Mon-Thu, 7am-10am, 11:45am-2:30pm, and 5:30pm-11pm; Fri, 7am-10am, 11:45am-2:30pm, and 5:30pm-midnight; Sat, 7am-2:30pm and 5:30pm-midnight; Sun, 7am-2:30pm and 5:30pm-9:30pm
1, 2, 3, 7, N, Q, R, S at Times Sq.-42nd St.
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The Lambs Club, in the Chatwal Hotel, takes its name from the venerable actors’ club, which used to occupy the hotel’s building, on 44th Street. That’s about where the similarities end. The original Lambs Club (“America’s first professional theatrical club” is its motto) now occupies a nine-story building near Rockefeller Center. The restaurant, meanwhile, is housed in a weirdly cramped, darkly paneled space, dominated on one wall by a medieval-size fireplace glowing with fake logs. I didn’t glimpse any real-live thespians during my visits to the restaurant, but the room is lined with so many faded portraits of deceased actors (Ronald Reagan, George M. Cohan, W. C. Fields) that one of my guests compared the experience to “dining in a Hollywood cafeteria, around the time the talkies came in.”
Luckily, the man overseeing the kitchen is Geoffrey Zakarian, whose credits include L’Arpège in Paris; 44 at the Royalton, in its heyday; and the great, though sadly departed, Town. Zakarian is constrained by the times (he’s a child of the baroque nineties) and the limitations of a hotel menu (the entrées include chicken, scallops, and steak), but he knows how to produce an old-fashioned gourmet meal. My foie gras terrine may have cost $24, but it was smooth as velvet and garnished with brûléed figs. The beef tartare was hand-cut and scattered with frizzled capers and the Delmonico steak (should you care to fork over $60) was sizzled in a properly rich red-wine glaze. The desserts are more prosaic, so spend your cash instead on the old-world cocktail list, subtly updated by one of the founding fathers of the downtown mixologist movement, Sasha Petraske.