I was truly excited to visit the Classic Car Club Manhattan this last Friday night with my longtime friend and frequent dining partner Gail Worley. This type of venue was a change of pace for us. We both love cars but neither of us ever drive since we have both lived in Manhattan for 30 plus years. It is truly a thrill to be able to dine in a clubhouse atmosphere while looking through large windows at an insane classic car collection that includes everything from a sexy black 1966 Cadillac Fleetwood with white wall tires and mint condition cornflower blue cloth interior to a replica of James Dean’s famous 1955 Porsche Spyder known as Little Bastard. There are also modern day vehicles in the collection including recent Bentleys, BMWs, Porsches, Lamborginis and Corvettes.After checking out the cars–which members really get to drive anywhere from an hour to a weekend–Gail and I sat down near the modern bar to have dinner. There is also a nearby lounge are directly behind the bar with oversized leather couched where you can also get served food and drinks.I would describe the menu as Hearty Modern American but there are healthy options including the remarkable Beet Salad that we shared a starter. It’s a remarkable salad with cubed beets, golden raisins and topped goat cheese yogurt herb dressing. Honestly, this salad is very filling and it can easily qualify as a healthy entree.We then split the wonderful cheeseburger made with New York cheddar and topped with Bibb lettuce, pickles and juicy tomato; I really enjoyed the homemade sesame bun. The burger is large–about eight ounces–and comes with handcut fries. Again, this is big enough for two people to split as an entree and go home full.Gail and I are steak-o-files so we had to try the much hyped prime grassfed eight ounce filet mignon which was pan seared, tender and most importantly, lived up to its reputation. It comes with a side of handcut fries.We got some roasted Brussels Sprouts as a side and was amazed at the great selection of veggie sides including honey glazed heirloom carrots and Aleppo spiced cauliflower which is actually coated and fried lightly in olive oil; this comes with classic tzatziki sauce for dipping. The cauliflower is technically an appetizer but we had it as a side and it is quite a large portion. There is delicious cauliflower rice available for any of you “keto” diners!Gail and I were so stuffed after dinner that we could not even share a dessert so we decided to go take a second look at the collectors cars, then check out the two large event spaces on the upper floor that include a lot of racing themed furniture and art. We noticed a private party for a professional fight about to take place. The Classic Car Club is often rented out for private affairs. The night before Gail and I visited, Verve Records used the showroom with the gorgeous cars for a record release party.There are only 30 professional grade car racing simulator machines in the world and the Classic Car Club has three of them. Gail and I went upstairs to use two of them. It was intimidating at first because there are buttons that mimic manual transmission and we had never used stick shifts in our entire lives. We also knew that the on-screen action mimicked real Formula 1 racing. There is a manager on duty who makes you watch an instructional video on how the different buttons and pedals work and what real car parts they correspond to. He answers any questions you might have and also comes over to help you if you had any problems during your 10 minute slot on the machine. I crashed into a cement wall when my machine turned on and once I got over that hurdle it was smooth sailing. You can view where your racing opponents’ cars are and even talk to them via the high tech headset that you get to wear!You need to be a Classic Car Club Manhattan member to get to hang out there and use the restaurant or other club facilities. There are many wonderful members only events that include wine tastings and watching professional races on large screen TVs while munching and mingling. Members also get perks like free wine tastings at City Winery and VIP discounts at the club’s official hotel, the Soho Grand.You can learn more at www.classiccarclubmanhattan.com. There are additional payments required to actually take the cars on the premises out for a spin and more luxurious vehicles cost more to rent. They have very comprehensive insurance and on premises mechanics so you don’t have to be super nervous about getting into a fender bender. The club is located at Number 1 Pier 76, which is really 12th Avenue just a hair north of 34th Street. Phone number is 212-229-2402. There is also a London location. Memberships that include driving privileges start at $5,000 per year.
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