Fraunces Tavern in NYC, New York - oldest building in NYC? | I just want to eat!

Friday, July 27, 2012

Fraunces Tavern in NYC, New York - oldest building in NYC?

Recently, on a Sunday, we went for brunch with our friends Jen and Gary who proposed to go to Fraunces Tavern, downtown Manhattan. Fraunces Tavern is said to be the oldest surviving building in Manhattan per the Sons of Liberty who are the lucky owners since 1904. This building is filled with history! According to the Fraunces Tavern Museum website, the current building was built in 1719 by Etienne "Stephan" Delancey, a French Huguenot who married the daughter of New York's Mayor Stephanus Van Cortlandt. Delancey's heirs then sold the building to Samuel Fraunces who decided to open a tavern called the Queen's head. It is in this tavern that, before the revolution, gathered regularly the Sons of Liberty, a political group of American patriots that was formed, pre-independence, to protect the rights of the colonist from the rules set by the British government. 

But, one of the most famous story about this place lies in the dinner that took place on December 4th 1783: the "Turtle Feast". After British troops evacuated New York, the General (soon to be President) George Washington organized a farewell to his troops and said, in the long room: "with a heart full of love and gratitude, I now take leave of you. I most devoutly wish that your latter days may be as prosperous and happy as your former ones have been glorious and honorable."

After that, Samuel Fraunces became Wahsington's Chief Steward and, after the war, at the time New York was the Nation's Capital, the place was rented to the Government to house the Departments of War, Treasury and Foreign Affairs.

All this history is explained in the Museum that is on the second floor of the building. 

The building is pretty impressive in the middle of the skyscrapers. 

On the outside, you cannot miss the multiple plaques commemorating the place, its history or Samuel Fraunces. 

You can also see few windows showcasing bottles of whiskey (it is part of the American Whiskey Trail, an initiative of the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States that promotes the history and cultural heritage of distilled beverages in the United States). 

In fact, inside, there is a very comfortable lounge where you can taste this divine drink as well as others.

I snooped around the place:

They sat us in the Long Room where George Washington gave his speech. They really kept it authentic (or at least as you would imagine it was). I noticed for instanced that couple of tables had holes.
We could not get any explanation from the wait staff as to what it was, but they told us that it was not bullet holes!
Next to the Long Room is the Bissel room:
And adjacent to it is the Chef's table room that showcases incredible wines.
There was a last big room, but I did not go there as they were setting it up.

All over the place, you could see portraits of George Washington.
Now let's talk about food! After all this is a food blog!

Fraunces Tavern serves Brunch, Lunch and Dinner. We went for Brunch on a Sunday. The restaurant proposes on its menu some Irish specialties such as the Irish breakfast: black pudding, bacon, Irish sausage, beans, toasts and 2 eggs.
They also propose some classics such as the French Toast, burgers or crab cakes.

With your meal, you can get a beer from the impressive beer list (the Tavern is run by the Porterhouse Brewing Company). That is how I ended up with the Oyster Stout, a dark beer that got its name from the oysters shucked into the conditioning tank! Do not worry, it did not taste like oysters!
We started by sharing an Irish cheese plate.
It was composed of: sage cheddar, cashel blue, port wine cheddar and brie. They served it with slices of apples to clean our palates between cheeses and some delicious port wine fig chutney (ideal for to soften the strong taste of certain cheeses). These cheeses were very good, although I have to say that I am not a big fan of port wine cheddar...
The cheese plate was ideal for sharing!

Then, we tried the fish & chips.
I love fish & chips, but this one was just ok: the batter was missing some crispiness and the fish was too flaky, completely falling apart. It was served with a wonderful tartare sauce and thick cut fries.

The next dish was the French toast.
They were served with fresh berries and of course some maple syrup. I loved it! The bread was perfectly soaked, all the way through. It was fantastic! And the berries added some freshness to the dish. This is definitely a recommended dish!

Jen and Gary got the eggs benedict:

and the corned beed hash:
I did not try these dishes, but they said that it was very good.

For dessert, we ordered the bread pudding.
This was an amazing dessert. Not only the presentation that was beautiful, but also the amazing buttery taste! It was served warm, with whipped cream and strawberries. I loved it!

This was a great brunch (Thanks Jen & Gary for the idea!) and there are plenty of dishes I would like to try: the Tavern burger or the duck leg confit! I guess I will have to go back...At least, you should try and let me know what you think!

Enjoy (I did)!

Fraunces Tavern on Urbanspoon

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