Man cannot live by bread alone — not when there are models to ogle and gossip to overhear. These new hotties offer delicious décor, people-watching, cocktail conversation — oh, and food.
BY HAL RUBENSTEIN
220 Park Avenue
The Look: A glass-and-chrome sixties duplex Rock Hudson and Tony Randall might have shared. Rock would have lived up top, natch. The Crowd: Flashin'-forward types from Lower Park Avenue. Downstairs, overcrowded same-sex tables; upstairs, tense third dates. But the food makes it worth the effort. The Appeal: If they'd all shut up and chew for a minute, they'd discover Gavin Citron is a really talented chef. The Meal: Steamed truffle dumplings, smoked venison on birchwood, cardamom-cappuccino sundae. The Mistake: Thursday night.
The Look: More spaces than a funhouse, sort of the Many Worlds of Todd (English) without the motorized boat. The Crowd: Same crowd as at Aleutia, across the street, with an injection of testosterone: sleek, confident, and pleased with themselves. The Appeal: All of Todd English's places have energy and shameless bravado. It's why critics always try to knock him down to size. The Meal: Octopus with chickpeas, herb-and-garlic-roasted chicken, oven-roasted pineapple with lime sorbet. The Mistake: Trying to have an intimate conversation in the upholstered lounge. Toga! Toga!
The Look: The dining hall from The Lion in Winter with a promotional blitz for the movie Firestarter surround the open kitchen. The Crowd: An odd but congenial mix of overeager young'uns who see Fiona Apple as a mature poet and tourists not sure what hit them. The Appeal: Perfect for celebrating events with people you don't really know very well. Ignore everyone but the cute waiters. The Meal: Short-rib stew, macaroni and cheese (plain), banana split. The Mistake: The snapper in carrot-orange glaze could kill our appetite for a week.
The Look: The ultimate luxe bowling-alley lounge. If Ed's lane looked like this, more folks would move to Stuckeyville. The Crowd: An odd but appealing amalgam of those who have a significant nightlife past and those forging theirs for the future. No one flinches at the bill. The Appeal: Don't let the meatpacking address fool you. This is downtown without the mess. Jimmy Choo shoes rule. The Meal: Crayfish in cassolette, lobster bouillabaisse, chocolate pyramid. The Mistake: Showing up at 11 P.M. Who let the dogs out? Literally.
The Look: A spectacular series of stage sets that instantly feel familiar, though you've never been to anywhere like them. The Crowd: Oldies but goodies: eighties vets who made going out going out. Watch the masters at play. Or pick one up. The Appeal: Because the scenery is terrific, and this is New York. The Meal: Wild-mushroom salad, porterhouse steak, banana beignets. The Mistake: Trying to get a cab on Tenth Avenue after dinner.