Missing Those Old Familiar Places


I am not parochial. My familiar places are sprinkled all over town, and I’m now thinking about Midtown, specifically Restaurant Row on West 46th Street, where Joe Allen, Orso and Bar Centrale — the ever-dependable trifecta of nightlife — have been closed since March 14.

I’m looking forward to a time when I can walk in the front door of Joe’s (it’s currently boarded up) on a non-matinee day. Kevin, one of the maître d’s, will lead me back to Table 7, where I’ll sit amid vintage pictures of mostly forgotten actors and posters of Broadway shows that flopped. There, I’ll while away an hour or so with an old friend and have the meatloaf or the calf’s liver and a banana cream pie that’ll send me into a deep sleep.

Credit…Peter Khoury/The New York Times

My mind transports me outside and up a flight of stairs to Bar Centrale, the cool theater district hideaway that’s a homage of sorts to classic Manhattan spots like El Morocco. I helped close it down on March 14, the last night it was open.

I want to sit on one of those zebra-print stools at the bar and enjoy some Widow Jane bourbon and ginger ale. Maybe I’ll order the shawarma or the lobster quesadilla. I want to talk with Craig, the bartender (and a playwright and dancer) about the latest shows, and argue playfully with Mary, the manager, about the political shenanigans of the moment.

But it’s time to check out the East Side.

In my mind I’ve walked into Neary’s, a mainstay on East 57th Street near First Avenue. On a normal Saturday night, Duffy would be holding court behind the bar and slide a Heineken. If it’s early enough, Jimmy Neary, who will turn 90 this year and has more energy than I do, would be regaling patrons.

There are so many other familiar places on the East Side: Hudson Malone, Smith & Wollensky, P.J. Clarke’s, Donahue’s. But I’m getting a little melancholy. Besides, it’s time for me to order some delivery and get back to YouTube. Time to sing along with Mitch.



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