I write enough about the City's old taverns, you'd think I'd know every musty watering hole in town. I guess not. A reader wrote in recently and asked if I'd ever been to his favorite dive, the Grand Saloon on 23rd Street near Lex. What? Who? Neverhudduvit.
I have an out. Grand Saloon had been called a million things since it began life in the 1880s, so its history isn't as obvious as, say, McSorley's, which has been just one thing forever. It housed a brothel during the days of "Diamond" Jim Brady, who was a frequent patron. It was called the St. Blaize Hotel & Restaurant in those days.
In 1911 it became Klube's Steak House, as the lettering about the door still states. I like the pictures on either side of a lobster and a plate of fruit, showing just what sports like Brady ate, and how much. It was a speakeasy in the 1920s.
The new owners have done a nice restoration, even if the interior is scrubbed a tad too clean. The tile floor is obviously original. They say they removed the ceiling and found a tin ceiling underneath, which they restored. They also uncovered the brick fireplace. It's a nice place to get a drink. It needs to be lived in a bit more, though.