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9 Best New York Restaurants for a Business Lunch

9 Best New York Restaurants for a Business Lunch

More than two years into the pandemic, just 8 percent of office workers in Manhattan have returned to work full-time, according to a poll by the Partnership for New York City. That’s a prime reason why so many people are clamoring to leave the house and connect in-person, say NYC restaurateurs who are seeing a return of the power lunch. Classics like Balthazar, Le Bernardin and Scarpetta remain popular, as do Estiatorio Milos and The Grill. Here are nine other restaurants — a combination of new hotspots and a few ever-buzzy mainstays, some with new locations, menus or chefs — that are seeing a boom in business lunches.

AMERICAN BAR

33 GREENWICH AVE., WEST VILLAGE

While not located near many office buildings, American Bar remains a popular lunch spot because, says owner David Rabin, “almost every subway stops within 300 yards of us. That’s a big factor. And the West Village is filled with a very young, creative crowd of people who are all trying to develop their own businesses, and we see them all the time.” The Greek chop and turkey club are popular.

FASANO

280 PARK AVE., MIDTOWN EAST

Located in the former Four Seasons, Fasano is the first New York restaurant for the Fasano Group, a hospitality conglomerate based in São Paulo, Brazil. Its food, including vitello tonnato, has been described by The New York Times as “expense-account Northern Italian.”

Three-month-old Fasano restaurant on Park Avenue in Midtown
Courtesy of Subject

LAFAYETTE

380 LAFAYETTE ST., NOHO

Luke Ostrom, a managing partner at NoHo Hospitality Group, credits Lafayette’s “lively atmosphere, the grand decor of the space and big outdoor terrace” as a reason why it’s had a resurgence in the latter part of the pandemic as a go-to power lunch spot downtown. Located in NoHo, which has blossomed during the past several years with the arrival of scores of new businesses, Lafayette gets reservations and walk-ins from people in fashion (like Rosie Huntington-Whiteley) and tech. As far as what people are drinking, Ostrom says: “I would say the more common lunch is the espresso and green juice around the table. But we do still sell a lot of wine by the glass — especially on the terrace.”

Lafayette’s Jumbo Shrimp Cocktail New Orleans with creole mustard ($25).
Courtesy of Daniel Kocsis

THE LAMBS CLUB

132 W. 44TH ST., THEATER DISTRICT

The decor and location (inside the Chatwal Hotel) remain the same, but after a two-year hiatus, Rabin’s other venue, The Lambs Club, has just reopened with a new chef, pasta master Michael White (former head chef and owner of the Altamarea Group, whose restaurants include Marea). “The great serendipity of reopening Lamb’s Club is that Michael was available,” says Rabin, the founding partner. “We needed a very high-caliber chef who was well regarded in Manhattan circles, and he got to walk into a fully built, ready-to-go restaurant.” Once known as the “Condé Nast cafeteria” — the media company used to be located a block away — it now welcomes a mix of entertainment execs (Viacom and Universal Music are nearby), bigwigs and Broadway types. “Michael Strahan loves us,” Rabin adds. “We see Robin Roberts and George Stephanopoulos, too, but we’re 100 yards from Good Morning America, so Michael is very often a late-breakfast, early-lunch guy when he gets out of the studio.”

After a two-year hiatus, The Lambs Club has reopened at its original space inside the Chatwal Hotel.
Courtesy of Evan Sung

LE PAVILLON

ONE VANDERBILT AVE., MIDTOWN EAST

When Le Pavillon opened a year ago under the guidance of celebrity chef Daniel Boulud, lunch wasn’t immediately offered. “We were patient before opening for lunch. We wanted to make sure there would be enough people back,” says Sebastien Silvestri, CEO of Boulud’s Dinex Group. The menu at the midtown restaurant — which features high ceilings and an indoor garden — is seafood- and vegetable-forward. According to Silvestri, everyone from “executives to the everyday New Yorker to celebrities” like The Chainsmokers duo Alex Pall and Drew Taggart find the lighter cuisine during the middle of the day ideal. The menu is prix fixe (two courses, $78; three courses, $95). In May, Boulud opened his latest restaurant, Le Gratin — in the Beekman Hotel in the Financial District — for dinner only but with plans to expand to lunch soon in response to demand.

The restaurant’s poached halibut with shiitake consommé, cabbage and barley.
Courtesy of Thomas Schauer

LOCANDA VERDE

377 GREENWICH ST., TRIBECA

While it can veer more toward a finance-world crowd, this NoHo Hospitality Group restaurant inside Robert De Niro’s Greenwich Hotel also has seen Harry Styles, Drew Barrymore and Savannah Guthrie popping in. It recently held an event for the Paramount+ series The Offer.

Locanda Verde’s steak tartare Piemontese with prime aged wagyu beef, hazelnuts and black truffle ($26).
Courtesy of Noah Fecks

MAREA

240 CENTRAL PARK SOUTH, MIDTOWN WEST

Since it opened in 2009, this chic coastal Italian restaurant — visited by the likes of Lady Gaga, Sarah Jessica Parker and Matthew Broderick and Beyoncé and Jay-Z — remains a power-lunch mainstay. But, says founder and CEO Ahmass Fakahany, “It’s not a room packed with people in suits doing deals; it really has a mix.” Meats, seafood and light pastas are all popular choices. “It fits very much with the client base — heads of their fields in entertainment, fashion, art and business.” While the corner tables are popular among A-list guests, “you also have people who love sitting right in the center of the activity,” says Fakahany, who also has noticed a rise in afternoon pit stops — people meeting near 3 p.m. for an espresso or light bite: “I’m seeing a growing interest in the late afternoon. You know, deals happen then, too.”

PASTIS

52 GANSEVOORT ST., MEATPACKING DISTRICT

The iconic French bistro, which opened in 1999 and closed in 2014 when the building it was in was demolished, reopened in fall 2019 in a new location, with original owner Keith McNally partnering with restaurateur Stephen Starr. Recently, Rihanna and A$AP Rocky were spotted grabbing dinner there. “There are a lot of the classics on the menu because there are things people expect to see: the steak sandwich, the burger, the steak frites,” says James Roberts, a vp at Starr’s NYC restaurants, who adds that he has noticed business lunches getting longer. “You have more people that are coming out of the West Village and the galleries in Chelsea, so there’s a more leisurely pace. They’re having a second glass of wine. There’s less of this, ‘Oh my God, I’ve got to get back to the office.’ “

The bar at Meatpacking District’s Pastis, which reopened essentially across the street after it was demolished in 2014 to make way for a Restoration Hardware.
Courtesy of Louise Palmberg

UNION SQUARE CAFE

101 E. 19TH ST., FLATIRON DISTRICT

“Our new office here in New York is just one block away, and that’s not by accident,” Chris Till, head of theater at Verve, says of Danny Meyer’s flagship restaurant, which moved to a new location in 2016. The lunch crowd at the casual, contemporary café these days leans toward the tech industry, with NYC’s Silicon Alley nearby, and book-publishing executives from the likes of Abrams and Farrar, Straus and Giroux are regulars. A standout item is the Bibb Salad with Dijon vinaigrette, Gruyère cheese, garlic croutons and lettuce from the nearby Union Square Greenmarket.

Union Square Cafe on Park Avenue South.
Courtesy of Peter Garritano

This story first appeared in the May 17 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. Click here to subscribe.

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