It's funny: when you watch old Sex and the City reruns, you realize how much New York City's culinary scene has changed in recent years. Carrie Bradshaw and her cohorts embodied neon-y bottle culture; they even brunched in a sea of uber-modern white spaces.
Yet these days, by contrast, old-things-new is the chicest aesthetic going. Some of New York City's most fashionable dining destinations -- such as the Waverly Inn, the Monkey Bar, and Minetta Tavern -- are refurbished, decades-old classics; each has been happily updated, but the preserved historical flourishes at these establishments is the main draw. Guests at the Monkey Bar drink champagne under the gaze of F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, Fred Astaire, and Dorothy Parker, all depicted in a massive old mural along with many other luminaries of yesteryear. The Waverly sports a cheery roaring fireplace; its main dining room is practically a Hobbit hole, with its low-hanging, heavy wood ceiling beams and rustic interior.
Pretentious nouveau haute cuisine has become passé as well, as divine classic dishes re-appear on menus across town. The Standard Grill sports Baked Alaska; I've spied Beef Wellington, Lobster Newberg, Oysters Rockefeller, and such at many elite eateries in recent months. Those delightful, rounded Champagne coup glasses are quietly replacing common Champagne flutes; new speakeasy-inspired bars have been cropping up across the city.
History has never been chicer or more palatable.
I am so inspired by this general trend that I've created the first of several special culinary- and entertaining-oriented editions of Let's Bring Back, my longstanding column celebrating forgotten objects, rituals, curiosities, and personae from bygone eras. Let's Bring Back has always been, at heart, a celebration of artful living throughout the ages. With this week's launch of the Huffington Post's new Food section, it seemed like the perfect time to raise a glass in honor of certain culinary delectables from the past.
Without further ado, Let's Bring Back ...
On November 1, 2010, Chronicle Books will release a book by Lesley M. M. Blume based on this popular column. 'Let's Bring Back' will be a sophisticated, stylish cultural encyclopedia, celebrating forgotten objects, pastimes, and personae from bygone eras. From sealing wax and quill pens to the Orient Express, fainting couches, and limericks, there is a great deal of ground to cover. Please make sure to visit previous installments of Let's Bring Back.
Follow Lesley M. M. Blume on Twitter: www.twitter.com/lesleymmblume