Starting in January, some of New York's top restaurants and chefs will take turns offering menus inspired by 19th century banquets, as part of Zagat's "NYC Vintage Dinner Series." Each chef will host a one-day-only event where, according to Tim Zagat, guests can enjoy an "unforgettable dining experience with dishes that have largely disappeared in the last 100 years." The series was unveiled at a press conference at Le Bernardin this morning.
Although none of the menus are set, you can expect unusual cuts of meat such as calves heart and beef liver, as well as other delicacies like animal's blood (rich in gravies and sauces). Also be prepared for "theatrical presentations" with food and fire, like peach flambe and cherries jubilee, as demonstrated above. Chef Thomas Keller (Per Se) promises diners "not only an experience in food, but in the ambiance." He plans to transform the entire restaurant, even down to the cutlery.
Stanley Lobel (Lobel's Meats) said he thinks the series will have a "trickle down effect" to other restaurants, particularly because of the unusual cuts of meat that will be used. These misfit cuts are currently less popular and cheaper: "This may well save the restaurant industry, especially the middle-end, who are struggling the most." Zagat certainly knows something about the struggling restaurant business, since they recently laid off 19 employees (about 14 percent of its 130-person workforce).
The prix fixe dinners will be priced on par with each restaurant's standard menu, with drinks, tax, and tip all included. And a portion of the proceeds will be donated to a charity of each restaurant's choice. Reservations need to be made through the restaurants directly, and seats are expected to fill up quickly. Per Se's Vintage Dinner is February 17th... right around Valentine's Day, fellas!