We've all heard the debaucherous stories about the New York literary scene during the Prohibition Era—the booze, the riotous parties, the scandal—but somehow, they never seem to lose their inherent allure. Bronx-born restaurateur Alessandro Borgognone is attempting to bring some of that sought-after old-world glamour back to the city with Chumley's, a new restaurant in the West Village that originally opened in 1922 as a speakeasy and favorite haunt of storied writers, including Ernest Hemingway, Jack Kerouac, and Edna St. Vincent Millay.
Located on a quiet side street with a nondescript entrance identifiable only by the building number (86), the space is brimming with secrecy and nostalgia. Step inside, pass through a curtain, and you'll enter a dimly-lit dining room with an oak wood bar and fireplace, the walls lined with framed book jackets written by its star clientele. The menu, devised by executive chef Victoria Blamey, offers creative riffs on classic American fare (think: oysters, duck, pot-pie, and, of course, the much-ballyhooed burger) that complement the old-school surroundings.
WHAT TO EAT
Non-meat-eaters should think twice before dining at this particular establishment, because the menu highlight is undoubtedly the burger, comprising two juicy, tender patties, slathered in bone marrow, and topped with gooey American cheese, special sauce, and crispy shallots, served with the requisite heaping pile of fries. It's so perfect as is, Chumley's respectfully declines any modifications to the order. Wash it down with a house cocktail—we're fans of the Smart Little Feller, made with gin, lemon, mint, and pear-flavored seltzer.
WHEN TO GO
Chumley's is open for dinner Tuesday through Thursday from 5:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 5:30 p.m. to 11 p.m., and Sunday from 5:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. To take in the full ambiance, book a table on a weeknight circa 7:30 p.m.
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WHAT TO WEAR
With its patterned wallpaper and plush leather banquettes, the classy interiors beckon an after-work crowd clad in suits, skirts, and office wear.
Chumley's, 86 Bedford St., 212-675-2081; chumleysnewyork.com