Gotham Bar and Grill

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Photograph: Meghan Petersen

The place:

Gotham Bar and Grill

(12 E 12th St between Fifth Ave and University Pl, 212-620-4020)
The diner: Chandler Sante, 52. Sitcom fans, we’re talking about that Chandler—Sante dated one of the creators of Friends and inspired the well-known character. He’s also a Queens native: “When you say you’re from Queens, you need to follow it up with a ‘you got a fucking problem with that?’”
The routine: “I’ve had a number of different lives at Gotham,” says Sante of his 21-year history with the 24-year-old eatery. He started holding business lunches at the restaurant in the late ’80s. “Then, like most people in the early ’90s, I sort of went broke.” Back on his feet, Sante returned to Gotham in 1998 and has been coming for dinner at least twice a week ever since, where he generally dines alone at the bar.
The order: “You really can’t make a mistake on this menu,” says Sante. “I bet there isn’t anything I haven’t ordered. I love the pork chops, the octopus. The miso cod is an icon. It’s incredible, it’s stupid good.” He adds, “I’m a bit of a wine nut. I will ask impossible questions and they always find something for me. Sometimes I’ll work backward and order my wine before my food. Sometimes I’ll buy an entire bottle and share it [with the other patrons].”
He says: “New York is filled with strangeness, anonymity. Then I come here and that’s peeled away a little bit…I’m always intrigued by the people who come here. For a high-end restaurant, I think this is one of the most egalitarian bars I’ve ever sat at. From actresses to the CEO of Vogue Europe to guys from Bay Ridge who bring their girlfriends. I once met someone at the bar who I went on a few dates with. It wasn’t meant to be. Don’t ever let a relationship ruin a restaurant.”

Are you a regular? E-mail us at eatout@timeoutny.com.

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