Midtown is back to its raucous old self, with a host of glitzy new spots mixed in with the stalwarts. —By Christian L. WrightLess
There’s a new baguette in town, outstanding and a relative bargain. Chef Eric Ripert and his friend Pierre-Antoine Raberin have opened a new French fast-casual that serves pastries, soups, salads and sandwiches in a bright airy space with a window bar overlooking the street it shares with Le Bernardin and Aldo Sohm Wine Bar.
Like classic brasseries, the room—on the ground floor of the Art Deco International Building—is simultaneously casual and glamorous, with huge windows, high ceilings, a cast-iron bar, jewel tones and chic banquettes. As for the food, it’s caught the attention of critics and might break the bank, but the leeks vinaigrette alone are worth it.
At this pristine little storefront cafe, which bakes its own bread, sandwiches—like a $12 croque monsieur and a $9 country paté with cornichon on baguette—are served to eat in (at a cluster of tables in back) or to take away.
A little bit of Milan south of the seasonal skating rink, here is Ignacio Mattos’ all-day Italian place where you can have a pastry and espresso and sit by the window in the morning and return for an aperitif or white-tablecloth service in the evening.
A long, skinny old-school Cuban joint that is all flavor and no fuss. Empanadas are $2.50. Roast chicken with two sides costs $13.
Formerly an Irish place to which Midtowners defaulted for after-work drinks, it’s now a fashionable townhouse boîte where bankers celebrate with $190 seafood platters, art buyers drown their out-bid sorrows over rye-based Night Trains ($21), and well-heeled tourists jockey for position, above the hustle of Sixth Avenue. Book a table on the upper level for a quiet, civilized, low-lit evening plucked from a bygone era.
Daniel Boulud’s latest restaurant, on the second floor of the new One Vanderbilt tower, is a handsome place with moody recessed lighting, a living tropical grove and a French-leaning menu focused on seafood. Pop in for a Martini and caviar at the east-facing bar and gaze out over 42nd Street where it meets Grand Central Terminal and its cast-iron bridge to Park Avenue, a rare glimpse of metropolitan beauty in the concrete jungle.
Elbow in with the coffee snobs at three locations in the bustling West 30s; write home about the chocolate chip cookies.
On the great people-watching drag of 57th Street, this gleaming emporium carries deluxe labels and houses a nail salon, a Drybar, and—amusingly—a cocktail bar in the lower level shoe department, by the UGGs and Birkenstocks.
Swells and dames have flocked to this shop for many years, for cashmere overcoats, tweed jackets, garden party dresses and velvet slip-ons. A storefront sample-sale store just across the avenue offers a revolving inventory of drastically reduced odds, overflow and one-offs.