I was drawn to the space at first sight. (It really is just a nice looking pricey restaurant with a bar) Then later I found out why this place seemed to exude so much character; it had a past. It was originally a speakeasy named Blue Mill Tavern, which stayed opened for 5o years, then it was named Grange Hall, a beloved neighborhood hangout. Now it´s just Commerce (as in selling pricey pasta to a trendy crowd) yet you actually can come and enjoy a drink at the bar. The service is amicable and the the crowd is surprisingly relaxed.
Hours: Mon-Thu, 5:30pm-11pm; Fri-Sat, 5:30pm-11:30pm; Sun, 1pm-9:30pm
50 Commerce St., nr. Bedford St, NY 10014 212-524-2301
Ever since members of the Russian Imperial Ballet founded the restaurant in 1927, it became a second home for Russian and Polish expats, the intellectual elite and the high society. Its long running slogan is: “Six minutes and twenty-three seconds from Lincoln Center and slightly to the left of Carnegie Hall”. The food may not be as awesome as the interior, but the brunch is surprisingly affordable and makes for a marvelous time on a Sunday morning. (the croissants are to die for!) A lot of history has happened in its exquisite red and gold interior: Scenes from Manhattan, The Turning Point, Tootsie and New York Stories, were filmed at the restaurant. And in 1972, Madonna worked there, as a coat-check clerk. Even my family has history here:
My grandmother´s uncle had a Russian sweetheart back in Lithuania. They lost contact due to the war. He moved to New York to escape the Nazis. One fine day he walked into the Russian Tea Room. and out of all the Russian establishments in the world, who was there but no other than the one woman he never forgot. (Just like Casablanca, with Nazis and everything!) They were married soon afterwards.
Friday from 5pm – 7pm is Vodka Hour. A flight of vodka – tasting of three – for $14
Hours: Mon-Sat, 11:30am-3pm and 5pm-11pm; Sun, 11am-3pm and 5pm-10pm
150 W. 57th St., nr. Seventh Ave. NY, 10019 212-333-2970
This hotel brings some of the meatpacking district’s ostentation to the LES. The 2 lower bars all have the same pretentious tone of a hipsters and Guido mashup. BUT, Sundays are what makes this place different and actually really fun. I am talking about the ÉTÉ D’AMOUR dj event every Sunday on the rooftop, which has one of the best views of the city. There is a hot tub and 3 floors. The music is good and although the vibe is trendy, it is certainly not snotty or obnoxious. This place beats Above Allen hands down, by not only having a better crowd, but also a way better view. Note: if the doorman asks you where are you going, just tell him you RSVPd on facebook for the event.
Doors open at 1pm. Brunch Time from 1pm to 4pm Party goes until 1am.
107 Rivington St, nr. Ludlow St., NY 10002 212-475-2600
Heavyweight boxing champion Jack Johnson opened the Club De Luxe at 142nd Street and Lenox Avenue in Harlem in 1920. Owney Madden, a prominent bootlegger and gangster, took over the club in 1923 while imprisoned in Sing Sing and changed its name to the Cotton Club. The dancers and strippers occasionally performed for Madden in Sing Sing after his return there in 1933. Closed temporarily in 1936 after the race riot in Harlem, the Cotton Club reopened later that year at Broadway and 48th Street. It closed for good in 1940, under pressure from higher rents. It was opened at its present location in 1978. The legend of the Cotton Club has a sinister side; while the club featured many of the greatest black entertainers of the era, such as Fletcher Henderson, Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Bessie Smith, Cab Calloway, The Nicholas Brothers, Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong, Nat King Cole, Billie Holiday, and Ethel Waters, it generally denied admission to African Americans. Fast forward to the current Cotton Club and now finally all are welcome. There is a Gospel brunch on Sundays ($34 including show and buffet) and Mondays are swing nights ($15.00 cover and a la carte menu). The music is still great, (the food is really just ok). What a relief that some things never change while others do.
Hours: Mon, 8pm-midnight; Thu-Fri, 8pm-midnight; Sat, noon-midnight; Sun, noon-8:15pm; Tue-Wed, closed
656 W. 125th St., nr. Broadway, NY 10027 212-663-7980
Located in Riverside Park at the end of 79th Street on the Hudson River. There is an open air patio that overlooks the Marina and the Hudson River with nice views of the sunsets over New Jersey (it always feels nice to be looking at NJ, cause that way you know you´re not in NJ. Bada boom! Just kidding! I can never pass up a chance to take a cheap shot at this fine state). The covered Rotunda section in the middle of the restaurant has limestone arches overlooking the open air patio. The food is OK (no french fries, onion rings yes, but no french fries, go figure) and vibe feels a tad like a second rate country club, but hey you come here for the location; perfect for shooting the breeze on a laid back afternoon.
Apr-Aug: Daily, noon-11:30pm, Sept-Oct: Mon-Wed, noon-8pm; Thu-Fri, noon-10pm; Sat-Sun, 11am-10pm; Nov-April, closed
Hours: Apr-Aug: Daily, noon-11:30pm, Sept-Oct: Mon-Wed, noon-8pm; Thu-Fri, noon-10pm; Sat-Sun, 11am-10pm; Nov-April, closed
79th St. at Henry Hudson Pkwy., in Riverside Park NY 10024 212-496-5542
A self described Irish-Victorian bar with a wide range of whiskeys and 25 beers on tap and decent pub grub. Lillie wears a lot of hats; playing the roll of scenesters lounge, sports bar (soccer and rugby) and office workers tavern. Mostly it comes across having a 90ts feel. (the music here helps to reinforce this) The bar is named after Lillie Langtry (1853-1929), an actress model, mistress of the future king of England and Oscar Wilde’s muse. She moved to America in 1887 to become and entrepreneur and society hostess. Following her trail, the owners brought the pub’s antique bar and furniture over from a Victorian mansion in Belfast. I don’t know if that was necessary, from the looks of the bar (which some say is borderline tacky, I personally do like it) they could have faked it and you probably couldn’t tell the difference. That said, Lillie’s is a nice option (the kitchen closes till 4 a.m.) in a rather bland part of town.
Hours: Daily, 11am -4am
13 E. 17th St, nr. Fifth Ave, 10003 212-337-1970
Pearl Street marks the original eastern shoreline of the lower part of Manhattan; extensive use of landfill over the course of several hundred years has extended the shoreline roughly 700-900 feet further into the East River. In the summer, Pearl St. becomes a fun street bar, which encompasses Ulysses’, Bayard’s, Financier Patisserie (great pastries!), and Harry’s Steak and Cafe. The pub receives good reviews for its sliders and brunch. The best part though, is grabbing a drink outdoors and overhearing a stock broker whine about his diminished bonus.
Hours Mon-Fri, 11am-4am; Sat-Sun, 11am-3:30am
95 Pearl St., at Hanover Sq. 10004 212-482-0400