We never made it to Gage and Tollner in all the years we’ve lived in Brooklyn, even though I knew I should. The restaurant is historically open from 1879-2004. I’ve never been much of a southern food lover. I would look at the menu and not get upset. Things have changed.

The serious team behind Gage and Tollner has captured an important piece of history and brought it into the future. Applause all over the city. They removed the dust that sat for years and recreated the atmosphere, feel, architecture and general luxury of the place. Nothing has changed, but everything has changed. Look at the wallpaper. It’s the same remade in an elegant textured fabric.

The drinks program is strong.

The menu is classic old school style. My personal favorite way to read a menu.

Parker House rolls were obviously part of the program. Crispy on top, dense and soft in the middle, covered with just the right amount of salt and a hint of sweetness.

Works just fine with the fried clam bellies soaked in miso butter and topped with crispy medium-sized crunchy croutons. Impressive. Pretty decadent.

The lightly fried, slightly crispy chicken mushrooms paired with a spicy Sriracha sauce are delicious.

Crab soup is how you would make crab soup. Rich, buttery, with a hint of sherry and shrimp pieces. Two bites were all I needed. Fred managed to finish all of his own and half of me.

Classic wedge with blue cheese dressing, crispy bacon, cherry tomatoes and pickled shallots. For a rich salad, it wasn’t that rich. More pieces of cheese and a richer dressing would have gone better with anything else.

Naturally fried chicken with cornmeal fritters and kale and kimchi coleslaw as a side dish.

I am so glad we went and we will definitely be back. Gage and Tollner feel like the grill from BK. It’s that good feeling when you enter these rooms with their own story. I can’t go there often, but an annual event feels just right. The reality is, I eat like I used to. I’ve seen Emily change her eating habits and she’s always exploring new culinary experiences. I totally nod to her because I changed my diet. I don’t eat that much meat. I’ll eat it if it’s the right call, but it’s not what I choose. The way I indulge has also changed. If I indulge myself like with Gage and Tollner, I don’t feel so well afterwards. Trust me it was fantastic going down but I can’t do it as often as I used to. Sigh.

The room was full. All the waiters wore masks. Some people wore them when they came in and some didn’t. Everyone had their own comfort as they should. There are definitely other options on the menu so next time I’ll be breaking new ground, but the first night, well, it had to be all about those southern classics.

If you come through NYC, this is where you come. It just feels good.

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