For the Perfect Combination of Old School Tradition and Classic Food Choices in Modern Times: “P.J. Clarke’s”
Since 1884 P.J. Clarke’s has been a Manhattan staple serving up their signature simple food for their celebrity as well as civilian clientele. I am, as of now, part of the latter working towards being apart of the former.
The first time I came upon a P.J. Clarke’s it was by accident. I was heading out towards Lincoln Center and it caught my eye. I was in the need for a place to eat before these kinds of outings that was fairly priced, had great food and many choices to choose from, also without a line out the door. Here the line is moving despite being incredibly crowded. Lucky for us diners the space is huge and operates on two full floors. Once your entire party has arrived there is usually no more than at fifteen-twenty minute wait. Any one of these criteria would be beneficial but to have it all is why it’s getting a dedication from me, here and now.
Though that first visit was some years ago my affinity for them has not changed. Despite the changing area it is now in. There are more bars and more restaurants to choose from but my decision never waivers. Apparently there are many like-minded people from all over that are seated around me.
On that first visit I ordered the roasted chicken dinner. It was one of the best chicken meals I have ever had. I eat quite a lot of chicken but preferably not off the bone. However the exception here is this moist, juicy flavor of a simple dish prepared with know-how.
For my second and third visits I went with a more popular meal, one that this establishment is known for. That would be their burger. There are only a handful of restaurants that have a dish that is so iconic that to order anything else would be foolish. This has no bearing of course on how tasty said dishes are. No matter how you order your burger or which one you choose you will end up with a happy, full stomach. I have had the sliders and more recently their wild mushroom cheddar burger. That was to die for! It looked like more than I could finish but turns out it went down no problem. To convey how truly delicious this burger was I have to mention that I didn’t eat a single fry until I was done with the burger! That has never happened to me, before or since. I am craving it right now so bad it actually hurts.
P.J. Clarke’s now has expanded into several locations in N.Y.C. as well as other U.S. cities and now even internationally. Talk about good word of mouth! Too bad they can’t ship their burgers.
During its long history celebrities have and continued to frequent this restaurant and especially the bar. Celebs like Frank Sinatra, Jackie O, Ted Kennedy, and Buddy Holly just to name a few. Literally, just a few. This place has the longest list of celebrity patrons (past, present, and probably future) that I have ever seen. There are way too many to list now but you should read up on it.
But of all of those who have loved P.J. Clarke’s besides me, there is one who is now nearer to my heart and that is Mr. Johnny Mercer. Before last year I had never heard of him. Since then I have traveled to his hometown of Savannah, Georgia (http://thequeenoff-ckingeverything.blogspot.com/2015/03/for-hard-hearted-hannah-vamp-of.html), I am now well acquainted. His former home, Mercer Williams, is legendary in those parts especially since the murder that took place there. For more on that you will have to read or watch “Midnight in the Garden or Good and Evil”. Both are well worth it I assure you.
Back to Mr. Mercer. It is known that he wrote the lyrics to “One for My Baby” on a napkin while sitting (and presumably drinking) at the bar. It is these kind of experiences that makes New York City a place that will never get old. It has the charm, arrogance, and tradition all its own.
Another little tidbit of information that all will enjoy, is that as soon as Dick Clark was done counting down the New Year on TV. the first thing he did was to return to P.J. Clarke’s for burger. I have heard it is important who you kiss first at midnight as it sets the tone for the entire year. Maybe it is even more important what your first meal of the New Year is. It is something I am now taking very seriously.
So this year when the calendar arrives on December 31st, I will be thinking of Dick Clark and also craving a burger from P.J. Clarke’s. A tradition I will continue to enjoy until my name is on the famous faces page.
For Much More Information:
For the Famous Faces of P.J. Clarke’s:
For More of My Burger Reviews (in Order of My Opinion after P.J. Clarke’s):