T+L File: New York
Published: March 2009
After 9/11 it seemed the city would never be the same. But almost immediately, New Yorkers went back to doing what they do best--going out, seeing friends, living life. And just as the world looked upon lower Manhattan in disbelief, it bounced back. Here, T+L celebrates downtown one year later. New restaurants and exciting galleries, chic hotels, and cutting-edge boutiques still fill the map below 14th Street. Not to mention plenty of places to sip the "drink of the moment" (not a Cosmopolitan) and toast the city that never sleeps.
Is Nam (110 Reade St.; 212/267-1777; dinner for two $50) too good to be true?This evocative Indochine-chic room has the best coconut crêpes and crispy fish this side of Hanoi, at Chinatown prices. That you can still score a Friday-night reservation is one of New York's biggest mysteries. Just down the street, at David Bouley's Bouley Restaurant (120 W. Broadway; 212/964-2525; $150*), cocoon yourself in dim plushness and feast on delicate sea urchins with kaffir lime, or squab with foie gras and cabbage. The zucchini blossom-and-pea pasta and wild watercress soup have made chef-owner Jonathan Waxman's Washington Park (24 Fifth Ave.; 212/529-4400; $110) New York's newest foodie mecca. The duo behind Chelsea's Red Cat have taken their ingeniously tweaked American bistro food--calf's liver, pan-crisped skate, fried clams--to the Harrison (355 Greenwich St.; 212/274-9310; $90), TriBeCa's instant classic. At Butter (415 Lafayette St.; 212/253-2828; $125) you'll forgive the long wait and occasionally overcooked fish for designer Andrew Phillips's pinewood and birch oasis near the Public Theater. A well-executed modern American menu and New York's best grapefruit tart distract you from people-watching at Thom (60 Thompson St.; 212/219-2000; $95). Stephen Hanson's split-level Fiamma Osteria (206 Spring St.; 212/653-0100; $120) delivers exquisitely crafted pastas (grab the tortelli), Italian salads, and cured meats that rival those you'd find in Bologna.
Chef's Picks: Lower Feast Side
If the Lower East Side has become a food mecca, chef Wylie Dufresne and 71 Clinton Fresh Food definitely had something to do with it. While putting the finishing touches on his new restaurant, WD~50 (50 Clinton St.; no phone yet; opening in October), he shared some of his latest neighborhood favorites.
1. NYC ICY (21 Ave. B; 212/979-9877; from $2). Sublime ices. Try: apricot-ginger or bracingly bitter café con leche.
2. Supper (156 E. Second St.; 212/477-7600; $45*): Grilled fish and lemon risotto amid brick, wood, and chandeliers.
3. Lil' Frankie's Pizza (19 First Ave.; 212/420-4900; $25): Like a living room with a wood-burning oven; try the polpettini (meatball) pie.
4. Clinton Street Baking Co. (2 Clinton St.; 646/602-6263; breakfast $12): The most luscious muffins around.
5. Aka Café (49 Clinton St.; 212/979-6096; $50): New York's coolest sandwiches. Lamb's tongue with almond butter, anyone?
6. Alias (76 Clinton St.; 212/505-5011; $60): House-cured sable and lamb spareribs in a tiny bistro.
When the going gets tough, New Yorkers get comfortable. Alison Nelson and Matt Lewis turned their addiction into Chocolate Bar (48 Eighth Ave.; 212/366-1541), a cocoa-lover's haven where dark chocolate-covered peanut butter-and-jelly bars are served alongside espresso blends in martini glasses.
It's always teatime at Teany (90 Rivington St.; 212/475-9190), Moby's Lower East Side shop, which offers nearly 100 different blends.
Just because rice pudding is the only dish on the menu at Rice to Riches (37 Spring St.; 212/274-0008) doesn't mean your decision will be easy. The super-stylish cantina has 19 flavors of the tasty dessert--from vanilla to pistachio jasmine.
And if you're looking for a twist on a childhood favorite, SoHo's Bar Veloce (17 Cleveland Place; 212/966-7334) will hit the spot with pressed ciabatta, smoked ham, and Taleggio. Not exactly your mother's grilled cheese.
Downtown Goes Uptown
For restaurateur David Emil's first project since Windows on the World, he has gathered more than 60 members of the Windows team, including chef Michael Lomonaco, who developed the South and Central American-themed menu at Noche (1604 Broadway; 212/541-7070; dinner for two $80), an 18,000-square-foot Latin-infused supper club (part Ricky Ricardo, part Carmen Miranda) designed by David Rockwell in the heart of Times Square. Standouts: tuna ceviche with spicy avocado sauce, lobster curry with papaya vinaigrette, and crisp roast suckling pig. After dinner, order a frozen mojito from Andrea Immer's cocktail menu, and watch Latin bands from around the world on the mammoth retractable stage.
Where to Stay
Even before September 11, lower Manhattan was attracting the attention of developers. Now their plans for "downtown revitalization" have taken on a whole new meaning. The Ritz-Carlton New York, Battery Park (2 West St.; 800/241-3333 or 212/344-0800; www.ritzcarlton.com; doubles from $229) broke ground in 1999 and, against all odds, held its course for a January 2002 opening. Occupancy at the 298-room hotel has exceeded expectations, no doubt because of the inspiring location overlooking New York Harbor and Ellis Island. Meanwhile, beside the Battery Park Esplanade, the two-year-old Embassy Suites (102 North End Ave.; 800/362-2779 or 212/945-0100, www.embassynewyork.com; doubles from $199) reopened in May, along with its new restaurant, Unity. The all-suite atrium hotel--one block west of Ground Zero--was used as a relief center after 9/11. A few blocks north, the Tribeca Grand Hotel (2 Ave. of the Americas; 877/519-6600 or 212/519-6600; www.tribecagrand.com; doubles from $319), a movie-industry favorite, will undergo a face-lift of its lobby and public areas courtesy of designer William Sofield, who created Gucci's sleek flagship store on Fifth Avenue. Perhaps most surprising, the once-dingy Lower East Side--now a mecca for designers and fashionistas--is ready for Middle America with the arrival of a 46-room Howard Johnson Express Inn (135 E. Houston St.; 800/446-4656 or 212/358-8844; www.hojo.com; doubles from $129), next door to the beautifully restored Sunshine Cinema (see Culture).
Call it Little Fifth Avenue. Bleecker Street in the West Village has become a mini-shopping hub. Here, eight recent additions:
1. Marc Jacobs (403 Bleecker St.; 212/924-0026). Stocking pastel vests and tomboy trousers from the downtown designer's secondary line for men and women.
2. Lulu Guinness (394 Bleecker St.; 212/367-2120). Cult handbags from the London-based designer.
3. Fresh (388 Bleecker St.; 917/408-1850). Bath and body products--some all-natural, all ultra-luxurious.
4. Marc Jacobs Accessories (385 Bleecker St.; 212/924-6126). Signature handbags and an ever-changing array of shoes.
5. Lucy Barnes (117 Perry St.; 212/647-0149). Offbeat clothes made with vintage fabrics, buttons, and beads.
6. Basiques (380 Bleecker St.; 212/414-1783). Clothes made in France; home accessories--toile bed linens and pillows, cotton bathrobes and towels--from Italy.
7. Antiques Provençal (49 Grove St.; 212/727-8030). High-end 18th- and 19th-century-French Provençal pieces collected by an 18-year veteran antiques restorer.
8. L'Occitane (247 Bleecker St.; 212/367-8428). French-imported bath and beauty products inspired by ingredients (lavender, shea butter, and verbena) from Provence.
A dozen new shops are giving lower Manhattan fresh energy, attitude, and style.
Helen Marion (250 Mott St.; 212/680-1911). Handmade handbags and jewelry with sixties and seventies soul.
Geraldine (246 Mott St.; 212/219-1620). Uptown shoe designers plus some avant-garde lesser-knowns.
Milena (252 Mott St.; 212/226-4711). Like a shoe boutique straight from a cobblestoned street in Milan.
C. Ronson (269 Elizabeth St.; 212/625-9074). Where models like Carmen Kass go for laid-back clothes.
Prada (575 Broadway; 212/334-8888). A high-tech, Rem Koolhaas-designed retail laboratory.
Barneys Co-op SoHo (116 Wooster St.; 212/965-9964). This airy downtown annex's hot stock: Habitual jeans and Eley Kishimoto printed sneakers.
Lower East Side
Red Threads (81 Orchard St.; 212/925-6519). Handmade linens in bold patterns reminiscent of Piet Mondrian.
Nort 235 (235 Eldridge St.; 212/777-6102). Rare and exclusive sneakers fill a former graffiti artist's store.
Steven Alan (103 Franklin St.; 212/343-0352). An emporium of emerging offbeat designers.
Tribeca Issey Miyake (119 Hudson St.; 212/226-0100). Frank Gehry designed this titanium-tinged clothing extravaganza. meatpacking district
Dernier Cri (869 Washington St.; 212/242-6061). Rock-and-roll wear from Preen saddlebags to Luella Bartley denim.
Alexander McQueen (419 W. 14th St.; 212/365-9530). The bad-boy Brit's women's collection and accessories, and a new line of bespoke men's wear.
Stella McCartney (429 W. 14th St.; no phone yet; opening mid-September). Ready-to-wear and accessories collections from the former Chloë designer.
After more than 28 years exhibiting such heavy-hitting artists as Bruce Nauman and Susan Rothenberg, Sperone Westwater (415 W. 13th St.; 212/999-7337) has made the move north from SoHo to the burgeoning meatpacking district. Meanwhile, Rove--an itinerant gallery on the downtown scene for more than a decade--has settled into ConTEMPorary (14 Charles Lane; 212/807-6669). The 1,200-square-foot space is a transitional home for Kenny Schachter, a curator-artist-impresario with a knack for spotting rising talents, including Janine Antoni, Andrea Zittel, and Christian Schumann. To discover as-yet-unsung artists, head to storefront galleries on the Lower East Side, like Rivington Arms (102 Rivington St.; 646/654-3213). Since January, recent college grads Mirabelle Marden (daughter of art star Brice Marden) and Melissa Bent have mounted an ambitious series of group exhibitions; this October, they kick off some solo shows with graphite-on-felt still lifes by Jonah Koppel. Another welcome addition to the Lower East Side is the Sunshine Cinema (143 E. Houston St.; 212/358-7709), which joins Film Forum and the Angelika to complete Houston Street's axis of art-house multiplexes. Five screens were carved out of a live theater that was once part of the "Yiddish White Way." Opening September 3, "Looking In" (50 Murray St.; 212/219-9401) will use vacant storefronts near Ground Zero for 20 installations and performances organized by the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council. In Battery Park City, sculptor Brian Tolle's Irish Hunger Memorial (212/417-2000) honors those who died in the potato famine with a quarter-acre replica of the Irish countryside that includes a fieldstone cottage and indigenous wildflowers.
Thoroughly Modern Borough
While the Museum of Modern Art's 53rd Street home undergoes renovation, the museum has decamped to a former stapler factory in Long Island City, christened MoMA QNS. The soaring space--designed by Frank Gehry protegé Michael Maltzan and Scott Newman of Cooper, Robertson & Partners--with its concrete floors and exposed ducts puts classics such as Les Demoiselles d'Avignon and Starry Night in a new light. MoMA QNS will also have special shows, including "Matisse Picasso," arriving from Paris in February 2003 (45-20 33rd St.; 212/708-9400).
Hot in the City
At Meet (71-73 Gansevoort St.; 212/242-0990), a stylish crowd drinks Meet-itos (the restaurant's play on New York's drink du jour) around a diamond-shaped onyx bar as DJ's spin house music late into the night. West (425 West St.; 212/242-4375), a minimalist, slate-lined lounge on the Hudson River, is poised to become the hangout of choice for Calvin Klein and any other celebs who move into the much-anticipated Richard Meier buildings nearby. Rise (2 West St.; 212/344-0800) is an apt name for the 14th-floor bar in the new Ritz-Carlton, just blocks from Ground Zero. The kiwi martini is a popular choice here, for watching the sun set over the Statue of Liberty. And at Happy Ending (302 Broome St.; 212/334-9676), a former Chinatown massage parlor--mood lighting, red velvet walls--a hip clientele dances to deep house, nu jazz, and hip-hop. Saunas-turned-candlelit booths make this New York's steamiest watering hole.