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F ans of Sam DeMarco’s comfort food at the restaurant First, and later District, will want to know he’s back from a post-9/11 midlife crisis and romantic sabbatical in 2004 (he got married and became a dad). Now he’s turning out spicy wings and rib-eye dip in the unlikely elegance of the Omni Berkshire hotel lobby. And with the tasty overgrown sliders (White Castle on steroids with superior pickle—four to an order), you have a perfect dinner for divorced daddy’s custody-night out as well as for those of us who will never totally grow up. The spiffy lounge (butcher block, marble, stainless steel) is a sexy spot, good for a drink and a snack (“conversation pieces,” the menu reads) pre-theater, after work, a lunchtime escape from routine, even for dinner. We’re sharing an excellent Caesar “stack” (crisp romaine with white anchovies) and a not-lush-enough rigatoni carbonara the kitchen forgot to warm. Smoked prime rib, really rare, with horseradish cream is a knockout, as is the global fusion of Sichuan “duck a l’orange,” with white kimchee, steamed buns, and heady sriracha-spiked mayo. Argentina’s Kaleido Malbec at $36 from an impressive wine list is a real discovery. I was never a s’mores kid, but with couture marshmallows, real chocolate, and someone else doing the work, I surrender, letting a pal tend the tabletop hibachi. Despite the name, the only flames in the room are from three fat candles in the handsome fireplace, a bow to the fire marshal.

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19 E. 52nd St., nr. Madison Ave.; 212-754-5011



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