First Look: Legendary Restaurant Gage & Tollner Returns to Brooklyn

After a year-long reopening delay due to COVID-19, the iconic Gilded Age space is back in its original glory.

Gage & Tollner
Ribeye with creamed spinach | Photo by Lizzie Munro
Ribeye with creamed spinach | Photo by Lizzie Munro

One of the most anticipated restaurant openings of 2020 was without a doubt, Gage & Tollner. That is, until COVID-19 struck NYC during its planned opening week. 

One of Brooklyn’s most legendary restaurants, Gage & Tollner, originally opened in 1879, and went through various owners and concepts over the next 12 decades. But after years of decline and struggle on Fulton Street since the late ‘90s, it eventually closed in 2004. In the years that followed, the gorgeous Victorian-era space would (somewhat egregiously) house both a T.G.I.Friday’s and an Arby’s. But in the last few years or so, rumors of a possible revival of G&T began to surface. In 2016, the landlord announced he was looking for a new tenant.

G & T partners
Gage & Tollner partners: Ben Schneider, Sohui Kim and St. John Frizell | Photo by Lizzie Munro

In 2018, veteran restaurateurs Sohui Kim and Ben Schneider (the husband-and-wife duo behind The Good Fork and Insa), and St. John Frizell (Fort Defiance) launched a successful crowdfunding campaign to revive the restaurant, which was followed by a two-year buildout in preparation for a March 2020 grand opening. Just upon its planned opening week, COVID-19 hit and a shutdown ensued, forcing a 13-month delay. New Yorkers were first able to preview the restaurant’s offerings through meal kits that launched in February. 

But starting this week, Gage & Tollner is welcoming diners into their landmark dining room at 50% capacity for bookings up to 28 days in advance.

Gage & Tollner's dining room
Gage & Tollner's dining room | Photo by Lizzie Munro

Located at 372 Fulton Street in Downtown Brooklyn, the restaurant is known for its gorgeous Gilded Age dining room with signature gas-lit lamps, wall panels, brass chandeliers, and Victorian hat hooks. Gage & Tollner’s interior helped designate the restaurant as a NYC landmark in 1974, making it, after the New York Public Library and Grant’s Tomb, the third spot in the city to achieve such a status.

Led by Schneider, the restaurant’s interior restoration preserved much of the space’s historic  design elements while adding modernized touches. With new silk embroideries for the walls and plush red velvet banquettes to replace the former marble-topped bar, the original revolving door from 1919 was also refurbished, in addition to restoring the chandeliers and adding a coating of Venetian plaster to the ceiling.

Gage & Tollner's raw bar
Gage & Tollner's raw bar | Photo by Lizzie Munro

With the kitchen helmed by Kim and executive chef Adam Shepard, the menu pays homage to the restaurant’s original roots as a chop house and destination for oysters. An extensive raw bar menu includes both oysters and decadent seafood platters, house-made breads, steaks and chops a la carte, and desserts from pastry chef Caroline Schiff with classics like takes on both Baked Alaska and coconut cake. Drink options include wine and classic cocktails like a Sazerac or Whiskey Smash.

A secondary concept, to be located on the second floor of the building called Sunken Harbor Club, will also be opening at some point in 2021.

Take a look around the gorgeously revived space and secure your reservations via Resy

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Tae Yoon was born and raised in Queens, and is the Editor of Thrillist New York.
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