Lyon Gets Revamped As Cole’s Greenwich Village

I was sad to see the French brassiere Lyon go last year, but with the onset of Cole’s Greenwich Village in the old spot, parting isn’t such sweet sorrow. After all, the new joint, owned by Lyon’s own Penny Bradley, skips the coque au vin and steak frites, and instead, they specialize in dry-aged Prime New York Strip, fresh pasta, and novel takes on classic cocktails.

On the food side, Bradley has commissioned chef Daniel Eardley, from the now closed Chestnut, who brings his knowledge of seasonal and local cuisine to the table. Try dishes including the grilled sardines with duck-fat potatoes, Eardley’s Tuscan kale salad with parmesan, a double-cut pork chop with white polenta and fig jus, and their stout-braised ribs.

Handling the drink side is booze maverick, Johnny Swet from Jimmy at The James. This means you can waltz into the corner bistro and try drinks laced with all sorts of fun stuff including honey, sage, mint, and peppercorns. Swet acts as a managing partner with David Rabin from The Lamb’s Club and Jimmy at The James‘s Larry Poston.

The space, while it maintains the integrity of its triangular shape, now is decked out with prints and sketches giving it more of a gastropub feel than the classic French that was there before. It’s 2013 folks, just like Bradley, I say, out with the old, in with the new-old-style eateries. 

Afternoon Tea, Reinvented at The Lambs Club

Take everything you know about teatime and throw it out the window, because The Lambs Club in Midtown has added a chic and modern twist. 

“This area is very deprived of places to have a business meetings, and we were thinking about the best way to service our guests,” said The Lambs Club co-owner Margaret Zakarian. “Sometimes you want a coffee or tea, but not with so many courses.”

So instead of a towering display of finger sandwiches, crumpets, and fruits, the team at The Lambs Club now offers small plates by chef and co-owner Geoffrey Zakarian, executive chef Eric Haugen, and pastry chef Bjorn Bottcher. You can choose one selection for $6, three for $16, or if you want to go all out for your afternoon tea, $29 gets you six of the 11 plates. The delicate choices include a beautiful smoked salmon buckwheat blini, tuna tartare, egg salad, petits fours, vanilla bean panna cotta, and of course, buttermilk scones served with clotted cream and house-made raspberry jam.

For teas, the elegant dining room has stuck to the same ones by Le Palais des Thés that they opened with, save for two new grand crus. If you don’t know what a grand crus is, think of it like the fine scotch of the tea world, and at $8 per small pot of their Darjeeling Mission Hill or the $12 for Thé Noir Jukro, you can see why. On the regular, $6 menu you can choose from a refreshing pot of Thé des Sources, made with mint, bergamot, and rose; or go for the caffeine-free Rooibos a la Camomile or their iced tea, which utilizes tea ice cubes so that your beverage won’t get watered down. 

No matter how you take your tea and scones, it’s nice to have refreshing way to do it. Plus, you get to actually see and smell the tea blends before you choose your brew. With any luck, this will just be the push tea needs to become the next hip thing.

Boutique Hotels Focus on the Business Traveler

When Starwood launched the W Hotel group in 1998 in New York City, it tipped off a trend in business travel that fundamentally changed the industry. No longer would we be content with soulless beige rooms, bland breakfast buffets, and generic hotel art. If we’re going to spend weeks of our lives on the road, we want to stay somewhere that feels like home — or preferably, better than home. Now that W is the corporate behemoth, smaller groups and individual properties have emerged to take up the mantle of the best boutique hotels for business travelers. Here are a few exceptional examples around the world.

The Upper House opened just two years ago, and it quickly became the hottest ticket in Hong Kong, which is quite an accomplishment for such a crowded local hotel market. The design throughout the building (and in Chef Gray Kunz’ restaurant, Café Gray Deluxe) seamlessly integrates minimalist Asian architecture with modern touches like iPad check-in and iPod Touch in-room information, making this bright aerie perched on the top floors of the JW Marriott building a calming retreat from the city. The large studio-style rooms start at 730 square feet and go up to the 1,960 square feet penthouse, making the Upper House particularly comfortable for long-term stays.

Travelers doing business in New York may have to stay in midtown, but they no longer have to elbow past tourists crowding Times Square. Since the opening of the Chatwal, the Stanford White-designed building has been packed with guests, celebrities, and locals there to enjoy Geoffrey Zakarian’s Lambs Club restaurant and the Lambs Club bar, recalling the elegance of the 1930s-era theatre crowd who once made the bar famous. With just 83 rooms and two suites (the Barrymore and the Stanford White) the atmosphere is intimate and plush, and conveniently located to the heart of the city.

Even in cities not traditionally known for their cutting-edge style, the boutique hotel trend is making inroads. Las Alcobas in Mexico City is designed by Yabu Pushelberg, the New York-based design duo responsible for numerous boutiques, residences, and hotels like the W Times Square and the St. Regis in San Francisco, the intimate 35-room property is located in Polanco, one of the city’s major business districts, and offers business-friendly amenities like their “Second Home Service,” which provides repeat guests with a personal wardrobe to store their own belongings, and includes cleaning, pressing, laundering, garment repair, and restocking of favorite toiletries.

While the Chateau Marmont is arguably the original boutique hotel on the left coast, the SLS Beverly Hills is making a bid for dominance in the modern era, with its riot of Philippe Starck design touches, Jose Andres restaurant (The Bazaar, warmly welcomed to Los Angeles in its own right) and prime location near the Beverly Center, all kinds of recreation, and numerous corporate headquarters. The 24-hour business center is fully equipped with 24-hour support, office supplies and machinery, plus loaner Macbooks free of charge.

Seventy beautifully appointed rooms in the heart of the City are a surprisingly warm escape for those on business in London. Housed in a converted Victorian banking hall built in 1856, the beautiful period features of the Threadneedles Hotel are complemented by modern amenities like Frette sheets, iPod docking stations, and personalized business cards for use during your stay. Meeting rooms and private dining rooms are also available to guests — and what better way to follow up a full day’s work than a toast in the Champagne Lounge, under the building’s glass-domed ceiling.

Hipmunk’s Hotel Heat Map

Every one has needs, and the good thing about New York City is that the majority of those needs can be met. Travelers come to town to satisfy their shopping addiction, or to eat at the best restaurants in the world. Some come to see the Statue of Liberty, and some travel to stay up all night. You want to stay close to the things you’re into, whether that’s Broadway or Burlesque, and Himunk’s Hotel Locator is an awesome tool that helps you choose the perfect hotel by showing its proximity to your needs via a heat mapping guide.

Hipmunk, created by MIT-grad Adam Goldstein and Reddit Co-founder Steve Huffman, started off as a super-simplified flight locator with great visual design. Seeking to further simplify the travel industry, they’ve recently launched this helpful Heat Map tool as a component of their hotel search. The tool maps areas of interest in a city based on needs like Vice, Nightlife, Shopping, Tourism and Food, aggregating tourist information from Wikipedia and Yelp. Here are a few of BlackBook’s top hotel picks for each of Hipmunks categories.

Vice: Factors in Bars, Casinos, and Adult Establishments Staybridge Suites Times Square: Sweet suites with real kitchens convenient for extended Javits Center duty and other midtown business obligations. Like Scores. Distrikt Hotel: Near the seedy Port Authority, where XXX video stores line the streets, and XXX entertainment fliers blow in the wind like tumbleweeds, this New York-themed boutique hotel goes name brand, with Frette linens, LG flatscreens, and Ecru soaps. Four Seasons Hotel: It’s the Four Seasons, ’nuff said? Accepts all manner of currency, and in Midtown East, can find all manners of debauchery.

Next: Hotels Near Shopping and Nightlife

Shopping Trump SoHo: Midtown master infiltrates the western fringe of Soho with lux condo-hotel living. Bryant Park Hotel: Straight up, the hottest stay in town. Cellar Bar, Fashion Week runway shows, and plush, plush rooms. Ace Hotel: Garment District hotspot with enough amenities to keep you from ever leaving.

Nightlife The Jane Hotel and Ballroom: Latest smash from Sean MacPherson and Eric Goode gets all Edwardian on the WVill. The Standard: Smack dab in the middle of the Mepa—like a glass and steel tree growing up and around the High Line. The Bowery Hotel: Sayonara to SROs on the new bobo Bowery in this boutique Bowery/Nolita playground with a hot restaurant and lounge scene.

Next: Hotels Near Food and Tourism

Food Abingdon Guest House: As close to the West Village townhouse experience one can get without buying a shih tzu and an Equinox pass. Hotel Mela: Luxe boutique newcomer aiming to be the “apple” of your eye, near The Lambs Club, and classics like Dallas BBQ Chelsea and Jimmy’s Corner. Crosby Street Hotel: La Esquina just around the corner—near Kenmare, too—this spendy Brit import lands on quaint Crosby Street.

Tourism Andaz Wall Street: Hyatt gets haute on the Financial District, otherwise known as the district that has everything on a tourist’s checklist: The Bull, Lady Liberty sightlines, the Stock Exchange (Wall Street is in the hotel’s name). The Plaza: Eloise’s Central Park home, Home Alone, Midwestern tourists, Donald Trump, rich permanent dwellers and you. Hilton Times Square: Location, location, location. If you’re truly looking to stay smack-dab in the center of New York City, the Hilton Times Square is your hotel. Steps from pretty much everything, from Broadway theaters and midtown skyscrapers to museums, restaurants, and nightclubs.

Hotel ‘Hood: The Night Hotel, Inside & Out

The Night Hotel is the best place to get it on in the city—unless you’re the type who thought “The Future Room” in Blue Valentine was sexy. Vikram Chatwal’s vampy hotel in the Theater District of Manhattan actually won Trip Advisor’s “Sexiest Hotel in the US” award, and with packages like “Party All Night, Sleep All Day“ and parking privileges for “Bridge and Tunnel” folks looking for “an overnight stay,” it’s easy to see why.

image The Neighborhood The Theater District is in the center of it all, evoking that “Bright Lights, Big City” feel. The hotel is close to Broadway theaters, Time Square, historic Carnegie Hall, and bustling bars.

image Eating and Drinking You can find nightlife, a restaurant, and a lounge (shown above, top right) within the hotel. Nightlife and Dining Picks Nearby Serafina: Fresh pizzas and airy dining up top for underage girls wearing more Barney’s-purchased scrilla than you own. Aspen Social: Abstract forest in the middle of the trees of Times Square. Grace Lounge: The best spot in midtown for ginning up a game of Marco Polo. The Lambs Club: Get elegantly wasted with the ghost of Fred Astaire at this reincarnated clubhouse in the Chatwal Hotel. Jimmy’s Corner: Legendary corner in the middle of a midtown block.

Last Night @ Bunker

Despite the elements, the general lack of cabs, and the overarching malaise brought on by the “snow-pocalypse,” Bunker packed in a surprisingly large group of Sorel-clad kiddies. Early on I spotted a few nightlifers with their parents who, as it turned out, were stuck in the city a few extra days and were keen on cutting loose with their kids to break out of their debilitating cabin fever mode. It was a fun mix of faces, all bonded together by the absurd state of the city, but I imagine this Tuesdays at Bunker party to be quite the destination in the coming months as people have been waiting for a regular Tuesday night party to rise to the occasion. One of the things that make a place great is reliability—a regular and consistant “night” that people can turn to without thinking. LA is built on this premise, since cars and valets keep nightlifers largely confined to one spot or area, but it’s not often a New Yorker can be sure where they’ll end up on a particular night. I think that the “hot night” syndrome will once again be on the rise thanks to a bevy of openings that seem to have a more specific entertainment POV, such as supper club newcomers The Darby and the Lambs Club. In the Bunker’s case, it’s big enough to host all different types of people, allowing patrons to migrate to different areas within the multi-platform spot that correspond to their varying degrees of intoxication. In any case, here are a few snaps from last night, taken by Tommy Mendes.

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Vincent Kartheiser Talks Rape & Dating, In That Order

Downtown types hunting for a cheap meal and canned beer won’t usually seek out the lavish Lambs Club to post up for the night, but it’s quite nice when Rémy Martin invites a few of those below-14th denizens (we’re getting far too used to those PBRs) to enjoy a perfectly curated, ludicrously luxurious evening with some true ladies and gents uptown. Last week, I was lucky to attend a so-called “intimate dinner” with Rémy Martin 1738, Vincent Kartheiser (Mad Men‘s Pete Campbell), and the lovely Janie Bryant, who’s responsible for Mad Men’s award-winning costume design. Just as we were getting used to posturing as prim and proper – made difficult by the deliciousness of the cognac cocktails – Kartheiser offered up his special brand of table talk and dropped the “rape” bomb.

There’s a time and a place for everything, much like our dinner in the discreet, landmarked room known as The Stanford White Studio within The Lambs Club. The perfect venue for the kind of evening Rémy Martin was hoping to have. Call me quaint, but beginning the night with a short chat about rape over a painstakingly constructed meal by Chef Geoffrey Zakarian isn’t the most suitable dinner conversation to have—especially amid a group of wide-eyed writers and reporters. But I say: Kartheiser, bring it on.

“It’s not rape after the first 5 minutes,” Kartheiser mused as he explained the type of women he attracts. I breathed a sigh of relief and picked up my glass of cognac—I was now free to drink without restraint. “I mean, I’m no Pete Campbell,” he admitted when another guest at the table asked him about the infamous au pair rape scene, a question that seems fitting when the man who plays Pete Campbell is talking about rape. “It was written in the scene that she was supposed to kiss me back, and I kept saying to her,” he continued between clenched teeth, “kiss me back, damnit! But she wouldn’t.” After the scene came out, Matthew Weiner was confused about the negative press the scene was getting. “Why are they saying you raped her? You didn’t rape her—it wasn’t supposed to be rape!” Kartheiser mimicked. “The course of Pete Campbell changed, and it was all because the actress wouldn’t kiss me back. We dated after that.”

More looney talk: Vincent wears Pete Campbell’s wedding ring in reality because “It attracts the right kind of women.” His view on life: “I like money and women, though not in that order. I like women, and women like money.” Bottom line: Kartheiser is a perfect party guest. He gives great speeches, says what’s on everyone’s mind, breaks the ice first, gets a rise out of people, enjoys it all thoroughly, and may or may not go back to his hotel room with someone after it all (that’s all hearsay). More importantly, Kartheiser knows how to get an event some good press.

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After the dinner, some select ladies and gentlemen, including WSJ reporter Elva Ramirez and Food and Wine blogger Michael Mohammadi, headed over to The Bar located in the opposite wing of the Stanford White Studio to continue the festivities. That explains why I’m just now filing this report.

Industry Insiders: Jeffrey Jah, Inn-Famous

Jeffrey Jah holds forth on going from runways to club king, bringing heat from here to Sao Paulo, and putting DEA raids behind him.

Point of Origin: I’m originally from Toronto, but now I live in Gramercy Park. After my modeling days, I was an event producer and creative director for venues. I started out having connections in the fashion industry, from photographers to make-up artists, editors, and designers. I started producing events, which eventually turned into parties, promoting clubs, directing clubs, and finally owning clubs, bars, and restaurants. I currently own the Inn/Canoe Club in New York, I’m a partner in 1Oak, a partner in Café de La Musique in Florianopolis, Brazil. I also have six Lotus clubs in Brazil, Double Seven reopening in New York, and a Double Seven opening in LA in 2009.

What events were you involved with in the early days? Well I used to put on a couple festivals at Randall’s Island. We had great bands like Jane’s Addiction and chronic raves. Some of the best events that I ever did were with Matt E. Silver. We threw some of the most legendary Halloween events over the last 15 years. Don’t take my word for it … ask the people that came to Cipriani 42nd Street, Scores, the Roxy, Milk Studios. We were the guys that put on all those events. In my early club days at [the third incarnation of] Danceteria between 1992-94, I had the pleasure of booking Pearl Jam, Smashing Pumpkins, and Nirvana. These groups played next to nothing back then, and it was so exciting to be a part of all that.

When you’re not at the club? What do you enjoy doing? I love snowboarding and traveling.

Side Hustle. Were you ever an undercover actor or anything? No, but after watching the Olympics, I really want to be an undercover gymnast.

What’s your worst experience working in nightlife business? My worst experience has got to be when I was working for Peter Gatien. I was there when the DEA, the FBI, and IRS raided the place and came in to arrest everyone and confiscated everything. They took all the file cabinets and the computers. I was one of the people that was lucky enough to put that incident behind me.

Who have you collaborated with? Currently I work with Ronnie Madra, Scott Sartiano, and Richie Akiva from 1Oak. We are actually opening up a 1Oak and another Butter in San Paulo, hopefully by December of this year. My newest project, that I’m really excited about, is the Lamb’s Club, which will be a restaurant/bar and catering [venue]. It’s a venture between me, David Rabin (Lotus and Double Seven) and two other partners.

Who do you look up to in the industry? Hmm … I’d have to say, Adrian Zecha who owns the Amanresorts, Izzy Sharpe who owns the Four Seasons hotel group, Keith McNally, Eric Goode, and Sean MacPherson, who gave Los Angeles swingers in the 1990s, and has been behind some of New York’s coolest hotels, like the Maritime and the Bowery.

Favorite Hangs: I never go to anyone else’s clubs … ever! Occasionally I’ll stop by the Box to see Serge [Becker] and Sebastian [Nicolas], or Rose Bar to see Nur Khan. In terms of restaurants, my favorites are Mezzogiorno, BLT Fish, and the Spotted Pig.

Projections: We have six venues opening between the three different partnerships I’m involved in. Between the two Double Sevens opening, the Lamb’s Club, Butter, and 1Oak opening in Brazil, I have a lot on my plate for next year.

What are you doing tonight? I’m going to another meeting at 9 p.m., heading to the gym, then to the Inn, and then to 1Oak, and then I’ll do it all over again, and again, and again.