A Taste of Revolutionary America

A Taste of Revolutionary America

Considering I hadn't been down to the Fraunces Tavern, or the museum, since, well, I don't know when, I decided to recruit my executive editor Frances (yes, Fraunces/Francis) to take the ride down to Lower Manhattan with me for a bite of lunch and a quick tour. In all honesty, I wasn't expecting much.  The tavern, around since the 1780s (where George Washington gave his legendary farewell speech to his troops), I assumed was at this point merely a quiet, lonely restaurant, a kind of lost-in-the-shuffle-of-Lower-Manhattan relic and would be...well, a bit of a ghost town. I stand corrected. The restaurant itself is deceptively large: the main dining room, decorated with vintage Revolutionary artifacts, has several communal tables, the way  you really can imagine the original American pubs were designed. Beyond that is an intimate, cozy dark bar with a plush leather sofa; the Portherhouse room, a lively pub where, on a chilly Tuesday afternoon, the bar was packed with office workers, tourists, and college students out on spring break, enjoying lunch and a brew; and at least two other dining rooms, one which could be rented out for corporate events (hence the large screen).  The food did not disappoint: Francis enjoyed his authentic chicken pot pie and I dug into a generous and tasty grilled salmon salad. The museum upstairs includes the famous Long Room, the site of Washington's farewell; the John Ward Dunsmore Collection (some 45 oil paintings illustrating various moments of the Revolutionary War); and a New York collection, highlighting daily life in Lower Manhattan in the late 18th century (cooking pots, bottles, pipes and more). The atmosphere is distinctly colonial: simple, handsome wood furniture, appropriately creaky steps, old walls stripped with shades of paint seeping through. What started as the trip of a somewhat cynical editor turned into, dare I be so corny as to say, a sentimental and satisfying afternoon remembering the beginnings of this great nation.