New York Openings: Preserve24 and Parker & Quinn

While food etymologists were losing it last week over the cronut, a subtler move was taking full effect: pickles no longer means pickles, as in pickled cucumbers. Order the house-made pickles at a New York restaurant, and you’ll get ramps (Betony), or cauliflower and okra (Battery Harris), or stringy white mushrooms (Lavender Lake). At the newly opened Preserve24 on East Houston, you’ll get carrots, red onions, ramps, and jalepeños (be careful with those). Cucumbers, meanwhile, have become the red velvet cupcake of the pickle world.

Aside from the pickles nouveau, most everything else at Preserve24 takes inspiration from 19th-century styling. The subterranean dining room’s reached via an artfully distressed spiral staircase. Liquor bottles are nestled in a bar made from hollowed-out old pianos. Antique doors and stiff wooden booths fill the rest of the upscale Mark Twain-Disney-esque space. The food is rustic. Oysters come raw, fire-roasted with garlic butter, or fried and settled into bacon sliders. Truffle fries are topped with generous shavings of Ouray cheese. Hearty entrées like the fennel-crusted veal chop or the organic roasted chicken pair perfectly with roast vegetables, which come hot in cast-iron pots. It’s all comfort food, down to the ice cream sandwiches for dessert.

Old-timey themes are also at play at Parker & Quinn (pictured), a 1920s-styled American bistro in the otherwise mod Refinery Hotel. Jockey-sized busboys in plaid newsboy hats shuffle around a sprawling honeycomb-floored dining space, which sees a wraparound bar as its centerpiece. Rumors of a roaming cocktail cart have been squashed, but they will let you keep bottles of liquor in special VIP lockers.

On the kitchen end, chef Jeffrey Forrest sticks to what American fare’s all about—fine ingredients, buttered or fried. The conch fritters, with their fluffy-chewy insides, could make a meal on their own. Fried oysters don’t skimp on the batter; soft-shell crabs don’t skimp on the browned butter and capers. A sprawling menu is divvied up by food source (baby back ribs are “from the pen,” Natchitoches crawdads are “from the water,” and bacon grits are “from the mill.”) “Shared plates” is the preferred angle, to make maximum use of the giant bar and the elevated pub booths. Speaking of bar fare, be sure to order the house-made pickles. They’re made from cucumbers.

[Related: BlackBook New York Guide; Listings for Betony, Battery Harris, Lavender Lake, Preserve 24, Parker & Quinn, Refinery Hotel; More by James Ramsay

New York Opening: Refinery Hotel

Finally! After former prisons, nunneries, and army barracks have all been repurposed as designer hotels, at last we have the glorious conversion of a former millinery factory into the new Refinery Hotel. As you might guess, it’s located in the Garment District, which we’re exceedingly tempted to rechristen as Upper NoMad (Well, guess we just did.) And let’s face it, we accessorize with hats and boutique hotels for much the same reason: they make us seem just a little more sexy. But the design by Stonehill & Taylor (who have already left their mark on the Crosby Street Hotel and the NoMad Hotel) defers more to history than to fashion—a reasonable decision, considering the awesome neo-gothic framework of the Colony Arcade building into which the hotel was fitted.

Firstly, the intent to yank the “scene” northward from 29th Street (the demarcation line upon which the Eventi, the Gansevoort, the Ace, and the aforementioned NoMad already exist) is a determined one. The Refinery hosts the Parker & Quinn restaurant, which plays to theme with its Prohibition-era vibe, as well as a cozy lobby bar and tea lounge, Winnie’s, and the massive Rooftop Bar, with its neo-industrial style, complete with fountain, fireplace, and views of Empire State Building. The 197 rooms also get the endemic treatment, with millinery accents and massive ceiling heights. The coolest destination in Upper NoMad…for now.

[BlackBook New York Guide; Listings for the Refinery Hotel, Crosby Street Hotel, NoMad Hotel, Eventi Hotel, Gansevoort Park Hotel, Ace Hotel; More by Ken Scrudato; Follow Ken on Twitter]