Celebrating a Birthday in NYC STYLE: Dinner at Bill’s Townhouse (Including Piano Bar Scene)

Who To Take: Someone looking for a swell down-to-earth piano bar or that corporate (prime rib) person who’s not pretentious and appreciates a relaxed setting

I will readily admit that I love classic NYC spots—that as you walk through the door you immediately feel as if you are walking into another era. Well, Bill’s Townhouse falls into this category in the most splendid way. Formerly known as Bill’s Gay ‘90s (for 90 years, appropriately), its second takeover has brought it back to its roots. The no-nonsense American menu, plateware, and artwork all lend a comforting, nostalgic presence. (This was a welcome reward after enthusiastically over-cocktailing at The Aviary just moments before—see our story here). We couldn’t wait to dig into some standard fare, and they did deliver.

To start, the Beet, Endive, & Walnut Salad and Caesar Salad whet the appetite, in the totally expected and satisfying way. For the second course we stuck with the appetizer menu—which is a move I recommend on a regular basis. Crab Cake (when do you not want a crab cake?) and Veal and Porcini Meatballs (ditto, meatballs) graced the table. Sigh…this is comfort food without the guilt, because the portion size is just right! All in all, the fare so very soulful.

Not only has the space been maintained to resemble the building’s origins with exposed beams, fireplace (albeit with candles), scads of mixed artwork, and old-fashioned white tablecloths—the best part of all is that we headed downstairs to the tavern after dinner to enjoy live music. There was a spirited mix of neighborhood elders, young corporate wolves, and a jaunty pianist gathered to make the evening memorable.

Bill’s Townhouse, 57 East 54th St (betw Madison/Park Ave)