B, D, F, V at 42nd St.-Bryant Park
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Dishes at this French restaurant in the Sofitel on 45th Street are serviceable Americanized standards. Lobster bisque comes with few chunks of lobster and heavy dose of cream. Hanger steak is well seared, but pommes frites fall short of exceptional. A few extra touches, like cheeses from Terrance Brennan’s Artisanal and a well-executed tarte tatin, make Gaby above par compared to the Holiday Inn sort of hotel restaurant. But the décor is everything the food is not: complicated, over-the-top, and hauntingly memorable. Red lights, marble floors, and leopard-print upholstery feel more Hollywood bordello than French bistro. The disparate art crowding every surface—including a Statue of Liberty fresco on the ceiling and movie still panels surrounding booths—are distracting and claustrophobic. Gaby’s menu may be a dream for exhausted tourists too tired to leave the hotel, but there’s no reason for alert locals to subject themselves to the nightmarish décor.