I finally got to have dinner at the famous Waverly Inn. The Waverly Inn has been known to be one of the most difficult restaurants to get a reservation to in New York and is also known to pull in all the celebrities due to its affiliation with Graydon Carter. This Vanity Fair editor is able to use his connections to make sure the restaurant has the reputation of the best place to people watch. Though its not exactly Mr. Chow circa 1980 where Mr. Chow on 57th Street was filled with stars every night of the week as opposed to the Waverly Inn where its filled with stars only when Mr. Carter uses his connections and invites celebrities to eat there. So though there are stars who eat there, its way too overly hyped and not worth the difficulty to get a reservation (The Waverly Inn doesn’t list a phone number and only accepts reservations if you go down to the restaurant and make a reservation in person) if the sole reason you are going is to “star-gaze”.
But as a restaurant itself its a solid option to have dinner. Unlike Graydon Carter’s Monkey Bar where the food is awful and its filled with a 60+ crowd, The Waverly Inn has a mixed crowd and good food. The restaurant is very similar to Monkey Bar except a bit less pretentious (not to say that the Waverly Inn isn’t pretentious because any restaurant that doesn’t list a phone number had a certain degree of “pretentiousness”). The low ceilings and old jazz music make the restaurant very cozy and the old pictures on the wall add to the mood as well. There are two and a half dining areas in the Waverly Inn. There’s the main dining room, a small hallway almost with a booth and the conservatory in the back with a large tree in the middle of the room. If you’re seated in the conservatory that means they basically don’t want anyone to see that you’re dining there. Since I’ve read some pretty poor reviews about the food at the Waverly Inn and I read in the Times that the former chef left the Waverly Inn to open up The Lion, I didn’t exactly know what to expect from the new chef. The menu is still in “preview” mode and contains simple yet refined American dishes. The Waverly Inn’s famous Truffle Maccaroni & Cheese isn’t listed on the menu but instead is a daily special. Unfortunately I didn’t try it as when I saw another table order it and realized I was paying $55 for a coffee cup sized portion of essentially pasta with cheese and a sprinkle of truffle I thought to myself. For an appetizer I had the Crab Cakes and the Grilled Octopus. The Crab Cakes were a bit small but none the less tasty and contained more crab then usual. The side of cole slaw looking apples (a high class cole slaw as we named it) was also a good addition to the dish. The grilled octopus was fresh and a good starter, though nothing to rave about. Then for an entree I had the Dover Sole and the Pork Chop. The Pork Chop was thick, juicy and cooked perfectly if not a tad bit too salty. The side of corn, fava beans and crispy pork belly was fantastic. The Dover Sole was a simple grilled dover sole with a side of string beans. The fish was fresh and it generally was a great entree. The Cheesecake was the only bad dish we sampled as if you made it yourself at home it could come out twice as good and the entire cake would cost you the same we paid for a slice (it was a personal cake but the portion was as much as you would eat with a small slice).
Overall I was impressed with the Waverly Inn. Though I do think its a bit hyped up for no reason (apparently once Anna Wintour eats at your restaurant its the greatest thing since sliced bread) and the people watching isn’t that great but the food is shockingly good. The prices are comparable to those in the Meatpacking District and the service is pretty good as well. Though I wouldn’t exactly come here with my friends on a random Saturday night, I’d be willing to come back to the Waverly Inn perhaps during Fashion Week or during the Tribeca Film Festival, maybe then I’ll see a celebrity.