If you’ve watched “The White Lotus” on HBO every week, then you know the hotel lobby is ripe for excitement. A lot of that has to do with its public-private nature: you might not be able to explore the upper floors, but just about anyone can waltz through the lobby.
This city in particular has a long tradition of outstanding hotel lobby bars – Bemelmans bar in the Carlyle, King Cole Bar at the St. Regis – but the status of the hotel’s large lobby restaurant is more fragile. The NoMad Hotel, and its accompanying restaurant run by Daniel Humm, is no more. Jean-Georges Vongerichten Mercer kitchen at the Mercer will close on December 18. And Ai Fiori The Langham recently lost its Michelin star.
But there is still hope. Here are a few restaurants in the hotel lobby that caught my eye.
Israeli challah rolls and fried halloumi
I recently had dinner at K’Far Brooklyn, the two-week-old restaurant in the lobby of the Hoxton in Williamsburg. Like with laser wolftoo at the Hoxton, the original K’Far is based in Philadelphia, where you can enjoy forearm-sized Jerusalem bagel sandwiches and flaky borekas for breakfast and lunch. But in Brooklyn, they’ll also serve you dinner, down the stairs and to the right of the main lobby.
If Laser Wolf is a concert in a stadium, K’Far is an independent show. It’s quiet, comfortable, romantic. The menu is more streamlined than at its rooftop counterpart: small plates, large plates, side dishes, desserts. My perfect order would be the separate challah rolls, so smooth with butter you can see your reflection in them; fried halloumi served baklava style with quince and pistachio; the warm Caesar salad with roasted fennel; and either of the fish dishes, as they haven’t let me down in that category yet. (And get both the pecan cake and chocolate kanafi for dessert.)
Viennese bread service and snack in the lobby
Our food critic, Pete Wells, is a big fan of the Viennese-inspired dishes prepared by chef Markus Glocker at Kolomana new restaurant in the lobby of the Ace Hotel in Manhattan.
I had a pretty good time securing a table (although maybe not since Pete’s exam on Nov 29) and faithfully followed in his footsteps. Bread service: next level. Gougères stuffed with shallots and cheese soufflé: light as air. The crusted salmon with its crispy and buttery crust: we still think about it. And, oh my, the desserts: eight to choose from, each as exciting as the next, but the caramelized milk bread was my favourite.
The third member of this hotel lobby restaurant trio is corner bar, the latest project by chef Ignacio Mattos at the Nine Orchard hotel. I don’t know what to think of this restaurant. Is it beautiful to look at? Yes. Is the service good? Enough. But should a chicken dish, no matter how excellent, cost $62? I do not think so! The best chicken in town – at Barbuto – is half price.
My advice: Go to the hotel Swan Room instead, and order a drink and a snack. The experience will be glamorous – after all, you’re in a 110-year-old pink marble bank, where customers are encouraged to “dress for a night out” – but the bill won’t be a total shock. And if that’s not the true ethos (and ecstasy) of the hotel lobby lifestyle, I don’t know what is.
In other news…
As Tejal Rao says in his newsletter, The Veggie: One more thing! I’d love to help you with all your Christmas and holiday-themed questions. If you want options on how to make the season bright, or have other pressing food-related holiday questions, just email me at email@example.com and you may see be your query here.
This week, Pete Wells reviewed S&P lunch, formerly known as Eisenberg’s Sandwich Shop (and before that, well, S&P Lunch). Although the locals have changed a bit, he found that the management of Court Street Grocers have improved “every bit – and in some cases more than slightly – without pushing the flavors to their limits or turning things into creative new forms. “.
Openings: After Naro, Jupiter and Le Rock, chef Greg Baxtrom opened five acres at Rockefeller Center; Christophe Bellanca, famous Le Cirque, will open his own restaurant, Essential by Christophe, in the Upper West Side tomorrow; and cocktails and oysters are offered at Down and out in the East Village.
Philippe Valls, the Cuban exile turned restaurateur and inventor of Miami’s walk-in coffee shop windowsdied November 26 at age 89. Our reporter Christina Morales, who grew up in Hialeah, Florida, wrote her obituary for The Times.
Robert Simonson reported on the return of the cocktail not shaken, not stirred, but thrown, as well as a number of bars where you can experience the magic of throwing for yourself.
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