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J.J. Johnson Life Hotel NoMad (sorta)

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#1 Sneakeater

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Posted 02 September 2018 - 09:19 PM

J.J. Johnson has taken over the restaurant Henry in the Life Hotel on W. 31st Street.  The restaurant originally marked the return of schlock restaurateur Steve Hanson to the NYC scene when it opened last year, with one of Hanson's henchman running the kitchen.  Despite the enthusiasm of Steve Cuozzo (who never met a throwback to uninteresting mediocrity he didn't love), that arrangement didn't last longer than a few months.
 
Now, Hanson is out, and Chef Johnson is in.  To those of us who loved his pan-African/Asian/Caribbean synthesis (so much better in your mouth than it seems conceptually in your brain) at The Cecil, this is good news indeed.  While the menu isn't exactly the same as at The Cecil (thankfully), it's the same idea and just as good.
 
But -- and this has become a lamentably frequent combination lately -- the service!  It was bad almost to the point of slapstick.  They couldn't serve your wine at the same time as your food if you held their families hostage in the basement.  They also couldn't take a proper order, or act appropriately, or anything.
 
Also, the room is kind of gloomy.  Another of those bad hotel lobby-adjacent restaurant configurations we've been seeing lately.
 
I really like the food, so I'm sure I'll be back.  But I won't be completely happy about it.
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#2 taion

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Posted 03 September 2018 - 12:07 AM

The speakeasy-ish bar in the basement is quite convenient because of how it's never, ever busy.


I didn't tip at Per Se either.

#3 small h

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Posted 03 September 2018 - 12:25 AM

I took my mom to Henry very soon after it opened, and she loved it, She could walk from Penn Station, the staff fawned over her, and there was "a lot of variety." That's her favorite thing - long menus with plenty of adjectives. The distance from Penn Station hasn't changed, but is she gonna still like it? (I expect I'll like it more, now.)



#4 Sneakeater

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Posted 03 September 2018 - 02:54 AM

Your mother is NOT gonna like it.
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#5 small h

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Posted 03 September 2018 - 12:48 PM

Eh. Thanks. Back to Leonelli Taberna, then.



#6 joethefoodie

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Posted 03 September 2018 - 01:17 PM

I know I have a comment about this, I just don't know what it is...

 

schlock restaurateur Steve Hanson 







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