Between 1985 and 1996 Gotham was reviewed on four different occasions in the New York Times198519891993, and 1996. And if you’re wondering… yes, four reviews in 11 years is a lot. 

But then fifteen years of radio silence… until Sam Sifton decided to revisit the restaurant. 

His 2011 review caught us completely by surprise. A sneak attack, as it were. There’d been no renovations, no menu overhaul, no leadership changes… none of the typical shifts that often lure a Food Critic back in. So imagine our surprise when the paper sent a photographer one busy Friday night to take pictures of the restaurant, and our delight when we read Sifton’s rave 3-star review just a few days later. It was the fifth in the restaurant’s history. (An unprecedented achievement.)

Still today we are humbled by the accomplishment.


The review ran on May 17, 2011 and Sifton opened with this: “In a city obsessed with the shiny and novel, Gotham Bar and Grill is an outlier. Open since 1984, it celebrates stability and excellence, perhaps even opulence. Fabric chandeliers billow beneath soaring ceilings. Elaborate flowers are everywhere. People dress for dinner and are escorted past marvelous photographs on the way to their tables. It is all very civilized there.”

It ‘s reminiscent of that famous line in The Great Gatsby when Nick first meets Fitzgerald’s tragic hero: “It was one of those rare smiles with a quality of eternal reassurance in it, that you may come across four or five times in life… It understood you just as far as you wanted to be understood, believed in you as you would like to believe in yourself, and assured you that it had precisely the impression of you that, at your best, you hoped to convey.”

The review continued to unfold, showcasing many of the ways in which the restaurant had evolved even while maintaining its own unique voice. Classics like the Yellowfin Tuna Tartare and the Seafood Salad seemed just as vibrant as they’d been in the beginning; the favorites were matched by innovative new dishes like Maine Lobster with Kaffir Lime and Black Rice Noodles, as well as Smoked Sea Trout (both of which are part of this week’s 35th Anniversary Menu).

In a page or two he seemed to identify all that the owners had set out to create, while acknowledging much of the restaurant’s cherished history.


And, of course, he would know. Much of his career has revolved around the intersection of lifestyle and food. Before taking over as Chief Restaurant Critic (2009-2011) he spent years as Editor of the Dining Section. Even now, as the Founding Editor of the Cooking Section, he’s been largely responsible for its success. What started as a weekly recipe guide has grown into an extraordinary resource library for ambitious foodies the world over.

Chef Alfred Portale’s recipes have appeared in the Cooking section on more than one occasion: Spring Pea Soup, Gotham Burger, and his Summer Squab Salad. And Pastry Chef Ron Paprocki’s famous Apple Tarte Tatin was featured just a few years back.

More than just good food, Gotham has always been about creating a certain kind of energy… an experience.

This week our 35th Anniversary Celebration draws to a close as we look back to 2011.

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Four Course Set Menu