NYC Try Outs: Natasha Huang’s West Coast Sensibility

It’s always intriguing to watch a former West Coast denizen make their way in the Big Apple. Their itineraries have a slightly sunnier edge, quite literally. They seek out roof tops and tiki bars, their drinks are sweeter, their style is fashionably laid back – they’ve mastered that whole California-cool thing that’s a stretch for the native New Englander. Natasha Huang is of the West-turned-East school. A native of the Bay Area, she graduated from the University of San Francisco and worked in health care for hospitals before moving to the city as the Director of Marketing for Encore Magazine. Shortly thereafter, she struck out on her own to start a company: NH Media. As an entrepreneur in the PR field, Natasha is often out and about, raising her public profile and collecting business cards with the best of them, while still maintaining her distinctly relaxed, and, let’s face it, friendly West Coast nature. The places she’s deemed her favorites reflect her sunny disposition.

Name: Natasha Huang Professional Resume: I own and run a social media public relations company called NH Media, where I work in the fashion and social media arena in one of the greatest cities in the world. One Word to Describe Nightlife in New York City: Infinite.

image

City Loves • Favorite lunch spot: Mamoun’s Falafel or La Esquina. • Favorite dinner spot: DBGB. • Favorite nightlife trend: Rooftops and tiki bars. • Drink of choice: KGB – apparently it’s orange vodka, soda, splash of orange juice, and a slice of orange. • Meal of choice: anything raw – oysters, tuna tartar, sushi, beef carpaccio. • Favorite group of people to bump into: housewives, socialites, fashionistas, diva’s, models.

City Loathes • Nightlife trend: Anything with a line or cover charge. • Drink: Cosmo or Sex on the Beach. • Meal: Baked Mac and Cheese. • Group of people to bump into: Fist Pumpers, girls who can’t walk in high heels, hoochies, club promoters.

Her Hotspots • Monday: Salud. • Tuesday: HighBar. • Wednesday: Le Bain. • Thursday: Ulysses. • Friday: 230 Fifth. • Saturday: Hudson Bar @ Hudson Hotel. • Sunday: Pastis.

image

• Wouldn’t be caught dead here: Quo, Marquee, Greenhouse. • For special occasions: Per Se or South Gate. • Brunch is usually: Bagatelle.

Nightlife Try Outs: 5 Posh Bars To Visit When You’re a Party of One

New York might be the city that never sleeps, but that doesn’t mean your posse is always awake and ready for adventure. Don’t let other people’s home-bound plans keep you from treating yourself to a night on the town. Sometimes people scoff when they hear about my inclination for going it alone, but getting over your fear of facing social situations solo opens up an entirely new side of the city. You don’t have to stress out about making plans, you needn’t worry about other people’s loves/hates/dietary restrictions, and doing things off the cuff can lead to so many other surprising adventures. Plus, you can treat yourself to really lavish experiences without worrying about splitting up the tab—deliciously empowering. Whether you are a single girl in need of a dose of romance, a New York newbie looking to make friends, or a culture-addict searching for a unique experience, these posh bars are some of my favorite treats for when I’m flying solo.

1. Brandy Library It’s 7pm on a Friday evening and the library has a gathering of friendly, smartly-dressed folks. The sophisticated ambiance is slightly intimidating at first blush, but once you settle beneath the flattering lighting and sidle up to the mahogany bar in all of its snazzy glory, you’ll immediately feel at ease. Ask the knowledgeable barkeep a ton of questions about the menu—your solo session can double as a free liquor class. Perk: The bar is usually filled with singles that appreciate a well-made cocktail. Best For: Single girls who aren’t afraid to share a Brandy tasting with a stranger. Tip: The record will skip if you order a cliché whiskey and cola. Ask for a recommendation if you need help.

2. Bowery Poetry Club What? Not exactly glamorous, you say? Try telling that to the man reciting E.E. Cummings and drinking cognac. A night of poetry readings might not spell “Night on the Town” for everyone, but if you’ve got a hankering to expand your circle, meet new people, and take advantage of one of New York’s great cultural experiences, BPC is a great place to discover the luxury boho scene on your own. Sure, you’ll bump into a prose-snob or two, but you can always use the live performances and the full bar as an excuse to get away. The crowd is constantly in mingle-gear, and you’ll end up meeting an amazing cast of characters. Perk: The bar is a WiFi café from 12-noon to 6pm. Best For: Those in need of culture shock. Tip: Stop in on Mondays and treat yourself to a night of bingo!

3. Rose Bar at the Gramercy Park Hotel Rose Bar runs a tight ship in the small hours of the evening, but early on, the large, lavish spot is filled with interesting locals and outgoing foreigners celebrating in the city. Park yourself at the front bar around 6pm and watch as a slow trickle of hotel guests begin their night. The clientele is high-end, savvy, and inclined to learn more about their surroundings—in this case, you. Gramercy locals still cite it as the best way to start or end their night, and the sensual, tranquil space is a great venue for interesting conversation—even if it’s only with one of the attractive bartenders. Perk: The pool table near the front is a great way to get the night started, and can distract you in case you’re not feeling chatty right off the bat. Best For: Solo girls who want a scene. Tip: Use the art pieces as a sneaky icebreaker—Julian Schnabel designed the furniture, original pieces from Warhol and Keith Haring hang inside.

4. Per Se So, Prince Charming has yet to take you to the (so-called) best restaurant in America? Why not take yourself? This first-class restaurant, full of pomp and circumstance, will certainly put a dent in your pocketbook if you ever decide to overdo a date night, but sit stag at the bar and get sucked into your own little world of complete culinary euphoria. The Salon menu offers lavish dinner and dessert dishes in the front lounge area, priced between $24 and $46. Treat yourself to Butter Poached Nova Scotia Lobster or go easy with “The Cheese Course, ” and a glass of wine. The serene bar area is full of single parties. Perk: Every staff member is incredibly attentive, making for a surprisingly unstuffy atmosphere. Best For: A date with yourself. Tip: Indulge in the “Brownie And Malted Milk,” a $14 dessert luxury—double chocolate brownie with chocolate “marquise,” caramel ice cream and malt mousse.

5. City Winery Breathe a sigh of relief: this is not a house of hard-core winos. Instead, it’s a venue that pairs a jovial atmosphere with fine wine and music. If you feel like truly being by yourself, you’ll find that the space is cavernous enough for you to melt into the atmosphere. But if you’re feeling chatty, the bar offers a great view of the stage, and friendly patrons often take up casual conversations between sets. Perk: The venue schedules classes like wine pairings and tastings, perfect for a solo act. Best For: Live shows when you’re solo. Tip: Skip City Winery for stag nights when they aren’t hosting a class, or live performance. The giant space can be awkward without their presence.

More Tips For Going Stag in NYC

-Research Your Bars: Even the most out-going girls might feel awkward after popping into a sceney bar or a romantic couples lair. On my first night in the city, I made the mistake of heading to Marquee alone on a Tuesday night after I overheard some girls raving about it. I actually ended up having a great time, and I met a ton of people, but clubbing alone is just a tad unnerving. -Take on a Traveler’s Mentality: Hit up hotel bars, where the ambiance is usually forgiving and people are dying for conversation. Aim to learn about other people. -Give Yourself a Good Reason: Live bands, distracting performances, a great love for foodie fare or mixology—all sneaky props to take the focus off of your party of one. -Draw Attention to Your Confidence: You’re out alone! You’re an independent girl who loves the city and can enjoy it on her own. Celebrate that and strangers will, too.

Where Celebs Go Out: Sarah Palin, Andy Samberg, Judd Apatow

Sarah Palin @ the Time100 gala: It would be Double Musky in Girdwood, Alaska! ● Andy Samberg: Momofuku. ● Harvey Weinstein: I like Nobu downtown. ● Suzy Orman: Carmine’s, either on 44th or on Broadway, uptown. My favorite dish is the chicken scarpariello, I love it! ● Judd Apatow and Leslie Mann: Katsuya!

David Chang: I just had amazing cocktails and hors d’oeuvres at Per Se. So if you’re [at the Time Warner Center], there’s no reason to go anywhere else. ● Neil Patrick Harris: Oh,I’m a big Batali fan. His are some of the best Italian restaurants I’ve ever been to, in my life. ● Jack Dorsey: I really like the the Boom Boom Room. Minetta Tavern is my favorite restaurant. It’s in my neighborhood. Everything on the menu is amazing. I love it. They change it so frequently. ● Jamie-Lynn Sigler at the opening party for Prime KO restaurant: I’m not much of a partier anymore. It’s more [about] a place where I can hear the people that I’m with. I live in L.A. I go to friends’ houses for game nights. Dan Tana’s is one of my favorite restaurants. Recommended: chicken parm. Izakaya restaurant–it’s Katsuya, but it’s more low key. My favorite dish there is baked crab hand roll. ● Dann Florek: Ouest–I’m a big fan of Tom Valenti’s. His signature dish is a braised short rib. You can’t have it too often. His salad is the best I’ve had on the Upper West Side. The dressing is the best–I think it’s a red wine parmesan vinaigrette. I also like Bar Bao and Calle Ocho. ● Jason Binn, founder of Niche Media Holdings: We’re a big fan of Joey Allaham. We had a staycation in Manhattan. We stayed at the St. Regis and went to the Oak Room.

New York: Top 10 Bars for a Bathroom Hookup

Per Se at the Time Warner Center (Midtown West) – Discreet and intimate, with stunning attention to detail. That’s how one would choose to describe this advanced gastronomy resto at the Time Warner Center. It doubles for the bathrooms. Discreet, intimate, and roomy. I can name more than a few hookup tales thanks to these private rooms. ● 1 Oak (Chelsea) – Private bathrooms lined in a row for a gorgeous group waiting in a line. Floor to ceiling coverage, low lighting, and mirrors where you just barely make out your own reflection. Bonus for the fact the attendant never seems to be around. Maybe he’s getting it on as well? ● Plaza Hotel (Midtown West) – Act like you’re old money having an affair like the rest of the clientele. Restrooms are private and off main grid of the palace, though everyone’s too wrapped up in themselves to notice your vulgar behavior. Posh, gilded — dare we say fucking tacky — catering to tacky, sexy quickies.

Back Forty (East Village) – Such a virtuous, healthy restaurant — the scene for a hookup? Named for the unplanted quarter of 160-acre homestead where farmers get wasted after long days baling hay, the idea brings to mind your romp-in-the-hay fantasy. Just me? Well, the clean, private bathrooms, left unattended and rarely used, provide room for some other fantasies. ● The Cooper Square Hotel (East Village) – Some might blame an amorous evening on the beautiful views, but you could venture to also place blame on the size of the bathrooms. Everything is low key — even the lobby is unassuming. Small, clean lines, and lots of places to get lost in, including the bathrooms. ● BEast (Chinatown) – Should Chinatown bathrooms be this clandestine? Clean, separate, all-white water closets act more like a hangout space than anything else. ● The Box (Lower East Side) – The attendants are busy flirting with the regulars somewhere, the cushion-covered, plush restrooms seem as though they were made for a hookup. The stalls aren’t exactly private, but that makes it all the more dangerous. ● Raines Law Room (Flatiron) – What laws? Speakeasy vibe and overall privacy of this joint plants the seed; the floor to ceiling doors shut out the noise and bring to mind more dirty deeds. And if you need any more suggestions, consider the bathroom wallpaper: stick figures in various sexual positions. Subtle! ● Bungalow 8 (Chelsea) -“It’s a standby” says [redacted] enthusiastically about banging in the Bungalow loos. In his professional experience, one should slip the always-friendly attendant a $20, and do as you like. The sexy lights, sturdy counter tops, and close quarters will do the rest. ● Baddies (West Village) – Here, it’s all about the mirrors. Small, unlit hallway leading to the bathrooms helps as well. Single, private rooms, though not a lot of room to get creative. Still, people will leave you alone to get the job done.

Photo: Purple Diary

BlackBook Staff Picks: Dining, Drinking, Shopping, & Staying

Here at BlackBook, we pay a lot of attention to where cool customers go out — bars, clubs, restaurants, shops, hotels, you name it. So why not flip the frame and let you see where we go out? Here’s a periodically updated, exhaustive list of hotspots currently favored by everyone at BlackBook, from the mighty bosses down to the humble interns, from the charming local lounges around the corner to the jet-setting temples of luxe living.

EDITORIAL ● Editorial Director/Editor-in-Chief – Ray Rogers, Café Mogador (NYC) – Hummus, crack-caliber coffee, and outdoor patio for primo people-judging and “novel writing.” ● Creative Director – Jason Daniels, Babettes (East Hampton) – Don’t let the word “organic” turn you off . ● Executive Editor – Chris Mohney, Pegu Club (NYC) – OCD cocktail heaven. Pith helmet and ivory cane optional. ● Senior Editor – Nick Haramis, The Jane Hotel and Ballroom (NYC) – Latest smash from Sean MacPherson and Eric Goode gets all Edwardian on the WVill.

● Editor-at-Large – James Servin, The Raleigh (Miami) – The local equivalent of LA’s Chateau Marmont. ● Staff Writer – Ryan Adams, Republic (NYC) – Minimalist fave and only vaguely communist, which is more fun than the full-bore thing. ● Writer-at-Large – Alison Powell, Wurstküche (LA) – Hey, sausages! Downtown hipsters with a secret inner-manly-man are pleased. ● West Coast Editor – Matt Diehl, Cole’s (LA) – The 100-year-old buffet-style cafeteria comes back as something new (but the French dip stays). ● Nightlife Correspondent – Steve Lewis, La Esquina (NYC) – Day and night, eating, meeting and playing. ● Paris Correspondent – Dana Thomas, Hemingway Bar at the Ritz Hotel (Paris) – Posh sips & historic ambiance at the Ritz. ● Assistant Editors – Ben Barna, Tokyo (Montreal) – Buy one for the buff bartender while you’re at it—he’s a starving actor. Cayte GrieveCafé Asean (NYC) Foster Ethan KamerLa Superior (NYC) – Quite possibly the best little taqueria this side of town. ● Editorial Assistant – Eiseley Tauginas, Alta (NYC) – Alta, as in “high,” as in “haute,” at this sexy Village tapas spot. ● Copy Editor – Michèle Filon, Sripraphai (NYC) ● Editorial Interns – Annie Clinton Moto (NYC) – High-flavor food with dungeon loos. Sure, Moto’s for metros, but it’s hot anyway. Delia Paunescu Schiller’s Liquor Bar (NYC) – McNally’s successful entrée into the LES mess. Desiree Pais, Lit (NYC) – Rock bar du jour for hos and bros of the ain’t we the shit? set. Alexandra Vickers, Colette (Paris) – Art, style, music, sex and water.

ART ● Art Director – Amy Steinhauser, Five Leaves (NYC) – Café posthumously funded by Heath Ledger does justice to the work and hype put into it. ● Photography Assistant – Stephanie Swanicke, Brandy Library (NYC) – Highbrow mixology, let us know when it’s time to dust off the antique bottles on the upper shelf. ● Design/Photo Interns – Angela Chen, Dinosaur BBQ (NYC) – Roadhouse bringing southerners to Northern Manhattan. Krista Quick – Ottobar (Baltimore) – What can we say, this place rocks.Jeremy Jones – Tokyo Bar, (NYC) – Schizo décor and food, but decently done all the same.

FASHION & BEAUTY ● Fashion Director-at-Large – Elizabeth Sulcer, China Grill (NYC) -Heaping plates of Asian fusion amid fashionable environs. ● Market Editor – Bryan Levandowski, Bondi Road (NYC) – Wizards of Aus in NYC, we like your style. ● Fashion Assistant – Wilson Mathews III, Per Se (NYC) – Advanced gastronomy at the Time Warner Center. Thomas Keller pulls out all the stops. ● Fashion Interns – Samantha Shaw, Chez Janou (Paris) – Boisterous southern bistro near the Place des Vosges. Julien Blanc, La Esquina (NYC) – Fairly authentic Mexican and one of the city’s best-known “secret” bars. Laura Watters, Café Habana (NYC) – Scarfing roast pork is so much better when Mary-Kate is watching, longingly. Lindsay Abrams, Sketch: Gallery (London) – Quirky soho hot spot. BlackBook magazine Founder – Evanly Schindler, The Smile (NYC) – Earnest Sewn owners take over abandoned Double Crown space for Med-inspired cafe/boutique.

BLACKBOOK MEDIA CORP ● Chairman – Bob Hoff, Guys & Dolls (LA) – Sophisticated sexy in West Hollywood. 7 nights a week. ● CEO – Ari Horowitz, L’Ecole (NYC) – Get schooled in fine French cuisine at this tasty training center. ● Associate Publisher – Brett Wagner, Café Select (NYC) – SoHo café marries Swiss Alpine to downtown design, garners Next Brunch Place status. ● Director of Finance and Operations – Joe Friedman, Lucky Strike Lanes (NYC) – Scenester bowling from the dudes behind Marquee and Tao. ● Corporate Counsel – Drew Patrick of Drew Patrick Law, Dutch Kills (NYC) – Modern-day antique saloon from New York’s cocktail kings. ● Executive Assistant – Bridgette Bek, Motorino (NYC) – Belgian-bred Mathieu Palombino’s Billyburg pizza joint serves up personal pan-sized genius, one pie at a time.

ADVERTISING ● Senior Account Executive – Dina Matar, Gascogne (NYC) – Southern French cooking without the Southern French ‘tude. ● Account Executive – Brian Kantor, Botanica (NYC) – Dive that must be working some kind of Santeria to keep prices down in this excessive nabe. ● Executive Director, BlackBook Access – Gregg Berger, La Piaggia (Miami) – Keep your feet in the sand and your hand on the rosé glass at this waterfront café francaise. ● Detroit Account Executives – Jeff Hannigan, Blind Tiger Ale House (NYC) – Beer bar institution finds new home, devoted crowd. Kristen von Bernthal, Pure Food and Wine (NYC) – Say goodbye to a future of pacemakers and a gut the shape of China. Raw food is real food. ● Midwest Account Executives – Susan Welter, Perennial (Chicago) – This could easily become Chicago’s summer hotspot for years to come. ● Andrea Forrester, Mirai (Chicago) – Thumpin’ music and bumpin’ elbows don’t deter crowds from gathering for some of the city’s finest sushi. ● Southwest Account Executive – Molly Ballantine, Gjelina (LA) – New Venice, new American hotspot takes on Hollywood posturing and tude. ● Northwest Account Executives – Catherine Hurley, 15 Romolo (San Francisco) – Bourbon & Branch without the passwords and financial types. Shawn O’Meara, Suppenküche (San Francisco) – Fun place, hearty food. Check the diet at the door. Sales Coordinator – Claire Pujol, Fat Baby (NYC) – Dank in a clean way. Do not enter without skinny jeans.

MARKETING ● Marketing Manager – Julie Fabricant, Kingswood (NYC) – Creative Aussie eats. Feel like king of the W. Vill woods. ● Partnerships & Promotions Manager – Andrew Berman, Bozu (NYC) – Sunken Japanese paradise. Delectable sushi, incredible drinks. ● Interns – Rebecca Hill, Chicago Brauhaus (Chicago) – One of the last of Chicago’s great German restaurants with live oompah bands and an Oktoberfest menu year-round. Delna Joshi, Hudson Terrace (NYC) – Rooftop pleaser for drunk summer afternoons. Brianne Murphy, Beauty Bar (NYC) – Kitschy theme bar serving up mani/drink combos under a row of hair dryers. Elizabeth Pirozzi, Pink Elephant (NYC) – Gangsters, models, and house. Where one goes, the others must follow. Monica Dybuncio, Cha Cha Cha (San Francisco) – The Haight’s never-ending Caribbean party where Santerias and sangria rule. Emily Pflug Presidio, Delfina (San Francisco) – Overly moussed males, technophiles, and high-class hipsters collide in this local fine dining favorite. Lea Abeyta, The Annex (NYC) – Grown-up newcomer from Dark Room boys. Tiswas Saturday, Interpol’s Paul B holding down Wednesday. Joanna Rubinstein, Bar Breton (NYC) – Fleur de Sel’s tastes of Brittany now available in brasserie form. Marie Baginski, East Andrews Cafe & Bar (Atlanta) – Label toters run amok at Buckhead restaurant-bar and pack the place on Thursdays and Fridays. Megan Kunecki, Blender Theater at Gramercy (NYC) -New indie rocker hosting artists you put on your iPod for show while you’re really listening to “Since U Been Gone” again. Jay Kassirer, The Smile (NYC) – Earnest Sewn owners take over abandoned Double Crown space for Med-inspired cafe/boutique. Suhee Eom, Momofuku Ssäm Bar (NYC) – Chef-of-the-minute David Chang fancies up Korean burritos and gets avant-garde after 6pm. Jaime Marie, Sueños (NYC) – Sweet dreams of organic tequila and make-your-own-tacos really can come true! Rana Razavi, Sanctuary (Miami) – Swank rooftop bar and the promise of hanky panky in the pool.

DIGITAL ● Director of Development – Daniel Murphy, Yerba Buena (NYC) – Petite hot zone with wide range of Pan-Latino small plates. ● Lead Architect – Matt Hackett, Beast (Brooklyn) – Small plates and top brunch, come get lost in Prospect Heights. Developer – Bastian Kuberek, Motor City Bar (NYC) – Front like you remember how to drive and these 8 Milers might let you hang. ● Developer – Dan Simon, B.B. King Blues Club & Grill (NYC) ● Designer – Matt Strmiska, Manuel’s (Austin) – Immaculate cleanliness, smart design, and Wine Spectator-designated mole don’t come cheap even for the downtown lunch crowd. ● Developer – Sam Withrow, Pacific Standard (NYC) – Mellow, big-hearted Slope pub keepin’ it pacific. ● Quality Assurance Engineer – Sunde Johnson, Stone Park Café (NYC) – White on white, Williams-Sonoma, Maclarens, fish sandwiches, and burgers. ● Mobile Developer – Otto Toth, Centolire (NYC) – Mangia, mangia, and then ride up and down in the funny glass elevator until the hostess kicks you out.

BOARD OF DIRECTORS ● Bob Hoff, Guys & Dolls (LA) – Sophisticated sexy in West Hollywood. 7 nights a week. ● Ari Horowitz, L’Ecole (NYC) – Get schooled in fine French cuisine at this tasty training center. ● Eric Gertler, SoHo House (NYC) – Members-only decadent den where you may find scruffy English rockers or snaggle-toothed English bankers. Guess which is more likely. ● Joe Landry, Local (LA) – Anything goes, as long as it’s not beef. ● Irwin Lieber, Fishtail by David Burke (NYC) – Fresh seafood in the UES by celeb chef David Burke. ● Dan Pelson, Marea (NYC) – Hopes for a high tide abound at Michael White’s temple to Italian seafood. ● Barry Rubenstein, Shun Lee Café (NYC) – Haute Chinese and dim sum on a glossy, ’80s-fabulous set. ● Jack Sullivan, Blue Ribbon (NYC) – Bromberg bros brasserie takes care of Soho’s after-midnight crowd.
Brian Wilson Tickets Capital One Bank Theatre at Westbury Tickets Westbury Tickets

Industry Insiders: Adam Tihany, Designer Dude

Since 1978, Tihany Design has held the champion title for worldwide restaurant and hospitality design. The company namesake, architect, and restaurateur, Adam Tihany is the creative force behind Aureole New York and Las Vegas, La Fonda Del Sol, Daniel, Charlie Palmer at The Joule, Le Cirque, and Per Se among other fine-dining establishments. His design work in hotels includes One&Only Cape Town, Mandarin Oriental Geneva and Hong Kong’s Mandarin Oriental Landmark. The top name in hospitality design shares a look inside his boutique agency and list of posh accomplishments.

How would you describe yourself? I’ve been called all kinds of things. You can call me a designer who has done a lot.

What are some of your favorite recent projects? Aureole at Bryant Park Place. The art is pretty mind-boggling and will transform it into something quite exciting. We recently renovated Daniel, and that has been quite successful and received favorably. We just completed La Fonda Del Sol at the Met Life building. Also a happening place. We finished the One & Only Hotel in Cape Town. I designed the whole hotel; every single corner, nook, cranny, suites spas and two restaurants, Nobu and Gordon Ramsay.

You do have the Midas touch. You can bring a horse to water, but if the chef doesn’t follow suit, you fail. Fortunately, we’ve tried with great chefs and great staffers. Restaurants should be showcases for food and not for design. I’ve been called a “portrait artist” or a “custom tailor.” I try to do spaces that reflect the personality of the owner, their brand of hospitality, their aspirations, and in the process — especially when you work with celebrity chefs — you end up doing a portrait of them. It’s true for Per Se’s Thomas Keller, and Daniel Boulud.

How’d you end up in this business? I believe I’m the first person in this country to call themselves a restaurant designer. I didn’t coin the phrase, but I started it. I went to school in Milan in the late 60s. During my time there, there was really not much work in architecture in Europe, particularly in Italy, so designers and architects designed furniture and graphic art, product design, anything they could put their hands on. That was the birth of contemporary Italian design, When I immigrated to the States, people would ask me what I do, and I’d say, “Give me the problems, I’ll design the solution.” But they wanted me to be specific. Everybody needed a niche, so you had to specialize. For years I refused to do it. I got involved with everything from night clubs to department stores and apartments, and then in the late 70s, somebody asked me to design a restaurant, and it so happened to be that it was to be one of the grand cafes of the city: La Cupole on Park Avenue South. When they opened, they became instantly famous. I did the architecture, the furniture, the uniforms, lighting, everything. I found in restaurants all of the things that I like to do. I bought a sign: Adam Tihany, Restaurant Designer. A roll of the dice, and here we are.

What are your spots? First, the new Cigar Bar and Lounge at the Lanesborough in London. Always Daniel in New York City and Jean-George’s Market at the One&Only Palmilla in Cabo San Lucas.

Who’s doing it right in the restaurant business? There are so many incredible people, and today we’re at the threshold of sensory overload with food and restaurants with what’s on television alone. There are people who are wonderful, long standing people I have learned from tremendously, among them Sirio Maccioni. We‘ve been working together for 25 years. George Lang is a person I met early in my career who is a friend and mentor. From the contemporary group, I would say Thomas Keller.

How do your operations run? My employees used to have to work and live in restaurants to see what it was really like — the back of the house, away from the silver and pretty flowers. That accounts for a lot of my clients, who see me as a colleague, but as a designer who’s got it inside and out. I know the business. When you deal with bigwig hotel suppliers or small boutique owners, we’re not just doing the interior; we live and breathe what we profess. Can’t make too many mistakes.

Current trends in restaurants? It delights me that in the past 26 years, dining is a day-to-day activity, and so much a part of the psyche. Restaurants are clean and safe. You go for two hours to another environment, another culture where people can’t really have their own kitchen and treat going out as second nature, a complete necessity, not a choice. With that comes responsibility and sophistication and people are selective. They really care. I like it when people send food back, although some people will eat garbage rather than return a dish. That alone keeps anyone in the kitchen on their toes as they’re working for a discriminate customer.

Anything you want to change? Cooking shows drive me nuts. Not the ones that are actually about cooking but the chef talk and the reality shows. They’re about success and failure, and I find that humiliating.

Guilty pleasures? I love the travel end of my lifestyle. I’m an avid traveler and an avid hotel dweller. If it was up to me, I would live only in hotels. I am a cigar aficionado, and I know a thing or two about single malt scotch whiskey.

UPDATE: Alice Waters Did Not Diss Per Se

imageWe’re eating a prix fixe service of crow as it turns out Chez Panisse’s Alice Waters was in fact in Chicago this weekend, and so could not have been the angry diner who objected so strenuously to the salty situation at Thomas Keller’s Per Se in New York. A Per Se person denied it was Waters, claiming restaurant staff had a name on the reservation and knew who the dissatisfied party was. And various sources (including Twitter — DAMN YOU once AGAIN, Twitter) place Waters elsewhere. Mea culpa, apologies all round, et cetera. For amusement value, original non-Waters sighting reproduced after the jump.

Much subtle and tasteful fawning over Alice Waters at Per Se lunch on Sunday. [NOTE: Was not actually Alice Waters. – ed.] At first didn’t notice but by mid-meal she had ramped up the much-storied bitchiness. Sent back her entrée, a duck breast, for it was “oversalted,” and took this is an opportunity to also note that the previous dish, Hawaiian blue prawns, was also on the salty side. After her main had been traded out for a more palatable lamb dish, she proceeded to explain how she would have done a vegetable preparation differently. The maitre d’ actually stopped her and returned a few seconds later with a notepad to write down her “recipe.” There was also an interruption of the presentation of chocolates to complain about something else, but was too quiet to hear what. All in all it took about 10 minutes for her to select a satisfactory chocolate. To the staff’s great credit, if we hadn’t been so close, all of this would have went totally unnoticed, they handled it with such subtlety.

Of course, there might be good sport finding out who this actually was. After all, it’s one thing if an egomaniacal superchef criticizes another, but what civilian has the stones to abuse Keller in his lair? To the point where the host actually writes down your suggested recipe? If you know — or care to guess! — feel free to say so in the comments.

New York: Top 10 Places to Take Our Boss for His Birthday

Happy birthday, Boss! BlackBook executive editor Chris Mohney is a cringeworthy 38 yearsold today! [You’re certainly right on the cringing part. -CM] He spends his days supervising the efforts of trained monkeys (fellow blogger Ben Barna and myself), strenuously trying to avoid any events that would call for either of us to be shot dead. After work, Chris goes home to exert influence on The Littlest Mohney to be nothing like us. But we want to take him out to celebrate! So: where do you take your married, with-child 38 year-old boss out for his birthday? Answers after the jump.

10. Old Town Bar (Gramercy) – The once semi-hard drinking destination of New York media-ites now sees the likes of strollers in it on the weekends. Family friendly! 9. West Side Pistol Range (Flatiron) – Okay, so they don’t serve booze, and you shouldn’t (really) show up wasted. But assuming Chris never gets to take hold of the outraged-blogger-monkey takedown scenario, he could always pop a few rounds off in fantasy here. 8. Per Se (Columbus Circle) – Thomas Keller serves up one of the priciest, most legendary meal in town to a select few every evening. No shot in hell of this happening, Boss, but a nice pipe dream no less. 7. Zum Schneider (East Village) – Beer bar Chris had a get-together at post-work last week that neither Ben or I could make it to. We are dicks, but at least we now know Chris likes this place. 6. Ear Inn (SoHo) – Favorite watering hole of BlackBook resident tech madman/Director of Development Dan Murphy, who uses this place as his office-outside-of-the-office. Possibly the only way we could get Dan to attend any kind of social function with us would be going there. 5. Rick’s Cabaret & Steakhouse (Midtown West) – Friends of BlackBook Media, the ladies at Rick’s incidentally hold media types who work on the web side of print magazines in high regard. Yet another way for Ben and I to get away with spending the least amount of money. Send him your finest matron! And some red meat! 4. Damon: Frugal Friday’s @ TOM (Flatiron) – Actually a feasible dining option, right down the street from BlackBook HQ. Damon’s the cheap-o version of Craft, from which it stems: haute small plates, single-digit prices. We could afford Chris a few bar snacks, but unfortunately, it’s only open on Fridays. He’d have to take a rain check. 3. Corner Bistro (West Village) – Because they love us there. 2. Xunta (East Village) – A place Chris actually enjoys going, according to our masthead. We might be able to work with this. 1. GoldBar (Nolita) – Location of this evening’s BlackBook party, at which we’d be able to afford Chris a drink (due in no small part to the open bar we’ll readily be taking advantage of). Chris would be there, but he’s got a grown-ass-man life to attend to on a Wednesday night, unlike the rest of us alkie createns. Maybe next time, Boss.

Batali. Bourdain. Food. Sex.

Serious Eats got two of New York’s most notorious chefs to sit down for one of those internet video thingies to contemplate two of New York’s most notorious obsessions. It’s Batali, Bourdain, Sex, and Food. Gems include Batali saying “There’s a couple of ways in life that you make someone happy by putting something inside of them — and that’s food, and that’s sex.” While Bourdain chimes in with “A meal at the French Laundry or Per Se followed by sex, there would be an audio component. It would be a gassy, and painful, and generally unpleasant experience.” But so totally worth it.