Ken & Cook doubles down on its Travertine upgrade with a go at the basement. Formerly XIX, the new downstairs lounge is named Lil Charlie’s in honor of the clam bar that held down this corner from 1926 until aught-seven.
The interior represents the opposite end of the design spectrum from red tablecloths and chianti candleholders. Seventies-era glam rock provides inspiration for an elegant, intimate space. There’s plenty of brass, from the DJ booth and the bar to the shimmering chain ceilings. Copper mirror walls and recessed lighting keep things warm. A stray palm tree or two provide a hint of SoBe, a notion backed by the cocktail menu’s smart twists on mojitos and margaritas. Bites come from chef Richard Diamonte, who also mans the kitchen upstairs. As at Ken & Cook, he’s partnered with Artan Gjoni, of subMercer fame, and a fellow vet of Jean-Georges’ Mercer Kitchen. Wide black leather banquettes are just the thing for kicking back with a smooth pour. The overall effect is a lot more comfy than the last incarnation here, should you feel like sticking around a while.