Thrills await you... inside of a mall
It’s strange and unnatural to climb four escalators and walk past Zara, H&M, and The Body Shop to get to your swanky dinner destination, a buzzy New York restaurant. But then you sit for a pre-dinner drink in the bar room, and you’re surprised to find that cocktails cost just $15, a relatively standard price for libations these days, and not utterly exorbitant like those served at another Continental dining room further east and uptown. You sip on one of three martinis from the menu, enjoying the live music performance by a trio of men in suits.
Soon enough, a host leads your party of six to a roomy emerald-colored booth overlooking The Vessel, which you refer to as The Shawarma. There’s Champagne, which pairs well with crispy Kennebec potato chips dunked into a pool of French onion dip. You bite into a deviled egg, and it’s satisfyingly creamy, salty, and tangy. As you decide what else to order, those same live tunes emanate from hidden speakers and fill the space around you.
Duck a l'Orange is a special, so you’ll have that, for sure. Who can resist a chicken for two, carved tableside? And where else will you have the opportunity to savor Prime Beef Short Rib Wellington? For appetizers, a few classic Caesars, plus luscious Fettuccine Alfredo laced with flecks of black winter truffle, and a warm soft-boiled egg plopped on a blini that’s thick like cake, soft inside, rich with buckwheat flavor, and served with caviar-laced crème fraîche.
You aren’t too upset about the hiccups—a light hand on parm in the Caesar, chicken that came cold, too-sweet orange sauce—because you’re here for the experience. And as you meander through the restaurant before dessert, you take in the yellow glow, the various shades of brown, the procession of carts towards and away from tableside preparations, and you pretend you’re in the Mad Men era.
You return to your party for silky-moist forkfuls of dark chocolate layer cake, luxuriously dense cheesecake drizzled in caramel, and complimentary crunchy caramel corn.
“We’re calling it fun dining, not fine dining,” Thomas Keller says of his Hudson Yards debut; a promise that TAK Room delivers on. The sad part comes when it’s over and, instead of stumbling onto the sidewalk, flushed with excitement after a Friday night meal at one of the hottest restaurants in town, you find yourself in an empty mall at 11 p.m., as the rush of adrenaline promptly flees from your system.
20 Hudson Yards, New York, NY 10001
Lately, I’ve been into The TASTE Podcast and Wine Face by Helen Johannesen of Helen’s Wines in LA. Too many podcasts are rambly, but these are short, sweet, and insightful. Try TASTE editor Matt Rodbard with Akira Akuto of Konbi and Helen on Bandol.
In honor of Passover: read this review of “The 100 Most Jewish Foods”, then buy the book. [NYTimes]
Don’t miss this interview with longtime Bamonte’s waiter Silvio Frlic [BA]
“I want to go to restaurants that are consistent more than restaurants that are interesting, fancy, or technically admirable.” —Gabriela Cámara preaches in her Grub Street Diet
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