For more than a century, starting in 1892, Brooklyn’s 372 Fulton Street was home to Gage & Tollner, one of New York City’s most celebrated restaurants. Then, in 2004, it closed, and the location became a TGI Friday’s, then an Arby’s, then a modest jewelry shop. As of 2021, Gage & Tollner is once again open, serving dishes from its heyday in its historic dining room, which has been preserved and restored.
It’s hard to overstate the restaurant’s iconic status. Lit by 36 gas lamps, with walls of burgundy velvet Lincrusta-Walton, long bars made of mahogany, room-length mirrors, and cherry wood arches, Gage and Tollner was as prestigious to Brooklyn as Delmonico’s was to Lower Manhattan. When it was landmarked in 1975, it was New York’s first landmarked dining room, and only its third landmarked interior; the first two were the New York Public Library and Grant’s Tomb.
For decades Brooklyn’s finest were served she-crab soup, Baltimore broiled clams, English mutton chops, and kidneys en brochette by waiters in gold striped uniforms that indicated their length of service, with the Gold Eagle the most prestigious award, signifying 25 years of service.
Even after the restaurant stumbled and closed, its landmark status guaranteed that features like its gas lamps and cherry wood arches endured, a reminder to Arby’s diners and shoppers of faux leather bags of the location’s former glory.
In 2018, a group of restaurateurs took over the lease. When they re-opened Gage & Tollner in 2021, local media widely declared their act of culinary time travel a success: The interior has been restored, the bar serves cocktails (mint juleps, assorted martinis) from the eating house’s glory days, and menu items such as she-crab soup and fried chicken recall the tenure of Edna Lewis—a Black Southerner who presided at Gage & Tollner from 1988 to 1992 and is hailed as one of America’s greatest chefs—while chops, Parker House rolls, and oysters and clams evoke an earlier, equally glittering era.
Know Before You Go
You probably want to order the Baked Alaska for dessert.