First Ladies Luncheon at Delmonico’s

April 14, 2016 10:27 am Last Updated: April 14, 2016 10:27 am

The oldest restaurant in America can count many firsts, including the first printed menu, the first celebrity chef (Charles Ranhofer), and the first Eggs Benedict.

On April 20, it will celebrate the anniversary of another first. In 1868, at a time when women were required to be accompanied by a male escort to dine publicly, Delmonico’s was the first restaurant to serve women dining without the company of men.

In “Dining at Delmonico’s,” authors Judith Choate and James Canora recount how columnist Jane Cunningham Croly (better known to the readers of her column as Jennie June) was rejected from attending the New York Press Club’s banquet honoring Charles Dickens.

Croly and other women organized. As a result, the first club dedicated to professional women, Sorosis, was born; Croly went to restaurateur Lorenzo Delmonico seeking a gathering space. And so the first women’s only luncheon took place at Delmonico’s.

To honor the occasion, the restaurant is serving dishes from the original menu. One is a classic preparation of Sea Trout à la Meunière—crisp and golden on the outside and moist inside—served with a refreshing cucumber salad ($26). Asparagus being a hallmark of spring then and now, the other dish is Asparagus Nouvelles with hollandaise and black truffle ($16).

The First Ladies’ Luncheon Special Menu is available at both Delmonico’s and Delmonico’s Kitchen throughout the spring, starting April 20.

56 Beaver St.

Delmonico’s Kitchen
207 W. 36th St.

Delmonico's. (Courtesy of Delmonico's)
Delmonico’s. (Courtesy of Delmonico’s)