Memorable | One of the Best
Variety Restaurant | Old-School Cool | Seafood & Steaks
Review by: Michael Stern
Vintage Culinary Americana
In every way except for price, the Variety Restaurant shows no evidence that anything has changed in the world of dining-out for the last three score years. Waitresses are old-school. They neither introduce themselves by name nor offer the provenance of daily specials. But they will tell you if they believe you’ve made a wrong choice off the menu. By the second time I visited, I had earned the moniker “Hon’.” Square-meals eaters who appreciate old-school cool and retro ambience without a jot of fashion will see the Variety as a rare opportunity to leave contemporary fashion far behind.
To begin a meal, I’ve enjoyed she-crab soup vibrant with spice and loaded with sweet meat and oyster stew that balances buttery and oceanic — less about comfort and more like a thrilling nautical embrace. And of course, there are oysters, sparkling on the half-shell (or, if you wish, fried). Among fabulous flatfish usually available are grouper, shark, and whole flounder boasting fine, flaky flesh. A medley of seafood can be had on the “King Fisherman’s Platter,” which runs well over $20 at dinner but less than that when the restaurant is open for lunch. (Lunch service is discontinued during summer months.)
Ribeye steaks are a house specialty, available in sizes from 10 to 20 ounces. The meat is choice, not prime (in the $30 range, not $50), aged enough to resonate with deep mineral potency, fork-tender, and full flavored. When filet mignon is on the menu, it’s a prize: tender, juicy, radiantly beefy.
Note: Please pardon digital noise in some of the interior photos. Old-school cool means dim, dim lighting. It is dark enough inside the Variety that many pictures were shot at ISO 50,000.
|Meals Served||Lunch, Dinner|
|Credit Cards Accepted||Yes|