Former Broadway Hit Flops
Last Saturday night I had the opportunity to revisit Joe Allen’s, the iconic Broadway restaurant which opened in 1965 and the first Manhattan restaurant on West 46th Street at 8th Avenue at what ultimately became known as Restaurant Row, named for the more than one dozen restaurants to later open on this street in the heart of the Broadway district in Times Square.
As with most iconic restaurants in New York, it is a mixed bag of something old and something new, something borrowed and something blue. Although, with the exception of blueberries, if you are served any foods in the color blue family, you are well-advised to send it back to the kitchen! Fortunately, there were no blue foods served to us, although some of the dishes made us feel blue in their presentation and effrontery to our taste buds.
The restaurant is decorated in a mix of red brick walls and arches separating two dining room areas. The abundance of distressed brick creates a rather dank atmosphere reminiscent of another iconic site, the bowels of the Coliseum in Rome, but without the cham. The walls are adorned with what Joe Allen’s is also famous for, that is, posters of failed Broadway shows of the past 50 years. No joke! A restaurant struggling for relevance after 50 years has decorated it’s walls with nothing but posters from other failed Broadway district failures. I liken this irony to decorating Hillary Clinton’s office with posters of failed presidential candidates.
Now, onto our dining experience. We entered Joe Allen’s and were “greeted” (I use the term very loosely) by a Hostess whose personality and disposition was a poor fit for a job which comes in contact with people. Or even farm animals for that matter. She could have easily have been the love child of Don Rickles and Attila the Hun. Ms. Hun begrudgingly showed us to our table by a drafty kitchen door, where the piped in music was drowned out by overheard sounds from the kitchen such as, “Two coffees to Table 6!” Ah, a delight to the ears.
Soon, our waiter came to our table, introduced himself and asked if we had any questions. I informed him I would get back to him as soon as he brought us menus. I also asked for a glass of water to begin, but, after looking at said glass of water, realized I forgot to request a glass of water but NOT dishwater. The table itself was not clean, but had most likely received a quick wipe of a rag, most likely an historic rag dating back to the opening of the restaurant in 1965.
After reviewing the menus, I ordered the free-range glazed chicken, roasted cauliflower au gratin and their famous Joe Allen’s onion soup. After a wait longer than a World Series game with extra innings, our appetizer, the famous onion soup, arrived looking even more like the dishwater than the glass water I ordered earlier. The onion soup, surprisingly, was quite good. I think if they had added onions to the recipe it would have been even better.
Later, much later, our entrees arrived. The free range chicken was rather dry. Perhaps the poor little chick had become dehydrated while running around the free range for all of those years before it lost its life to fill my belly. It needn’t have done so. I relieved myself of Chicken Little’s remains within an hour of leaving the restaurant. The cauliflower side dish was the hit of the evening. It tasted very similar to cauliflower. I would have been able to identify its appearance in any police line-up in New York or vegetable aisle at any supermarket. Bravo, Joe Allen!
We skipped dessert as I felt I had already donated enough of my intestines to this publication. I needed all the stamina and energy I could muster to hail a cab in front of the establishment to the nearest emergency room. I correctly anticipated I would need my stomach pumped as the waiter placed the dishes on my table.
The waiter was kind enough to give us a gift certificate for a free dessert upon return to Joe Allen’s. I accepted it with the thought it mind that I would not use it myself, but recommend bestow it upon any member of the Trump administration. The only caveat in redeeming this coveted freebee was to add a review to Joe Allen’s Facebook and Yelp. I assured them I would gladly do so!
The next time you find yourself on 46th and 8th Avenue, please be sure to stop by and give the hostess my worst regards. Then, leave and check out the Gyro and Shish Kabob cart on the corner.
- No Kids
- No Disability
- Stand-up comedy enthusiast
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