You won’t read too many restaurant reviews here at Through the Clydescope, but when the blog’s namesake Walt “Clyde” Frazier opens up his own eatery/sports bar, I feel the need to weigh in. Clyde Frazier’s Wine and Dine, a joint collaboration between Frazier and Michael Weinstein of Ark Restaurants opened two months ago on the west side of Manhattan.
The restaurant is enormous, especially by New York City standards, taking up an entire city block (between 37th and 38th streets on Tenth Avenue). It includes a causal lounge area with a big screen TV, which is ideal for a small private party, a large bar area, tremendous dining area, with an exposed kitchen and of course, a mini basketball court where guests can shoot some hoops.
During an interview with Madison Square Garden Network Clyde said, “The essence of the restaurant is me” and he wasn’t kidding. If you enter from the uptown entrance you’ll be greeted by murals of Frazier on giant pillars. The walls on the left are covered with floor to ceiling images of Clyde from his playing days and the ceiling is adorned with several panels patterned after his eclectic suit collection.
That’s just the beginning of the homage to arguably the greatest Knick ever. The menu covers are also designed after Clyde’s flamboyant wardrobe and the drinks, referred to as Clyde’s Cocktails, are named after his favorite rhymes.
There’s Movin & Groovin, Posting & Toasting, Loosey Goosey, Winning & Grinning, Bounding & Astounding, Spinning & Winning, Swishing & Dishing, Hustling & Bustling, Stumbling & Bumbling and Dancing & Prancing. Unfortunately for Knicks fans, you won’t find a drink on the menu called Hacking & Whacking, Stylin & Profilin, Wheeling & Dealing, Swooping & Hooping, Penetrating & Devastating or Huffing & Stuffing.
The menu, developed by David Waltuck, the former owner and chef of Chanterelle in Tribeca, includes everything from pizza, burgers and sandwiches to more expensive items like seafood and steak, as well as ethnic appetizers such as steamed dumplings and knishes. Several items have a star next to them, indicating that they’re “Clyde’s Favorites.”
I’ve dined at Clyde’s on three occasions and have always been very pleased with my selection. In particular, I highly recommend the mussels appetizer, which are uniquely prepared with bread crumbs and soaked in garlic. The spaghetti with cheese-filled meatballs makes for a delicious main course and the burgers are quite tasty.
If there’s a downside to the Wine and Dine, it’s the spotty service. I visited for the first time with my wife on March 29th, proudly wearing my #10 New York Knicks jersey for the occasion. When we told our waitress that we were there to celebrate Clyde’s birthday she was a bit confused and asked if it was one of our birthday’s too.
Once we explained that it was not our birthday, we’re just big fans who wanted to celebrate Clyde’s birthday at his new restaurant she was very amused. She apologized for Clyde not being there in person, explaining that he was on the road with the Knicks (which of course we already knew) then took good care of us. She recommended the best dishes on the menu, including those superb mussels, and after dinner brought over a plate of complimentary cookies, with a candle in honor of Clyde.
I had no complaints after my second trip to the Wine and Dine, but the service was sub-par during my two subsequent visits. On both occasions, the restaurant experienced temporary problems with their televisions while I was watching a Knicks game and the amount of time I had to wait to order and receive a drink during my most recent visit, the afternoon of the first game of the Knicks-Heat playoff series, was simply unacceptable. Hopefully, these minor glitches are just the growing pains of a new restaurant and will get ironed out.
Clyde’s also seems to have a bit of an identity crisis. On the one hand, it has the characteristics of a classic sports bar, with about 50 flat screen televisions lined up above an extended bar area, a basketball hoop and murals of Clyde playing ball. Plus the essence of Clyde, just a few blocks from the Garden, is sure to draw plenty of sports fans.
On the other hand, the monochrome design, classy table cloths and smooth R&B music in the background, create the ambiance of an up-scale restaurant, with prices to match, which is a tough sell for a spot whose menu includes a cocktail called Stumbling and Bumbling. However, with a space that large, there’s no reason it can’t be used as a lounge, sports bar and upscale restaurant, possibly all at the same time, depending on the clientele and the occasion.
Perhaps, the best thing about the Wine and Dine is that unlike most athletes who lend their name to a restaurant, Clyde’s not an absentee owner. The Knick with the knack makes regular appearances when he’s in town, popping in after every Knicks home game to greet the guests.
All in all, Clyde’s boasts a fun atmosphere for sports fans and non-sports fans alike and offers some excellent dishes. Whether you’re looking for a good meal, a spot to host a small outing, someplace to watch a big game or just feel like doing a little swishing and dishing, head on over to Clyde Frazier’s Wine and Dine. You may even get to meet the legend himself.