. I ordered a seasonal cocktail (The Harvest Punch, with rum, mulled cider, cognac, lemon juice and nutmeg) and Chris had the Improved Whiskey Cocktail. He says his was fantastic (I don’t know anything about that … I don’t like those kinds of drinks), but I can tell you right now mine was. We ordered a crab cake appetizer to share (best damn crab cake I’ve ever had in my life), and I ordered the Saffron Risotto for dinner. Chris got the Colorado Lamb Rack. We both thought our meals were incredibly delicious.

Discussing the joint on our walk back to the subway afterwards we were trying to decide what to rank it. Neither one of us could come up with any negative things to say about it. Even our waiter was polite and quick and lovely. Nary a negative thing to say, people. Not one damn thing.

Great job, Monkey Bar! You will mostly certainly see us back here!

Bis bald, friends!

Back in the Borough: A Sophisticated Placed to Tea

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Meeting a friend for tea feels oh-so-sophisticated.

Hi friends,

So I was out with another friend this morning at Alice’s Tea Cup, and I thought I’d throw up a quick post about it. If you’re a lover of tea (which I am not, but luckily the coffee is just as yummy!) or you have kids, this is a really fun place.

There are three locations around the city, but we visited Chapter III, over on 81st St. between 3rd and 2nd Ave. There are really cute decorations, they serve the coffee in humongous mugs …

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And the scones are to die for …

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Pumpkin and vegan banana scones with whipped cream and blueberry sauce. What?!

I glanced over at some of the tables around us, and the tea comes served in cute little tea kettles, too. We met up around 9:30 and the place was pretty empty, but by the time we left around 11 it was bumping.

Anyway, just a more sophisticated suggestion should you ever happen to be in this beautiful city. (You know, since my last blog post was about beer and pretzels!)

Bis bald, friends!

Back in the Borough: A Little Bit of Munich Right Here in Manhattan

Hey ya’ll,

Just a super quick post here to let you know that last night a friend and I hit up Bierhaus in midtown, a very fun beer hall that bears an uncanny (if somewhat small) resemblance to the Hofbrau House in Munich. (Which I talk about here, and here.)

It’s essentially one huge beer hall, with live music (including a band that plays all the traditional German Oktoberfest songs), amazing pretzels and humongous beer mugs.

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What you get when you accidentally order the large beer instead of the medium.

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I see nothing wrong on this plate.

So if you’re ever in the area, and you need a little community beer drinking only the way Munich can do it, I would highly suggest hitting up this fun beer hall.

Bis bald, friends! Oh, and I just booked my tickets for D.C. next week. Wednesday through Sunday, five whole days with one of my best friends. The best.