In no other world does cheesecake seem to go with theatre. But in New York? That combination’s a no-brainer.
“Why?” you may ask. Because Junior’s Cheesecake is right by Broadway, something I discovered recently while getting lost searching for Studio 54, the theatre that was, until January 13, the residence of The Lifespan of a Fact starring Daniel Radcliffe, Cherry Jones and Bobby Cannavale.
Now, if you don’t know what Junior’s is, it's the establishment that is responsible for creating the New York cheesecake as we know it — that delicious confection that is seemingly on every dessert menu in America. So naturally, I felt it only right to dine there after I got out of a matinee showing of Lifespan of a Fact.
For those interested, Lifespan of a Fact was an interesting little show. Situated in a smallish theatre about 10 minutes behind Times Square, Lifespan of a Fact is the story of a fact-checker (Radcliffe) and a writer (Cannavale) who are seemingly at odds trying to determine what should stay and what should go in a story about a boy who took his life jumping off the Stratosphere tower in Las Vegas.
Despite the dark nature of the story in question, the show itself is actually pretty comedic, much of which is owed to the three actors' masterful timing. But I’m not the New York Times, so if you’d like a full review, you can find that here.
If you’re reading this (which hi, obviously you are), then you probably care more about the fact that I saw Mr. Harry Potter in the flesh. Yes, he is very handsome in person. Yes, he is very toned in person. And yes, he is shorter in person, made all the more obvious by the fact that Cannavale towers over him — something that adds to the juxtaposition of their characters in the show.
After the show let out, I had a few hours before I needed to head to Queens for the first showing of one of my friends' short films (a documentary called The Sit Down that if you ever get the chance to see, you absolutely should take advantage of). So, I headed over to Junior’s for a light dinner and a slice of cheesecake.
I sat myself at the bar, where I met a very outgoing and fun bartender named Roberto. I just wanted an appetizer for dinner since I was really there for the cheesecake. So after discussing the decision with Roberto, I ordered the fried calamari. Strangely, I’d never had fried calamari before, but you know what? It was just fine. I’m certain their version is a good one, but I’m also certain that it’s not for me. It tasted like fried shrimp, but the texture was a little chewier. It wasn’t altogether rubbery, which is how I know Junior’s iteration is good. But yeah, not for me.
So the cheesecake. I ordered a fresh strawberry cheesecake slice, which might be one of the best morsels of Americana ever. The cheesecake itself was dense, tangy, creamy and indulgent. The nostalgically gelatinous strawberry sauce has just enough freshness and acidity to cut through the richness of the cheesecake. Together, the two components just sing, and it was like a beautiful two-part harmony on my palate.
It was so delicious and amazing, without being overly complicated. Junior's cheesecake is genuinely worth the hype that surrounds it. Plus, the old-world nostalgia of the place is too cute. It has you imaging that you must be dining where Cary Grant once dined. And for all I know, that could very well be true. Overall, Junior's is quite a classic little experience, and one I’d highly recommend for both Roberto and the cheesecake.
So if you were wondering since the beginning of this story what the lifespan of a cheesecake actually is, I found my cheesecake lasted approximately 15-20 minutes. And that’s a generous guess.