Our family didn't have traditional traditions like holiday sing-alongs or camping trips. But when it came to restaurants, we had our established patterns. One of two same Little Tokyo restaurants on Sundays, same Chinese joint with grandma, Chan Dara Larchmont Fridays. And The Palm on birthdays.
The old school white jacket, dark floors and goofy caricatures on the walls became our place of choice for celebrating. It wasn't fancy or particularly festive, just loud and comfortable. Hardly dark and quiet, as it was depicted on "Entourage."
Moreover, the Palm proved that lobster equals special occasion. Both because of the price and the mere effort required to eat it.
Its odd charm still held some sway last time I was at a Palm (Second Avenue location) about eight years go. So what if I felt a little sillier wearing a bib than I did when I was 12. (The Italian-ness hardly registered, since its parmigiano roots were largely erased because a bureaucratic snafu. The Palm never was filed in my mind under "Italian restaurant.")
The lobster 80th anniversary special feels like a decent price ($85 for a five-pounder, more than enough for two, plus two sides and salads) and proves to be gut-bustingly filling. I don't know from whole steamed lobster much, but I don't swoon over the impressively sized red-shelled sea creature. The quality has declined, my memories were colored by nostalgia, or I've had better lobster in more complex prepared dishes. Regardless, Franken-food sized specimens like this don't have much depth to them. It could be endemic to the whole food industry, not just a problem with the Palm's suppliers. But local-is-best philosophy is not represented here. Steak is under-seasoned; the Palm isn't the place to get a choice cut expertly prepared.
The veggies still rock. Big, curling thick cottage potatoes should be sold at street stands. My dad also says he got the right thing by ordering veal; sticking to old school Italo-Americano standards might've been wise, if you like that sort of thing
The dessert tray just looks gross. We'll skip -- check please. They need to work on the presentation if they want to make an entire quarter of a generic cake look appetizing.
At least the corny caricatures continue to provide plenty of entertainment. While obviously a marketing ploy to court repeat customers, who doesn't love seeing Farah Fawcett depicted in the 70s complete with feathered hair? And the painted visage of a much younger Larry Flynt merits commenting, too. I bet he likes the Palm just the way it is.
All in all a fun evening. But I'm glad we're no longer stuck in our traditions.