In-Store Dining

Once upon a time department store restau­rants were anonymous cafeterias with bad coffee. Even in New York! Talk about trans­formation. Now it’s all about high style and haute dining. Here’s to the ladies—and gents—who lunch.

SAKS FIFTH AVENUE

611 Fifth Ave.; 212-940-4080

Cafe SFA just re-opened after a gut renovation. We were nervous at first. This looming space had been a favorite for mother-daughter lunches and for out-of-towners fresh from a Radio City show. We were de­­lighted and re­­lieved to find the grilled chicken and mandarin salad where it always was on the menu, and this made the new long marble bar, glass dividers, and pale-colored sleek­ness look even better.

Takashimaya

693 Fifth Ave.; 212-350-0180

The store itself still feels like an insider’s secret 14 years after it opened. The Tea Box has a similar vibe. A quiet boxed-in space, it’s a nice re­­spite from the boister­ous chopped salad circuit. On the menu there’s not a Cobb in sight; in­­stead it’s Wagyn and wa­­sabi, rare roast beef sand­wiches, and Bento Boxes of Jap­a­nese omelet, pork spring rolls, and chirashi. After all that, we like to stop and smell the roses at the flower shop, recently relo­cated to the sixth floor.

Barneys

660 Madison Ave.; 212-833-2200

Power lunch is the vibe at fred’s, the sleek and sur­pris­ingly mas­culine place on the ninth floor. There are plenty of ladies with black shopping bags, but there’s an equal number of men in suits brokering deals. The menu caters to both with a Mediterranean Tuna salad, "to keep you thin" thin-crust pizzas, and burgers with ex­­cel­lent thick-cut fries. The lines are no­­torious. Make a res­ervation, espe­cially for weekend brunch.

Bloomingdale’s

59th St. and Lexington Ave.; 212-705-2000

Forty Carrots and Le Train bleu are nostalgia trips for New Yorkers who might remember sit­ting down for a bowl of frozen yo­­gurt or dig­ging into a plate of beer-battered shrimp. Two years ago the store invited chef (and pun en­­thu­siast) David Burke to freshen things up a bit. "Cheese­­burk­ers" come in a specialty slider box, and the Big Pretzel Panini has been deemed pos­itively "delux­ious." When all else fails, there’s al­­ways the Cobb salad.

Bergdorf Goodman

754 Fifth Ave.; 212-872-8977

BG, the very lady­like restaurant perched on the seventh floor, was done by deco­rator Kelly Wearstler. There are canopy chairs in butter-colored leather and views of Central Park. Most popular is the Gotham, a mix of romaine, ham, beets, bacon, and Gruyère with Thousand Island dressing. The BG, with Parma cotto ham, baby artichokes, and deviled eggs, is gaining ground. Look for Bergdorf pres­i­dent Jim Gold at lunch. He likes the lobster salad.

Henri Bendel

712 Fifth Ave.; 212-582-8283

The Chocolate Bar may reference the signature brown-and-white-striped shopping bag. We’re still not sure, but it does have a playful, modern feel that works perfectly at Henri Bendel. And there’s a certain childlike glee in choosing what to eat at lunch from a menu composed almost en­tirely of sweets. Will it be Nutella toast points, the warm, spicy brownie with Tahitian vanilla gelato, or just choco­late straight up at the bar?

Nicole Farhi

10 E. 60th St.; 212-223-2288

Slightly Britishized standards (such as a BLT made with roasted Berkshire pork and a lamb burger) are stand­outs at Nicole’s, in the English de­­signer’s flagship just off Fifth. There’s an Open Kitchen and a long marble com­munal ta­­ble. Not so many shop­pers take­ a break; rather, more people come in for a casual but refined lunch. Our personal favorite? The tuna burger with gua­ca­mole and plantain fries served by the very witty Jon­athan.

And outside of New York…

RL Restaurant, Ralph Lauren, Chicago

Well-curated art on the walls, good sandwiches, and a buzz­ing lunch scene—you’re one step closer to the dream of an all–Ralph reality. 312-475-1100; rlrestaurant.polo.com

The Zodiac, Nei­man Marcus, Dallas

As famous for its place in the city’s social fabric as for its pop­overs with straw­­berry butter. The just-published Neiman Marcus Taste marks the store’s cen­tennial. 214-573-5800; neimanmarcus.com

Beige Alain Ducasse, chanel, Tokyo

Not quite in the city’s flagship as much as floating above it, the res­taurant has a private elevator, a Ginza view, and Ducasse per­fec­tion­ists in the kitchen. 81-3/5159-5500; beige-tokyo.com

Fifth floor, Harvey Nichols, London

At lunch it’s a nice respite from the Knightsbridge shopping marathon; at night the draws are the tasting menus and a quieter scene. 44-207/235-5250; harveynichols.com

Nobu, Armani, Milan

A bit of Armani elegance—white walls, dark-wood tables, red-cushioned chairs—complements Nobu’s black cod in miso and other signature dishes. 39-02/6231-2645; armaninobu.it