Talking New Year’s Eve at the Dream Downtown With Jonathan Schwartz

With Christmas finally behind us, the club world races towards its biggest payday and biggest headache: New Year’s Eve. I always looked at New Year’s Eve as an opportunity to make a statement. I always booked a big act and great DJ’s with the philosophy that I would get everyone left in town to come down and have a great party, while those who had shipped off to exotic lands would be aware of our greatness from afar. With that in mind I booked Grace Jones (often), Isaac Hayes, Eartha Kitt, Sandra Bernhardt, Debby Harry, Psychedelic Furs, Cab Calloway, and many other great acts to extend our cachet to the next year. The cold hard winter looms and revenue streams dry up. Money made during December and on the Eve will help venues get by. Most joints opt out and let a company like Joonbug handle New Year’s Eve. Joonbug and other event companies pay flat fees and sell tickets to their fan base. The worry and work of promoting the night is farmed out and a guarantee replaces the anxiety. This year I was booked early as a DJ for Marble Lane at the Dream Downtown. Jonathan Schwartz has taken over the entire joint and is hard at work filling multiple rooms. Besides little ol’ me he has the DJ duo The Chainsmokers, DJ M.O.S., Francis Mercier, and Joey Greiner. I just got word that Nas will be hosting. This sounds like fun. I caught up with Jonathan and asked him all about it.

Taking over the Dream Downtown for New Year’s Eve is ambitious. How did you come to the decision to do this?

Last year, I took over part of the Dream Downtown (the Gallery Event space and Marble Lane) and we sold it out easily and ended general admissions prices at an NYC all-time high of $1k per ticket. So we thought this year OFFER MORE, make New Year’s Eve an entire property event including: The Gallery & Marble Lane (pictured) hosted by Nas with DJ’s Steve Lewis, MOS, The Chainsmokers and more… PH-D with DJ Phresh overlooking the Manhattan skyline, and "Below the Dream," our most intimate space for 125 guests, featuring music by DJ Cameron Smalls. I figured now we have something for everybody.

Each of the rooms has an established year-round identity. Did this identity affect programming? What is going on in each venue?

Gallery is an awesome raw event space. It screams "cool" and "big room fun experience" to me. Past events here have included the Victoria’s Secret show after-party and Marc Jacobs after-party, so this was the perfect room for me to have Nas host later in the evening and let The Chainsmokers play their big room house to bring in the new year. Marble Lane is a restaurant by trade, but when transformed into a lounge for New Year’s Eve makes for an amazing set up. Marble Lane became the "it" place to hang last year at the Dream Downtown first annual New Year’s Eve event with music by Questlove and DJ Reach. This year we keep the cool with Steve Lewis, and the amazing mash-up set of MOS. PH-D is New York’s top rooftop space, boasting everyone’s favorite weekly Saturday party, "Sunset Saturdays." PH-D is one of the best rooms you could ever spend a New Year’s Eve in, with the view of New York City and the amazing hospitality they provide. Below the Dream will be for those who want to go out on New Year’s, but keep it super sexy and intimate without the big room hassle. DJ Cameron Smalls will be there with a mash-up set of hip-hop, rock, electronic music, and more, keeping this room the most private cozy spot in the building. By embracing what each room has to offer, the Dream Downtown is the #1 destination for its versatility, and this was the vision from day one. Party, sleek, intimate, rooftop views, great music, great service, is what the Dream Downtown will offer.

How do you get the right people into the right venue?

PH-D has its own ticket type, allowing tickets buyers for PH-D access only for the rooftop. Gallery and Marble Lane have their own ticket types for general admission and tables. Below the Dream has its own ticket type as well. But of course, we do have limited all-access passes available which will get you into any room on the property.

What is your role at Strategic Group?

My role has evolved over the years, handling our headlining DJ’s, promoters, VIP guests, marketing, really anything to improve the business while working with the team (Noah, Judy, Andrew, Rich, and many more) on the latest focus: gearing up as a partner for Marquee NY, coming in 2013!

Are you learning the back-of-the-house stuff, or is marketing/promotion your ambition?

My goal is to become a "360 operator" and learn more each day. Very few people in our business are 360 degrees in their understanding of both front and back-of-the-house hospitality. I’ve learned a ton about back of the house the past two years but will continue to learn more until I’m a complete 360 guy. I think I’m getting close.

What is the vibe this New Year’s Eve? Is it is escapist, celebratory, reflective, bonkers?

The vibe this year is cool and celebratory. Be in the cool NYC party with the best DJ’s, best crowd that’s in NYC on New Year’s, and hosted by Nas. New Year’s is celebratory and our lineup, promotions, and Nas is just very cool, I don’t see anyone else doing what we have created here. Seems to me its either go to a cool hotel party, or an EDM concert like Armin Van Buuren at Pier 36.

Why the hell did you hire me for New Year’s Eve except for this article?

Had to hire Steve Lewis when it got presented to me as an option by Adam Alpert of 4am DJ’s. I actually think Steve that you were The first DJ I confirmed on the event. An article is great of course, but when you have a guy like yourself who has been to about 30 New Year’s Eve events, I entrust the music in Marble Lane to you and DJ MOS.

First Look: Designer Karolina Zmarlak Dresses the Staff of Dream Downtown

Polish ready-to-wear designer Karolina Zmarlak has just been tapped to design the new uniforms to be worn by the staff of Dream Downtown’s PH-D rooftop lounge. She teamed up with Jesse Keyes (co-owner of Greenwich Village’s Griffou eatery) and a founding investor of La Esquina and Goldbar to create the looks, which feature a minimalist silhouette with covetable appeal. 

According to the release, they’ve developed "a new kind of uniform that takes the forward looks and European austerity of [Zmarlak’s] collections and pairs them with the sensual and beautiful looks that women in nightlife require to work their context most effectively." Overall, the dresses are hot and we wouldn’t mind wearing them both on and off the clock. 

DJ Elle Dee: “I Made the Wrong Comment In Front of The Right Person!”

I’m still recovering from the weekend which lasted an extra day for me. That was an extraordinarily wonderful idea. I saw The Hunger Games and loved it but offer a couple of observations. The club world was looking like those people 10 years ago, and it is wonderful that some people postulate that the extraordinary from now will be the norm. Michael Alig, Sacred Boy, Astro Earle, and the club kids of our recent past may have been a lost bunch, but they did do this… then. Secondly, as a hospitality designer, I must poo-poo the future furniture and set designs. Almost everything I saw I have seen before and is for sale at the modern furniture boutiques that grace our town. The rooms looked like something out of the The Real World L.A. rather than a true futuristic vision. I would have done better, as would a thousand other design visionaries.

As a DJ in this wonderful town, I offer my own rock and roll stew at places that want that sort of thing. Adam Alpert at 4AM (which handles me) puts my ass in the right seat. Most clubs in town offer up the same old mash-up and mixed- format swill to their bottle-buying guests. It’s what they want when they pop bottles and so they must have it. Most DJs in these situations could do so much more but find themselves playing down to the crowd as musical ignorance is bliss. I am not complaining, as I enjoy my niche. It is wonderful when I walk into a room and hear a DJ that curls my toes and fills my ears with sounds less often heard. At The Double Seven the other night, DJ Elle Dee thrilled me. I asked her some questions about herself and her craft.

How did a nice girl like you become a DJ?
I grew up in a very musical home. My mother’s father used to play bossa nova with the big guys so my whole life we had jam sessions in my living room till very late at night. I started to play drums myself I was 14, so music was always a huge part of my life. Back in São Paulo (where I’m from), I started to play at rock parties when I was only 19. At that point it was all vinyl too; there were no computers and even CDs were not accepted at all. It was the real deal. It was only a fun thing to do though, not my full-time job. I was finishing studying journalism and had my own fanzine to work on. When I moved to New York five years ago this April, I managed to do what I do best… I made the wrong comment in front of the right person!!! I was out with some friends and said to one of them “Why is it so hard to find a good DJ in NY.” A voice came into the conversation and said, “Can you do better?”  The following Monday I was on and, of course, after the first song the whole equipment collapsed and the music stopped completely – haha.  I recovered from that pretty quickly though and soon everyone was having a great time. I locked my first weekly gig that night.

I heard you spin the other night and was quite impressed. When we spoke, you talked about how rare it is to find a place to play that doesn’t want a commercial or familiar set. Expound.
I am actually really lucky to only have gigs where I can play what I like and believe in. I wouldn’t do it otherwise. I like to work with owners that understand that a cool night is good for business too – even refreshing, let’s say. It also attracts interesting people.

DJ Elle Dee

How do you mix in newer or hipper stuff to keep from going nuts and continue enjoying your craft?
As a DJ, I believe I should be the one to find what’s new and good out there. Even though I’m all about the old stuff, it’s so nice when you discover a new band or track that amuses or inspires you and then get to share it with everyone else. It’s like a mission every night and I love that challenge. I try to make a new track mix with an old one that I know everyone already loves, and get them to believe that the new one is one they’ve known for ages. Making it work is a challenge, but I love it! Getting people going with new or even obscure tracks – it’s what gets me going! And that’s when I remember why I put myself through all the work. It’s very rewarding.

Where will this take you and what else do you do?
That’s a question that I wish I had the answer to myself! As long as I’m involved and around music, I’m happy. And if I can make a living out of it, ever better. I am a musician at heart and always will be. DJing gives me stability and a way to explore and learn every day, and that allows me to work on my own music. I’m in a good place right now and feel confident to be going back to the studio to work on my own tracks. I’ve been writing songs for years and now it’s time to get ready to perform live. I will always keep spinning though because I really love what I do. If I go on a vacation, for example, after only a few days I already miss the DJ booth and, of course, all those people dancing on the other side.

Where can we hear you?
Right now I spin in the city five nights a week so it’s not that hard to bump into my set here and there. I’m regularly at The Electric Room at the Dream Downtown, Boom Boom Room at the Top of The Standard, The Double Seven, and Soho Grand. I travel a lot, opening shows for bands as well. I’m about to go back home on a little tour which is gonna be so great. So far, I have six gigs booked and a few more that we’re trying to fit in as I’ll only be there for two short weeks. Once I’m back I’ll finalize my website –– which will have some mixes for all. I’ve got some very big surprise gigs coming up but I can’t tell you quite yet… Once I can, I will be posting it on my Facebook and all those other communication tools of life.

New Year’s Eve Parties for All, and Management’s Response to the Christmas Incident at Le Souk

First of all, Happy New Year. Today will be short and sweet as BlackBook staff is cutting out to get ready for the big night. Yesterday’s article about Sam Valentine allegedly getting beat up by Le Souk management did get a response, which you will find below. As for New Year’s Eve, I, of course, will be DJing at the Dream Downtown and will be there when 2013 is rung in. Afterwards I probably will pop into Lit to say hey to that gang.

I am sending people to parties that suit them. There isn’t a be-all event for everyone. Many will love the Dream, many 1 OAK. Many will just be in heaven at The Darby while others will love Toy. For people with my view of things I’m recommending the Box and Bow.

I am heading out to 305 Ten Eyck, Brooklyn for Seva Granik’s party, BRCDBR and THV ENT. present Shanghai. Seva and Thunderhorse are producing this event and the installation, which "is going to focus around the fear, or the premonition, of China and Chinese culture taking over the U.S. So lots of  futuristic stuff like screens, lasers, smoke, etc." The DJ’s are Gavin Russom, a "legendary DFA label guy who built their synths for them and played in the now-seminal act LCD Soundsystem" and Venus X, a big deal. The New York Times just did a profile on her. The music is going to be very dancey and very unexpected. Admission is $10 and it starts at 1am. They have my vote.

On New Years Eve the biggest problem, except for the people you are surrounded by, is getting around. If you are not a public transportation kind of guy or gal I suggest hiring a local car service for some hours. Rates range from $25 to $50 an hour . Traditionally I have hired them from 1 to 7 am, sometimes splitting the cost with another. It’s great to have a driver to whisk you around safely while you party like it’s 1999. New Year’s Eve is amateur night for the club industry. Take it from a pro and prepare for all contingencies.

In life they say there are two sides to every story. In nightlife, when you add in booze , dark lights, loud music, and other factors, some stories can have multiple sides. Yesterday I ran a story about a beaten up and down story, Sam Valentine. Others who were at Le Souk on Christmas night verified that indeed owner Marcus Jacob had kicked and punched Sam. Today Le Souk responded to the allegations that Sam was attacked, bruised, and hurt to the point of hospitalization by Marcus Jacob with the help of security. Yesterday I referred to Sam as hobbit-sized, and that description is fairly accurate. He told me he was 5 foot 7 and I’ll believe him as long as he believes I’m 6’3". Sam is 5’7" standing on a phone book. He has heart but is no match for the forces that hospitalized him. 

The response from partner Lamia Funti is below. She is a partner at Le Souk and wife of Marcus Jacob. I have always respected and enjoyed her, but having read her response I cannot help but think that excessive force was brought to bear. Her version only tells of a late night argument, with promoter Sam Valentine reacting badly to not getting paid on Christmas. The amount was $200. All accounts agree that he was loud and demanding, but Sam is a lover and a promoter/DJ, not much of a physical threat to anyone.

The response attempts to justify the physical altercation. It does not explain the injuries inflicted by bonded security and an owner. Anytime a person is beaten badly and in need of hospitalization somebody screwed up. Unless weapons of mass destruction come into play security must contain the situation, and kicking and punching are not allowed.

Here is the response from Lamia:

Unfortunately, it was a small situation that escalated over nothing. Our accountant took the day off since it was Christmas so there was no one to make the checks. We let our staff know so that they do not wait for the checks in vain. Everyone was fine with it, since we never have problems with the checks.

At the end of the night, Sam Valentine comes storming downstairs, asking Marcus to give him "his fucking check now." Marcus was actually very calm, he’s really not the guy that likes to fight, he was trying to calm him down, but he was cursing out, and making a scene at the bar downstairs.

I called the security to calm him down because now he was pushing people around when they are trying to talk to him and we didn’t need a scene in front of our friends and family, while Marcus only asked him to wait til tomorrow for his check. Since it was Christmas, our friends were all there and two of my aunts that are much older in the fifties were there as well, which was embarrassing.

I went quickly to tell him to stop and he pushed me with his hands and called me a bitch, the security saw that and they tried to contain him but he wouldn’t stop fighting, we just asked him to leave, he did not want to leave, and started throwing things around and fighting with the security who was trying to escort him out. I also have several witnesses that saw that and saw him wrestling with the security.

We actually called the police, before it got out of hand, which is really unfortunate. When the police got to Le Souk, he started cursing the officers out which I’m guessing that’s why they told him they would arrest him. And the rest is history. We have been in the business long enough to be mistreating our staff or customers in any way, and we always pay on time, for someone to be acting that way after we ask him to come back the next day because its Christmas and nobody came to the office to work, but we can not tolerate having people storming at us like that while there was no wrong doing.

I guess this is the way he’s planning on getting back at us. And by the way, Ariel was at no point near the scene, he didn’t see anything at all and witnessed anything, and did not talk to the security at any time, he was upstairs the whole time.

DJ Aaron James On His Year In New York And Blast-Off To India

The way New Year’s Eve is falling on a Monday is a huge boon to marketing. Christmas spirit, gift returning, leftovers, and hangovers will linger until at least Wednesday, but by late Thursday/Friday, people will be desperate to have their big night plans finalized. A long weekend without work distractions will mean ginormous last-minute sales. I will DJ at the Dream Hotel Downtown which has sooo much going on and a built-in audience… I love hotel parties. I’ll tell you all about it early next week. After my gig, I’ll head over to a very private friends-and-family preview of an old club made new. This joint will help define this decade of clubdom. I’m not sure if I’m supposed to talk about this yet, but I’m sure club insiders know what I’m talking about. More on this after the holiday.

Tonight, the tireless Wendy Diamond is throwing her 8th annual Toys for Dogs holiday benefit in support of Hurricane Sandy animals. There will be photo-ops with a "celebrity" Santa, and lots of rescued dogs to mingle with. Dogs torn from their families or just plain lost and living in shelters will get a toy to ease their loneliness and confusion. The event will be at Amnesia, which in case you forgot is at 609 W. 29th St. from 6:30pm to 8:30pm.

My pal DJ Aaron James is off to India for New Year’s Eve and a bit after that. He’s having a Blast Off To India Party at the Dream Hotel Uptown next Wednesday, December 26th. I asked him about his year-long stay with us here in the Big Apple.

It’s been a year that you’ve be in New York…
It’s hard for me to fathom it’s been almost one year since we last spoke about India, my travels, and my expectations for NYC nightlife upon my return. That seems like a small eternity ago.

When and why are you leaving?
I’m flying out next Friday the 28th … back to India to DJ New Year’s Eve at the world-class Shiro in New Delhi, and then to move every dance floor in India and SE Asia I can get my hands on. Considering I don’t even have a lease or any other thing binding me here, for me it feels like a full-on shift. It’s crazy really, like picking up from where I left off on a life over there … a twin universe almost of an entirely new set of friends, family, lovers, inspirations, dreams.

How long will you be gone? What’s the plan?
I’m on a one-year business visa, so unless I end up marrying some irresistibly alluring Indian woman, I’ll be back eventually. Haha. Actually, plan is to pop back in a few months to tour with one of my all-time favorite recording artists: Vanessa Daou. She’s dropping a new album in the new year, and has graciously asked me to be her U.S. tour DJ. I hadn’t planned on coming back until the visa expired, but considering I’ve been a fan of Vanessa’s since as long as I can remember, I wouldn’t miss it for the world.

I always knew I would be going back. It was only a matter of time. I’m not running away from New York or NYC nightlife as much as I’m branching out and seeing as much of the world as I can before I get too old and turn to dust. In the past year, I’ve seen the best we have to offer and the worst. I guess I’m just in a humble, grateful mood.

New York’s been good to me this year. Having come back last January with nothing at all in the pipeline, I’ve managed to work hard, keep myself more or less out of trouble, and pay off some $50,000 in debt, which was the main reason I stayed on so long anyway. And for the first time in as long as I can remember, I am entirely debt-free and feeling light as a feather because of it. Mission accomplished, and how could I be mad at that.

You’ve been back for a minute. What do you think of NYC nightlife?
I’ve come to accept the nightlife scene here for what it is … though I haven’t truly defined what “it” is. It’s less than I remember from years past, but so much more than much of the world has to offer. I rather focus on the positives now, and not be that hater that says the nightlife sucks now and forever and that there’s no hope. There are small beautiful pockets of resistance everywhere in this city – some sparkle and glimmer of originality exists as it once did, just perhaps it’s harder to find.

I love this city, I do. I only wish sometimes we could lighten up a bit, take ourselves a little less seriously, or with less vanity … and just dance, man. These days to me, nothing else matters. Off I go, always letting go.




NYFW S/S 14: Jason Wu After-Party

Neon lights and graffiti-clad walls led the way down the Dream Downtown’s loading dock and into late-night hotspot Electric Room, where the man of the hour—Jason Wu—was inside celebrating his spring/summer 2014 collection on Friday night.

Champagne flowed (to the last drop) as editors, models and the like rubbed elbows inside the packed, electro-thumping lounge; Union Jack leather sofas, antique mirrors and gothic chandeliers filled the small, low-lit space. By midnight, Wu could be found in the VIP nook, a tiny corner behind the DJ booth, chatting away with actress Kerry Washington, a longtime supporter of the fashion designer. Among those who turned up to the after-party were Mad Men’s Jessica Paré and tennis pro Maria Sharapova, both of whom attended his show earlier in the day (front row faces included Alicia Keys and The Newsroom’s Emily Mortimer).
It’s been a busy year for 30-year-old Jason Wu, who shows no plans of slowing down. As noted in Suzy Menkes’ New York Times profile, the Taiwanese-Canadian designer was recently made creative director of Hugo Boss women’s wear and continues to expand his own brand with an upcoming collaboration with Lancôme. “…I don’t feel like it’s work,” Wu told the Times. “I’m a professional. It’s what I do.”
Main image via BFA

Norwegian Town Copies New York’s Dream Downtown Hotel, Installs Giant Mirrors to Redirect Sunlight

I saw a story on Reddit today that instantly reminded me of one of the more unique features of New York City. The town of Rjukan, which is normally covered in shadow for five months a year, is installing a bunch of massive mirrors on an adjacent mountain to illuminate its town square during its darkest times. As the Popular Mechanics story points out, it’s an attempt at a mood enhancer, and I think it will work. Seasonal Affective Disorder is a real thing, and not just because of its funny acronym, S.A.D. You need light in your life to be happy. It massages the brain in a pleasing way, even if overdoing the sun-worship can be hell on your skin. The article notes that it’s not a new idea, as the Italian village of Viganella has successfully used brushed steel mirrors to do the same thing since 2006. Want to know another place that harvests reflected sunlight to make people feel good? The Dream Downtown Hotel in New York. 

Prior to its debut in June of 2011, owner (and actor) Vikram Chatwal commissioned a top-to-bottom redesign of the iconic ’60s Albert C. Ledner building, featuring 316 guest rooms and suites and a variety of restaurants and bars including PH-D Rooftop Lounge and The Beach at Dream Downtown. The Beach is essentially a pool bar, but the pool, which is sandwiched between two tall buildings, wouldn’t normally get much sunlight were it not for a unique design detail courtesy of Frank Fusaro of Handel Architects: aluminum-clad walls on both sides funnel what little sunlight there is to create a bright, warm, and pleasing affect for the beach-bunnies and daiquiri sippers below. 

I saw it in action recently at an early-evening event for Chandon. What little light remained as the sun began to set over the Hudson reflected off one wall and then the other, ping-pong style, until the whole pool deck was bathed in a cosseting glow, making the models hired for the occasion sexier and beachier than ever, even though we were tucked between 16th and 17th Streets in Chelsea. 

And so we salute you, Rjukan, Norway, for playing god and putting sunlight where you want it, rather than accepting its natural course. 

[BlackBook New York Guide; Listings for Dream Downtown, PH-D, The Beach at Dream Downtown; More by Victor Ozols; Follow me on Twitter]

Chandon Kicks Off Its American Summer at the Dream Downtown

Chandon Brut Classic is a sparkling wine from California that tastes very good, costs $22, and comes in a red, white, and blue bottle that’s inspired by the idea of the American summer. The Dream Downtown is a hip New York hotel owned by my Indian alterego Vikram Chatwal that’s popular with celebrities, artists, and bon vivants of all stripes. Last night Chandon hosted a party at the Beach at the Dream Downtown, a funky day-and-nightclub by its second-floor swimming pool–to kick off a season of sun, fun, and bubbles. Naturally, the Chandon was flowing freely, both on its own–in white and rosé expressions–and in cocktails. I arrived early with my English friend Steve, and we plopped down on a cushioned bench by the pool and watched the scene unfold.

And what a scene it was. In addition to all manner of beachy decor and several bars serving Chandon, the organizers had gone through the trouble and expense of hiring models to personify the summer theme of the party. There were a couple of buff young guys wearing sailor outfits who looked like they could have just stepped out of an Old Navy commercial. There was a shirtless dude in red trunks batting around a beach ball and occasionally swimming in the pool. And there was a tall, blonde female model wearing a dress designed by Trina Turk and inspired by the Chandon American Summer bottle. DJ Hannah Bronfman kept the beats going with a summery mix of modern disco hits. Being a pool area, all the glassware was made of plastic, which didn’t bother me a bit. The weather was lovely and it was a pleasure to relax and take everything in. 

One thing we couldn’t help but noticing was how many women were in attendance, and how few men. Of the men who were there, the vast majority appeared to be gay. And so we witnessed a parade of well-dressed, professional-looking women teetering on uncomfortable-looking heels and looking just a little bit nervous, their eyes darting around the party and eventually resting on the male models, who, at various points during the evening, were attempting to race miniature remote-controlled boats in the pool. Several of the boats took on water and began to sink before someone fished them out of the pool with a skimmer. It’s like a friend once told me about the joys of being a single straight guy in New York. "The best-looking women in the world are here looking for men," he explained. "And the best-looking men are here looking for each other." 

This really didn’t affect Steve or me, we’re both accounted for, but we actually felt a whiff of sympathy for these ladies. Where were all the guys? I really don’t know. We hypothesized that the women in attendance simply outclassed most men their age. Better jobs, better apartments, better prospects in this new, information-based economy. It can be intimidating for a guy. In any case, my advice for any straight guys reading this is get yourself to New York, fix up, look sharp, and head to the Dream Hotel. I really like your chances. 

We chatted with a few people, tasted the cocktails, sampled pretty much every one of the passed hors d’oeuvres (the mini crabcakes were the best), listened to music, caught up on old times, and stayed until they shut down the bars and ushered everybody out. It was 9:00 p.m. Time to go home. 

Lest we forget what the whole thing was about, Chandon’s American Summer release is a fine sparkling wine for poolside sipping, and yet another reminder that you don’t need to wait until 11:59 p.m. on New Year’s Eve to pop a cork. Have a great American summer everybody. 

[Related: BlackBook New York Guide; Listing for the Dream Downtown; More by Victor Ozols; Follow me on Twitter]

A Cherry Bomb of Sushi Hits Chelsea

There’s something sexy about Cherry, the latest venture into Asian cuisine from BONDST’s Jonathan Morr, which opens up in the Dream Downtown hotel this Wednesday. First, the décor by Studio Gaia exudes a pop-culture romance with a cherry-red, cherry-shaped entryway. Once inside, the plush velvet seats, polished wood floors, and merlot-colored wall hangings cry out for ruby-lipped ladies to dine clandestinely with men in snappy suits. Second, with former Le Cirque and Momofuku Ma Peche chef Andy Choi leading the kitchen, they are pumping out modern Japanese cuisine with a French twist. This means you can find sharable treats including foie gras with short rib gyoza, uni-poached eggs, black cod shumai, and tuna spring rolls.

However, Cherry’s specialty is their sushi and sashimi menu. With this, you can order à la carte or go for the omakase tasting menu, where Choi dishes out his selection of items including salmon belly sushi, spicy caviar, giant clam, and golden amberjack sashimi. They also have a selection of sakes curated by sake specialist Chris Johnson, which features some rare and special varieties like Harada Nama Muroka and Daishichi Myouk Rangyoku. In true classy fashion, you can also reserve a bottle of liquor for your visits, or, just settle into one of their craft cocktails.

Each dessert comes with a cherry on the top, and, since the kitchen stays open until 2am, you can eat early, in the light of day, or secretly at night, depending on your company.