Every day, hundreds of NYU students walk down Waverly Place to their respective classrooms, yet not many know about the Torch Club at 18 Waverly Pl. Out of a group of 21 students, ranging from freshmen to juniors of various schools, five knew exactly what it was, four had very hazy ideas of its purpose and 14 were absolutely unaware of its existence.
The Torch Club, which opened in 1999, provides fine dining to alumni, faculty and visitors to NYU. This lunch-only establishment features wooden decor reminiscent of that of a Gilded Age library. It is run by Chef Mitchell Greene, who offers a seasonal menu featuring Neo-American cuisine. The two-course luncheon option includes a salad and an entree for $25, excluding tax and tip. The Torch Club also caters mixers, talks and private parties ranging from 10 to 150 guests.
Despite the misconception that the Torch Club is off-limits for NYU students, a spokesperson confirmed that the restaurant is more than happy to serve students — as long as we dine and pay as regular customers. However, some older students might remember not having to pay as much for a meal at the Torch Club. In Fall 2014, NYU opened up the Tap Room, the lower-level bar of the Torch Club, to students as a dining hall due to construction at what is now Lipton Hall. Upon entering, Gallatin junior Leo de Rothschild said, one would turn left, go down a flight of wooden stairs and swipe themselves into a small but cozy room with high-quality meal options.
“The Tap Room was my go-to lunch place; it was close to campus, it had good quality food and not many people knew about it because it was quite hidden,” de Rothschild said. He spoke fondly of the Tap Room as a small but intimate space that provided him and his friends with a different experience than they might find at typical dining halls. It felt exclusive, with food quality that truly merited the price of NYU meal plans.
CAS junior Gabby Carroll could not say the same.
“I didn’t really like the Tap Room,” she said. “All the food seemed like something I could find at Palladium or another dining hall. Every time I went there to eat, it was really crowded and hard to find seats. The decor seemed like it would be nice and quaint when the room wasn’t filled, but with so many people trying to eat lunch there, it was either unnoticeable or got in the way.”
Unfortunately, students who want to see the Tap Room today would have to pay as regular customers, not students with meal plans. When Lipton Hall reopened, there was no longer need for the substitution. De Rothschild saw this as a shame.
“Unless there’s a really good reason for it not to be a dining hall anymore, I’d say definitely open it up again because it’s a nice little place, and since it’s not well-advertised, people liked finding out about it and discovering it,” he said.
But for now, those who are prepared to pay the price can certainly head to 18 Waverly Pl. and discover the more upscale side of NYU dining.
Email Nina Huang at [email protected]