April 20th marked a great day for women, as well as lovers of food and equality. In 1886, Delmonico’s in the Financial District of New York City took a stand against sexism by catering to female diners independently. While today it seems absurd that women had to be accompanied by a male escort in order to be served, at that time it was the societal norm, one that hadn’t been questioned before.
Delmonico’s chose to host the 1st women’s only luncheon organized by The Sorosis Club. This club was the first organization in America dedicated to raising women’s status. Since making that bold decision, this famed steakhouse has attained other societal and female-specific firsts, including first restaurant to employ a female cashier.
Recognized as America’s first fine dining restaurant, having opened over 175 years ago in 1837, Delmonico’s was also the first to use table clothes and actually be called by the French name, “restaurant.” At the time it held the largest private wine cellar in New York City and soon Delmonico’s transformed into the establishment that it is today. Moreover, its signature, the Delmonico Steak (more on that later), was developed and perfected.
To honor the ladies of The Sorosis Club, Delmonico’s debuted dishes from the original ladies luncheon menus on its spring menu. Dishes include the sea trout a la Meunière, which comes with a cucumber salad, and the asparagus Nouvelles, with hollandaise sauce and black truffle. I was thrilled to be invited to Delmonico’s celebration of its trailblazing anniversary.
We started off with the best piece of bacon I’ve ever had in my life — Billy’s (the chef) famed house-cured maple bacon. This chunk of delicious meat was the perfect balance of salty and sweet; I could have eaten a whole plate of it and called it a night. Next we were served Billy’s bacon and octopus starter, which incorporated charred peppers, aji amarillo, potato, and eggplant. I was unsure about the combo initially, and if I’m being honest, I was also a bit intimidated by the tentacles on my plate. However, the octopus was tender (not at all tough like other bites of octopus I’ve tried in the past) and paired well with the smoky sweetness of the bacon.
Our next courses were raw. We shared the tuna tartare and the wagyu beef, which both were plated beautifully. The tuna tartare was fresh and came with sliced cucumbers; while the wagyu came with a side of toast, sunchoke, chips, and a raw quail egg on top of the meat cube. The raw beef was amply flavorful and melted in my mouth.
As a fan of ribeye steak, I decided on the signature Delmonico steak as my main course. It was one of the best decisions of my life. This all-natural steak was broiled to perfection and seasoned just enough so that the true flavors of the quality steak were highlighted. Its a very indulgent, marbled piece of meat that lives up to the hype (and justifies the price), one that I would absolutely order again, without a second thought. Accompanying our steaks, were two tasty sides: the fantastic, gooey Delmonico potatoes, which has bacon, onion, crucolo, and a rich béchamel sauce and the creamed spinach.
Despite being stuffed, we ordered dessert, because realistically when have I ever passed on dessert? We shared the Tahitian vanilla crème brûlée, which had a decadent creaminess and came with berries and an orange syrup, as well as the fromage blanc verrine, which was also creamy and custard-like. The verrine came with a key lime crema, tart berry compote, and a crunchy citrus streusel. Both desserts were a nice combo of fresh and sweet flavors, and each had a nice, thick texture.