The High Line Hotel reinvents its Champagne Charlie’s space, now the lovely courtyard (albeit facing 10th Avenue traffic) is Alta Linea. A short menu focuses on Italian sandwiches and aperitivi like burrata and pork meatball polenta. But it’s still a great place to linger over champers or a negroni bianco and flirt with art types from the nearby gallery row.
For those grown tired of bars hawking 1890’s nostalgia, a little bit of 1940’s style and glamour. Old fashioned, but new generation piano bar, it’s labor of love from Loser’s Lounge ivory tinkler Joe McGinty and Beauty Bar’s Paul Devitt. Cocktails are classic, music is anything but. Drinkers can request kitschy pop or spiky punk, and handle the vocal chores accordingly. Draws a particular brand of Dowtown royalty, i.e. Jesse Malin and Parker Posey.
Danny Meyer wants to make you a tipple. First dedicated bar from exalted restaurateur (Gramercy Tavern, Maialino) is in an odd far west Chelsea location. Southern styled drinking den (porch, rocking chairs – would we kid you?) slings drinks from Booker & Dax alum Nicholas Bennett, whose cocktail menu has echoes of the old South (Sazeracs, of course), to be paired with bison burgers and jalapeno cheddar cornbread. Worth going out of your way.
Anyone with a Downtown clubbing history has done late night fuel ups here – and now it’s newly revived by Iron Chef Amanda Freitag. Don’t come looking for $5 pizzaburgers. Menu still hews to theme – but now it’s matzoh ball marrow soup and a patty melt that has carmelized onions and a $14 price tag. Thought the Happy Waitress poached egg dish still lists taylor ham (!!!) as an ingredient. Expect more art world types than club kids now – but at least it didn’t become condos.
Roman and Williams designed interior, complete with grand staircase and lots of dark leather, recalls the decadence and glamour of early 20th Century cruise ships. 4500 sq. ft. main dining room means you’re bound to spot a famous 21st Century face or two. Try the rabbit roulade, the wild striped bass…or just dive online casino into the extensive raw bar. But cocktails are king here, like A Daisy in Chelsea (chamomile grappa, amaro cio ciaro, cinnamon infused agave, lemon, baked apple bitters) and the Saddle Up (fernet branca, suze, campari, orange-basil cordial, lime juice, ginger beer). It”s this sort of decadence that inspires revolutions.
As if the one in Midtown wasn’t big enough, Tao Downtown is now installed in the old Hiro Ballroom at Maritime Hotel. Spectacle factor is still off the charts, a visual playland of Asian luxe – though in a distinctly Vegas-y sort of way. Best when pairing small plates (lobster wontons, satay of Chilean sea bass) with sexed up cocktails like the Pama Sutra and TAO-garita. Alicia Keys, Naomi Campbell and Sofia Vergara have all visited, so eye-candy is all the dessert you’ll need.
Jonathan Morr of BONDST takes over plum space at the Dream Downtown hotel. No surprise, the focus is on sushi and sharable Japanese bites with a French twist. Ex Le Cirque chef does foie gras mousse with tuna tataki and umeshu cherries, lobster Thermidor with shiso and Yamazaki whiskey. Choose a la carte or omakase tasting menu. Killer sake selection, red-velveteen décor, and lots of pretty people.
Consignment is one way to recession-proof a dedicated designer habit (it’s not about want versus need, it’s want thus need. Right?) Pick up Vuitton, Chloe, Prada, and other smoking-hot labels (loads of denim), or unload what’s too good to even pass on to a friend. Many a best-dressed New Yorker drops in these shops. The Chelsea outpost is big and clean, and happily without the weekend tourist anarchy of Nolita weekends.
Another refugee from the “speakeasy” era, it’s now just a (not really) hidden bar playing to the cocktail craze. Moody interior hits a few Prohibition notes, with a touch of lavish French Empire style. Best to gravitate to the gin menu, which is divided into “Shaken” (Aviation Royale) and “Stirred” (Negroni Bianco). Cheese selection and cured meats accompany – but there’s also enough small plates to constitute dinner. And an old bathtub.