Ever wonder about that palatial structure looming over Lincoln Place? You know, the one with the Venetian stained glass windows and ornately carved balconies? (Perhaps visions of masked balls, or even an elite Dungeons and Dragons society come to mind.)
Well, wonder no more. Behind those massive wooden doors lies the Montauk Club, and your opportunity to kick back with some of Brooklyn’s old guard and a new wave of young, sophisticated Slopies.
Founded in 1889 to serve a sudden influx of affluent neighborhood residents, post-completion of the Brooklyn Bridge, the club suffered a long slump after its initial heyday. But in a phoenix-like ascent from the ashes, it is once again showing signs of life. A band of enterprising young members has nearly tripled membership over the past year by subjecting the club to an extreme makeover, reality TV style. This includes hosting a monthly movie night (popcorn provided) and regular wine classes, as well as elaborate parties like a recent speakeasy-themed fete, where ground-floor windows were plastered with butcher paper and bartenders slung Sidecars in coffee mugs.
Although you must be a member—or an unabashed freeloader—to eat, drink and attend events, dues are a steal even by outer-borough standards: $300 annually for those under 35, $550 for everyone else.
Movement in and out of the club kitchen over the past several months calls to mind a game of musical chairs, but the better food has remained consistent. At press time, Alexis Stanen, formerly of Prune, was at the helm—although the kitchen doors promise to revolve again any day—supplanting the tired club sandwich of yesteryear with a fresh take on old favorites: fried chicken livers with honey mustard and toasted walnuts, cornmeal-crusted cod alongside lime-spiked coleslaw, and a first-rate burger on a brioche bun.
Her philosophy? “The menu is totally in keeping with the place. It’s not avant-garde, but it’s well prepared. It’s satisfying and rustic rather than manicured, good for you in all sorts of ways.”
Those looking to wash down Stanen’s homey grub can choose from a concise but thoughtful list of mostly old-world wines or opt for a classic cocktail like a Manhattan (a nod to that little island across the way).
How to get in on all of this fabulousness? For starters, shoulder open those doors and inquire at the front desk about a tour. Then, perhaps it’s time for a three-month trial membership ($150). If you’re lucky enough to know a member, tag along for cocktails or dinner in the stunning mahogany bar-cum-dining room. While you may not rub elbows with any Deans or Schermerhorns these days, you’re still guaranteed distinguished company.
The Montauk Club is open Wednesday through Friday starting at 5:30 p.m and Sunday from 1:30–5:30 p.m. Dinner is served Wednesday through Friday, with a brunch buffet on Sunday. For more information go to www.montaukclub.com.