N, Q, R at Fifth Ave.-59th St.
American Express, MasterCard, Visa
This venue is closed.
The refurbished Oak Room opened in the star-crossed monument to gilded-era boomtime Manhattan, the Plaza Hotel. But my first meal there was so overpriced ($55 for that old warhorse tournedos Rossini), so tragically tone-deaf and outdated that I thought it prudent to wait until some of the very substantial kinks had been worked out before I returned. Two months later, I’m sad to report that nothing much has changed. The vacant halls outside the restaurant still feel like something from the set of The Shining. The tablecloths in the grand dining room are still a dull, Marriott Hotel pink and are set with fluorescent glass lamps that have an uncanny resemblance to comb holders in an ancient barbershop. The room’s famous oaken moldings are still impressive to look at, but you can barely see them through the dim, sepulchral gloom.
The stagy, oppressive atmosphere at the new Oak Room is not greatly relieved by the quality of the food. On my first visit, the menu was an overlong, slightly ham-fisted compendium of the kind of luxury-hotel grub savvy New Yorkers don’t much eat anymore. It’s now been pared to a more manageable size, although the quality is still various. My Parmesan-laced mushroom risotto was almost worth its $22 price, although the Dover sole that followed ($43) was overcooked in knobby chunks and apparently someone forgot to debone it. The duck did not benefit from either the kumquats or the bok choy it came with, and my desiccated braised short ribs resembled a sad imitation of corned beef. We waited roughly 25 minutes between the courses, and the desserts included gimmicky chocolate “cigars” touched with armagnac, and tired little triangles of carrot cake so tortured-looking they prompted one of my guests to put down her fork in exasperation. “I’m sorry, I wouldn’t serve this food to people who came to my home,” she said.Note
If dinner gets you down, take refuge in the pricey though competent wine list concocted by a veteran of the great wine-geek hangout Cru.Ideal Meal
Vialone nano risotto with roasted duck