Top Ten Power Lunch Spots in New York City
Power Lunch. Business dealings smoothed over by fine food and drink. Everyone leaves satisfied. According to an exhibit at the New York Public Library, “Lunch Hour NYC,” the first power lunch restaurant in New York was Delmonico’s Steak House in the 1830’s, though it wasn’t called that back then. The phrase “power lunch” comes from an Esquire magazine article in 1979, “America’s Most Powerful Lunch” about the Grill Room at the Four Seasons Hotel.
The power lunch scene is not as fickle the way it is for nightclubs and even restaurants. The Grill Room is still shows up on just about every list of this year’s power lunch spots. The atmosphere conducive to the conduct of business is not trendy. It is conservative and comfortable. Some places are more about being seen than the food, perhaps, but the place should never interfere with the work being conducted in tandem with the meal. Seating at the “best” tables is reserved for patrons of some stature, and some have a mandarin hierarchy for who gets placed where.
Many have a prix fixe menu, which usually offers the quality of a la carte items not just a lower price but a shorter wait time. Power lunch, after all, is an interlude, it isn’t the whole work day.
Michael’s New York
Michael’s New York shows up on everybody’s list. The cuisine is California contemporary with a fair amount of seafood on the menu. During the day, there’s plenty of natural light and the pleasant, stylish decor provides a bright backdrop without intruding.
The Grill Room at the Four Seasons
The Grill Room was the inspiration for the phrase “power lunch” and it retains top honors to this day, showing up on every list, sometimes before and sometimes after Michael’s. A mid-town modernist icon with indirect lighting, tall ceilings, and towering windows, the tone is classy all the way.
This airy, chic restaurant in the Trump Tower offers food that is a fusion of French, American, and Asian. The colors are light and muted and the views out of the floor-to-ceiling windows of Columbus Circle and Central Park are stunning. The food at Jean-Georges makes it the only restaurant on the top ten list with Michelin stars, and it has a whopping 3.
The Standard Grill
Located under the High Line in the meatpacking district, the Standard Grill aims for an American Bistro feel. Like the bistros of France, The Standard Grill has tables in their glassed-in patio with a bright, life-in-the city feel and rich leather booths inside have the weight of a plush club.
Service is the god of the staff at Nobu. The food is Asian, with a Peruvian (yes, Peru) influence. The decor has a timeless Japanese feel and with very modern overtones. The subdued tones and wood tables make this the place to do a deal over a meal in TriBeCa.
Asiate, 35 stories high overlooking Central Park in the Mandarin hotel, has arguably the best view in the city. The Asian/French fusion food is served in a dining room that is a fusion of hot and cold itself. The warm gold tones of the upholstery and screens contrasts with the icy crystal of the ceiling light sculpture and glass partitions.
The 21 Club in Midtown Manhattan began as a Prohibition speakeasy, the kind with levers to tip move walls and tip tables to dispose or or hide the booze whenever there was a raid. The food is “country club classic” as is the decor. And although the restaurant no longer requires a tie to enter, you’d never know it to look at the lunch crowd in their suits.
The booths look like spaceship pods as imagined by the 60s, an era suggested by the Warhol prints on the wall as well. Wine racks instead of walls separate the booths letting the light come through. The little red tables in the middle give the place a friendly, intimate feeling. The food is Italian but the staff and feel is all Manhattan.
With a name that means “the circus” you might expect a bright and raucous restaurant instead of a sedate bastion of old-style gravitas. The high ceilings with cloth draping does evoke the big top tent a bit, but on the ground the restaurant is all business.
Cipriani Wall Street
For a power lunch in the Financial District, Cipriani has an expansive elegance with a 70-foot high ceiling finished with a Wedgewood Dome. There is also an outdoor terrace overlooking Wall Street for those interested in a mid-day cocktail as they contemplate their domain.
How about you? Have you eaten at any of this bastions of the business deal and have your own take on them? Or is there someplace you prefer?