Opened in 1879 on Fulton Street in downtown Brooklyn, near where Shake Shack now stands, Gage & Tollner was a grand restaurant in the Victorian style, with massive mirrors, brocade furniture, and cut-glass chandeliers galore. The dining room was an imperial 100 feet in depth and seated 220 clad in furs and waistcoats. The forte of this grand dining establishment – Brooklyn's proudest and best – was seafood, and iced displays overflowed with clams, oysters, lobsters, and scallops still in their shells. Jimmy Durante and Mae West were regulars. From 1980 to 1995, when the place shuttered, the chef was African-born, Virginia-raised Edna Lewis, who transformed the menu with southern classics like she-crab soup. Sadly, the place closed in 1995, to be replaced by a T.G.I.Fridays – still retaining the landmarked interior.
For the next hour of Classics Week, Robert Siestema pays homage to some of New York's finest restaurants now lost to history.