Fully taking over the ground-floor former ballroom space of a building that William Randolph Hearst built for his mistress (ladies, if your man hasn't bought you an entire skyscraper yet, you're doing something wrong), this new clubhouse of seafood and power-drinking comes from a vet of Nobu and Studio 54, and gives you everything you'd want out of a glitzy Midtown hangout.
Kick things off up front at the no-reservations bar with vuvuzela-esque hanging lights that aren't nearly as annoying, low comfy chairs, and a fireplace.
Make sure to check out the surrealist Victorian dreamscape of a conservatory right behind the bar -- it's got a live wall, a flowing white fabric ceiling, and mirrors that look like somebody chucked a water balloon filled with gold paint against them.
Bonus points if you can spot these little flying monkeys around the room, who're definitely into Blizzard of Ozz.
It may not seem like it, but the classics-inspired cocktails here are working with some next-level stuff. This Thirsty Traveler (John Popper?) is their take on the Americano, and employs equal parts Aperol and bittersweet vermouth from Imbue in Oregon, and instead of being diluted with soda...
…it's carbonated via CO2 from SCUBA tanks they've got sitting in back at the Chef's Bar.
Other drinks include the Mignotte Martini with gin, vermouth, and "house pickling liquid", and the Lex Golden above. Inspired by an Old Fashioned, it's made with Monkey Shoulder Scotch, Hella Bitters Wormwood, and hickory-smoked brown sugar.
Which is clearly smoked in the most awesome way possible.
The dining room rocks original stained glass from its previous life and features a "runway" right down the middle. Seems right, since the hostesses are at least catalog models.
The food comes courtesy of Danny Ye, who worked at Nobus from NY to LA, and did time at London's Fat Duck and Arzak in San Sebastian, both of which consistently nudge out Bennigan's to be rated as top-25 restaurants in the world. Here he's making a seafood-centric array of "impactfully flavored" eats like this delicious pile of fluke crudo topped w/ paper-thin vegetable slices, garlic chips, and ponzu salt.
This lobster tail's "been cooked like a steak": pan roasted in butter and covered in jus made from its head and other bits.
Dayboat scallops with sunchoke puree and truffle butter are much better than those crappy nightboat scallops.
At the very end of the dining room is this beauty of a raw bar, which you can sidle up to and grab 12 rotating bivalves including "the best oysters in the US" from Island Creek in Duxbury, Mass. Top them with a slew of sauces like jalapeño mignonette and sherry jardiniere w/ crispy kimchee.
Behind the raw bar is this hand-painted mirror covered in a school of fish inspired by Lulu's in London. "The fatness level of the fish was discussed for months."
On your way in and out, scope this original Warhol. Every day they put it away and take it back out so it isn't exposed for too long, which was probably never a concern when they were at Studio 54.
Published: February 25, 2013 at 11:00pm EST
111 E 56th St
New York, NY 10022
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