If your idea of a romantic dinner is to experience an old-fashioned New York, seek refuge at the Minetta Tavern. You can channel e.e. cummings and Ernest Hemingway, they were once regulars at the Minetta Tavern, nursing their drinks and perhaps cursing at their writers’ block. The tavern was opened in 1937 and became a regular hangout located in the heart of Greenwich Village, adored by various artists and writers.
A few years ago, the talented, winsome, and dynamic trio behind Balthazar, Pastis and Schiller’s Liquor Bar (proprietor Keith McNally and the partnering chefs, Lee Hanson and Riad Nasr) have lovingly restored and painstakingly renovated the tavern to its original glory days. The restaurant is dark and intimate, sentimentally poetic and wildly endearing. The restaurant was awarded a well-deserving three stars by Frank Bruni of The New York Times.
My husband and I have never had a single bad meal or a so-so dish here. I’m fanatical about their Black Label Burger and yes, you’re reading it correctly, the burger does cost $30.00. Riad told me not to add any condiments, which is kind of against my religion when it comes to my burgers, but of course, I stand corrected. This succulent burger, with its secret blend of dry-aged meat, is rich and alarmingly flavorful, and so are the accompaniments—the perfectly seasoned sautéed onions blanketed with a soft, pillowy brioche bun—it’s a quintessential burger. We usually share our meals generously and lovingly with each other, but when it comes to this particular burger, I turn into a selfish three-year-old and simply refuse to share.
We have soft spots for the adorable Petite Omelet and seasonal salad specials. They have a spine-tinglingly perfectly cooked, juicy, roasted free-range chicken, and you must sweet-talk someone at your table into ordering the Pasta Za Za, or in our case, we share it as a second course to save room for the mandatory Soufflé for Two. Try to make the reservation in advance or take a chance as a walk-in just when they open for dinner.