Wall & Water: Midtown Style, Valley Ingredients, Wall Street Locale
The new hotel restaurant in the Wall Street Hyatt, Wall & Water, was made for power breakfasts, power lunches, power any meal. The food is expensive; the David Rockwell design is beyond luxe; and the location is crucial, just blocks from the New York Stock Exchange. Open daily early for breakfast and late for dinner, this high-end contemporary stock broker’s paradise offers all the requisite trappings for a meal where deal-making, martini-slurping, and boastful prices share equal importance.
The dining room is slinky and luxurious with a large and disorientingly open kitchen on one end and a marble charcuterie bar on the other. Soft and muted greys, blues and browns dominate the surprisingly intimiate space – deep grey banquettes, rich wood tables, almost dappled mood lighting, and nature-inspired design touches create a truly elegant and reserved atmosphere. David Rockwell and his design team have ensured that Wall & Water looks good; in fact, it looks far better than good. However, if you care about more than just the superficial exterior of a restaurant (which, if you’re just looking for a spot to impress clients, you may not), Wall & Water has its obvious quirks and shortfalls.
To begin with, the service is irritatingly obsequious. Everyone from the woman confirming my reservation to the hostess at the front to the often bumbling waiter was obviously struggling hard to be the most servile and overly accommodating person in the room, to the point of frequently interrupting conversation to check just one more time on whether everything was OK. The mark of an excellent restaurant, service-wise, is where servers seem almost to intuit when something is needed versus perpetual disruption of the flow of conversation. Not to mention, our server brought the wrong food and, instead of insisting to return it for the correct selections, asked if we were happy with what he brought (… yeah, that’s right.)
Argentine chef Maximo Lopez May offers food inspired by the ingredients and proteins available in the Hudson Valley – the menu offers delicious-sounding riffs on American favorites: burgers, steak, beet salads, roast turkey breast sandwiches, and ham & cheese. The actual products of the kitchen are certainly above average for New York, especially considering the barren culinary desert that is the financial district, yet by no means a) worth the price or b) worth the hype.
The lunch menu is limited (as our waiter mentioned many times so “to keep things as simple as possible for the diner because the world outside is so complicated *barf*), yet well-curated. Expect a few gourmet salads, 3 or 4 soups, sandwiches, a burger, ‘make-your-own steak’ and a few hot plate big-ticket entrees. Both my colleague and I opted for the Soup of the Day, roast cauliflower with blue cheese, and the braised veal cheeks with creamy grits and roasted peppers.
The soup was satisfying and creamy with tasty bits of crispy cauliflower and mini chunks of local blue cheese, yet despite the yummy flavor notes, it was served lukewarm. It is officially safe to say that creamy soups should certainly not be served in any way other than piping hot. – it is off-putting. The braised veal cheeks had high notes and low notes. Bad news first: the red peppers were out of place and too bright for the otherwise mellow and meaty dish; the creamy grits had vaguely unpleasant texture and were just not gritty enough; and the look of the dish was mildly terrifying with blobs of braised meat haphazardly placed on mealy grits – all beiges and browns. For good news, the veal cheeks were really excellent – beautifully braised with a soft melt-in-your-mouth texture and an addictive and delicate beefy flavor.
While not the best lunch I’ve had on the clock, even in the financial district, Wall & Water offers up all snazz and pizzazz necessary to turn a lunch into an experience that’s out-of-the-ordinary. The food is good enough to satisfy, even if it lacks some precision in preparation and presentation, and the scene is very luxe. Be sure to check out the gorgeous open kitchen that transitions so seemlessly into the dining area you could accidentally walk through it.