Sometimes you just want to go to a bar where you know everyone else’s name. Woody Allen claimed he was “crushed” when Elaine’s closed in 2011. If you were an aspiring writer in Manhattan, you may have been, too. Cheer up! The iconic restaurant at 1703 Second Avenue that nightly wined and dined (and wined again) intellectual luminaries from Norman Mailer to George Plimpton is reopening under the name the Writing Room. Suzy and Michael Glick of Parlor Steakhouse are overseeing the transformation and promise that “the Elaine look to it will still be there, and inside you’ll know you’re in the same building. We’re trying to embody what happened over the last 50 years with a new twist.”
The name of the restaurant is intended to pay tribute to and hopefully attract the literati who used to visit. Wall space will be taken up with pictures from Elaine’s glory days, and there will be a card catalogue where guests can record comments about the place. The Glicks also promise “the back room will be perfect for book parties.”
The food—which even longtime fan Allen said was “unrelentingly bad” at Elaine’s—will be much improved. Executive Chef Lucas Billheimer promises a menu full of American classics like baby back ribs, fried chicken, Parker House rolls and buttermilk biscuits that will make any Paleo devotee weep.
One feature that—sadly—they won’t be continuing is Elaine’s tradition of letting struggling writers eat free (she sent checks to their table that simply read “tip the waiter”), so you will need to show up with some bread for those biscuits.
Name: Writing Room Opening: Mid-October Why Should You Care: Paying homage to the clientele of former tenant Elaine’s with a library plus black and white tiling, and a fireplace, Writing Room will plate hearty American fare like a New England lobster boil, buttermilk fried chicken, and a funnel cake with lemon blueberry coulis.
Elaine’s fan Woody Allen, who told Grub Street he was “crushed” when the restaurant closed, may become even more wistful at the name of the restaurant that will replace it at 1703 Second Avenue. (They applied for a liquor license way back in October.) According to a report in the Post, the new spot will be called the Writing Room as a nod “to Elaine’s notables Woody Allen and the late Norman Mailer.” The Writing Room will serve dishes like lobster boil and roasted herbed corn, with a curated cocktail program (is there any other kind of cocktail program these days?). Elaine’s, of course, closed in 2011 after 40 years, following the death of its legendary proprietor Elaine Kaufman. Also of note on the Upper East Side, Le Bilboquet will open early next month at 20 East 60th Street, and on the Upper West Side, chef Cedric Tovar is opening his own restaurant, Tessa, at 349 Amsterdam Avenue. [NYP, Earlier, Related]