Visit our social channels!
April 13, 2024
BROADWAY EATS with Klea Blackhurst

The celebrated performer shares her favorite food picks shares her fave food spots ahead of her highly-anticipated season of shows at Chelsea Table + Stage.

Though we understand their circumstances may have been a bit different, like Oliver and his clan of orphan boys, we’ve all fallen into a daze dreaming of “food, glorious food” at one point or another.

After all, it’s been said that food is the great equalizer, connecting us and bringing us together, either with family or friends, colleagues or companions, or any others from all walks of life, to dine often at a communal table or gathering space wherein we share stories and reveal the most authentic parts of ourselves.

In our continued effort, however, to find our way into others’ hearts (and stomachs!), sometimes it helps to venture beyond our tables and into the kitchens of others — especially in a city with such a diversified abundance of eateries as New York.

And of course, you can’t spell “theatre” without “eat.”

So, in this new series, we’ve polled some of the Great Bright Way’s best to “dish” (get it?) on where they love to eat, drink, and take in the vibes either pre- or post-show, while also answering why they love to sup there, sharing a favorite dish or two, and more.

Photo Credit: Bill Westmoreland

Next up is feted cabaret performer Klea Blackhurst, who returns to Chelsea Table + Stage on April 14th with an evening honoring composer Vernon Duke. Attendees can expect such indisputable standards as “April in Paris,” “Autumn in New York,” “Banjo Eyes,” “Taking a Chance on Love,” “It Could Only Happen in the Movies,” and more… with a special (nay, obligatory) stop at the intersection of Duke and Ethel Merman.

But this is just one sector of Blackhurst’s new series at the intimate venue; a singer revered for her eclecticism — and never one to disappoint — she’s has already booked additional dates, returning later in the year for tributes to Jerry Herman, Hoagy Carmichael, Ethel Merman, and a special, singular career retrospective packed with a mélange of melodies, as well as several contemporary surprises. It’s all part, again, of a year-long series, appropriately titled “The Box Set.”

As a singer, Blackhurst has appeared in legendary concert halls all over the world, including Carnegie Hall, Jazz at Lincoln Center, Royal Albert Hall and the London Palladium. She’s performed alongside symphony orchestras from cities including, but not limited to, Atlanta, Boston, Pittsburgh and Philadelphia.

As an actress, her New York theater credits include Party Face opposite Hayley Mills, Bingo, Radio Gals, Oil City Symphony, and A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. She’s also appeared on television in Pose, The Knick, The Onion News Network, and Sesame Street.

Finally, Blackhurst is a proud member of Mendez Boxing Gym in Harlem, where she’s known, aptly and affectionately, as The Belter.

But given this wide breadth of renowned venues she’s got under her (boxing) belt, where does Blackhurst relax and unwind before a show?


Il Forno Hell’s Kitchen

(709 8th Ave.)

“Coming here is like coming home,” says Blackhurst, of Il Forno Hell’s Kitchen, likening her many visits to the rustic restaurant to that of a Disneyland trip, eliciting excitement and anticipation in equal measure.

Billed as “solid Italian in the heart of Times Square,” Il Forno Hell’s Kitchen is “completely reliable” in Blackhurst’s eyes when it comes to the delicacies of Bel Paese in Midtown Manhattan.

The singer cheekily notes the decór: With its natural stone walls, wooden wine barrels, and “doorways to nowhere,” Il Forno “does its very best to make you feel like you are in a crazy ye olde Italian country village.”

Meanwhile, Chef Mandla Nkiwane is in the kitchen churning out the classics – pastas and pizzas are plentiful, as expected, but so are inventive takes on wild mushroom risotto, mixed with goat cheese and truffle oil, an herb roasted chicken with orzo au jus, and grilled Atlantic salmon, served with tomatoes, cucumbers and toast in pesto sauce.

Photos courtesy of Il Forno Hell’s Kitchen

For Blackhurst, the Caesar salad, prepared with romaine, parmesan cheese & herbed croutons “is my favorite in the neighborhood” as is the “absolutely delicious” spaghetti pomodoro, tossed with fresh tomato, arugula and dusted with parmesan cheese. (Add a meatball if you desire for an additional charge).

To boot, “the espresso machine is legit,” she attests, should you find yourself needing a digestif, and she, again, reiterates how “the wood burning oven makes an amazing pizza,” noting the signature Black Label and fresh Garden Veggie & Ricotta varieties among her favorites.

And for folks feeling ambitious, a nightly prix-fixe consists of salad & soup, spaghetti and meatball, chicken marsala or the aforementioned risotto and a choice of house-made dessert (add a glass of house wine for an additional charge).

With a staff that’s “friendly, warm and welcoming,” always at the ready with a smile, it’s clear your destination Italia should be none other than Il Forno Hell’s Kitchen.

Il Forno Hell’s Kitchen is open Sunday, and Wednesday-Saturday; see website for exact hours. 

Café Un Deux Trois

(123 W. 44th St.)

Since 1977, Café Un Deux Trois has been situated in the heart of Times Square, where it first established itself as “the spot for dinner and drinks before [one]….heads off to Studio 54 or Xenon to dance the night away.” Today, it continues to be a regular watering hole for local New Yorkers, worldly tourists, politicians, and celebrities alike. Of course, on any given night, you’ll often find a Broadway cast or crew member dining after their show – “usually nestled in the corner [with a] baseball cap and glasses,” laughs Blackhurst.

Though the food is considered to be mainly bistro fare, their menu also includes a variety of sandwiches, burgers, and an extensive breakfast menu (or, on weekends, a brunch), featuring eggs, omelets, pancakes, French toast, and both sweet and savory crepes.

Photos courtesy of Café Un Deux Trois

For dinner, “the Boeuf Bourguignon and the escargot are my staples,” Blackhurst explains. The former is stewed with mushrooms in a red wine sauce and served with boiled potatoes, while the latter, served as an appetizer, come fresh out of the shell, swimming in garlic butter.

Also on the performer’s list is the steak frites, served with sauce au poivre; other must-haves for regulars include the Burger de Saumon – grilled salmon topped with cucumber, radish and avocado served with tartar sauce – the croque monsieur, served on buttery white bread with béchamel sauce, and the “best of the lot” onion soup gratinée, whose title speaks for itself.

And the desserts? “I’ve tried a lot of profiteroles in my life, but these are winners if I’ve ever seen some – hands down,” dripping with a warm chocolate sauce and dusted with slivered almonds.

“I’ve been going here for years,” Blackhurst continues. “They’ve really got the French bistro vibe down.” Another surprisingly alluring feature? “The tablecloths are actually butcher paper, and come with little cups of crayons,” she says. Though she’s aware they are quite obviously intended for the younger diners, Blackhurst admits to using these colorful utensils to outline her own shows while waiting for her meal. Who says you can’t combine business with pleasure? C’est magnifique indeed!

Café Un Deux Trois is open Tues-Sun for breakfast from 8am-10:30am, lunch from 11am-3:30, and dinner from 4pm-10:30pm; happy hour happens from 4-7pm, with 30% off drinks at the bar.

We’ll continue to present a new performer with new restaurants and new menus, so keep checking back to see who we poll and what’s on their mind at mealtime! Until next time, as always, bon appétit!

Share this post to Social Media

Other Interesting Posts


Or instantly Log In with Facebook