Based on the real life West Side gangster Thomas “Tanner” Smith (1887-1919), who is also a character in Divide the Dawn, the new establishment mixes classic early 20th Century charm with an elegant modern touch.
Tanner Smith’s, Located in the Theatre District on 55th street between 7th & Broadway (N, Q, R trains @ 57th St. station), is a perfect place to land after a show and share a cocktail with your group.
The food is great quality as well. The “Small Plates” section of the menu is perfect for groups and friends to share a communal meal. The Lamb Sliders and the Buffalo Chicken Spring Rolls were excellent. Of note also was the Artichoke Sun-dried Tomato Dip, a tasty Cheese Board, Duck Confit Spring Rolls and the House-Prepared Beef Jerky. All of the food is very fresh and five-star quality.
The staff is loads of fun. Albert, our bartender, an Irishman from Kildare is a handsome fella with a perma-grin who brings a charm and positivity that is infectious. There were lots of girls and their friends lined up along the bar who seemingly came just to spend time with him.
All in all, the atmosphere was positive and everyone seemed generally excited. But speaking of the atmosphere, what you’ll notice first about Tanner Smith’s is the old-world charm and the new world cleanliness, haha. Along one wall is the classic old NYC brick facade with extra seating and the other is lamp-lit with a clean-lined modern style.
The lighting is fantastic, especially at night. As a big fan of dark Irish bars, Tanner Smith’s does not disappoint. But there is classic and romantic gas-light styled lighting in remote and centrally located spots everywhere, including a stairwell to a semi-private back room, or what was termed during the early 20th Century, the “rear-room” where thugs used to play cards (Tanner Smith was shot and killed playing cards).
The flooring is old-styled and classic and the booths and seating, as well as the wallpaper brings you back to pre-prohibition times.
The drinks, however, were quite possibly the best part of the experience. Albert concocted for a friend and myself an incredibly tasty and interesting “smoked” cocktail called the “Winona.” Mixing bourbon with orange peel and a few other ingredients, then smoking it in a separate, enclosed bottle and allowing us to pour it into a rocks glass on our own, which had one large round ice-cube in it.
After enjoying the Winona, I had my favorite drink Jameson & Ginger Ale with a lime, then washed the food down with an ale.
The next time you’re visiting New York City, or going on a date or looking for a cool spot before or after a show in the Theatre District, check out Tanner Smith’s. You can thank me later.