It started off as a shockingly violent Bret Easton Ellis novel before becoming the starring role that launched Christian Bale’s career. And tonight, American Psycho the musical debuts on Broadway. While some of the scenes were certainly squeamish, both the movie and the book also contained some of the craziest restaurant trends of the 80’s. And many of these joints actually existed–at least they used to, at the time. A couple years back, I took a flavourtown roadtrip to one of the few that’s still standing: Smith & Wollensky.
(Originally written July 31, 2013)
Not all the restaurants name-dropped in the Bret Easton Ellis novel (and subsequent cult classic film) American Psycho actually existed. There was no Dorsia in New York City circa 1987–some guy from Godsmack or something tried to open one 20 years later, but it didn’t catch on. (You can’t even find it on the internet anymore; ditto the short-lived Dorsia in London.) On the other hand, many of the real restaurants referenced in the book/movie have since closed down–hey, 25 years is a long-ass time in the restaurant biz! There are, however, a handful of NYC institutions (as documented here) from that era that are still going strong today–although something tells me Gorbachev’s not at ENK-NYC. 😉
Alas, when I found out that the hotel I was staying in last weekend was just a few blocks from the legendary Smith & Wollensky steakhouse, I knew I had to go there for lunch. If Detective Kimball asks, I had a shower… and some sorbet.
Now, because I didn’t think I could get a table at the main steakhouse in a Weed Metal trucker hat and a t-shirt depicting a Satanic goat throwing the horns, I took the side entrance to Wollensky’s Grill, which is meant to be more down-market, relatively speaking. They’re even open until 2 am, but when I got there around noon on a Sunday, the place was Texarkana empty. There was just one guy in the corner enjoying a salad, and no one else but the wait staff until an elderly couple came in right before I left. I guess no one eats a business lunch on Sunday, eh?
But while the battered bartop had seen better days, the shelves behind it well certainly well stocked. Put it this way: the place didn’t have J&B or a Corona, but I doubt they were out of Finlandia. In any case, I ordered the house beer, Wollensky’s Irish Ale, which happens to be brewed by Rogue Ales. It might not have been brewed with bacon, but it was still quite tasty.
As for the main, I ordered the notorious Wollensky Burger, with blue cheese topping and a side of fries served in a miniature chef hat. The burger itself was $17.50, while the white-suited barkeep may or may not have comped me for the fries–the card-sized menu makes no mention whether they come with the sandwich. (In any case, I left him a receptacle, erm, respectable tip.) And hey, that might seem like a lot of bread for a sandwich, but believe me, you get a whole lotta burger for $17.50:
The beef, besides being bountiful, was also very juicy and tender. The blue cheese–an optional topping, which didn’t cost extra–added a nice tangy bite, along with the pickles, and crisp lettuce, onion and tomato were piled on top for good measure. Let’s just say you need two hands to eat this thing, but you’ll wanna keep one free for the fries, which were served hot and fresh. I never have enough ketchup when they put it in those little dishes, but that’s a very minor, erm, beef.
Bottom line, this might be the best burger in NYC–and hey, I’ve actually had a couple. Just try not to look shocked when you get the bill; I assure you, it certainly wasn’t cheap. 😉