The other day, I enjoyed what it surely one of the more obscure and hard-to-get lunch tickets in town. I was invited to have lunch at the basement grill of the old Players Club in Gramercy Park by one of theatrical club's members. The grill is only open to members so the only way you can dine there is to join the club or get an invite. There's a doorman with a list making sure no pretenders get in. He wouldn't even let me wait inside until my host arrived.
The grill is as old-fashioned as can be. Red-and-white-checkered tablecloths, a few banquets, wooden chairs with red-leather backs, a wooden bar at the end of the room. The waiters are dressed in white jackets and ties. The menu is limited (burger, french onion soup, ceasar salad, etc.). No money changes hands; the member signed a slip of paper and the bill is charged to his account.
The walls decorated with many portraits, drawings and caricatures of past and present members (mainly past). Bert Lahr, John Barrymore, Noel Coward, and a lot more you've never heard of unless you're a theatre geek. Some of these are quite wonderful and probably worth a lot of money. The club used to have a John Singer Sargent of Edwin Booth but sold it some years ago to raise money. There's a pool table at one end of the grill and an array of cues lining one corner of the room. Apparently, the pool tourneys here were once quite competitive.
The grill was about half-full. The conversation was mainly gossip about other actors not present. The food was fine, nothing special. Food at private clubs never is. But decent. It's the atmosphere that makes it convivial and relaxing.