UrbanDaddy

Published November 20, 2012

Bill of Goods
John DeLucie Remakes Bill’s Gay Nineties

Bill’s Gay Nineties.

The quintessential old-school watering hole. A onetime actual speakeasy, tragically cut down in a lease disagreement after 88 years of delightfully heavy-handed martinis.

You know the story.

Here’s the sequel...

Meet just plain Bill’s, an admittedly alluring homage to the beloved, piano-tinged earlier version, now with gargantuan cuts of beef and a power lunch scene. It’s now open, and it’s brought to you by the man behind the Lion and Crown.

Along with a lot of skeptical former patrons, here’s what you can expect from the new version...

What’s New
All the old stuff. The bar’s new, but antique. Same with the croquet mallets, golf clubs and anonymous vintage team photos. The tan, tufted-leather banquettes and ram’s and wild boar’s heads upstairs: “new.”

What’s Left
The piano in the downstairs bar. That majestic second-floor fireplace. The old-school entrance phone booth. Your low-lit, sepia-toned existence there. And the silver-dollar “Bill’s” sign in the floor tiles. (Probably because they’re glued down.)

What Still Stings
Those timeless checkered tablecloths at the two-tops near the bar are gone. There’s a sign above the new, white-clothed tables that reads “Drunkards shall not inherit the kingdom of God” that feels slightly low-blow-ish.

What’s Definitely Better
Two-person veal shanks, smoked bacon chops and house Bolognese just completely overwhelm any nostalgia you’ve got for dinner at the earlier Bill’s.

Oh, and they still do cocktails.
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Photo: Oleg March