Long a dining and drinking wasteland, New York City’s Midtown has undergone a sea change in the last year. Places like Rotisserie Georgette, Betony, Quality Italian and Clement have all opened, sending savvy locals to the middle ground of Manhattan for something other than the theater—or office.
But these fresh haunts (and the new wave of neighborhood hotels that have joined them) now share the shiny turf they helped transform with the area’s buzziest new prize: luxury skyscraper One57, home to the city’s first $100 million apartment and the new, exceedingly impressive flagship from Park Hyatt.
The new Yabu Pushelberg–designed hotel brings another two new gourmet experiences to the scene. Like the rest of the handsome property, the restaurant, The Back Room, and bar, The Living Room—both set on the third floor—are sophisticated, modern, residential-like environments decorated in masculine shades of gray, chocolate and beige, with rich leathers, golden Alexis Azure stone and warm woods. It’s hard not to feel swanky, even if you’re just passing through.
For a 96-seat hotel restaurant, The Back Room feels surprisingly intimate, and the attentive service is everything you’d expect from the Park Hyatt: friendly and unstuffy; at your service but not in your face.
The manageable menu serves traditional American grill offerings (Caesar salad, steak tartar, roast chicken, rib-eye), tended to with an elevated flare. There’s also a monthly ingredient that inspires a few specials—lobster for now—put on display at the “mini-kitchen” located at the restaurant’s very front and center. (This space also serves as a smaller open kitchen where guests can witness some of the lower-tech action.)
But the restaurant’s real tour de force is its “On the Bone” section, which features dry-aged rib-eye, sirloin and filets, lamb chops and veal chops. The high-quality cuts are sourced from New Jersey’s De Bragga and served medium-rare with a choice of Bearnaise, horseradish and steak sauces. Skip all three and take these quality meats as they come—adequately salted and peppered and cooked to perfection.
Executive chef Sebastien Archambault (formerly of Blue Duck Tavern in Washington, D.C.) runs the kitchen with chef de cuisine Solange Johnson (from Michelin-starred Veritas). It’s worth noting that the French-born Archambault came in less than two weeks before the restaurant’s opening, on August 19, to take over a menu and team handpicked by chef Sam Hazen, who left the project at the eleventh hour. While the month-old restaurant is in good hands with Archambault, it’s clear he still needs some time to warm up to the inherited menu (the lobster salad, Caesar salad, roasted carrots and salmon filet we could take or leave).
For now, our ideal meal would be a Mad Men–worthy spread of a dozen oysters, a steak and a cocktail or two—which, at $16 a piece, help make The Living Room feel more like a New York bar than a hotel bar. (Cocktails go for $20-plus at some hotels nearby.) The impressive drinks list is well executed in the aptly named lounge, featuring low couches, some tables and a long, low black bar best observed from your seat than saddled up to. (A few short stools line the length of it.)
While The Back Room and The Living Room happen to sit a stone’s throw from the would-be offices of Don Draper & Co., the neighborhood’s two newest attractions will call the city’s tastemakers to Midtown from wherever they happen to be. 153 W. 57th St., 3rd fl.; 212-897-2188; newyork.park.hyatt.com.