New York’s Billionaire’s Row may have the tallest residential towers in North America, but besides the odd private restaurant, there are surprisingly few place to get dinner. But there is one restaurant on the West 57th Street strip below the park that is definitely worth visiting, even if only for a cocktail.
Tucked into the base of the iconic Solow Building (you know, the swooping one that looks like a giant slide), Brasserie 8 1/2 looks like something out of a Stanley Kubrick movie. Guests descend into the restaurant via a large swooping circular staircase. Art works by Marco Del Re, Henri Matisse and Fernand Léger adorn the walls. And in the round bar room, on a recent visit, quite a few executive-types were sipping martinis adding to the retro vibe. Spin, and take in the red carpeting, the geometric lighting and the mid-century furniture and ask yourself what year it is.
Even the food has a throw-back feeling. Executive chef Franck Deletrain has created a menu of classic French dishes that are approachable and unlikely to offend. Think moules frites, crab cakes, saucisson chaud, filet mignon au poivre and côte de boeuf, The portions are generous and nothing has been “deconstructed.” These really are classics served classically.
The restaurant is spacious and rather quite — no music is played — and without a window in sight, it’s easy to forget you’re in modern day New York City. And that is often a welcome feeling. So next time you need an escape or a dose of nostalgia check out the hidden treasure beneath the giant number 9.
Oh, and just in case you were wondering the name 8 1/2 is a nod to the restaurants position below 9 West 57th Street, not to the Fellini film.