NYC’s Most Romantic Restaurant
For more than four decades, One if by Land, Two if by Sea has been the city’s most romantic restaurant, with white tablecloths, velvet-backed chairs and countless candles. We talked with Kirk Adair, the restaurant sommelier and in-house historian. Here are ten amazing stories about New York’s most romantic restaurant.
It is inside Aaron Burr’s carriage house.
Yes, the same Aaron Burr who served as vice president, killed Alexander Hamilton and is currently enjoying a reputational revival thanks to the soaring popularity of a new Broadway musical. Burr held his horses and carriages in the One if by Land, Two if by Sea building at 17 Barrow Street during the 1790s, when he served as the New York State Attorney General.
Paul Revere stationed his horse here.
The restaurant’s name comes from the fact that Boston patriot Paul Revere (whose midnight ride inspired Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s famous poem) stabled his horse here while he was on General Washington’s staff in New York City. One of the restaurant’s original owners learned of the poem while studying for the U.S. citizenship exam and thought it made a perfect name, given the building’s historical connection and its meat and fish menu.
It was used in the Underground Railroad.
An 18th-century, barrel-vaulted tunnel connects the restaurant to Hudson Street. Nobody knows why the tunnel was built (Adair muses it could have been to smuggle contraband or for Revolutionary War purposes), but it is “almost certain” that fugitive slaves used it to get to the carriage house as a stopover on the Underground Railroad to Canada.
Photo by @_maya_ram_ on Instagram.
There’s a proposal each night.
During winter months, there are eight to nine proposals per week. “Proposals are usually very subtle,” says Adair. “We had a classical violinist in attendance for one, but we try not to disturb our regular clientele with theatrics.”
There are up to 300 weddings per year.
Between 200 and 300 couples choose One if by Land, Two if by Sea for their wedding venue, most of them in summer months, when there are upwards of five per week.
Thanks to Jacqueline Onassis, it has served almost 1 million Beef Wellingtons.
The restaurant’s signature dish is Beef Wellington, but not like you’ve ever had it. In 1985, regular guest Jacqueline Onassis requested an individualized version of the dish (rather than the traditional loaf sliced into servings). The idea stuck, and over the years, the restaurant has served nearly one million Beef Wellingtons. As the restaurant nears the threshold, chef Gary Volkov has announced the “One Millionth Beef Wellington Contest,” in which the person who orders the one millionth Beef Wellington gets a comped meal.
Celebrities love it.
Lauren Bacall, Johnny Depp, Leonardo DiCaprio, Gwyneth Paltrow, Will Smith, Bill Clinton and more have visited. “The list goes on and on,” says Adair.
Photo by @mrssuzanneosborne on Instagram.
It is haunted (according to staff).
When the last diners have gone home, the spirits come out, according to former staff members and paranormal investigators. One is a former dancer in Ziegfeld’s Follies, another seems to have died while falling down the steps. “We deal with the tangibles of the food and wine to the living, so we are not a ‘Spiritual Theme Park,’” assures Kirk. It’s “simply a very small and non-intrusive aspect of the overall culinary picture.”
Rosé champagne is the drink of choice.
For extra-special occasions, Kirk says that the majority of clientele goes for a rosé champagne, like the Louis Roederer Brut Millesime Rosé or the Laurent-Perrier Rosé Brut blend. Why? They’re celebratory and don’t break the bank, according to Adair. Plus, “pink is the color of ‘love in bloom.’”
The historic walls block wifi.
Mineral composition from the historic walls, which date back to the 1760s, interferes with wifi reception in certain areas of the restaurant. Better to focus on your date anyway.
Featured photo by Younger star Dan Amboyer on Instagram.