I was sitting near the hostess stand at NYC's Minetta Tavern the other night (I'd finally gotten in!) when I watched a well-dressed, older businessman grease the maitre d’ for the private reservation line. I couldn’t see the bill closely so I'm not sure what the going rate is, but I could hear the phone number, and now I'm kicking myself for not writing it down. The fact that the place was bumping so early on a Sunday night, with a crowd three-deep at the bar, made it easy to understand the businessman's maneuver; Frank Bruni’s three-star review in today’s Times will undoubtedly pack the place even more. The crowds, the chaos and the hard-to-come-by reservations make Minetta Tavern feel thoroughly modern, but the vintage décor and attentive service made me wistful for an earlier, more romantic Manhattan era. A bistro-cum-steakhouse may not be a new restaurant formula but that’s OK; sometimes a revival is just what you crave (Hair, anyone?).
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