Although eternally full, Minetta Tavern is no longer cool, or hip, or hot. Thank God. The fickle crowd is gone, replaced by discerning locals who love the dimly lit, lavishly upholstered vision of a Greenwich Village long passed. OK, so you’ll always find a proper A-lister tucked away on a corner banquette, but this place is all about laid-back discretion.
Keith McNally is one of the world’s great restaurateurs and while others may rave about Balthazar, or Augustine (which I also love), it’s here where he’s at his best. Formerly a tavern frequented by the old literary soaks of New York — Ernest Hemingway, Ezra Pound, Dylan Thomas and the rest — a slightly shabby, loosemoraled fug still permeates the air. The steak tartare is big and bosky, the steaks vast, buttery and expertly seared. Don’t miss the bone marrow, moules-frites and Black Label burger, too.
The legendary Arnold Rossman used to run the place, and still occasionally pops back. But this is where New York steak house meets Parisian brasserie deluxe.
It has the feel of a club, without the wankiness or waiting list. Lunch is fine, but it’s at dinner when Minetta truly seduces.