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Restaurant Row's Pre-Theater Dining, NYC

Restaurant Row's Pre-Theater Dining, NYC

On the quaint, tree-lined street that, since the early Seventies, has been known as Restaurant Row, you will find some of the best cafes, trendy bars and pubs as well as fine pre-theatre dining restaurants in the entire city.

Frankie and Johnnie's - Restaurant Row

A celebrated New York institution, Frankie and Johnnie's is no ordinary steakhouse. The atmosphere and menu have changed with the times to keep pace with the tastes of the city's foodies and night owls.

Yet, despite these changes, Frankie and Johnnie's still retains the character and offbeat charm that made the place an instant hit when they opened their doors as a speakeasy, back in 1926.

There's an interesting story behind the name. Legend has it that, to gain access to the speakeasy, patrons knocked on a nondescript, unmarked door and uttered the password "Frankie", as soon as a small peephole was opened.

If the party at the door "checked out" then the attendant simply replied "Johnnie" and you were good to go. That's all there was to it! Those two words unlocked the door to a world of glamour, flappers, dancing till sun-up and free-flowing bathtub booze.

Eventually, though, the rollicking good times came to an end. When Prohibition was repealed, the speakeasy closed down and was reinvented as a steakhouse.

But, the folks at Frankie and Johnnie's still know how to provide their patrons with a great night out. Now, though, it's all perfectly legal, but no less of a fun time.

If you're heading to the theatre for a matinee show, you just might want to look into their $30 lunch Pre-Fixe menu.

An unbeatable deal, this delectable menu gives you three unforgettable courses with multiple choices.

Appetizer temptations range from the market soup of the day, a Caesar salad and F & J's classic signature salad to a superb golden corn bisque that's made with crème Fraiche, grilled corn and chives.

Your main course options include broiled salmon, French chicken breast, a petite filet mignon with brandy peppercorn sauce and Baked three-cheese tortellini.

For dessert, choose,( if you can!), between warm apple strudel with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or mousse au chocolate and crème anglaise.

If you love a nice, juicy steak, then this is the place to get it! They have every savory and succulent cut imaginable, from sirloin, rib-eye and T-bone to a huge slab of porterhouse for two.

They also do a fantastic veal chop Parm and chicken Parm that is topped with melted mozzarella and tomato gravy that tastes as though it came straight from your Nonna's kitchen.

To assuage the guilt from indulging in this feast on a plate, both the huge chop and chicken Parm are served with a side of broccoli. Nonna and mom would approve.

Aside from creamed and sautéed spinach, sides include potatoes done up eight different ways.

 

restaurant row pre theater dining

 

You can get your spuds French fried, mashed, baked, Au Gratin style, Lyonaisse or cottage-fried. They even have potato pancakes.

Critics have acclaimed Frankie and Johnnie's as being the "longest running show on the Great White Way". And, they're not wrong. From the theatrical setting and aplomb of the servers, who know how to make their customers feel welcome, to the stunning presentation of the food on your plate, Frankie and Johnnie's is all about the show.

But, unlike some Broadway musicals that are long on glitz without much depth, there's a tremendous amount of substance here beneath the glitter. Frankie and Johnnie's will satiate all of your senses.

Location and Hours

320 West 46th Street
New York, N.Y. 10036
(212) 997-9494
www.frankieandjohnnies.com

Hours
Lunch: Tuesday through Saturday..............11:30 AM to 2:30 PM
Dinner: Tuesday through Saturday.............4:30 PM to 11:30 PM
Sunday...........................................4 PM to 9 PM

Swing 46 Jazz and Supper Club - Restaurant Row

Sometimes a night out on the town can get a bit more complicated than it has to.

When texting back and forth with your sweetheart or friends, it's easy to become caught up in the moment when you're trying to plan an evening that includes drinks, dinner and dancing.

You can get stressed out navigating all the reviews and information that's available on scores of nightclubs, lounges, bars and restaurants.

Really, who wants to map out an evening that consists of hopping on a subway or taking a cab to get from one place to another? After a long day at the office, that's not anyone's idea of fun.

Well, if you make a reservation at Swing 46, you won't have to worry about navigating your way all over the city. They've got everything you're looking for, all under one roof.

Swing 46 Jazz and Supper Club offers dining, dancing as well as great food and cocktails every night. Not to mention dance lessons, a swing DJ and live bands!

How much better can it get? We're glad you asked! To put the icing on the cake, as it were, Swing 46 has a daily happy hour, from 5 until 7 PM, with half-price drink specials at the bar.

The venue features music and dance styles from the fabulous swing era, a time when you couldn't keep your feet still if you tried, the moment that the band started playing.

You can lindy hop, jitterbug, waltz, foxtrot and freestyle to your heart's content. Dance like no one is watching. It's your time to shine.

If you haven't been out on a dance floor in a while, that's no problem. When the clock strikes nine, a professional instructor, from one of New York's leading dance studios, will show you just how it's done. You'll be stepping out like a pro in no time at all.

You'll dance to the music of seasoned professionals like the Stan Rubin orchestra with Joe Politi, Ron Sunshine and his Swing Dance band and Sarah Hayes' Swing Society.

Sunday through Thursday, you can enjoy live music from 8:30 PM until 11:30 PM. On Fridays and Saturdays, the band takes the stage between the hours of 9:30 PM till 1 AM.

Celebrating 18 years of keeping the sounds of swing alive and well in the Big Apple, Swing 46 has recently undergone a change of ownership.

Long-time employee and manager John Akhtar has taken the helm from the original owner Judith Lalor. Sharing a common vision and love of both Swing music and the hospitality industry, John and Judith are working together to make the Swing 46 experience exceed your expectations.

The food that comes out of the kitchen more than holds its' own with the music and ambiance.

Between the hours of 5 and 7 PM, they offer a $40 three-course Pre-Theater menu. This is ideal and ever so convenient if you have tickets to a show. Most theatres are within a few short blocks of Swing 46.

Appetizer selections include a salad of organic field greens that are dressed flavorful with a homemade sage vinaigrette. You will also relish the fresh mozzarella that comes with tomatoes and a balsamic glaze.

As far as enticing entrees go, there is a divine pasta primavera and a dish of rigatoni and shrimp in a scampi sauce, on the menu.

The Pre-Fixe also features both meat and fish options like a roasted half chicken, salmon filet and BBQ ribs with sweet potato fries.

The standout sweet ending is the warm chocolate brownie with fresh cream. Be forewarned, this dessert re-defines decadence. It might just be richer than the Rockefellers.

There are also a couple of items that are not on the pre-fixe menu but can be ordered a la carte and are certainly worthy of your attention.

The Swing Tri-Color salad is composed of arugula, endive and radicchio with walnuts and fresh strawberries in a house made blue cheese dressing.

At first glance, you might think that bacon and scallops make for strange bedfellows. but they go surprisingly well together and the horseradish-infused mashed potatoes make for an unusual but delicious side.

Swing 46 is the perfect excuse to put the TV remote away, get out of your apartment and find your groove.

Location and Hours

349 West 46th Street
New York, NY 10036
(212) 262-9554
www.swing46.com

Hours

Monday to Thursday...............5 PM to 11:30 PM
Friday and Saturday............... 5 PM to 1 AM
Sunday....................................5 PM to 11:30 PM

Joe Allen - Restaurant Row

Since opening its' doors in may of 1965, Joe Allen, one of the most popular spots on Restaurant Row, for pre or post theatre snacks and drinks, has celebrated the underdog on Broadway.

When Joe Allen first opened his namesake restaurant, he took a huge leap of faith. Some would say a gamble that was worthy of a Las Vegas or Atlantic City high roller.

Back in the sixties, Hell's Kitchen was not the safest or most scenic of places. But Joe had a sense that things were about to change for the better.

The restaurant, however, was immediately embraced by the young chorus kids and supporting players from the nearby Theater District. They could get an inexpensive meal at Joe Allen's, compared to the higher prices that most Mid-Town restaurants charge.

Joe was building a strong sense of community and word caught on fast.

The first year that Joe Allen existed, the cast of "Kelly" gave Joe a poster of their show, after it closed with just one performance. Since then, it's become something of a Broadway tradition for the cast and crew of shows that haven't been very well received on opening night to gather at Joe Allen, eat, drink and hope for the best!

And, every cast, from just about every show that has ever played on Broadway, continues the tradition of contributing a poster that is framed and hangs proudly on the restaurant's walls.

Back in the day, a hamburger cost only 75 cents at Joe Allen and the average ticket to a Broadway musical came in at an unbelievable $7.50.

While you won't see that kind of prices ever again, what hasn't changed is Joe Allen's commitment to providing a quality dining experience at a reasonable price. Far from becoming a tourist trap, Joe Allen still retains the feel of a neighborhood restaurant where each customer is celebrated.

 

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The ambiance is casual and informal. This is a place where you can unwind after a hectic day and enjoy the simple things that life has to offer like good company and delicious food.

Heading over to the Theater District for a 2 PM Saturday show? Make a day of it and treat yourself and your loved ones to brunch at Joe Allen.

You will find all of your brunch faves including steak and eggs, pancakes, eggs Benedict, yogurt parfaits and French toast. But this isn't any run of the mill French toast. Not by any means! This fluffy and tantalizing toast is stuffed with both Mascarpone and cream cheese and topped with cinnamon, candied walnuts and maple syrup. Can you say yum?

The kitchen's signature omelette consists of mushrooms, and cheddar cheese. It's served with home fries and a small arugula salad plus an English muffin.

Their Italian Frittata has something of a Greek flavor, as its ingredients include feta cheese, cauliflower and spinach.

A filling and savory non-traditional brunch item is the brisket sandwich. A mound of juicy brisket is topped with sauteed onions, Swiss cheese and horseradish mustard. The sandwich is served with fresh coleslaw and garlic potato chips.

If you would like to stop by for dinner, they've got some tasty dishes waiting for you like the grilled free-range chicken with mashed potatoes, NY strip steak in a red wine reduction and house-made Mafaldine sausage in a savory ragout with Parmesan cheese.

Mussels are on just about everyone's list of top ten dishes. If they are not on yours, try them Joe Allen style. Their sauteed Maine mussels are made with fennel, cream, shallots, Pernod and a hint of blue cheese.

In addition to a fine selection of wine and beer, the bar at Joe Allen features a delectable line-up of cocktails, ranging in price from $11 to $14.

Mimosas, Margaritas, a superb cosmopolitan, Aperol Spritz, French Martini and a spicy bloody Mary are all available for your drinking pleasure. So, find something to raise a glass to!

Location and Hours

326 West 46th Street
New York, N.Y. 10036
(212) 581-6464
www.joeallenrestaurant.com

Hours

Monday..............................12 PM to 11 PM
Tuesday..............................12 PM to 11:45 PM
Wednesday.........................11:30 AM to 11:45 PM
Thursday and Friday............12 PM to 11:45 PM
Saturday..............................11:30 AM to 11:45 PM
Sunday................................11:30 AM to 11 PM

Sushi Seki - Restaurant Row

"Never stop learning " is the philosophy of internationally acclaimed sushi chef Seki Shi, the owner and creative force behind Sushi Seki, a stylish restaurant that is carving out quite a reputation as one of Restaurant Row's rising stars.

Chef Seki's culinary journey began at a very young age in his mother's kitchen where he would work by her side perfecting the art of crispy rice and various other Japanese comfort dishes. The fire had been lit and Seki knew what he wanted to do with the rest of his life.

Upon graduating from high school, young Seki found work at the famed Tsukiji Market, where he developed his knowledge of fish. One of the largest markets of its' kind in the world, the venue also had a sushi restaurant on the premises.

Starting off as a dishwasher, Seki worked hard and quickly climbed the ladder at Tsukiji, advancing to head kitchen chef, all the while learning the techniques and culinary details that would form the foundation of his singular style at the sushi counter.

After a few years, Seki finally realized his dream and became a full-fledged sushi chef, going on to work in some of Tokyo's premier sushi spots.

Another of Seki's goals was to eventually move to New York and test his mettle on the ultra-competitive Manhattan sushi scene. Seki did so in 1991.

Within a decade of arriving, the chef opened his first NYC restaurant, Sushi Seki on the Upper East Side. This was followed, in 2014 by a location in Chelsea and then the opening of Sushi Seki on Restaurant Row.

To this day, the chef handpicks all of the seafood that goes into his sushi and traditional Japanese dishes.

 

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Whether Seki is in the kitchen cooking up some tempura or at the seven-seat sushi counter deftly slicing, dicing and hand-crafting a California or Toro and Scallion Roll, the chef is totally in his element. There's no place he would rather be.

World-class sushi and sashimi deserve veggies and other ingredients that are a cut above. You get all of that goodness and more in chef's Asparagus or spinach roll as well as rolls made with mixed pickles, Kanpyo squash and avocado.

There are over 25 seafood-based sushi selections on offer. You'll never get bored eating here. Not with options such as King salmon with sake, snow crab, sea urchin and giant clam available.

But, as fantastic as it is, this restaurant is about way more than just sushi.

Out of this world, appetizers range from Nasu Shigiyaki,(baked eggplant with miso paste), and Shumai,( steamed shrimp dumplings), to Tatsuta Age, (fried chicken thigh nuggets).

Signature salads include Snow peas and onions with a superb garlic soy dressing and Hijiki salad, which is made with cooked seaweed and veggies. And you won't be eating any ordinary seaweed. All dishes that use seaweed as an ingredient are made with Seki Blue, which is specially harvested, aromatic Nori seaweed.

In addition to a wide array of Udon and Soba noodle dishes, you can order Chicken or Salmon Teriyaki, fried shrimp and vegetable tempura or Yuzu Miso cod as an entree.

However, making a reservation for the restaurant's very special Omakase tasting menu is quite possibly the best way to experience chef Seki's talents.

Omakase means "from the heart" and when you sit at the counter and watch the master at work, you will have no doubt as to how passionate Seki Shi, and the sushi chefs he has trained, are about their work.

There is even a very affordable mini-Omakase chef's tasting menu available, priced at just $55 per person.

Unlike some restaurants, where you can be made to feel a bit rushed because the management wants to turn over the tables as quickly as possible, at Sushi Seki customers are made to feel as though they are honored guests in the owner's home.

Sushi and Japanese comfort food may be the stars of the show at Sushi Seki, but warm hospitality also shines brightly in the spotlight.

Location and Hours

365 West 46th Street
New York, N.Y. 10036
(212) 262-8880
www.sushiseki.com

Hours
Sunday..............................Closed
Monday.............................5 PM to 11 PM
Tuesday to Saturday.........5 PM to 12 AM

Barbetta - Restaurant Row

When it comes to splendid surroundings, old-world service and a delicious, innovative menu that never fails to enthral, few restaurants can compare to Barbetta.

Generations of discerning and hungry New Yorkers seem to agree. They have been flocking to Barbetta since it opened in 1906, decades before Restaurant Row came into being.

In a neighborhood that was not exactly known for its' diversity of cuisine, Barbetta was the first Italian restaurant and fine dining establishment to grace Hell's Kitchen.

A major reason for the resounding success of Barbetta has been the fact that it is a family owned and run a business. Founded by Sebastiano Maioglio, the restaurant has been in the more than capable hands of his daughter Laura for quite some time.

Laura regularly works with her chefs to update the menu, adding many delectable surprises and twists to a much-beloved menu that focuses on the elegant cuisine of the Piemonte' region in North-Western Italy.

Holding a degree in Art History, Laura has also painstakingly restored and redecorated each of the four townhouses that comprise the restaurant. Dating back to 1874 and 1884, these buildings house several large dining rooms as well as smaller drawing room-like spaces that are reserved for private parties.

No matter where you choose to dine, within these wonderful environs, you will be transported back to a palazzo in Turin during the heyday of the Royal House of Savoy. In fact, the chandelier that hangs in the main dining area actually comes from the Savoys' former Royal Palace in the Piedmontese capital!

Never one to keep still or rest on her laurels, Laura also redesigned the garden that is situated in the back of the adjoining brownstones. Italianate in nature, the garden has a large fountain as its' centrepiece as well as a variety of magnolia, wisteria, jasmine and oleander trees, a few of which have been around since before the restaurant opened.

Enclosed by walls, the garden exudes an enchanting charm, particularly when it is aglow at night.

When you dine at Barbetta, be prepared to put aside any preconceived notions that you may have of what constitutes Italian cuisine. The tasty but rather heavy, red sauce and cheese-laden rustic dishes that you have enjoyed countless times will not be on the menu here.

Instead, what you will delight in is a refined cuisine that focuses on lighter ingredients and sauces.

As anyone who has travelled to Piemonte' knows, Risotto is the signature dish of the region. At Barbetta, you can enjoy Risotto in so many tempting ways.

The Risotto Alle Erbe is made with extra virgin olive oil instead of butter. You can also order a dish of this flavorful rice made with either wild Porcini mushrooms or roasted red beets.

Another version blends both Camembert and Gorgonzola cheese with your Risotto. And, if you are celebrating a birthday or other special occasion, you might want to try the Rose' Champagne Risotto. The flavor is simply unbelievable.

If you really cannot decide which Risotto you wish to sample first, Laura and her chef have got your back. Barbetta recently introduced their Risotti Trio. Just choose three of their rice selections, sit back and allow the aroma and distinctive flavors to envelop you.

They do have a few, select pasta dishes here, the standout of which is the Tagliarini pasta with oven-roasted tomatoes and herbs. The menu also offers whole wheat pasta with meat sauce along with one or two other "secret" seasonings and linguine with pesto sauce.

Should you be out on a date, order the Bagna Cauda, a Piemontese country dish that's meant for sharing.

Farm-fresh vegetables are simmered inside a small pot in a sauce of anchovies and olive oil. Everyone at the table takes from the pot. When the veggies and anchovies are finished, it's time to tear off chunks of bread and sop up what's left of the sauce.

As far as the meat and fish courses go, aside from the roasted rabbit, in a white wine and lemon sauce, these dishes have less to do with the region of Piemonte' than with the global influences that Laura has gained from her travels.

The Maine Diver Scallops are capped with a crust of Yukon Gold potatoes and served with a lighter than air tomato sauce and baby Bok Choy.

A delectable piece of grilled Pacific swordfish is served over a bed of lentils and dressed with a Balsamic vinaigrette.

Roasted half chicken is probably on the menu of just about every restaurant in the city. More times than not, the chicken is prepared, more or less the same way, with a squeeze of lemon and basted in its' own jus. Not here, though.

Barbetta serves their chicken in an outrageous Pomegranate sauce. The fruit lends so much to the richness of flavor throughout this dish.

Please, leave as much room as you can for dessert. At Barbetta, you have entered dessert heaven. No kidding, their sweet endings menu contains no less than 18 different options! And, to add to the yummy factor, the pastry chef uses very little sugar in his creations.

Chocolate addicts can revel in their Espresso chocolate cake, an orange and bittersweet chocolate mousse or their signature chocolate sausage.

Fruit lovers also have a multitude of delectable reasons to rejoice! The menu features items like plum cake, a delightful lemon and pistachio tart as well as pears alla Piemontese that is baked in red wine.

Pana Cotta and an Amaretto infused Zabaglione cake are also well worthy of your attention.

When you ascend the steps that lead to Barbetta's grand reception foyer, you will instantly be closing the door to the noise and stress of the city. After all, it's not every day that one can dine like Royalty.

Location and Hours

321 West 46th Street
New York, N.Y. 10036
(212) 246-9171
www.barbettarestaurant.com

Hours

Monday to Sunday.........................12 PM to 12 AM

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