When most people picture comedy clubs, good food is not what comes to their minds. Indeed, many prospective patrons may fear or resent the obligatory dining that accompanies many venues these days—fare which consists of little better than flat, overpriced drinks and dehydration-inducing, microwaved finger food. Fortunately, The Stand proves that enjoying both is totally feasible.
Located in a section of Gramercy that is still deciding if it wants to be commercial or residential, The Stand looks fairly unassuming. Its glass-door exterior and neon light letters give it the appearance of a typical, small bar or club. However, it manages to make the most of its space. A staircase leads to the downstairs comedy club section. On the upstairs restaurant floor one finds plenty of seating room. To the left, one finds polished wooden tables with seating on either a plush-leather sofa or mahogany chairs. To the right, lies the equally cozy bar. Engraved tin ceilings and a full-length, horizontal mirror add high-class charm to a casual dining space that is intimate, yet never seems too crowded.
The wait-staff consists of hip twenty-somethings that are well suited to engaging with people of any age, but are especially adept at making conversation with college kids. My waiter consistently refilled my water and asked me how I liked things. At The Stand, I felt like a new addition to a new, energetic group of friends. In general, everything felt laidback and fun.
The food leans a little on the pricey side for the average twenty-something (pretty standard for the neighborhood), but the quality and innovativeness of the menu more than make up for the cost. It is important to clarify that The Stand features two menus—one with main courses for upstairs and one solely with appetizers downstairs. I recommend getting dinner upstairs before heading down.
After hearing several other customers call for order after order of them, I started with the Cheeseburger Dumplings for my appetizer. They come four to a plate on a bed of greens along with the delicious house sauce. The portion was deceptively small as I found high-quality beef and tons of cheese inside every bite. By the time I had finished, I felt as if I had eaten a medium-sized cheeseburger.
Made from a secret blend of condiments and a surprising ingredient (both of which I promised the hostess I wouldn’t reveal), the savory yet sweet and sour house sauce provided the perfect dipping opportunity for the dumplings and an excellent dressing for the greens.
Continuing to sample the menu’s most popular items, I tried the Truffle Mac ‘N’ Cheese—a side dish that I found as satiating as most main courses. Baked in a large bowl and doused with enough truffle essence to perfume the air around me, it is an excellent value and can work as an appetizer to split or an entree.
Based on my waiter’s recommendation, I ordered the Pepper Crusted Seared Tuna for my main course. I was presented with a very generous helping of sliced and seasoned tuna and a second well-dressed salad with a rich, creamy aioli sauce. The dish very much lived up to the menu’s claim of “sushi grade yellowfin!” Crackling and spicy on the sides, but succulent all-around, the tuna managed to exhibit excellent steak-like quality,
For dessert, I enjoyed the Nutella Fondue Pot, which is composed of fresh fruit, just-baked cookies, and roasted marshmallows around an igneous pool of hazelnut-chocolate goodness. Apparently, it’s a hit with couples and people who pretend they eat healthy. If you’re with a group of people, then it’s a great way to split dessert. Unrepentantly single, I savored ever last bite by myself!
Completely stuffed after my meal, I lumbered downstairs for one of The Stand’s comedy shows. While I found myself too full to order anything downstairs, I was happy to note that both the Cheeseburger Dumplings and the Truffle Mac n’ Cheese could be ordered in the comedy club area.
Comedy Club Bonus
For fifteen to twenty dollars, one can enjoy about an hour and a half of stand-up from some of the most celebrated comedians in New York. I had the pleasure of seeing a performance from the famous Nick Dipaolo along with headliner Ari Shaffir and Mike Lawrence —all three of which have graced Comedy Central. Each routine felt wonderfully organic, building up from the one before it and always considering the audience. Religion, age, race, sexuality, and domestic violence were all fair game, but at no point did it seem like anybody in the room was offended. Everybody up there was a seasoned pro and in the short moments when the laughter died down, they had no problem taking a turn for the self-deprecating.
The Stand is a great place to take a friend, a relative, an acquaintance, a date, or someone you plan on dumping for brunch, lunch, or a night out. If you’re feeling especially bold, you can hazard bringing Mom or Dad to the comedy club level, but you have been warned.
As the hostess assured me, “At the Stand, the food is no joke!” I might also add that either as a restaurant or a comedy club, The Stand stands on its own, but altogether, it presents some of the best Manhattan has to offer.
239 3rd Ave (Between 19th and 20th) New York, NY 10003
Open from 11 to 5 PM for Lunch and 5 PM to 12 AM for Dinner from Sunday to Thursday, and 5 PM to 2 AM on Friday and Saturday nights. Brunch from 11:30 AM to 5 PM on Saturdays and Sundays.