The Joe Allen Chronicles

The Joe Allen Chronicles

At Joe Allen, it’s always Happy Hour

So, I have this perfect relationship with an office buddy. Our deal is, when it comes to going to a Broadway show together, she picks the pre-theater meal, I pick up the tab. It’s a homework assignment I gladly designate to her, as the dining choices in this town are dizzying, as are my constant deadlines. SO … on a recent Wed. night, with a 7:30 curtain to the revival of Wendy Wasserstein’s The Heidi Chronicles, I asked my friend my usual pre-show question, "where we eating?" I was delighted to hear that the restaurant du jour was Joe Allen, a Broadway institution (since 1965) and a place I haven't visited in nearly two decades. Upon arriving, the handsome young host greeted us warmly and escorted us to our table through a packed house with varying demographics (I passed a family with two children under the age of 10, a group of young urban hipsters, an elderly couple, and a table of men in what looked like a serious business discussion). As our waiter brought  a basket of crusty sourdough bread and olive oil, he cheerfully advised, "feel free to make a mess" on the paper covering the white tableclothes. No bread plates necessary! Noisy and crowded, with brick walls filled with New York-centric portraits, black-and-white stills from famous movies (I was delighted to discover a photo of Marilyn Monroe, Lauren Bacall and Betty Grable from How to Marry a Millionaire) and, of course, posters from famous Broadway plays, the restaurant seemed as buzzy and popular as it was when I visited it back in the 20th century. I remembered the spot was known for its juicy burgers, and a fat cheddar cheese burger with string fries and a pickle did not disappoint, as did a sweet, fresh plate of fruit (honeydew and pineapple in late March tasted like sugar). The chardonnay was pretty darn wonderful too, with a very generous pour. My friend picked a good one!

» Joe Allen, 326 W. 46th St., 212.581.6464