The Big Apple and the home of Liberty, literally, she’s standing there in the harbour (or ‘harbor’ as they insist on misspelling it), Manhattan is the beating heart of New York City and, a cultural behemoth and a financial centre to rival London. It’s one of the most iconic cities on the planet, densely packed with 1.6m souls in an area nearly half the size of Croydon. And all those mouths need feeding, which is why I’ve been snuffling my way through the best foodie joins that Manhattan has to offer. Here’s where I’d recommend.
From its highly Instagrammable neon sign that greets you as you enter, to the delicate gold features and the celebrity diners, Philippe Chow’s second restaurant on 335 W 16th Street is effortlessly chic. Descend the stairs and you’ll find yourself in a subterranean den where hand-pulled noodles, Peking duck and strong cocktails are the order of the day.
Second venue in and we’re already in the ‘technically not a restaurant but still very worthy of being in this guide’ territory. Visit and you’ll see why. Opened in 2012, The Flatiron Room (not to be mistaken with the Flatiron Building), is an award-winning jazz and whiskey bar (they have over 1,000 to choose from) with understated charm by the bucket load. Stepping into the warmly lit bar is like hitting ‘pause’ on the chaos of the city and then rewinding to a more glamorous era. I recommend escaping there on a cold New York night to spend a couple of hours working your way through the whiskey list, enjoying the jazz and nibbling on charcuterie.
Housed in a former Chinese opera house, Chinese Tuxedo mixes New York warehouse vibes with the faded grandeur more commonly seen throughout Europe; think unfinished concrete walls, exposed metal piping, plus gold highlights and plenty of plants. My first thought? Killing Eve could be filmed here! And digging into the opera house’s history you’ll find that it’s had fair share of shady characters walking through those doors. But today it’s the fashionable crowds who flock in for dim sum, noodles and dishes such as Cantonese roast squab and shrimp and lobster toast. Afterwards make sure you head downstairs to Peachy’s, a Gucci-clad, celeb-attracting bar with a tongue-in-cheek, neon sign declaring ‘No Photos, No Fighting’, well, maybe I only took the second half seriously.
For classic New York style then head to The Carlyle (a Rosewood Hotel, so obviously it’s going to be half-decent) on the Upper East Side for an evening at the Art Deco inspired Bemelmans. Named in honour of Ludwig Bemelmans, the author of the Madeline children’s book, the bar is the place to go not only for cocktails and nightly live entertainment, but also to take in the large-scale murals that adorn the walls and are the only surviving Bemelmans’ commission left open to the public. Oh and make sure you look up, the ceiling, it’s covered in 24-karat gold leaf.
It doesn’t get much more all-American than Ralph Lauren. But rather than being gimmicky, Ralph Lauren’s restaurant, is refined yet casual. Championing equestrian sports, the restaurant features saddle leather and equestrian art throughout and outside you’ll find the Henry Koehler polo match-inspired mural. The menu luckily doesn’t take the same inspiration (it’s not 2013 Tesco) rather it’s filled with Ralph Lauren’s personal favourites including crispy kale salad and corned beef sandwiches.
If you find yourself missing good old Blighty whilst in New York, then drop into Michelin-starred restaurant, The Clocktower, headed up by one of London’s favourite chefs, Jason Atherton. But don’t go expecting bangers and mash, rather it’s an ‘elevated’ take on British cuisine. So beans and pasties are out and marinated mackerel and sweet English pea whipped ricotta is in. That said they do serve afternoon tea and a full English. And it’s seriously cool, made up of three dining rooms, each with individual flair. If you’re pressed for time then make sure you at the very least stop for a drink at the 24-karat gold bar. Take a chisel…
We start this story in 1959 when the restaurant first opened as part of the Four Seasons. Back then it was called The Pool Room. Initially it flopped, but slowly and surely it rose to an iconic level in the city, becoming the place to go to for a power lunching drawing in the real life Gordon Gekkos and Jordan Belforts of the city. When the Four Seasons left the Seagram Building in 2016, the restaurant went with it, leaving one of New York’s most famous dining rooms empty. In stepped Major Food Group who opened The Pool in 2017, bringing new life to the space and restoring its former glory. As it always has, the water fountain still takes centre stage and Marie Nichol’s original chain curtains remain, though new blue tones have been added and there’s new lighting by Hervé Descottes of L’Observatoire. As the name and fountain hints, this a seafood restaurant and one of the finest.
Nestled among the skyscrapers of the Financial District, sits Augustine, part of the Keith McNally brasserie collection. With its vintage mirrors, ornate lighting and decorative tiles the brasserie brings a snack slice of belle epoque Paris. Of course Champagne must be ordered right away before you tuck into the likes of triple crème cheese soufflés and butter poached lobster.
Since 2011 when it first opened, Acme in NoHo has been one of those restaurants that has been on everyone’s bucket list and if you haven’t been yet, you better get there pronto – it’s been eight years after all. Feast on Korean tartare, blistered asparagus and octopus salad before heading to Acme Downstairs, the once rock’n’roll bar has now been transformed into a sleek late night cocktail bar.
From the outside Beauty & Essex might not look like much, it is, after all, a pawn shop, an actual pawn shop, you can buy everything in there. But once you’ve flogged your grandfather’s watch, there’s only one place to spend your bounty: head downstairs. Descend the grand circular staircase, wrapped around a two story bespoke chandelier, and behold the space opening up into four restaurants, two bars, a lounge and the women’s bathroom, complete with salon. It’s glitzy, glamorous and with just a little touch of chintz, oh and it has a neon sign that is pretty much guaranteed to end up on every diner’s Instagram, top marks to the marketing team. Make it your new date night spot or head there for their famous Sunday Champagne parties.