Anthony's Pier 4
I admit to being a bit of a snob about Anthony's; it's one of those places that has been around forever, and you get the impression some of the waitstaff (and many of the guests) have been there since the beginning.
That could translate to consistency and reliability. Or it could mean they're still serving up sauces best left in the '60s. The blast-from-the-past theme starts when you enter the lobby, whose walls are lined with photos of celeb diners.
You're greeted by one of (the late) Anthony's sons, who leads you three feet over the wooden bridge that crosses a shallow fish pond and hands you off to a hostess, who then leads you to your table. Note the ship-shape bar, aft.
There's a strange mix of grandeur and shabbiness: on the one hand, you have oak-lined walls and fine cigars and a menu of old-school dishes like Oysters Rockefeller and Lobster Newburg; on the other, you have ancient waiters in ill-fitting tuxedos (collars too wide, sleeves rolled up) and outdoor areas with fake plants and blue carpeting.
But the food is good.
Wianno oysters: fresh and sweet.
The traditional popover (we call it Yorkshire pudding):
Bouillabaisse: a complex broth of tomatoes and saffron, generous chunks of salmon and fistfuls of mussels and clams, plenty of greens.
And enough lobstah to make anyone happy.
And for dessert? Strawberry-rhubarb pie. Oh yeah.
In some ways, it's testament to Anthony's staying power that the place has survived so long, especially as both the plain-and-basic No Name and the experimental Legal Test Kitchen are just down the street (and there are plenty of other good seafood joints in the city).
We probably won't go again until the next out-of-town visitors arrive. But we won't complain either.