B, D, F, V at 42nd St.-Bryant Park; 7 at Fifth Ave./Bryant Park
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This venue is closed.
With its sweeping indigo carpets and loopy, carrot-shaped Philippe Starck pediments, the lobby of the Royalton Hotel was, briefly, during the shank end of the last millennium, a place of glamour and style. The house restaurant, called 44, was home to the wunderkind chef Geoffrey Zakarian (Town, Country), and was also the favorite lunchtime spot of Tina Brown and an assembled court of preening, cocktail-swilling Condé Nast editors. But Tina Brown has moved on, as has Zakarian, and in an effort to recapture some of the old heat, the owners of the hotel have given the space an extreme, multimillion-dollar face-lift. The old color scheme has been replaced, in the lobby, with a muddy cowboy brown, and the restaurant, now called Brasserie 44, has been refashioned with curving blond-wood booths and a strange pattern of rattan-style netting, which makes it look less like a big-city dining destination than like a run-of-the-mill breakfast joint in some mid-level Hong Kong business hotel.
The proprietor, John McDonald (Lever House, Lure Fishbar), is adept at producing buzzy, crowd-pleasing restaurants focused on various themes. But so far there’s not much buzz here. Maybe it’s the space, the drabness of which is compounded by the flat, dimly lit lobby. Or maybe it’s the menu, which is a mishmash of familiar though capably reproduced Greenmarket and bistro staples. These range from a properly seasonal though blandly sweet roasted-chestnut soup to the usual array of braised short ribs (inedible one evening, slightly edible the next) and “milk-fed” poularde (a standard chicken dish), to those twin totems of the upscale-barnyard dining experience, braised collard greens and Anson Mills grits (in this case, truffle-scented). The rib eye (from Four Story Hill Farm) is a nice piece of beef, provided you have the $42 to procure it. After all, you’re not in Kansas. You’re in midtown, where even the most virtuous Greenmarket feast is expense-account fodder.Note
Beef eaters take note: the $22 lunchtime Black Angus burger ain’t bad.Ideal Meal
Tuna tartare, dry-aged rib eye, sticky-toffee pudding.