44 West 63rd Street, New York, NY | Directions 1002340.771397 -73.982838
Neighborhoods: Lincoln Square, Midtown
Absolutely fantastic – Perhaps I should preface my review with something about myself. Being a lifer here in Manhattan, and a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America (class of '94), I have known about PJ Clarke's my whole life, and I have, what I would consider, a decent knowledge of the restaurant industry. That being said, I have to say that I don't understand what some of the other folks who have posted on here are talking about...the PJ's at Lincoln Center was absolutely fantastic. As I sat at the bar waiting for the rest of my friends to arrive, the bartenders were very friendly and accomodating while still flying around and tending to everyone crowded around them. It was at the bar that I split a tray from the raw bar with one of my friends...absolutely terrific!! For those of us who truly know (as garbanz obviously does) a couple grains of sand in the oysters does help to prove how fresh they are, but the better proof was simply in their taste...DELICIOUS, and I loved the variety.
Dinner was spot on!! The waiter was not just friendly, he was engaging, amusing, intelligent, and very knowledgeable about the food he was serving, a VERY rare thing nowadays. We enjoyed a variety of appetizers...the warm lobster salad, the clam chowder, the steamed mussels, the beefsteak tomato salad, and of course the crab cakes...all very flavorful and fresh. Dinner as well was prepared perfectly...the Swordfish was fresh, the Shepard's pie was very "comforting", the Berkshire pork chop was amazing, and of course the burger was...well...the PJ's burger!! And for desert...3 words...ICE CREAM SUNDAE!!
This new Lincoln Center PJ's is not the original PJ;s over on the east side...it never will be...and those pretentious "New Yorkers" who complain about that should stick to the original. Those of us who are looking for great ambiance, excellent service, a delicious meal, and just a great night overall...we'll make the new history for this PJ Clarke's location!!
Avoid this restaurant – The food is mediocre at best (burgers with soggy buns and overcooked fries), and the service is terrible. As another member mentioned, it is a glorified TGI Friday's without the friendly customer service.
The slow, corporate death of an institution. – I grew up eating at PJ Clarke's. I might have been six years old the first time I had a PJ's burger and remember feeling a sense of pride when characters like Frankie would remember my family every time we came back. Fast forward a few years and I'm walking into PJ Clarke's at Lincoln Square, wondering if I'll feel the same warm, neighborhood feeling I felt at the original for so many years. The answer, sadly, is no. What struck me was how subtle differences make such a drastic, negative impression. My wife and I were greeted by three young girls, each with the same personality; each no older than 21. The waiter gleefully informed us that PJ's was opening a location in Las Vegas. Pictures of old politicians were perfectly placed around the restaurant. Top 40 music blared on the sound system (I don't remember country music playing at 55th street, or any other half-decent restaurant in New York for that matter). It became clear very early on that dinner was being served in a cookie-cutter. That couples around the country would soon enjoy Clarke's burgers in an "authentic" New York style restaurant, listening to the same music while being greeted in the exact same way every time - like TGIFridays, only better! And for the record, the food was fine and the service was passable. But I discovered that it wasn't actually the food or how it was served that kept my family coming back for so many years. It was the personality of a restaurant that had the pulse of a city and that made us feel like we were part of history every time we ate there. Well that personality seems to be gone. And when removed, all that's left is a tourist-trap franchise that proves, once again, that landmarks should be left alone and not photocopied. To anyone in search of a true New York experience, know this: True New Yorkers don't do chains!
Midtown East Invades Upper West – Great to see some history brought to an abandoned corner. I stopped in for lunch one day after just stumbling upon it. What an incredible looking restaurant. I sat at the bar, had a beer and some oysters, then ordered the famous Cheeseburger. Beer was cold on a hot day, the bartender introduced himself which was a nice touch and I don't need much more than that. I sat near the raw bar and the Clam shucker talked me into some oysters. They were refreshing, a little sandy, but to me, sandy is good, means they were in the water not long ago instead of being purged and sitting around for who knows how long dying. Then the burger came out. It was close, but not identical to the dozens I have enjoyed at the original location. Served on the same small plate, thick onion slice, and pickle, but something was missing that made it different then the original that I couldn't quite place. I enjoyed none the less, and figured the burger difference was this: ghosts of the original would leave this one alone to develop it's own history.
Only good due to the proximity to Lincoln Center – Went here for dinner prior to ballet at Lincoln Center. Food is truly terrible, and not that cheap for the quality. Crab cakes (average), filet of sole (sauce was gross maple syrup!!), mussels (sandy, below average)-white wine butter sauce was good tho; house pinot grigio -below average.
It does have a great view though and is convenient to Lincoln Center. The bar was crowded with 30s-50s year olds, nice looking crowd. Our waitress was from Ireland and extremely nice.
PJ Clueless – My girlfriend and I went there this afternoon for lunch after having passed by and thinking it looked like a good place to eat, and knowing the history of the original place. It seems like a good place to throw back a beer, but i have to say, from a food perspective, it is the worst. I had a grilled chicken sandwich [with a slice of cheddar, a slice of apple and sweet onion [which weren't]] and she had a Chicken Salad. The sandwich was a tasteless waste bland chicken. To boot, none of the sandwiches come with any sides which is a BIG deal when you're paying $12.50. The salad was mediocre as well and certainly not worth the $16 price tag. Oh, the pickle was good.
Let's not forget about the service. It's as carefree as the food is tasteless......I guess there's something to be said for consistency....Bad over priced food, bland could care less service. Nice.
It's a shame that the new owners are looking no more than to cash in on the original and it's famed history instead of really creating something new. The original was a raw old time saloon with befitting [and satisfying] saloon grub. This is neither a saloon nor a restaurant.
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