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Places to be Curious About


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It appears bbf is back open…


Described on the website as a “neighborhood cafe and midnight diner” - curious seeing as they close at 10:30. The menu is pretty standard fare and the interesting cocktails (one of the few things I remember fondly from our meal at bbf 1.0) have been replaced by Lychitinis and the like. Hmm. 

Edited by SethG
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I especially like that the very first time I went there, very soon after opening, I sat down at the bar and ordered what seemed to be an appealing cocktail from the low-alcohol section of the cocktail menu, and the bartender, who had known me for all of three minutes, said, "you're going to think that's too light."

Edited by Sneakeater
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Who would dare try to kill the Grill? Jean-Georges Vongerichten, the proprietor of Four Twenty Five, the restaurant in the new 425 Park Avenue office tower at East 56th, would never be so tactless as to say so, but I suspect that’s the ambition. The two restaurants are within spitting distance of each other. Each has its braggable architects (Mies van der Rohe and Philip Johnson for the Grill, né The Four Seasons; Lord Norman Foster for Four Twenty Five) and majordomos (the Major Food Group for the former; Vongerichten for the latter), and both were bankrolled by a beneficent real-estate suzerain (Aby Rosen; David Levinson and Robert Lapidus). Even the designs have an eerie echo: Fluttering, diaphanous curtains soften the headlights from the avenue, much as Marie Nichols’s famous woven-aluminum curtains do on 52nd, and, scaling Four Twenty Five’s lushly carpeted staircase to its hovering dining room, I was reminded of the similar ascent in the Seagram Building.

425 Park Avenue was completed in 2022. My colleague Justin Davidson describes Foster’s buildings, including this one, as “coolly sexy and seductively menacing.” The menace at the restaurant has been dialed down to plush softness and dim ease. The lobby bar may fill nightly with local financerati (much of the building is leased to Citadel, Ken Griffin’s hedge fund), but they sip their signature martinis under the cheerfully hectic brushstrokes of an enormous Larry Poons selected by Levinson. Among Abstract Expressionist trophies, this is about as un-menacing as it gets: Poons is to Pollock as Barney is to Jurassic Park.

The real action happens upstairs. As at the Grill, the room, suspended like a ritzy spaceship over the ground floor, suggests urbanity and influence, not to mention the obedience of whole fleets of coordinately burgundy-suited staffers. “This is what I imagined New York was like when I was 7,” whispered my partner when we were seated. “This is a theme park that’s ‘New York.’ ”

The vibe gives mid-century, but the menu does not. There are no prime-rib carts here; if the food recalls anyone’s past, it is Vongerichten’s, whose first New York restaurant, Lafayette, opened across the street in 1986. That history is in the coconut-lime curry that’s poured over a perfectly pink, steak-y slice of duck breast, for example, and the bar-menu snacks that reference his own greatest hits, like tuna tartare with ginger dressing.

The man himself is not in the kitchen, though on a recent evening, he was holding court in the bar. Chef duties are handled by Jonathan Benno, the talented, longtime journeyman who ran Per Se’s kitchen before striking out on his own with Lincoln, on the Lincoln Center campus, and Benno, in the Evelyn Hotel. He brings his own style and perspective to the menu (and, if I were to guess, the entire pasta section). The combination can make for a disorienting mix. Steamed black bass and sesame on the one hand, a hearty veal chop with sauerkraut and spaetzle in a sweetbreads ragout on the other. Silken tofu (with the now requisite, inescapable gouging of caviar) to start, followed by lumache in a beautifully fennel-scented red sauce. It can be incongruous, but does that matter?

more here

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We love The West Bank Cafe.  Always a friendly bar with food that’s better than you’d expect.  Been going for 30+ years.  Ginny directed some shows downstairs when Louis Black was the m.c.  We were there as recently as a couple of weeks ago.

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