This Week in New York Insider's Guide to Arts & Culture in New York City Since 2001

21Sep/19

DINNERLAB: DELMONICO’S — RESTAURANT HISTORY REMIXED

Delmonico’s

MOFAD celebrates historic Delmonico’s restaurant with a special program on September 24

MOFAD Lab
62 Bayard St., Brooklyn
Thursday, September 19, $125, 7:00
718-387-2845
www.mofad.org

We have a special affection for Delmonico’s; we got married there and have been back for several milestone anniversaries. Opened in 1837 by the Delmonico brothers, purveyors of fine coffee, chocolate, liquor, and cigars, the historic New York City eatery at the corner of Beaver and William Sts. gained fame for its Delmonico steak and the invention of eggs Benedict, baked Alaska, lobster Newburg, the wedge salad, and chicken a la Keene as well as for its chic and powerful clientele, from celebrities to politicians, including Jenny Lind, Mark Twain, and Lillian Russell to Theodore Roosevelt, Jacob A. Riis, and Nikola Tesla. In what may have been the first restaurant review in the New York Times, on January 1, 1859, an unnamed critic wrote, “Once let Delmonico have your order, and you are safe. You may repose in peace up to the very moment when you sit down with your guests. No nobleman of England — no Marquis of the ancienne nobless — was ever better served or waited on in greater style that you will be in a private room at Delmonico’s. The lights will be brilliant, the waiters will be curled and perfumed and gloved, the dishes will be strictly en règle and the wines will come with precision of clock-work that has been duly wound up. If you ‘pay your money like a gentleman,’ you will be fed like a gentleman, and no mistake.”

On September 24, the Museum of Food and Drink is celebrating the first fine-dining establishment in the nation with its latest DinnerLab presentation, “Delmonico’s — Restaurant History Remixed.” The program is being held at the MOFAD Lab on Bayard St. in Brooklyn and is hosted by radio personality, lifestyle expert, motivational speaker, and author Max Tucci, the grandson of Oscar Tucci, who owned Delmonico’s from 1926 to 1987. Executive chef Billy Oliva, MOFAD executive chef Eric Kwan, and mixologist and cocktail historian David Wondrich will offer tastings and drinks, including samplings of chicken a la Keene chip & dip, crispy eggs Benedict, XO oysters Jim Brady, “Ladies Only” Newberg iceberg, and iced Alaska Kakigōri; there will also be old photographs, menus, and other rare items on view. Fortunately, you won’t have to be as careful as diners were advised back in the day, as the NYT critic also noted, “If you make the ordinary mistakes of a untraveled man, and call for dishes in unusual progression, the waiter will perhaps sneer almost imperceptibly, but he will go no further, if you don’t try his feelings too harshly, or put your knife into your mouth.”

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