On my birthday, my boyfriend took the time to carefully choose the most romantic restaurant in NYC. A week before, we were having a house dinner with a couple, and they mentioned they went to One If By Land, Two If By Sea the week before for their anniversary. She said she did her proper research, and this had been considered for decades a go-to place for romantic dinners and celebrations. I found out later that even close part of the place for weddings. My uncle, who was having dinner with us that day, said that he had been there about 20 years ago. The choice then was easy.
It was a surprise, and by the time we were half way there I figured out where we were going. We went to Barrow Street and searched, amid the dark, for the door with a very discrete sign beside, by the wall. By the door, there was a pianist playing romantic songs to set the mood. The restaurant is filled with flowers, and there were a few tables by the bar attached to two fireplaces. Unfortunately, all of these were full, and we could not get a drink there before or after our dinner. It did not really matter. We sat on the second floor, more intimate and romantic, in a candlelit table.
The restaurant’s name has a pretty interesting story behind it. It is based on a poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow called Paul Revere‘s Ride. On the event of an attack by the British in 1775, Revere was sent out to warn nearby towns to prepare them for what was coming. He created an alarm system with a lantern, to let colonists know about the movement of the troops. One lantern signal meant “by land”, two meant “by sea”. The system therefore became known as “one if by land, two if by sea”. He then rode along several towns warning patriots along the route, and was followed by around 40 riders, in which later became known as the Midnight Ride.
Our waiter came and asked whether there was a special occasion for us to be there. We explained that it was my birthday. He gave us the menu and explained the different tasting menu options and the prix fixed menu, which we choose. The prix fixed menu costs $90, and gives you three courses, each with some options to choose from.
To start us off, the chef sender a mushroom velute, a small little soup that was good. We did not have any doubt regarding the main course. Our friends, as well as my uncle, all had the Beef Wellington, which apparently has been a classic choice for a long time. We requested our waiter’s help to choose the appetizers and deserts. This led to be an odd experience.
As foie gras fans, the foie gras torchon caught our eyes first. The country pâté, however, also seemed really nice. We also asked about some other dishes that looked interesting, but our waiter trashed most of them. I never really saw a waiter tell a costumer not to order a dish, plain and simple. He basically tried to decide for us what to eat, choosing from the traditional and most popular dishes at the restaurant. He was very pushy.
We ended up having the foie gras torchon, which came with granny smith apple, chestnut, and a brioche. The presentation was beautiful and very surprising. It was a LOT of foie gras. We also had the wild boar bolognese, with watercress, maitake, and castelmagno. This was the dish that came REALLY recommended by the waiter. It was good, but nothing special. If we at least had chosen it ourselves, we would have been OK with it not being so great…
The famous Beef Wellington, however, was amazing. It came perfectly cooked and wrapped in that tasty pastry, served with asparagus, potato croquettes and sauce bordelaise. If you go there, you have to order this dish. Don’t even bother looking at the rest of the menu. And for this one, we can be pushy like our waiter.
For desert, we ordered the Tasting of Chocolate. Along with it came a complimentary petit fours with Happy Birthday drizzled in chocolate on the plate, which was a very nice touch. Although there were not that many courses, we were pretty satisfied, and barely ate it all. We left really happy, with a very romantic mood accompanying us!
- Environment: *****
- Service: ***
- Food: ***
- Presentation: ***
- Rating: ***
- Price: $$$