The Meatpacking District is jam-packed with trendy, glamorous, buzzing restaurants featuring cuisines and décor from all over the world. It is difficult to elevate one restaurant above another due to the striking and special individuality that each restaurant in the neighborhood displays. It has been established, however, that one cannot visit the Meatpacking District without experiencing brunch and “Moules Frites au Pernod” at Pastis, devouring The Standard Grill’s Ranch Burger, and reveling in the fantasy palace setting of Spice Market (which once was a warehouse for storing meat). There is something extra magical about visiting a place with deep-rooted history, a place that stands the test of time. Consequently, The Old Homestead Steakhouse, on 9th Avenue and West 15th Street, deserves to be illuminated.
The Old Homestead Steakhouse, situated in the heart of the Meatpacking District, first opened its doors in 1868 – making it one of the longest running restaurants in New York City. Its original name was the Tidewater Trading post, which came about as a result of the waters of the Hudson River reaching up to its doors during high tide and because of the merchants who would feast there before setting sail. Harry Sherry, first employed as a dishwasher at the restaurant, bought it in 1937 and it has remained in the Sherry family ever since. Now operated by his grandsons, the restaurant is believed to have started the concept of a “doggie bag” as their Texas-size portions were too big for patrons to finish. The restaurant initially had only one dining room on the ground level and an entire sirloin steak dinner cost a mere eight cents.
Throughout the years the Old Homestead Steakhouse has continued to operate as a classic Gotham tradition steakhouse. It is however versatile and constantly adapts to the ever-changing culinary industry and thus maintains its status as a revolutionary, trendy restaurant. Since 1868 it has been a local favorite, especially attracting those with financial means – many Wall Street businessmen conveniently flock to the restaurant for a power lunch. The same sirloin steak dinner that at first cost eighty cents is now priced around sixty dollars. The Old Homestead Steakhouse is known for only serving the highest quality beef that is to this day hand-selected from their various butchers. Annabelle the Cow, a life-size bovine consisting of metal, plaster and a vinyl coating is an icon of the restaurant. It has been perched on the one-story marquee over the restaurant’s entrance since 1952 when a loyal customer and friend of the owner gave it to him as a special gift. Annabelle the Cow has appeared in many television shows such as Seinfeld and Law and Order – to name a few. In 2011 a multi-million dollar restoration was completed. The restaurant was expanded into three floors with elegant dining and private banquet facilities that maintain the steakhouse tradition. An outdoor café was also created for dining in the open air during spring and summer. Vintage photographs of the Old Homestead’s past and paintings of Annabelle the Cow can be seen throughout the restaurant. The third-generation of Sherry family continue to preserve the legacy of their grandfather and of the Old Homestead Steakhouse – a leading steak destination for celebrities, tourists and neighborhood locals. This restaurant truly stands the test of time.
YOU CAN’T VISIT THE MEATPACKING DISTRICT WITHOUT…
Experiencing brunch at Pastis
Pastis is a well-lit, energy filled French bistro on a corner of the Gansevoort plaza, in the heart of the Meatpacking District. It flourishes most during brunch time when one can choose to have a bite at the bar or sit outside and observe the passers-by whilst enjoying a ‘la vie en rose’ – one of their signature ‘cocktails au brunch’. It’s menu combines hearty Provençal dishes with a spread of cocktails and wines by the glass, carafe or bottle, and several varieties of pastis, an anise-flavored aperitif from the south of France. A few favorites include the Chicken Liver & Foie Gras Mousse, Seared Tuna Niçoise, and Moules Frites au Pernod.
Devouring The Standard Grill’s Ranch Burger
The Standard Grill, at the bottom of André Balazs’s Standard Hotel, has become a gathering spot for members of the fashion industry and beyond, and is a perfect launching point for a big night out in the city. The tables are covered in white checked cotton and topped with bowls of small radishes and paper bags filled with freshly baked bread. The chef has constructed a one-page “American Bistro” menu to suit a range of currently trendy tastes. The menu boasts pre-dinner wines and chic retro cocktails, oysters piled on ice from the raw bar or specialty cured meats and cheeses to kick start your meal. They serve truly American, reliably good food under which their excellent Ranch Burger made with a brisket-laden “La Frieda” blend is rare to beat and could only be outperformed by the shortbread cookie crusted banoffee desert.
Reveling in the fantasy palace setting of Spice Market
This trendy, airy two-level Southeast Asian restaurant offers a casual, sensual atmosphere in which to relish in the street cuisine of the region. One can choose to be seated in a special private dining room downstairs or accept the offer of delighting in family style dining where food comes continuously throughout the meal and is placed at the center of table for all to share. Dishes like chicken samosas with cilantro-infused yogurt and a vinegar-infused pork vindaloo are fine-tuned with regional fish sauces, curries and spices and instantaneously transport you to a Thai food stall or Vietnamese street market. Spice Market displays an interior of Eastern exotica- custom-made colonial furniture wrapped in white leather, juxtaposed wooden and porcelain garden stools, antique wall carvings and plush embroidered French curtains. The rich color patterns, mood-enhancing lighting, and upbeat music crafts an oriental cacoon – an escape from the characteristic neighborhood bustle.
Feasting on Serefina’s Northern Italian Cuisine
This Italian mini-chain situated in a landmark four-story townhouse is renowned for its delicious thin-crust pizzas, classic pastas and fresh salads. It’s morning till late night hours cater to the demands of young families and New York City trendsetters alike. The interior features walls covered with artist Michela Martello’s original hand painted artworks in a deconstructed graffiti style. Visitors feast on delicious Northern Italian cuisine including Serafina’s signature thin crust pizzas, delicious pastas, fresh salads and grilled fish and meats. Lively music sets an exciting mood while people unwind in a comfortable, casual environment.
It is interesting to see how many people solely sit down at an outside table of a restaurant in the neighborhood in order to observe the individuals around them and walking past them – this serves as an excellent example of Jacobs’s words: “People’s love of watching activity and other people is constantly evident in cities everywhere” (Jacobs, 1961). The restaurants additionally attract a wide variety of people – businessmen, locals and tourists from all over the world – that together create a rare, vibrant atmosphere, which is representative of the idea that “the more strangers the merrier” (Jacobs, 1961).
Time Out New York. “Press | The Old Homestead Steakhouse.” News release. The Old Homestead Steakhouse. Accessed November 12, 2013. http://www.theoldhomesteadsteakhouse.com/?q=press.
Paddock, Barry. “Don’t Have a Cow, but Old Homestead Steakhouse Is Sending Bovine Icon to Las Vegas for Awhile.” NY Daily News, December 7, 2011. Accessed November 12, 2013. http://www.nydailynews.com/news/don-old-homestead-steakhouse-sending-bovine-icon-las-vegas-awhile-article-1.988386.
PR Newswire Association LLC. “In Bad Economy, Steaks Just Keep Rising at Iconic Old Homestead.” PR Newswire, April 9, 2012. Accessed November 12, 2013. http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/in-bad-economy-steaks-just-keep-rising-at-iconic-old-homestead-146662085.html.