Restaurants & Bars


21 Club review: underwhelming but it serves a purpose


Restaurants & Bars 4

21 Club review: underwhelming but it serves a purpose

EatClerk | Mar 19, 2004 03:26 PM

I ate at the 21 Club last night for the first time. It will probably end up being my last time as well.

But let's start with something positive. This really is a great old-time NYC place. From the moment you see the jockey figurines decorating the outside of the restaurant, you know you are in for something quirky and special. Unfortunately, once you're in the door, you're immediately greeted by a stand selling 21 Club merchandise. Try to ignore that. The Bar Room is a great place to eat in many ways. It's decorated with an interesting assortment of toys (mostly transportation themed) and sports memorabilia which hang overhead. The room is dark and sort of intimate. You get a feeling of power. It's probably worth going to 21 once in your life just for the experience of the room.

The food isn't so great. I ordered some 21 classics. I started with the Caesar salad. I liked it, although, to tell the truth, I can't distinguish between most Caesar salads. No anchovies, if that matters to anyone. I didn't try any other appetizers.

For my entree, I had the 21 Burger, which now costs $29. It was really a lousy burger. It looked great, but it tasted more like a meatloaf sandwich than a burger. It was way overseasoned for a hamburger. I strongly recommend against. The french fries were lukewarm, so I sent them back. I had a late reservation, and it was quite obvious that the kitchen attempted to send out some old fries. This is inexcusable at a restaurant that charges $29 for a burger! The waiter returned with fries that were obviously newly made, but they still weren't great. They were exactly like those at McDonald's except they didn't tase as good. They kind of tasted like nothing.

I also tried the grilled sole that one of my companions had, which was tasty, but nothing I couldn't do at home and clearly not worth $45. The veggie side was quite tasty, however. I also had a bite of the sirloin, which was good. Not exceptional, but good. Also tried a bite of the steak Diane, a dish I had never tried before. It's served beaten flat and flambeed (sp?) tableside. I can't compare it to anything, but I liked it just fine. Also tasted the crushed fennel rack of lamb, which was a pretty piece of meat but was nearly tasteless.

For dessert, I had the cheesecake, which was tasty, but again not exceptional. I tried the chocolate souflee as well but was underwhelmed, although I usually am underwhelmed by that dish.

Overall, go once for the scene or skip it entirely. But you won't want to go twice.

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