the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

The New York City Speakeasy


New York is amazing.  Once you think you’ve seen it all, there’s another “secret place” to discover.  Luckily, I know Jake, the ultimate New York hipster, who can get me into any club, no matter who is on the VIP list.

Last night, we took a cab up to Harlem, to this little club as far away from the tourists as possible.  This club doesn’t even have a sign outside.  They don’t want anyone from New Jersey there.  You either know about this hot spot, or you are just a loser. 

Outside the club, a bouncer stands, watching every move.  If the cops wanted to, they could close this illegal “speakeasy” in a flash, but the club owner knows how to grease the wheels, so to speak.  Every cool person in town knows about this club.  And now I do.  Please do not send me emails asking me to tell you where it is.  As if one of YOU is cool enough to go to this club.  Even if Dooce commented on one of my posts, I wouldn’t tell her either.

The interior of the club is dark and rich with atmosphere.  There are many “ethnic” types mingling about, providing some local color.  The place has the smell of illicit activity.  A top band, whose name I cannot tell you, plays some tunes. 

But the real draw to this secret speakeasy is what makes it so illegal.  It is the sensuality of sin.  The erotic nature of the forbidden fruit.  Yes, ladies and gentlemen, in this club, the food served is still prepared using trans fats, despite the prohibition.

The New York City Board of Health voted yesterday to adopt the nation’s first major municipal ban on the use of… trans fats in restaurant cooking, a move that would radically transform the way food is prepared in thousands of restaurants, from McDonald’s to fashionable bistros to Chinese take-outs.

But the elite and trendsetters of “The Greatest City on Earth” march to their own culinary drummer.   Thus the trans fat speakeasy was born.

“Let the “bridge and tunnel crowd” eat soy-corn blend cooking oil when they go out,” said popular socialite/performance artist Oman Ginsberg. 

“I don’t care.  The fried chicken here is the best in the world” said club promoter/rapper/DJ Mr. Def-X, as an ambulance drove him to Mount Sinai Hospital after his massive heart attack.

A Year Ago on Citizen of the Month:  A Chicken Sausage for One of the Mishpucha


  1. V-Grrrl

    Imbibing in illicit hydrogenated fats? Neil, I’m shocked and dismayed at your moral turpitude! Just Say NO!

    I bet this sleazy speakeasy is secretly funded by the makers of Lipitor.

    Did you bring your own Crisco in a brown bag, stashed discreetly under your overcoat? Did you have to drive to NJ to get it? Are there transfat sniffing dogs at the borders?

    You know, it starts with a little hydrogenated soybean oil and before you know it, you’re hitting the hard stuff (hydrogenated palm kernel oil!) day after day. People with these habits end up being found in dead in the tub.

    Isn’t that what killed Elvis and Jim Morrison? It wasn’t drugs, it was the freakin Cheetos they ate after smoking dope!

  2. dooce

    Not even if I ask nicely?

  3. lux lisbon

    Great minds and all that…..

    (my post on a forum yesterday)
    “If I want to eat trans fats, that’s my inalienable right.”
    -the last words of Ronald Smith, a 436 lbs New Yorker, right before he was rushed to the hospital following a heart attack.


  4. Michele

    Ah, the morality.

    What was that Sylvester Stallone/Sandra Bullock movie where he’s a cop taken out of deep freeze in the future and they don’t even let people use salt?

    Very 1984, you know?

  5. JanePoe (aka Deborah)

    I’ll slip you a Lipitor if you tell me 😉

  6. Rhea

    Hey, V-grrrl, very funny comment.

  7. Shirl Grrrl

    Still laughing about V-Grrrl’s comment!


    I like trans fats cause Brittany likes trans fats.

  9. plain jane


  10. Neil

    Nah, that isn’t the real Dooce. She would have said something much more poetic (or said something about how trans fats are very bad)

  11. plain jane

    I’m so naive.

  12. Tatyana

    You transfat- induced heart attack versus my Pharaoh disease

    Wanna barter?

  13. Caryn

    Brilliant journalism here, Neil. I expect to see you teamed up with John Stossel any day now. Take that in whatever way you want.

  14. Eileen

    Once again proof that I am not a part of the cool kid crowd. sigh….

  15. Leslie

    Fried Twinkies and Oreo’s just don’t taste the same if you use soy oil. I’m just sayin’…

  16. Amy K

    When are you going to write about OTTO?

  17. Cover Your Mouth

    Once the Bloods and the Crips start shooting up street corners over a shipment of Crisco from Mexico, NYC’s Board of Health will have finally learned its lesson about the banning of personal vices.

  18. nelumbo

    Ohmygod Vgrrrl, you are right! It’s time for an intervention, if we really care about Neil.

  19. missmckay

    this reminds me of the secret steak joint in newport beach (owned by a missing fugitive from the law). if you called and asked directions they would hang up on you. if you asked for salt or pepper you’d get yelled at.

    great steak and great music. i don’t think it’s there anymore.

  20. mrsmogul

    HARLEM IS FAR! I used to go to a speakeasy in the village (starts with a C) and it was in the back of brownstones, you would never know it was there. It was hip and happening and busy!

  21. Mist 1

    I saw the dramatization of what happens to your arteries from trans-fat build up on the Today show this morning. They used a piece of pvc pipe, so I’m pretty sure it was scientific.

    I’m wondering if someone has been pouring transfats down my kitchen sink. The drain is running really slowly.

  22. Two Roads

    So does this mean we can finally get our french fries cooked in lard? I can’t wait!

  23. sandra

    I wanna know! I wanna know! If I bought you lunch, would that have helped? (stomps feet)

  24. Brooke

    I don’t cook with trans fat in my apartment. I guess I’m hipper than I thought.

    Or was that hippier?

  25. Neil

    Sandra, it was great meeting you for lunch. New York women are the hottest. Maybe because of rubbing your lucky shoulder, I’m feed of the day today on Feedster!

  26. plain jane

    Neil, the accolades never stop! Does your head still fit through the door of your childhood bedroom?

  27. Bre

    Woah. Did they even have partially hydrogenated oils?! You know they’re banning that from dog food now…

  28. Leezer

    My favorite line, “Even if Dooce commented on one of my posts, I wouldn’t tell her either.”

    I read about the trans-fat prohibition in the paper and couldn’t quite believe it. What’s next? No sugar? No carbs? Holy crap, do we really need to be taken care of in this way by the government?

    P.S. Next time I come to NY, I’m going to demand that you take me to the speakeasy.

  29. Dagny

    I only end up eating trans fats when I do not cook myself.

  30. gorillabuns

    mcdonalds will totally go down the crapper without this magical ingredient.

  31. mckay

    did you hear that mcdonald’s is experimenting with adding mini gyms in their restaurants? soon you’ll be able to eat your trans fat on an elliptical.

  32. jay

    Hardened arteries are so last year.

  33. echo

    I’ve lived in Harlem for over a year and I’ve never made it to a speakeasy. I’m totally not taking advantage of all that Harlem has to offer. I wonder what else I’m missing.

  34. Two Roads

    I think we need to stop Dagny from cooking herself. Soon she will have nothing left to eat.

  35. CP

    Not only am I cool enough to KNOW where you are talking about…I am also cool enough to be going there next week. Who rocks your world, babe? Who??? That’s right…me! Sexy cool New York City Jew girl who knows all the hideaways! So there, nyah~!


  36. danielle

    Some Jersey folks are in the know. 😉

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