Feb 20, 201309:46 AMFood & Dining
Tasty Tidbits and Food For Thought
This past Monday was President’s Day.
Officially titled Washington’s Birthday, this Federal Holiday was first implemented by Congress in 1879 to honor the Father of our Country, George Washington, and was originally celebrated on February 22nd, his actual birth date.
However, in 1971 Congress passed the Uniform Holiday Monday Act, which moved Washington’s Birthday, Memorial Day, Columbus Day and Veteran’s Day to designate Mondays.
Although many states have officially changed the name to Presidents’ Day to also honor Lincoln (whose birthday is on February 12th), the official federal holiday is still named Washington’s Birthday.
My family and I took advantage of the three day weekend and my daughter’s day off from school to take a trip to Manhattan.
After a full day of walking through New York City which included a scenic crossing over the Brooklyn Bridge, we decided to make our way for some late afternoon refreshment to the Fraunces Tavern, which is located on the lower tip of Manhattan in the Financial District.
Sadly, this area of the city was hit hard by hurricane Sandy, and the 14-foot storm surge caused several hundred thousand dollars damage to the building. Thankfully the restaurant was able to re-open after many weeks of repairs and clean-up.
We, as a family, decided to do our small part to support their business.
I could think of no better way to honor George Washington than to visit the Fraunces Tavern.
The Fraunces Tavern is a historic building which was originally constructed in 1719 as a private home. Before the revolution, the home was a meeting spot for the Sons of Liberty which was a group of American Patriots. During the Revolutionary War, the building was in the center of activity.
In 1775, the building’s roof was damaged by a cannonball fired from a British ship.
In December 1783, after the British evacuated New York, an elaborate feast was held at the Fraunces Tavern where U.S. General George Washington bade farewell to the officers of the Continental Army.
As we walked up to the building, the little brick home stood proudly, in contract to the sleek modern skyscrapers surrounding all sides.
We walked in the formal front door, slipped left past the hostess station to the Porterhouse Tavern and slid into a booth along the window next to a display case of top shelf whiskeys. The seating was cozy and informal, and there was a three piece acoustic Irish Band playing in the back of the bar area.
We marveled at the old fixtures, including exposed copper heating pipes and the broad ancient timber beams supporting the ceiling.
The tavern offered four selections from the Porterhouse Brewing Company, a craft brewer based in Dublin. I ordered the hearty Oyster Stout, which was offered as a special with three oysters on the half-shell for $12.
My husband chose the Porterhouse Red which was a smooth strong Irish Red Ale. We also snacked on calamari.
As I wandered my way towards the facilities, I spied many different rooms with contrasting styles. There was a “speakeasy” colonial style bar in the back corner which was mysterious, but empty; a formal dining room which appeared to be decorated in the colonial style, and a less formal dining room with church pews for seating, as well as a big portrait of George Washington. There was also a rustic Whiskey Bar with a fireplace and thin wooden benches along the bar.
Also on the premises was a Tavern Museum located upstairs; open daily from 12-5pm. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to visit the museum due to our late arrival. However, I hope to visit it sometime in the future, and perhaps, take the opportunity to have dinner in one of the other rooms I wandered through.
We finished our late afternoon beverages and got ready to plunge out into the cold New York City air. Warmed up by the atmosphere of the tavern, as well as the food and drink, the chilly walk to the subway station didn’t seem quite so bad. My leg muscles which were stiff after the long crossing over the Brooklyn Bridge now reanimated.
We had a terrific day in the city... one which included a glimpse of living history; a brief trip to the times and lifestyle of the Father of our Country, George Washington.