I personally think the way the theatre community ignores Sardi's—it's only culinary connection to Broadway's golden past—is unconscionable and criminal. Why hang out at the sub-par joints-of-the-moment when your cultural legacy awaits smack dab on W. 44th? Because you want better food? Actors don't care about good food. They just want something they can stuff in their mouth. And, moreover, there IS no good food in the Theatre District. No, showfolk just have to follow the bouncing spotlight to the place that will underline the idea that they're still hot, still sought-after, still on top of their game. And Sardi's isn't that anymore.
But it's a grand place, anyhow. Few restaurants can boast such a beautiful space, such a colorful atmosphere. While I was there, however, I learned of a sad development. The old wooden booths on the second floor—some of the best of their kind in the city—no longer have phones in them. They were taken out six months ago. The villainous phone company is to blame. They charge businesses extra for keeping phone booths in working order. Such a shame.
Who Goes There? Sardi's
Sardi's may well be the most undervalued restaurant in town. A time capsule from another era, as well-preserved and redolent of New York history as "21" or Peter Luger, it is nonetheless regularly dismissed as corny, uninspired, even embarrassing. By locals, I mean. Out-of-towners, of course, love it, and make a visit within its warm red walls a requirement of their regular Broadway sallies. In in the dog days of August, you'll see plenty of them most any evening between 6 and 8 PM, alerting waiters they have a show to go to (No! Really?), and craning their necks to identify at least one or two of the hundreds of largely unrecognizable caricatures of theatre greats that line the walls.