Located in a historic 18th century carriage house illuminated by fireplaces, hanging chandeliers, candlelit tables and windows that overlook a lush private garden, AAA Four Diamond-rated restaurant, One if by Land, Two if by Sea is frequently recognized as the most romantic restaurant in New York City. It’s also been known to host a few lingering souls from its storied past.
After hours, when the music subsides from the weekend jazz brunches and the romantic dinners are over, a few resident ghosts remain, lurking in the dining room shadows. Over the years, the apparitions have appeared to staff members working late nights on more than one occasion.
In the spirit of Halloween, Sommelier Kirk Adair shared with us the spooky accounts of the real-life haunted restaurant.
The landmarked carriage house and accompanying barn that is now One if by Land, Two if by Sea dates back to the 1790s when it belonged to controversial American politico and third vice president of the United States, Aaron Burr, then the Attorney General of New York.
If the brick walls could only talk; One if by Land, has seen a lot in its years, long before being established as a restaurant in 1973. Though its beginnings are still fairly mysterious, its alleged ghosts reveal parts of its history.
According to Adair, the carriage house was sold at auction in the late 1890’s to a blacksmith who “is reputed to still haunt the stairways of upper stories of the building where he lived and was seen by a retired staff member many years ago.”
A “White Lady” has also appeared late at night on the staircase from the mezzanine to the Garden Room where she is only seen descending but never going up. One of the many paranormal investigators and mediums that have visited the restaurant theorizes that it is because she died falling down the steps. The Constitution Room is haunted by a “protective” and gentle female spirit that several investigators say was once a dancer in Flo Ziegfeld’s Follies.
“Our ghosts are very friendly and non-intrusive,” said Adair, emphasizing that the spirits have never appeared during business hours. He also stresses that being a so-called haunted restaurant, is “simply a very small aspect of the overall culinary picture.” Like a lot of old things and antiques, One if by Land’s quirks only add to its charm.
Aside from the opportunity to dine among ghosts, the unmarked restaurant at 17 Barrow Street features a very good wine cellar and an impressive selection of menus, which includes 11 and 6 course chef’s tasting menus with optional wine pairing.