How much do you know about Lillie Langtry? Well, I knew zilch before eating at Lillie’s Victorian Bar & Restaurant. Let me bring you up to speed.
Lillie Langtry was a beautiful British actress and socialite in the 19th century known for her many suitors (one of which was future King of England, Edward VII). In 1882, she came to America to pursue her acting. The night she was set to debut at the New York Park Theatre, the building burned to the ground. All that was left was a sign saying, “Lillie Langtry,” which gave her fame throughout the country. Her fame lasted for over a half a century, and she’s remembered as challenging Victorian attitudes towards women. There’s plenty more information about her online, and Lillie’s even has a timeline of important dates in her life on their website if you’re curious for more. (She received her first marriage proposal in 1867 at the age of 14!)
Lillie’s Victorian Bar & Restaurant evokes the time of Lillie Langtry and the “gin palaces” of Northern Ireland and England with wood carvings and antiques from an actual 1800s Irish estate’s ballroom and Victorian mansion in Belfast. All of this adds up to a quite pretty place for a meal in the middle of Manhattan.
The menu is more traditional and comfort-food oriented. Think burgers, bangers and mash, shepherd’s pie, short ribs, mac and cheese, and salads. They also have an impressive selection of beers, whiskeys, and wines. Interesting fact: a majority of the wines they offer actually come from the Californian Langtry estate, which Lillie herself founded in 1888.
It’s quite hard for me to resist a chicken pot pie when it’s on the menu, so I ordered that and split an order of truffle fries with my friend. The pot pie here is served with the ultra light, super flaky, golden puff pastry, delicately placed on top of a bowl with the chicken, gravy, and vegetables. This is not your Marie Calendar’s frozen pot pie (although I sure did love those growing up). That combination of buttery pastry with creamy gravy is just too good. And along with a side of truffle fries with aged Parmesan on top and some aioli for dipping, it was quite the luxurious afternoon meal.
While I don’t know the story behind why the owners decided to make a restaurant revolving around one Lillie Langtry, it does make for a unique touch to a restaurant, and especially the area. The fact that the food is yummy and the drinks are plentiful just gives even more reason to visit when you’re in the area.
Chicken pot pie, truffle fries
13 E 17th St
New York, NY 10003