Alright, I have a secret to tell you. Greg and I went somewhere very exciting the other night, but we weren’t really supposed to be there. The food was excellent. It was very secretive, and I don’t even have pictures to show you. If you take a picture in this place, the manager will kindly come up to you and kick.you.out.
Are you curious?
Well, sit back down, and I’ll tell you the story.
The Waverly Inn is not a restaurant. It is, in fact, “a semi-private dining club tucked away in the West Village.” There is no reservationist, and there is no telephone number for Average Joe’s (or Greg’s) to call from Astoria and secure a table by the fire. The only way to get a table is, if by some miracle of God, you have been blessed with the private phone number or email address that confirms you are one of the chosen few. Or if you are a celebrity. Or, in our case, if you regularly dog-sit for a cop in that particular precinct. Thanks for the hook-up, Adam.
Owned and operated by Graydon Carter, editor-in-chief of Vanity Fair magazine, the Waverly Inn is the epitome of exclusive city living. For two wanna-be yuppies living in the Outer Boroughs, it is the holy grail. Good food and celebrity sightings are our siren song, and when Greg got the call that a Thursday night table was ours, we dropped our trashy weeklies and jumped on the subway. For one night, we were going to be the upper crust.
The Waverly sits on an indescript corner of Bank and Waverly streets, tucked in amongst the brownstones we’ll never afford and the luxury cars we’ll never drive. We arrived early, looking forward to a good meal and hoping for a celebrity sighting or two. After checking in with the host, we sidled our way up to the bar and perused the drink menu while waiting for our table. I had my nose stuck deep in a glass of Syrah when…
…Wait a second….is that Karl Lagerfeld? The father of Chanel?
I elbowed Greg, who was busy slurping on an elderflower margarita, and pointed out the Fashion Guru. Celebrity sighting? Check. As we were lead to our table a few moments later, we casually scanned the dining room. You never know where those famous people might be hiding.
As is customary, every dinner starts with a basket of the Waverly’s famous biscuits and strawberry butter. Yes, strawberry butter. Only in places like the Waverly Inn and the Wonka Chocolate factory do things like strawberry butter exist, the perfect accompaniment to a rich and flaky biscuit. Please note that it is inappropriate to slip leftover biscuits and butter in your purse. Fight the urge. You will not be invited back.
The waiter recited the night’s specials and left Greg and I to debate our choices. We agreed to split an appetizer and each ordered one of the specials (as usual, meat for Him, fish for Her) for our main course. Though tempted, we did not order the Truffled Macaroni and Cheese, for $95. $95 is too much money to spend on pasta with cheese; however, if you’ve had, please let me know if it is worth our electric bill.
Our first course arrived, a Tuna Tartare with Avocado, Diced Egg, and Dijon Emulsion, served with toast points for dipping. The waiter had barely set the plate down on the table before Greg and I pounced on it; biscuits with strawberry butter, while decadent, are not very filling. The tuna was rich and unctuous, heightened by the creamy avocado and fattiness of the egg yolk. The dijon added just the right touch of acid and a hint of salt. We both felt the dish could have used some crunch for a little texture, but the toast points were a nice substitution. So far, dinner at the Waverly was off to a rousing success.
Shortly after we licked our plates finished the first course, our main dishes were upon us. Greg’s eyes grew large when the waiter placed before him a Grilled Rib Eye with Roasted Root Vegetables. Greg is a Meat and Potatoes type of guy, and the thick steak on his plate was enough to make any vegetarian have second thoughts. The thick crust crackled forgivingly when it met Greg’s steak knife, and the medium-rare meat glistened on his fork. I, one who generally scorns red meat, had immediate second thoughts on my own dinner choice. Fork came to mouth, and it was confirmed: few things make Greg happier than good steak. Except maybe, Pittsburgh sports and peanut M&M’s.
Before I could experience any buyer’s remorse, I was rewarded with Halibut over White Beans, Kale, and Celery Root. Oh my. The chef is clearly very thoughtful, as he left my fish swimming in a delicious broth, flavored with smokey bits of bacon. (Fish, like everyone else in the universe, love bacon.) The heady aromas of ocean and pork were enough to make me forget the steak across the table in a matter of seconds. Because I am Considerate and Kind, I offered Greg a bite of my fish, and then ate every last bit. I am also a Dainty Little Thing, wouldn’t you know. It was light and delicious, an excellent choice.
The best part of the meal, perhaps, was something not on the Autumn menu. It was the knowledge that,”hey, this is a pretty cool thing we’re doing tonight.” Greg and I don’t get too many chances for weeknight dates, and even fewer chances to eat in elite NYC restaurants. Throw in some possible celebrity sightings and strawberry butter, and we are a happy pair.
Desserts were politely rejected. No need to be greedy, and my emergency purse stash of M&M’s is a good safety for late night subway snackage. We (Greg) paid the check and left our table by the fire, only to brush past Harvey Weinstein on the way out. Celebrity sighting #2? Check.
So, is the Waverly all its cracked up to be? I say, sure. The food is good, the service is sufficient, and the experience was a nice break from work and other weekly stresses. Even though we’re not important enough to demand a standing reservation, it was fun to pretend that we were. I’ll pretend to be anything that lets me eat strawberry butter.
I’m sorry we don’t have any pictures, but maybe you’ll get a chance to eat there yourself. There are plenty of cops in this town, so start dog-sitting and you might earn yourself a table.