Twenty years ago almost to the day - the New Yorker served its first dinner.

As they celebrated the restaurant's March 12, 1978, opening, owners Tom Sieg and John Williams couldn't have imagined that their vision of a first-class private club would become a solid standard of excellence on the Salt Lake food scene.Ironically, their instantly hot new restaurant was established in a building the board of health had shut down years back.

These days the New Yorker leads the lists in prestigious dining guides. For instance, the 1998 Zagat American Top Restaurants Survey ranks The New Yorker #1 in Utah, describing the Market Street club as "a downtown sanctuary." The guide also calls it the state's most popular restaurant.

In the beginnings of renovation, Sieg and Williams - at times wielding jackhammers - led the charge of architects and artisansinto the basement boiler room of the condemned New York Building.

Then AND now, the two remain movers and shakers in the dining world.

After the revitalization of the boiler room and sudden popularity of the New Yorker, the partners added culinary expert Tom Guinney and incorporated themselves into the Gastronomy group.

Cautiously, creatively, the grand triumverate mined restaurants out of salvagable buildings way past their prime. Their efforts have infused Salt Lake City with exciting visual and culinary creations.

As the New Yorker took shape, the "no man's land" around what was then Post Office Place began to improve. Rough neighborhood buildings were bought by other speculators, and other restaurants popped up near the New Yorker.

While experiencing the ambience and menu at the New Yorker, it's interesting to look for some of the improvements that changed the once-dirty, dank place into an architectural showpiece.

There was a time when dusty cots were lined along the basement's upper level (the more formal area of the restaurant). The place had been the Salvation Army's sleeping dorm.

Flea-ridden beds were moved out and junked. Circular booths salvaged from the Hotel Utah's Sky Room took their place, giving the New Yorker Club a classy style and warmth. The lower level is for the more-casual Cafe at the New Yorker.

Under the dramatic skylights that were once in the Hotel Utah coffee shop, many ideas have no doubt been formulated by Sieg and Williams. One innovation - to offer bus shuttle service to Jazz games and other events - remains a highly successful draw today.

Private dining rooms within the cavernous area were designed for wedding breakfasts, business meetings and special events. The first such room was aptly named The Little Apple.

T. Upton Ramsey, a well-known local gourmet cook who trained at Cordon Bleu, was the New Yorker's first chef. Following a few other changes, executive chef Will Pliler has remained at the helm - well-respected for his cooking skills and imagination.

The New Yorker's menu from 1978 is fun. Remember when?

APPETIZERS

Terrine de Maison $2

Proscuitto & Melon $3.25

Herring Filets with Sour Cream $2

Shrimp Remoulade $4.50

Mushrooms stuffed with Escargots $4.50

SALADS

Hearts of Palm $3.75

Fresh Mushroom $2.75

ENTREES

The New Yorker Steak $11

Tenderloin Fillet with Bearnaise, Bordelaise or Green Peppercorn Sauce $10.50

Rack of Lamb (Please allow 30 minutes) $12.50

Escallops of milk fed Veal with Lemon Butter & Parsley $9

Boned-Half Roasted Chicken flavored with Tarragon $6.50

(All entrees include Soup of the Day or Tossed Green Salad, Fresh Vegetable and Rice or Potato)

DESSERTS

Frango $2

Cheese Cake $1.50

BEVERAGES

Coffee, Tea, Sanka, Milk .50

*****

Recipes

LOBSTER & TOMATO FETTUCCINE

6 cups cooked first quality fettuccine noodles

1 pound cooked Maine lobster meat, chopped into bite-size pieces

1 pint heavy cream

4 tablespoons chilled butter, cut into 6 pieces

4 medium-ripe tomatoes, seeded and chopped

1/2 cup fresh basil, shredded

Salt and pepper to taste

4 ounces grated Parmesan cheese (optional)

In a large saucepan, over medium high heat, simmer cream and tomatoes until sauce becomes slightly thickened, about 8 to 10 minutes. Add butter, lobster and basil and continue cooking 4 to 5 minutes more, or until butter is incorporated. Add salt and pepper to taste, if desired. Warm pasta in hot water, drain well, and divide between 4 platters. Pour sauce over pasta and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Serves 4.

- Each serving contains 1089 calories, 68g fat, 68g carb, 1283mg sodium, 377mg cholesterol.

- From Chef Will Pliler, The New Yorker

DUNGENESS CRAB CAKES

1 pound Dungeness crab

1/4 cup butter

1/2 cup onions, chopped

1/2 cup bread crumbs

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons cream

1/2 teaspoon dry mustard

1 - 2 dashes cayenne pepper

3 large eggs

Salt to taste

Parsley

Saute onions in butter. Mix all ingredients together, allow one hour for bread crumbs to "bloom" before portioning. Separate into eight smaller patties, roll gently in extra bread crumbs. Warm a large non-stick saute pan or electric skillet to medium heat, add a little butter, cook until the foam subsides, then add the crab cakes and saute for 5-6 minutes on each side, being careful not to overbrown. Serve with tartar sauce and lemon wedges. Serves 4.

- Each serving contains 359 calories, 19g fat, 16g carb, 853mg sodium, 133mg cholesterol.

- From Chef Will Pliler, The New Yorker

ROASTED GARLIC POTATOES

8 large baking potatoes, peeled and sliced

1 recipe Roast Garlic Cream, warmed

Salt and pepper

Slice potatoes thin, preferably on a slicer; soak in cold water to rinse off excess starch. Drain and pat dry on absorbent paper towels. In a medium-size lightly-buttered casserole, begin layering potatoes and a thin coat of Garlic Cream (seasoned with a pinch of salt and white pepper) until the casserole is nearly full. Bake immediately covered at 375 degrees F for 1 hour. Allow to cool for a few minutes, then serve as is. You may also cut into squares or circles and arrange on platters. Sprinkle with finely chopped chives, if desired. Serves 12.

- Each serving contains 428 calories, 30g fat, 38g carb, 85mg sodium, 109mg cholesterol.

- From Chef Will Pliler, The New Yorker

ROASTED GARLIC CREAM

1 head garlic bulbs, roasted for 45 minutes

4 cups heavy cream, scalded

Roast garlic whole in a 375 degree F oven for 45 minutes. Allow to cool. When garlic is cool enough to handle, cut in half crosswise to expose the garlic. Squeeze exposed garlic into the scaled dream; blend in a blender or hand mixer until mixed well. Set aside for use in Roasted Garlic Potatoes or other recipes. Makes 12 servings.

- Each serving contains 281 calories, 30g fat, 38g carb, 85mg sodium, 109mg cholesterol.

- om Chef Will Pliler, The New Yorker

"BUFFALO" BBQ SHRIMP AND CRAB SLAW

24 large shrimp (size 16-20), peeled and deveined

1 cup James Brown BBQ sauce (or your favorite)

2 tablespoons Chinese Hot Chile Sauce (Sricha)

2 cups shredded cole slaw mix

1 cup snow or Dungeness crab meat

1/2 cup bottled Italian dressing

12 ounce bottle blue cheese dressing

Red and Green Tabasco sauce (optional)

In a mixing bowl, stir together the BBQ sauce and the Chinese hot sauce. Add the shrimp and refrigerate for up to 8 hours. To make the crab slaw, add the cole slaw mix (red and green cabbage and shredded carrots) to a mixing bowl. Stir in the crab and the Italian dressing. To assemble the dish: Place the shrimp on bamboo skewers, four on each skewer; then cook them on a pre-heated gas BBQ or saute them in a large non-stick skillet. Cook approximately 2 minutes on each side. While the shrimp are cooking, ladle 2 ounces of the blue cheese dressing on each of 6 plates. Spread dressing around, then add 1/2 cup of the crab slaw in the center of each plate. You may garnish the plate with dots of red and green Tabasco sauce if a spicier dish is desired. When the shrimp are finished cooking, place a skewer of shrimp atop each plate of crab slaw. Serve immediately. Makes 6 servings.

- Each serving contains 550 calories, 45g fat, 28g carb, 1676mg sodium, 80mg cholesterol.

- From Chef Will Pliler, The New Yorker