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Posts from the ‘business lunch’ Category

Keens Chophouse: A Truly New York Original

I’ll readily admit that steakhouses generally don’t get me all-fired-up. Despite my love of red meat and creamed spinach, I find them over-the-top, stodgy, and generally uninspired. However, a recent dinner excursion to Keens Chophouse has me totally and completely enamored with the concept of the classic New York and only New York old-school steakhouse. Keens has been in business since 1885, and even longer if you count it’s prior affiliation with the Lambs Club, a theater and literary group. For those 125-ish years, it has remained in the pretty magical Herald Square location that it continues to occupy today. Sure, the surrounding neighborhood has transformed from a thriving theater and arts district into the grimy Fashion District a smidgeon too close to Penn Station no-mans-land, yet Keens Chophouse is a culinary beacon worth visiting.

The dining rooms, of which there are an astonishing number in the bi-level space, are dark, cozy, and charming. They have the creaky luxurious feel of beautifully-refurbished antiques and the palpable history of many many years of use. Despite the general buzz of large parties and the ability to walk on in without a reservation, the rooms  at Keens manage to exude the feeling of an exclusive private club. The ceilings are low and the walls paneled with rich dark wood; intricate brass lanterns hang from the ceiling, illuminating the rows of black-and-white photographs, framed yellowing documents, and gilt-framed oil paintings clustered together on every inch of wall space; banquettes of brilliant crimson and chocolate leather line the walls, pressed close against tables swathed with crisp white tablecloths. It’s all marvelous and intimate – no sign of cookie-cutter chain steakhouse decor here. Perhaps the most extraordinary design feature of Keens though, and what it is certainly famous for, are the rows upon rows of clay pipes that hang from the ceiling. In total, they number over 50,000 and are true relics (the story can be found here).

The food is what you would expect from a steakhouse – plenty of meat, plenty of seafood, and a few classic sides. It’s a USDA prime-only steakhouse, and the meat is just fantastic. Choice abounds – aged prime sirloin, king’s cut, t-bone, porterhouse cuts for two or three, short ribs, filet mignon, and, most wonderfully, chateaubriand. The chateaubriand, the most tender and flavorful cuts of tenderloin, serves two – and it’s a buttery, juicy, immensely rich marvel. Topped with the truffled creamy mushroom sauce, it’s a slice of heaven. The kitchen also offers its famous mutton chops, hulking and gargantuan, a slice of New York epicurean history, as well as pick-your-own lobsters, double lamb chops, buttermilk chicken, a classic preparation of the increasingly rare dover sole, and of course an array of traditional appetizers (crab cakes, oysters Rockefeller, iceberg lettuce with Stilton blue cheese dressing – which is just perfect – and shrimp cocktail). You know the drill – if you’ve ever been to a steakhouse, chain or not chain, the menu is familiar. At Keens though, the food tastes … homemade, authentic and loved; it doesn’t smack of assembly-line ‘production;’ there is real heartfelt cooking going on here.

Well, I’ll just come out and say it then: Keens is my favorite steakhouse in New York (of those that I’ve visited so far) and perhaps of all time. Dining at Keens is a pleasant, seamless, unique, and traditional experience – one worth trying at least once. The service is just perfect – present and attentive but not bothersome; and the combination of dim lighting, incredibly affordable wine, and truly wonderful food easily lulls you into a satiated state of happiness.

Perfect For: anniversary meals, showing your parents a slice of classic New York City, blowout client dinners, after-work scotches, a night out with the boys

Keens Steakhouse on Urbanspoon

Ciano: Flatiron’s New Gold-Plated Italian

Ciano, a charming Italian restaurant, is a welcome addition to Flatiron’s extensive though tepid culinary scene, yet it lacks the finesse to make it a truly memorable dining experience. It must be tough to make it as an Italian restaurant in New York, given the vast amounts of competition in almost every discernible neighborhood. And while Ciano is well-run and serves good Italian cuisine, it can’t hold a candle to the truly soulful Italian fixins’ at Locanda Verde, the now defunct Convivio, Apizz, or even the far more casual West Village newbie Spasso. It just comes up a little bit short on personality.

The duplex space on East 22nd Street, just around the corner from the Flatiron building, is the epitome of faux rusticity. At first blush, it appears to be brimming with rustic charm; lush plants are just about everywhere you look, the furniture and floor are both made of warm wood, and remnants of countryside kitsch are found everywhere. However, when one looks a little closer, all this rusticity at Ciano is noticeably false; it doesn’t look real or believable with crisp white tablecloths, plants arranged into perfect neat bouquets, expensive modern light fixtures, and each design element so impeccably suited to another that it just comes off as matchy-matchy. Sure, it’s ‘elegant,’ but the half-way rustic vibe makes it seem like Ciano is trying to hard to be trendy. My advice? If you want to be a fine dining restaurant, don’t sell out to the rustic chic trend and confidently go hog-wild with formality.

The simple Italian food at Ciano is prepared by Chef Shea Gallante, the former chef at the much beloved and deceased Cru, and is generally very good. It’s technically excellent, based on fresh seasonal ingredients, and ‘the stuff you want to eat,’ but for whatever reason, it’s not so delicious or so exciting for it to be memorable. The menu is short, but not too short, with nine snacks and five or six each of appetizers, pastas, and entrees. Out of the snacks, the arancini are tasty – ideal little bites of fried cheesy rice. The chicken liver crostini is also good, though not remarkable. As starters go, the burrata di bufala is naturally scrumptious (it’s pretty difficult to mess up burrata), particularly when layered with the savory sweet onion jam and bitter and salty pesto on top of the charred thick slices of country bread. But, the burrata is $18, an astonishing number for a starter offered for less at the very pricey Hearth or Peasant.

The pastas are delicious – the best thing offered by Ciano as far as I can tell, both in terms of taste and of value. A ‘spring’ ravioli, stuffed with burrata and sweet peas, is earthy, bright, and buttery; for $15, it’s one of the best deals on the menu. The pappardelle is more substantial, heavier, and meatier with a duck bolognese dusted with hearty oregano; nutty pecorino shaved on top makes this dish fairly addictive. The saffron tagliatelle is luxurious with chunks of Dungeness crab, yet the strong flavor of saffron is a touch over-powering; a lighter hand would transform this dish into something marvelous. As entrees go, Ciano’s are fine. A steak is just a steak, and the lamb loin with lamb sausage is just a lamb loin. There is nothing so astonishing or memorable about either.

Everything at Ciano is neat, clean, refined, and ‘just so.’ Both the food and the atmosphere seem too precise for casual Italian dining, too sterile to incite exuberant passion. Dining at Ciano is ‘nice,’ but not wonderful or thrilling, not something to remember for weeks after or to leap at the chance to repeat. With such a respected pedigree (former Cru chef, former Cru sommelier, and former Per Se maitre’d), I had hoped Ciano would just be better than the ‘good’ it is. It’s just the place to take clients from out of town – the price point is right and the room is elegant enough to impress; but for those seeking romance or intimacy, something different, Ciano is not so special.

Perfect For: taking clients out, treating your parents, indulging in ricotta cheese, third or fourth dates, having a ‘mature’ dinner out

Ciano on Urbanspoon

Tamarind Tribeca: Ethereal Indian, Moved 30 Blocks Downtown

‘Fancy’ Indian food isn’t for everyone – sometimes, a take-out tub of chicken tikka masala and a thick round of naan to dip messily into everything is just the best way to eat Indian – however, the second location of Flatiron favorite Tamarind does everything in its power to convince its diners that eating Indian in a fine dining environment instead of on your couch is a marvelous idea. And Tamarind-Tribeca resoundingly succeeds in transforming what could be an overly formal interpretation of soulful Indian cuisine into something delicious, elegant, and pleasant.

courtesy of Evan Sung for the New York Times

The new location, on Tribeca’s Hudson Street ‘restaurant row’, is, in one word, colossal. The corner space has soaring ceilings and more than 10,000 square feet of space. The front is glassy and sparkling new; the seamless floor-level ‘retail’ space of an office building. From the outside, it oozes corporate gloss; if you didn’t know a restaurant lay within, it could be a bank. Inside, dining room upon dining room unfolds as you wander further back into the cavern. The design is modern, sleek, and clean – almost impersonal and definitely suited for the slick business clientele that crowds this place after work hours. However, for non-corporate diners, despite the gargantuan size, it’s remarkably easy to fold into one of the comfortable booths and to forget, at least momentarily, the numbers of tables being turned around you. Warm neutral tones envelop the space and a combination of contemporary chandeliers and recessed lighting bathe patrons in an elegant amber glow; surfaces are swathed in smooth teak wood, cool marble, and luxurious fabrics. All in all, dining at Tamarind Tribeca is a well-oiled machine, a peaceful, and pleasant experience.

The food at Tamarind Tribeca is wonderful. Is there anything better than rich, fragrant, and perfectly-executed Indian food? The curries are flavorful, aromatic, textural, and not in the least bit greasy. Particularly marvelous is a ‘fiery’ hot lamb vindaloo that delights, despite inevitably causing sweats and scalding the tongue, and a mellow ‘murgh badami’ or almond-based chicken dish with saffron and sweet golden raisins. The classic chicken tikka masala is one of the best – thick, with a not unsubstantial kick, and fragrant of fenugreek and Indian spices – perfect for sopping up with the ideally crispy and chewy pockets of naan.

Where Tamarind Tribeca really shines though are in the traditional Tandoor dishes. The chicken tikka is moist, tender, and packed with complex flavor; the ‘peshwari boti kabab,’ essentially tandoori marinated lamb is just ridiculously good – spicy, juicy, so tender that you don’t need a knife to cut it apart, and packed with aromatic ginger, chili and garlic – it’s perfect. Other highlights include the special Manchurian cauliflower appetizer in a crusty slick ginger coating, the zesty and texturally-playful Aloo Papri, with crunchy wheat crisps, earthy chickpeas, and zingy tamarind sauce, and the ‘kolambi pola,’ tender cooked shrimp coated in a thick lemongrass and coconut sauce.

In a time when restaurants seem to be getting smaller, noisier, and more casual, Tamarind Tribeca is a wonder – a busy, massive, sophisticated, and expensive temple worshipping classic regional Indian cuisine. It seems to intentionally eschew the trend of kitschy rusticity that’s taking over Manhattan neighborhood-by-neighborhood; instead, it fully embraces the grand moneyed elegance characteristic of the Tribeca area in which it has set up shop. The ideal restaurant to make a splash with clients or to treat out-of-towners to a distinctly New York fine dining experience, Tamarind Tribeca wows with flavorful and not prissy Indian food, gold star service, and a serene sophisticated atmosphere.

Perfect For: taking clients out, fat wallets, Indian food lovers, big groups, showing out-of-towners ‘New York’-y ethnic food, graduation get-togethers

Tamarind Tribeca on Urbanspoon

brushtroke: A French Chef’s Ode to Japan

David Bouley, the local Tribeca personality and Michelin-starred chef most known for his flagship restaurant Bouley, has opened a Japanese kaiseki restaurant after ten years of preparation. Bouley, somewhat of a legend in New York dining and perhaps one of the most quintessentially New York of the city’s superstar chefs, is known for many things – including use of the sous vide bag in cooking, nouvelle cuisine, and, in a DeNiro-like way, boosting the Tribeca community. However, he is not known for Japanese cooking, which is perhaps why his newest venture brushstroke is something of a marvel and an oddity.

Situated in Tribeca, like all of his New York restaurants, in the space formally occupied by the unsuccessful brasserie Secession, brushstroke is mellow and refined. The angular space is divided into two sections: a main dining room/sushi bar and a bar. Both are of modern Japanese design – sparse decor, almost completely covered in blond wood, rice paper ‘curtains,’ a substantial sushi bar made of a wooden slab. The atmosphere is hushed, elegant and contemplative – diners sit quietly awaiting the wonders to come, speaking quietly over glasses of sake or perhaps just watching the masterful sashimi skills of the sushi chef behind the counter. Staff linger everywhere. Men holding plates stand behind diners as head waiters then place the dishes in front of guests, explaining what is involved in each offering; a ‘sommelier’ hovers, eager to explain the ‘notes’ of each wine and sake on the extensive menu; hosts and hostesses not only lead patrons to their seats, but also assist in serving; and, of course, Bouley himself, in a chef’s jacket, often wanders the dining room, speaking to regulars, watching over the ceremony.

The food at brushstroke is authentic Japanese, served kaiseki style in either 8 or 10 courses, arranged through 2 prix-fixe menus. There is little choice involved and after sorting out what rice dish you want, the waiters merely start bringing out, in rapid succession, course after course after course. The courses build on each other, starting with light and refreshing raw fish, culminating with a rich cod course followed by a beef course, and descending to the denouement of a surprisingly lovely Japanese dessert. The difference between the 8 and the 10 course menus, besides $50 in total price and 2 more courses, primarily involves higher quality ‘artisanal’ ingredients and the sense that the kitchen is just working harder on the 10 course.

The 10 course menu started with a few slices of hamachi, Japanese yellowtail, folded on top of each other, doused in an acidic tomato vinegar, and topped with sliced grape tomatoes and smoked seaweed. It was a light and refreshing, and the quality of the fish was truly remarkable. Next, the least likable course served that evening – a cool and unusual sweet potato potage with yam mousse and thick swatches of Santa Barbara uni. Each individual part seemed wonderful, yet when put together, the result was bitter, salty, and unsatisfying. Third was arguably one of the best courses offered, a cold smoked duck breast served top marinated Japanese eggplant with a tangy miso mustard dressing; it is a beautifully-executed dish with tender slightly-chewy duck and a sauce you just to lick off your plate. Fourth, three nuggets of seared toro with a chunky relish-like sweet/savory sauce – each nugget, cooked a pink medium-rare, melts in your mouth like only toro (the fattiest part of tuna belly) can, and the acidic flavorful sauce cuts the overwhelming richness of the toro perfectly.

Starting with the fifth dish, the meal moved into a heavier and more luxurious stage. Fifth was a steamed egg custard, served in the bottom of a cup and topped with a black truffle broth and bits of Dungeness crab. This dish tasted like money – rich, fragrant, textural, and truffles, lots of truffles. Seared unagi, or eel, followed. Billed as a truly traditional dish, the rich buttery slices of eel sat atop steamed okra and a mysterious yet addictive sauce – marvelously-prepared, there wasn’t an ounce of ‘too fishy’ in the unagi. Next, a dish beloved by Japanese restaurants all over New York, the seared miso-marinated black cod. Bouley’s rendition is topped with finely-chopped walnuts and surrounded by a deep orange pool of peach carrot melon puree, turning a Japanese fusion standard into something refreshing, luxurious, and unusual.

The wagyu beef course follows, a duo of cold and hot preparations: on the one side, sliced wagyu tataki in a light ponzu sauce, and on the other, sliced wagyu steak, prepared medium rare, with a zingy garlic and sansho pepper sauce. Though not the best wagyu dish ever put in front of me, it’s hard to deny the rich flavorful quality of the beef when prepared with such care. The last of the savory dishes, the rice dish, is the only course where diners have a choice. The options are assorted sashimi slices over rice, dungeness crab steamed with rice, a lobster sushi roll with soup, lobster steamed with rice, and rock shrimp and corn steamed with rice. Where the rock shrimp and corn option is too salty and oceanic for my taste, the dungeness crab is simple, filling, and stuffed with generous helpings of fresh crab meat. Whereas all previous courses were small ‘tastes,’ the rice dish was substantial, transferred from a big black pot into a small bowl three times over.

And with that, the savory course marathon came to a close. Lychee sorbet, presented atop a hardened raspberry puree, was a palate cleanser – cold, clean-tasting, bright citrus flavors that reset our taste buds for the sweet course to come. brushstroke’s final farewell was a two-part dessert, consisting of a soy panna cotta with matcha green tea sauce and a matcha green tea pastry along with a large bowl of matcha green tea and stuffed baked rice paper. The soy panna cotta was absolutely delightful, light and airy with a creamy subtle flavor; the traditional matcha green tea pastry, a gelatinous cube reminiscent of a gelee petit four, was not quite as successful, though rapidly adored by my dinner date; the stuffed and baked rice paper was a final palate cleanser, crispy and air-filled; and the matcha green tea, sipped slowly from a bowl as a classic Japanese digestif, was the cherry on top of a remarkable meal.

Dinner at Bouley’s brushstroke is a marathon. It takes awhile, close to or over two hours in most cases, and is a very formalized process. There are periods of waiting, almost too many staff members, and inexplicable moments when your food is standing behind you, in the hands of staff, yet not placed in front of you for your enjoyment. The experience is unusual in a dining scene where restaurants serve lavish meals quickly and a la carte. But, for those looking for a special experience, brushstroke is a wonderful and unique option in a city where so many ‘gourmet’ restaurants offer the same experience in the same sort of atmosphere over and over again.

Perfect For: justifiable splurging, serious people serious about food, sake aficionados, special occasions, decadent sushi dates, celebrity chef spotting

Brushstroke on Urbanspoon

Ed’s Chowder House: New York Does New England

I’m from Boston. I bleed New England. My mother’s family is from Cape Cod, and I grew up surrounded by quality seafood (even though I didn’t actually eat it until I entered adulthood). In short, lobster rolls and chowdah are their own food group and considered sacred where I’m from. And as a result, I have some pretty high expectations for all such things. Ed’s Chowder House, the brainchild of chef Ed Brown and restauranteur Jeffrey Chodorow, certainly takes its liberties with classic New England fare, ‘New York-ifying it,’ and the result is not half bad!

Up above street level and discreetly a part of Lincoln Square’s The Empire Hotel, Ed’s Chowder House is a visually appealing restaurant. The theme is nautical, and the sensation of being near the ocean is successfully achieved without over-doing it and while maintaining a certain Manhattan sheen. First, the restaurant is big. In fact, its so big that it just never seems full, for better or for worse. Up front is the bar area, followed by connecting dining rooms, and at the back, a private dining area. Second, the look is elegant beachy – more Hamptons than Cape Cod, more uptown luxury than sandy oceanfront casual. Expect: rich dark wood paneling, soaring windows, luxurious white leather banquettes, simple photographs of harbors and beachscapes, white chairs with little handles on the back reminiscent of those seen on swanky sailing yachts, touches of seersucker and pale nautical stripes, and plenty of bright white light. All of this is really quite lovely, more refined and restrained than some of Chodorow’s other creations (hello crazy Japanese pop art at Tanuki Tavern).

Perhaps the most surprising element of Ed’s Chowder House is how good the food is. It’s not classic New England fare, it’s not transcendent seafood, and it’s not even the best spot for good food in the neighborhood (I’m looking at you Time Warner Center). However, it’s satisfying, fresh-tasting, and the stuff you want to eat. The menu is extensive, featuring everything from a raw bar to a chowder ‘menu’ to sandwiches, ‘composed’ mains (read: fancy food) and ‘simple’ mains (read: straight-up uncomplicated food). And the kitchen executes everything from fluke crudo to seasoned crispy french fries, crispy clam rolls, fish n’ chips, risotto, and sea scallops well. Perhaps the best thing on the menu though is the lobster roll. While it’s not as wonderful as that served at Luke’s Lobster, it is pretty damn delicious for New York. The roll is buttery and soft; the lobster does have bits of celery and some mayo, but it’s so little that even a lobster roll fanatic like me wasn’t bothered; the roll is stuffed full with thick pieces of flavorful lobster. It’s just a good, rich, and hearty rendition of a New England favorite.

Frankly, I expected Ed’s Chowder House to be terrible – an over-wrought and poor interpretation of my beloved New England ‘cuisine.’ However, it pleasantly surprised with an accessible elegance and food good enough that you’d want to eat it again and again and then again. It’s not the best meal you’ll have in Manhattan, but it’s the type of food you could eat regularly (if you can afford it). With a please-all menu and a certain swankiness, Ed’s Chowder House is a bang-up option for business lunches and treating your out-of-town parents to a modern yet uncomplicated New York-y meal.

Perfect For: pre-Lincoln Center eats, lobster roll lunches, treating business clients

Ed's Chowder House on Urbanspoon

Riverpark: Very Colicchio, But Not Colicchio’s Best

Riverpark, Chef Tom Colicchio’s newest fine dining spot in Manhattan, is a strange sort of place. First off, it’s in a completely wacky location for a restaurant, tucked behind Bellevue Hospital and close to cantilevered over the FDR. If you’re not familiar with the neighborhood, it’s hard to find, especially in the dark. Second, although it seems to cater to the neighboring hospital crowd, it’s as sleek and slinky as a Meatpacking District restaurant frequented by models and their men. Third, despite the Colicchio pedigree and interesting menu, the food is not particularly far above mediocre. For all these reasons, Riverpark is a confusing place, with a whole lot of swagger and not a whole lot to back it up.

The restaurant looks oh-so-Colicchio. In fact, it’s a dead-ringer for Colicchio & Sons, with the same high ceilings, massive windows, sleek industrial-chic aesthetic, and a comfortable modernism. The spacious room is split into a bar/cafe area and a dining room. While I understand the conceptual difference between the two, the separation is so indistinct that it’s almost not worth thinking about. To it’s credit, Riverpark has a few visually stunning elements. The ceiling above the bar casts modern magic, emulating the twinkling luminosity of a rural night sky; giant window upon giant window in the dining room look at over the East River, and while the panorama of industrial Williamsburg may not be the most charming, a view of anything ‘nature’ in New York is appreciated; and the outdoor patio, opening during clement weather, is a slick and comfortable spot to lounge with cocktails on modern couches with the woosh of the FDR in the not-so-distant background.

The menu at Riverpark is similar to that at Craft and Colicchio & Sons, a Tom Colicchio standard blend of modern and innovative ‘American’ cuisine with seasonal and, when possible, local ingredients. The options are diverse, ranging from a brothy mushroom consomme to an Italian-inspired ramp & ricotta ravioli to the updated English favorite leg of lamb with potatoes, mint, and peas. Unfortunately, while each dish seems intricately constructed to strike the perfect balance between dressed-up comfort food and gourmet creativity, the actual execution is only average.

The cavatelli with braised lamb, sweet peas, mint and horseradish is muddy and confusing; it was almost delightful with perfectly cooked and toothsome cavatelli in a blend of tender lamb, peas and fresh mint, yet the overpowering horseradish threw in a wrench in the whole production. The diver sea scallops were over-cooked and rubbery, strangely fishy, and lacking in that silky texture and meaty flavor that make scallops dishes so wonderful – an overall failure, despite the very tasty bacon-ramp vinaigrette. The smoked flour gnocchetti sardi starter is one of the more unusual dishes I’ve tasted in while, with a crispy smoky gnocchi with nutty parmesan, lemon, and crisp spring asparagus. Unfortunately, all this ‘creativity’ backfires – once again, the flavors are muddy and confused; there is just too much going on.

Riverpark is not the best of Colicchio’s New York restaurants, despite it’s truly gorgeous decor and unusual location. The most important part of the restaurant, the food, is unimpressive. However, if you’re looking for elegant bar snacks, fancy cocktails, and a sleek atmosphere, Riverpark is an excellent pick, especially for after-work festivities, client events, and treating your visiting parents to a uniquely New York experience.

Perfect For: the east side hospital industry, after-work drinks, power lunches, Colicchio fans, dining with a view, outdoor cocktails in the summer

Riverpark on Urbanspoon

Lambs Club: Midtown’s Minetta, Without the Burger

Every now and then, a gourmet restaurant comes along that is equal parts old world New York and fresh trendy style. The Lambs Club, a ‘hotel restaurant,’ is one of the newer additions to the big bucks midtown west dining scene. Sumptuously designed to evoke the glamorous Art Deco days of the 80’s, the Lambs Club comes replete with modern touches such as a Sasha Petraske designed cocktail menu and an oh-so-New York power brunch. The brainchild of famous restauranteur Geoffrey Zakarian (formerly of Le Cirque and Patroon, recently of Town and Country), The Lambs Club bids a lavish and jubilant ‘adieu’ to the recession.

Situated in the lobby of the Chatwal Hotel, just off the bright lights of Times Square, The Lambs Club does a fairly good job of eschewing the boring and pedestrian ‘hotel restaurant’ stereotype. The space is strangely-shaped and cramped, as all hotel restaurants inexplicably seem to be. Yet, all is not lost, for the restaurant makes up for space deprivation in all its lacquered and leathered glory. The floors and the walls are inky jet black, lending a lush and mysterious darkness to the dining room. Hugging the walls are deep red leather banquettes, buttery to the touch, and on one side, a massive 18th-century stone fireplace, lit at night to a roaring blaze. Classic art-deco lamps and black-and-white photographs of celebrities long-gone cover the dark paneled walls. The crowd is older, wealthier, paunchier than those downtown, settled comfortably into the plush chairs, unaffected by the pricey cocktails and pricier dishes. Every now and then, a famous thespian will stop in for a bite to eat, sure not to be bothered by the elegant clientele.

The food is occasionally inconsistent, but generally very good. Expect traditional high-roller American fare: crispy veal sweetbreads, beef tartare, oysters, shrimp cocktail, heritage pork chop, roasted lamb, a prime steak, and so forth. The flavors are bold and perhaps best described as expensive; this food just tastes like it was made for rich people. The grilled octopus is excellent: tender, well-seasoned with just enough char on the outside, and well-balanced with a bed of earthy turnips and potatoes. The heritage pork ravioli is also marvelous, cooked perfectly with a bold ‘meatiness,’ a treat for kings as a $19 appetizer. Seared scallops seduce diners unbeknown: succulent and juicy, caramelized beautifully for sweetness, enveloped by a silky Vadouvan spice sauce and peppered with earthy bits of porcini mushrooms. For big spenders, it’s hard to ignore the $39 roasted lamb saddle, a wonderful piece of meat served tender with a creamy polenta you should want to slather all over it.

The Lambs Club is really a marvelous surprise for Midtown West, a minefield of 5-star gourmet spots like Le Bernandin mixed with mediocre red sauce Italian joints and your run-of-the-mill steakhouses. There’s a lot of to like about Zakarian’s new spot: superstar cocktails that will get you buttered up real nice (the Strawberry Gimlet is just plain addictive), gold star service, and a menu of generally excellent American classics. At The Lambs Club, you tend to get what you pay for: a gourmet dining experienced steeped in the trappings of both modern and old-world luxury.

Perfect For: dealmaking power lunches, celebrity spotting, going out on the town in style, pre/post theater meals and libations, spending your bonus $$$, recreating Mad Men

The Lambs Club on Urbanspoon