Delmonico’s is the nation’s first white tablecloth restaurant, the first to allow groups of women to dine without men, and first to seat guests at their own separate tables. Opened in 1837, it is also the origin of classic American dishes such as Lobster Newburg, Eggs Benedict, and, of course, the boneless rib eye steak that bears its name. Dinner regulars once included Diamond Jim Brady and Mark Twain. While retaining its classic steakhouse décor with chandeliers, wainscoting, and walls adorned with genre paintings, the kitchen, under the direction of Executive Chef Bill Oliva, has modernized the classics and added new dishes with locally sourced ingredients, changing the menu four or five times a year.
An appetizer of hamachi tartar with radish slaw and seasonal melon has just enough heat to make your sinuses twitch. Delmonico Steak, of course, is the most popular dish at dinner (fish wins at lunchtime). You can have your steak prepared au poivre, Oscar (with sauce Bernaise) or as a surf-and-turf combination. There is a wonderful entrée of scallops prepared in a tangy black olive emulsion paired with spaghetti squash and spinach. Oliva recreated the famous Chicken a la Keene (later popularized as Chicken a la King) from a fricassee-like dish of chicken, peas, and noodles to a delicious and sophisticated entre of chicken confit served with truffle and porcini mushrooms on a bed of faro (a nutty wheat grain) topped with a globe of foie gras.
The Baked Alaska, created here in 1867 to honor the purchase of the Alaska territory, is today a dome of baked meringue atop an almond cake surrounded by little “bursts” of apricot preserves. Lunch and dinner Monday to Friday, 11:30 am to 10 pm; Saturday
5 to 10 pm; closed Sunday. -- Marian Betancourt