Bar Eats: Astor Room
What was once a private commissary to the historic Kaufman Astoria Studios has been recently transformed into the Astor Room, a traditional American supper club complete with long marble bar and baby grand piano. With a hint of imagination, it's easy to picture hobnobbing with the movie stars who once used to wander the halls, from Gary Grant to Woody Allen and everyone in between.
The menu merely adds to the allure, with dishes so classic they practically belong in the Smithsonian. For a night of bar dining, start with a martini and an order of Oysters Rockefeller ($8), a trio of Pine Island bivalves gently baked with a spinach gratinee and Pernod.
The fancy-sounding steak a l'Americaine of the early 20th century is now more widely known as Beef Tartare ($10), which is served at the Astor Room with a crispy poached egg, watercress, and truffle aioli. Break the yolk while the waiter is watching—we found the first edition of our dish to have an overcooked egg, which the restaurant promptly (and graciously) replaced.
Nothing accompanies beef quite like the Classic Wedge ($7), the iconic steakhouse salad. Astor Room tops its crunchy iceberg with crumbled blue cheese, shaved red onion, cherry tomatoes and a surprisingly addicting thousand island dressing. A garnish of deviled eggs completes the '60s look.
For a contemporary take on a familiar dish, go for the Cap'n Crunch Fried Shrimp ($8), two large butterflied shrimp battered in one of America's favorite breakfast cereals. The batter and the accompanying mango sauce was pleasantly sweet, though adding a bit of spicy heat to the sauce would have really balanced out the dish.
The blast from the past doesn't stop there. For a full dinner, tuck in the napkin and order up anything from Beef Wellington and Trout Amandine to Duck a l'Orange and Lobster Thermidor. Roger Sterling would have felt right at home.
About the author: Nancy Huang, who comes to New York by way of Los Angeles, writes The Wanderkind, a food and travel blog of adventures here and abroad. She loves noodles, subway maps, and word games.