Gage & Tollner

I wrote a post a little while back about going to Frenchette when it had opened to vaccinated guests. Walking into the restaurant felt like walking into a place in 2019. Entering Gage & Tollner is a trip further back in time.

From the outside it doesn’t look like much. A narrow and drab entrance greets you. Step through the doors and its as though you have entered the later Victorian era. The wood paneling is dark. The mirrors are antique with the silvering worn in parts. Where there isn’t wood or glass on the walls, there is fabric. Not wallpaper, its as though the walls have been wrapped in cloth. The two signs that tell you are in the 21st century is that the lights are no longer gas fired and the dress of the crowd. Its crowded and loud. There is a thrum of activity and buzz of conversation on a Friday night.

The menu is split with small plates which are most raw bar items, apps, chop house selections, mains and sides. The choices skew towards traditional American fare with some twists like kimchi slaw. Really intriguing wine list. Choices span some unusual spots and the prices range is very reasonable starting in the 50s and heading up with many options in the 60-70 range.

My dear wife orders a selection of 1/2 dozen oysters. I’ve never had Oysters Rockefeller. Not even when I’ve been in NOLA. I’m more partial to raw rather than cooked oysters and when I have them cooked its usually fried. But for some reason, I decided to try it out for the first time. We also ordered the Parker House rolls. Seems like more places are charging for bread in various forms these days.

The oysters come from 3 spots, two in Massachusetts and one from Prince Edward Island. The Canadians are the winner this evening. I get 5 oysters for my starter. Being a rookie, I make the mistake of trying to grab one of the shells so I can use my fork to pull the herb covered morsel out. Ouch, very hot shell. After waiting a few minutes for my finger and the oysters to cool, I take a taste. Oh wow, herbal and rich. I don’t have anything to compare them to but these were wonderful. Creamy flavor of the oysters was really enhanced by the thick carpet of broiled herbs.

The Parker House rolls were fine. Nothing remarkable about them.

For our main, DW ordered the roast chicken and I ordered the veal chop. As the chop house selections came with no sides, I ordered the sauteed mushrooms too. The wait between the starters and the main stretched on for a while. Even though the house to my eye looked fully staffed, its clear that the service still needs some work. One other minor annoyance. We had ordered a bottle of white wine. The bottle was opened, the wine tasted and approved and two glasses were poured. Then the somm took the bottle to keep cool. It was very busy that evening and on at least two occasions my glass was empty before I got a refill. If you’re going to take that route for wine service, keep any eye on your thirsty customers. A minor annoyance as I said when you sit there tapping your empty glass.

The mains finally come. The veal chop is huge and well cooked. A marvelous hunk of meat. The mushroom side was an assortment of a half dozen or so varieties. Very nice. Across the table my DW was really enjoying her plate. The most fabulous part was the mashed potatoes. The mashed potatoes you ask? The best part? Really? Yes really. The chicken was beautiful. Well cooked with a crackly bronze skin. The sprouting broccoli (which looked just like ordinary broccolini to me) was glowing green and sheened with butter. But the mash potatoes were just elevated above. How so? The first time we had potatoes like this we were at Atelier de Joel Robuchon in Paris. When my wife after swooning over the first taste asked the chef at the counter how they made them, he replied “Madam we make them with love.” As much love and butter went into these.

Had no room for dessert though we were sorely tempted by the baked Alaska for two. That will be for next time. Dinner for two with 20% tip was $315.


Great review. Even though I think highly of the owners (we went to Good Fork and Ft. Defiance a bit over the years) & knew that they were spending a good deal of time and money on G&T, I never thought that they’d be able to get it this right! The place is a gem and, as someone who went to the original & loved it, I felt like I was back in time. What a restoration. Cant wait for the cocktail lounge to open upstairs. At any rate, nice to see you enjoyed it. Think about the she crab soup next time - it’s as close to Edna Lewis’ original version as possible. And, maybe the fried chicken? Did I mention the wedge salad? :slightly_smiling_face:
eta: somewhat off topic but… have you gone to Le Crocodile in Williamsburg yet? Great room, bar seating and excellent roast chicken w/fries. Just sayin’.


Didn’t know about Le Croc. Looked at the menu. You could not get a more old fashion menu than that. Sort of reminds me of Le Bouillon Pigalle. There’s a place I would like to get back to. Thanks for pointing it out. Will keep in mind for the next time I’m in Billyburg.

Le Crocodile looks a little less expensive than Gage & Tollner, and I notice they have outdoor dining. My girlfriend and I like duck, and my girlfriend loves scallops. Are their Fruits de Mer selections on their menu - (which you can see here - full-sized mains? Have you tried the scallops, the crab and the duck, and if so, what do you think of them? Any other recommendations, other than the roast chicken? And by the way, do you have any idea whether they would honor a request to substitute something less carby for the fries (such as salad)?

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When we finally began dining at NYC restaurants again in May, we ate only outdoors and, since public transportation was out for us, we went to restaurants mainly within walking distance of our Manhattan apartment (though we did take car service a few times to favorite upscale restaurants with lovely outdoor seating).

Obviously, then, we haven’t been to Le Crocodile. But people whose opinions I trust have said it’s excellent. When it comes to menu substitutions, I would suggest that you call the restaurant to get a definitive answer.

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Sure, it’s always possible to ask them on the phone. Nice to hear from you, Roz.

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Bumping this up as well, mainly because we have so many new members now that CH is folding. At any rate, we’ve been back to G&T and have eaten at the bar, where walk ins are accepted. The dining room proper is just too tough to get into right now. And for good reason. As we said upthread, the food is really good. Nothing novel or earth shattering: just really good. And, in addition to the excellent wedge salad, she-crab soup & fried chicken, we’ve now discovered a really good chicken liver pate & a very good Pork Pot Pie. And, for you wine lovers out there: unless I’m missing something, the mark up is barely over 2x retail on many very nice moderately priced wines ($60-90, commensurate with food pricing). Of course, since we live 5 blocks away, this is a no-brainer for us. But, that’s your fault people, for not living here.


we used to live five blocks away in the late 80s, early 90s, really a bargain back then. steve, no love for noodle pudding? hadn’t been for years but we had a good meal there recently…

You need to tell me when you’re going to Noodle Pudding. We actually eat there at the bar about twice per week & will be there tonite. And we might well have been there when you were. Mention our names to the bartender or servers (or the owner) & get the 10% surcharge.

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will do but we’re in manhattan now so not that often. hmmm, wonder if you knew my friend mark b, he ate at the bar quite a bit, gregarious, sadly passed away over the last year.

so many good places, sottocaso, sams, court st pastry, sahdis, middle eastern bakery (miss the old owner). what else do u like? somehow we never tried ferdinandos…

Sent you a message thru HO. At any rate, I don’t think we knew Mark B but a picture might help jog some memory cells. Besides Gage & Tollner, there have been quite a few openings (& some closings) in the neighborhood. Most aren’t of much interest to us, but we find that its easier to eat in the neighborhood than it used to be. River Deli (a Sardinian place) is near us and good & a new place where Jack the Horse was (called Inge’s Bar) has potential. Henry’s End is settling into its new-ish location as well. Come visit.

sorry, missed the message, i’ll figure out how pms work here.

sounds good, do you ever join the line for lucalis? went on a tour with some pizza obsessives, thought it was great but that line is crazy. sams pizza was as good as ever…also like sottocasa.

I don’t think it went thru. That’s happened to a couple of messages I’ve sent & I’m not sure why. Haven’t been to Lucali in years because of the line. Table 87 is pretty good, as are the places you mention. There’s a lot of places, doing a lot of styles of pizza, that are good these days.

adding: I tried to message you again & it didn’t go thru. Something in “settings”?