When cousins Jack Kriendler and Charlie Berns opened the precursor in 1922 to what would become “21,” it was a small speakeasy in Greenwich Village called the Red Head. The restaurant moved several times, eventually landing at 21 W. 52nd Street, which would remain its final and best-known address. Its name was changed, too, to “Jack and Charlie’s 21,” later shortened to “21,” though regulars called it “Jack and Charlie’s.”
Executive chef and co-owner Ed Cotton, a disciple of Daniel Boulud, makes no bones about the old-timey look and feel he set out to achieve. “It feels like old New York, like a New York institution,” he told Timeout. “Instead of having this bright, white, gleaming, shiny new restaurant, we have something that feels like it’s been aged.” Mission accomplished! The tables, surrounded by bentwood chairs, are clad in a double thickness of linen; the waiters wear half aprons and neckties. The only thing missing is the sawdust on the floor, which is forbidden by law.
To drink: The house boasts a dedicated martini menu. When it comes to food, the menu reads a little like a steakhouse — a BLT wedge, raw oysters, and a jumbo shrimp cocktail among the starters, a 40-ounce tomahawk for two among the main courses — though you will also find “bone-in” duck meatloaf. (Whose bone, you are tempted to ask.) One section of the menu is devoted to pastas made in-house.
Jack & Charlies No. 118, 118 Greenwich Avenue, 212-680-4265, is open daily for dinner.