The new musical series Smash films in some great NYC restaurants.
By Gregory Jacobs-Roseman (Composer-Lyricist)
So we’re now a few episodes into the new musical TV show Smash. There’s a lot that I could say about the show, being a composer/lyricist working in the world of theatre. We could talk about its inaccuracies, its high points, its flaws – and I may write a post dedicated to that when the series has aired more episodes, but thus far the following is true: one, I like the show, and two, there’s one aspect about it in particular that I thought was pretty cool.
It happened in the pilot. This outdoor shot appeared on the screen and I gasped:
“That’s the bodega on 56th and 2nd!” I thought, “I stop in there every day to buy a bottle of Smartwater on my way to the gym!” It wasn’t just an establishing shot that then jumped to a set on a soundstage afterwards either. They really did film at that very bodega.
Notice the green tile and granite lined façade of the building behind Dev. That’s the Art & Design High School on 2nd Ave. between 56th and 57th.
That’s when I remembered I was watching a show filmed and set in modern day New York, and I was going to see a plethora of familiar places over the course of the season. For me, none have been more familiar than the many restaurants the characters frequent for their meetings, work, and dates.
My parents are both huge foodies. As a result, I’ve dined in pretty much all of the restaurants we’ve seen thus far on Smash, and have recognized them on sight. So, I thought it would be fun to compile a Smash restaurant guide (episodes 1-3) with links to their websites. Just to be clear, these are not intended to be actual full-on restaurant reviews, just observations of venues I've attended that also happened to have appeared on the show. If they keep this up, maybe I’ll do another installment. Here are the restaurants we’ve seen thus far, in order of appearance:
1. Wolfgang’s Steakhouse (54th street location)
When Karen and Dev have dinner with her parents upon their New York visit, Karen takes them to the new location of Wolfgang’s Steakhouse on 54th street, in the space that used to house Jean Georges’ Asian-influenced restaurant Vong (and also happens to be next door to my apartment building). If you’ve never been to Wolfgang’s before, grab a boatload of blood-thinning medication and go. They serve steak the way it’s done in New York, porterhouses sized and sliced for two, three, or four. It’s sensational, but you might want to (to quote a cliché) keep your cardiologist on speed-dial.
2. Bond 45
The first time we get the pleasure of watching Eileen toss a manhattan in her ex-husband’s face it’s at Bond 45. A famous and delicious Italian steakhouse in Times Square. The antipasto here is worth raving about. I was also surprised to learn they have a location in National Harbor, MD, just outside of Washington DC, when I was there for a wedding this past November.
SD26 is a popular restaurant for the characters of Smash. First, this is where Karen stands up Dev when he is having dinner with his coworkers 'cause she's stuck at the audition. Then an episode later we return to the bar area when Derek asks Karen to meet him so he can explain why she **spoiler alert** didn’t get cast as Marilyn, before Dev shows up and the two of them get into a spat over who is more British. I’ve eaten at SD26 only once – this past November with my mother during a special six-course white truffle dinner. The cuisine is Italian and it’s exquisite – though I may have been influenced by the fact that I was actually shaving my own white truffles onto every dish. Another cool thing about SD26 is in the bar area they have those self-service card-activated wine dispensers, which is great if you want to have tastes of a bunch of Italian wines.
Drink-in-the-face number two happens in the gorgeous arched dining room of Butter. I think someone needs to warn Eileen at this point that her ex-husband may be stalking her. The food at Butter is new American, the executive chef is Alex Guarnaschelli, and each time I’ve been I’ve had a meal that blew me away.
5. Café Orlin
It’s revealed via a painted window that Karen’s waitressing job is at Café Orlin (I suspected that was the venue, but it took the window to confirm it for me), an East Village staple I used to frequent when I was a student at NYU’s Graduate Musical Theatre Writing Program, as it was around the corner from the school (the program has since moved from its old East Village location). Middle eastern dishes and wine made this a great after-class spot.
Eileen sure has exquisite taste. Twice in episode three she’s spotted at Daniel, chef Daniel Boulud’s upper east side signature restaurant. Eileen also has some chutzpah, ‘cause this is the sight of drink-in-the-face number three, something I would never dare in a Daniel Boulud establishment. There’s not much I can say about Daniel that isn’t praise, praise, and more praise. There are only six New York restaurants that have a four star rating from the New York Times and Daniel is one of them. This is fine dining at its height.
When Tom is taken on a date in episode 3, he looks around the garden dining area and remarks “I didn’t even know this was back here.” And why would he? They’re sitting at the Cloister Café in the East Village, a hidden gem of a restaurant. The outdoor garden is a favorite of mine during the summer, and the food – standard café fare – always satisfies.
Ah. New York and the gamut of its dining establishments. I look forward to seeing where else these characters choose to dine, and how many more manhattans get thrown in Eileen's ex-husband's face.
Oh, and PS: Happy Leap Day!
GREGORY JACOBS-ROSEMAN is a composer/lyricist and theatrical sound designer currently developing Save The Date: A New Musical Comedy. www.gregjr.com
EMAIL HIM | FACEBOOK | TWITTER | OTHER POSTS BY THIS AUTHOR