Point Seven, Le Bernardin, Estiatorio Milos, Acadia, Sip & Guzzle, Jolene, The Elder Statesman, Momoya SoHo, bonus season, MORE
RESTAURANTS • First Person
Back in the Midtown groove
In the late ’90s, working in Midtown, our office’s fancy lunch (on someone else’s expense account) was Docks, a stalwart white linen seafood grill on 3rd Ave.
With no disrespect to Docks (where I dined quite successfully last year), Midtown’s lunch options have since leveled up — especially where seafood’s concerned, as I found on a Midtown dining mini-odyssey last week.
→ To kick things off: Monday business lunch at POINT SEVEN (above), an ambitious new entry in these waters, tucked into the west side of Grand Central Station. It’s an appealing restaurant, decorated in warm wood and blue oceanic tones — but make sure you’re seated in the front room, which looks out onto the bustle of Vanderbilt Ave., and not the windowless (and vibeless) back room. The lunch rush filled half the place. Too bad, because chef/partner Franklin Becker was in the kitchen, an impressive showing during a Monday lunch service for a busy chef (see also, his newish The Press Club Grill in Herald Square). The food on our table — a luxe lobster roll, mussels, and a simply grilled red snapper — clicked for all in our group.
→ Two days later, just a little after noon, I walked off of West 51st St. and into LE BERNARDIN, a perk of living in New York if there ever was one. Only two of the dozen or so tables in the casual, no-reservations lounge were taken. The bar (above), where I sat, was half full of tourists.
A top joy of dining solo: ambient eavesdropping. The man sitting to my right wanted to know how he could get a reservation for next December “without going online.” (Bartender: ask the maitre’d for their card on the way out.) The couple at the end of the bar were on their way to see Spamalot, $90 for front-row tickets during Broadway Week.
For about the same price, I ordered Le Bernardin's three-course City Harvest Menu, a lounge special, which brought me a rich Maine lobster bisque, superb; perfectly cooked striped bass, served with fennel and leek compote in a shallow bouillabaisse; and a pistachio praline dessert that, once cracked open, revealed a soft Grand Marnier mousse, a true delight. New Yorkers! Le Bernardin is here for you too, not just that couple visiting from Boston.
→ The next day, at my final Midtown lunch of the week, I discovered where all the locals are found midday: ESTIATORIO MILOS on West 55th. The Greek seafood restaurant, a Montreal import that arrived stateside in 1997, has spread itself now to Hudson Yards, Las Vegas, Dubai, and beyond. Here at the flagship, it was absolutely packed just after noon as I grabbed a first-come-first-served bar seat and listened to the loud hum of business getting done. For my order, off a sizable Restaurant Week menu ($45 per), a starter of grilled calamari stuffed with cheese, a main of butterflied fish of the day (branzino), and a savory cake dessert, all spot on.
By the end of my meal at Milos, the crowd waiting to be seated had swelled 20-deep, and the two men to my left were discussing their compensation packages. Midtown, still very much itself. –Lockhart Steele
See also our MIDTOWN LUNCH NINES below (for paid subscriber eyes only).
RESTAURANTS • Intel
→ ACADIA RISES: Another Midtown dining spot to have on the radar: Mediterranean brasserie Acadia (above), which opened last month on the northwest corner of 6th Ave. and 57th St. It’s from the team that enlivened Upper West Side dining with places like Nice Matin and Dagon. Here, chef Ari Bokovza is building on his work at Israeli-focused Dagon by expanding his menu’s horizons to Lebanon, Greece, Tunisia, and Morocco. Our table loved the six-part mezze platter (bless you, spicy feta and eggplant confit), and all the main courses, especially the crispy roasted lamb neck and marinated black cod served with citrus. Taking it all in a few tables away from us: NYPost restaurant critic Steve Cuozzo, who recently hailed the restaurant’s pastrami sandwich — an homage to the long-departed Wolf’s Deli — as the best in town. Yes, Acadia does lunch, too. –Lockhart Steele
→ CORNELIA ST. AGAIN: Much-anticipated, bold-face name, bar-lounge-restaurant Sip & Guzzle is open on Cornelia St. in the Village. The two-level, two-experience spot is an extension of Shingo Gokan’s SG Club in Tokyo and features former Alinea chef Mike Bagale on food. More once we brave the crowds.
→ RIP JOLENE: Last night, restaurateur Gabe Stulman sent a note to his email list revealing that his Great Jones Street restaurant (and FOUND subscriber favorite) Jolene, will permanently close in the coming weeks. “While it’s delivered in spades on the personal level, it’s only been a successful business in fits and starts,” he wrote. “We hope that all the good mojo will make the next keyholders of 54 Great Jones a storied success.”
NYC RESTAURANT LINKS: Ruth Reichl’s appreciation of what April Bloomfield is doing at Sailor • Major Food Group partners with Marea to expand its brand globally • Why we may have seen the last of longtime East Village dive Lucy’s • New Tock feature encourages micro-experiences at restaurants • At the world’s leading bars, there are no bars.
WORK • Bonus Season
The waiting game
This payout season, investment bankers hoping for a return to loaded bonuses for 2023’s work are mostly facing disappointment. Some checks are reportedly 25% lighter than 2022, a dismal year in its own right.
“Flat is the new up, and that’s if you had a solid year,” Genevieve Fraser of Maven Search, a recruiter for investment banks, told the Wall Street Journal.
The problem: deal flow, stopped up by stubbornly high rates, and macro fears of war and recession. See also: housing, where last year’s transaction volume was the worst in 30 years.
Already, though, 2024 is showing signs of improvement, which means that this time next year, bankers and real estate agents and anyone else who does deals for a living might be celebrating. In the meantime, the waiting is the hardest part.
But patience, an underrated career skill, does in fact pay. A lawyer friend who works on corporate deals told me last month that he would bill 500 hours for all of 2023, a quarter of his average annual productivity. Hours later, over Saturday night dinner, he got an email with a term sheet to review. It was going to be a busy January. –Josh Albertson
WORK LINKS: Pratt takes 63K SF at Brooklyn Navy Yards for MFA Studios • How old-wives’ remedies became big business • Private equity is starting to share with workers • Lower rates may mean a bottom for the office market • ‘Wintering’ is the work trend to watch.
WORK • Tuesday Routine
Ray of light
It’s Tuesday morning, where are you working?
I’m usually the first to arrive at the restaurant after the cleaning crew. This quiet time allows me to test my most recent creations and capture content under the morning sunlight. Momoya SoHo faces east, and a row of floor-to-ceiling windows replaces an ordinary wall, so mornings are the best lighting time.
What’s the Tuesday morning scene at your workplace?
Tuesdays are the most relaxed day of the week. Our bi-monthly dessert omakase takes place on Mondays, so Tuesdays are usually my day to regroup. The restaurant also receives a special shipment of rare Japanese fish on Tuesdays, which the chefs allow me to taste test.
What’s on the agenda for today?
I'll be doing a lot of prep and admin work. I'm testing my new recipe using Japan's Beni Haruka sweet potato paste and developing menus for the upcoming dessert omakase. Since its launch in May, the monthly series remains sold out, which is very exciting and keeps me going, despite the hectic weeks of planning prior. I’m also finalizing the winter seasonal parfait, which will be launching later this week. At this point, each parfait aims to outdo the last. I’m also gearing up for a collaboration with Ikigai Fruits, a luxury fruit company based in Japan. This collaboration is so personal and nostalgic to me — I’ve been missing fruits from my country since I moved to the U.S.
What’s for lunch?
I usually order from Happy Tuna, the takeout sushi brand by Momoya SoHo’s owner. I’m a big fan of the “roll with us” sushi box. You can also find me at Sunrise Market on Broome St. or browsing the Eataly market, also on Broome..
Any plans tonight?
I usually grab some drinks at The Mulberry on Tuesday nights with my friends. Tonight I'm having dinner with friends at Torrisi. I love their chicken pate; it has a nice balance of savory and sweetness. After dinner, I often unwind at home with a glass of wine and a movie or show. (Currently: “Suits.”)
GOODS & SERVICES • FOUND Object
This is a really nice gift. Like, really nice. Made by LA-based The Elder Statesman (purveyors of “laidback, quiet luxury”), it’s 100% cashmere, also comes in rust, and is the ultimate armor for the guy in your life struggling with those long winter nights. –Zoe Schaeffer
→ Shop: Shawl Collar Cardigan (The Elder Statesman), some sizes out of stock, $2095.
GOODS & SERVICES LINKS: In NYC, closet sales are the new fashion brands • Confessions of a former Tiffany client advisor • The bespoke tailor on the 49th floor of the Chrysler Building • The best cheeses of 2023 • Why silver is the sexiest interior design trend • A 2024 style report on Gardencore.
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RESTAURANTS • The Nines