Stone Rose Lounge: Models and Mini-Bites
I will admit that I found myself at Stone Rose Lounge mostly through process of elimination. With tickets to the New York City ballet, I was looking for a swank pre-theater spot that my friends and I could nosh and imbibe at before the show. All my favorite pre-Lincoln Center options (Bar Boulud, A Voce Columbus, and Café Luxembourg) were unable to accommodate a large group last minute. And so, I gave Rande Gerber’s Time Warner Center ‘hotspot,’ Stone Rose, a chance.
The lounge itself is gorgeous, in a New York-Meets-Vegas sort of way. On the fourth floor, ‘the food floor,’ of the Time Warner Center, it has breathtaking views of Columbus Circle and Central Park. The large floor-to-ceiling windows seem to be just above the treetops, and you can almost imagine that the majesty of Central Park is in the palm of your hand. Stone Rose is 100% lounge with soaring ceilings, sleek contemporary couches, low cocktail tables, buttery leather benches and seating cubes. In the back are rounded banquette tables cut out of the wall, and a few traditional dining tables are scattered in the middle of the floor. Everything is slick and shiny, glittery at night, almost like a nightclub but without the DJ beats. If you’re only interested in drinks, a long and larger-than-life bar spans an entire wall – new age-y low lights make the entire thing glow in an almost cheesy sort of way.
In true lounge fashion, the service can best be described as shit. Although the scantily-clad waitresses are friendly, when you can manage to track them down, they regularly either disappear into “the kitchen” or spend a large chunk of time simply milling around the bar. At the end of the night, after waiting for 20 minutes for our waitress to swing by, I finally went up to the bar in hopes of settling my check – our waitress then magically appeared out of nowhere.
The food at Stone Rose Lounge is limited, though generally pretty tasty. All the dishes are eclectic American fusion small plates, with all the usual lounge options: hamburger sliders, beef skewers, artichoke dip, basic sushi rolls, cheese and charcuterie platters, and so forth. There’s nothing ground-breaking or particularly special about what the kitchen serves; however, as a complement to the fancy cocktails, the dishes do just fine. Perhaps the biggest gripe about the food at Stone Rose is how unbelievably over-priced it is for what amounts to little more than average cooking. And with irritating quirks, like how extra ‘naan’ (really, it’s just pita) for the artichoke dip is $3, Stone Rose is certainly not worth visiting if you’re only interested in eating.
The food certainly plays second fiddle to the cocktails. At Stone Rose, the complicated martinis and house specialty cocktails are the main event. Unfortunately, there are much better cocktails in Manhattan (Lambs Club, Little Branch, Yerba Buena Perry, Raine’s Law Room, Pegu Club, to name a few). Stone Rose’s ingredients and combinations are often inspired and unique; however, the execution is frequently off. Rarely can you actually taste the fun and unusual ingredients, for they are so dominated by whatever type of alcohol is included. I’m not paying $14 for a cocktail that tastes like a vodka shot. If I wanted a vodka shot, I’d go to the local dive in Hell’s Kitchen. You can tell that the menu was created by a master mixologist and that it is being executed by your typical bartender – what an error.
Stone Rose is all about atmosphere and glitz, a fact supported by its well-heeled, well-dressed and generally good-looking crowd. Other than the supremely convenient location and wondrous views though, Stone Rose falls to the level of mediocrity unfortunately shared by most of New York’s lounge clubs. The food is average, the cocktails only slightly above so. If you’re not tied to the Columbus Circle area, there are far better options for swank libations.
Perfect For: fashion week libations, blowing cash, expensive after-dinner drinks, large groups, models and bottles