Power lunches are so New York. Whether for an entrepreneurial brainstorming, a friendly get-together, or a networking meeting, food is involved.
Two restauranteurs have New York City wrapped around their fingers: Jean-Georges, of The Mercer Kitchen and abcV, and Stephen Starr of Upland and Le Coucou. Of course, there are many other established culinary stars and newcomers in whose venues it is just as difficult to reserve a table!
abcV // Jean-Georges and ABC Home’s latest venture, opened in February, is the talk of the City. Trendy clean eats, such as grain bowls and avocado toast, are elevated to a new level in this “plant-based powerhouse,” as Food and Wine says. Dishes are well-rounded — including protein, vegetables, healthy fats, and carbs — and do not veer far from Jean-Georges’ outstanding reputation. The menu is notably difficult to choose from, and includes fresh juices made with Juicero. This is the first restaurant to use the Silicon Valley juicer. Making a reservation is suggested. // 38 East 19th Street.
BG Restaurant at Bergdorf Goodman // The legendary venue of the Ladies Who Lunch. From power lunches amongst execs to quiet déjéuners between celeb and her wing-woman assistant (ALB lunched next to Hilary Duff last week), you will be graced by a fantastic looking crowd, impeccable service, and great food. The Gotham Salad is to New York what The McCarthy Salad is to Beverly Hills. Oh, and the view: spectacular! // 754 5th Avenue, 7th floor. Available to reserve on Open Table.
Café Clover // The character of the tree-lined Downing Street is enough. Once you walk into Café Clover, however, you are completely charmed. Focusing on seasonal, local, wholesome dishes, there is not one that connotes “I am healthy and boring.” The restaurant’s success has been so renowned, that an upscale market, Clover Grocery, is set to open a few doors down. Embracing the new restauranteur MO of trendy, healthy fare, Clover should be on your list. Maybe you will be seated next to Prime Minister Hugh Grant. Oops, wrong Prime Minister, and wrong Downing Street! // 10 Downing Street. Available to reserve on Open Table.
Café Henrie // One of the first restaurants to garnish itself in Millennial Pink. When Chiara Ferragni was in town for NYFW last fall, she left her stamp of approval. This Instagram-worthy spot is not only a feast for the eyes, but also serves sublime food! The Dragon Bowl encompasses such rich flavors and ingredients that even the non-health conscious will devour it. The space is reminiscent of a 1950s diner, although with a European flair (check out the neon fixtures). Stop in for a quick bite or bring your computer to catch up on your to-do list. No reservation necessary. // 116 Forsyth Street.
Freds at Barneys Madison Avenue // Remember when Mad 61 was downstairs? As you passed under the red awnings and through the revolving door, you would savor the sound, smell, and buzz of one of New York's “it” spots. Oh, the Barneys’ buzz! Although now on the ninth floor and called Freds, named after Barneys' Chairman, it is still a staple. A defining power lunch spot that is on the master list. It is the place to go if you are cool. Or want to be. // 660 Madison Avenue, 8th floor. Available to reserve on Open Table.
La Pecora Bianca // Considering her background, ALB is very picky about going to Italian restaurants in the United States. La Pecora Bianca, however, is up to her standards. “The White Sheep” — a play on words to the phrase, the black sheep — represents the welcoming atmosphere and delicious cuisine you find in Flatiron (location, location, location)! La Pecora Bianca is certainly not a black sheep, but has found its way into the New York Foodie’s Black Book. Although always packed, getting a reservation is not impossible, even the night before! // 1133 Broadway. Available to reserve on Open Table.
Le Coucou // Can we live here? At the cusp of SoHo and Chinatown, stepping inside Le Coucou seems to be enough. It is that exquisite. And so is the food. There is a reason why this is the most coveted table to reserve in Manhattan. The trick? Reserve ahead for weekend brunch. You can [almost] always get in. // 138 Lafayette Street. Available to reserve on Open Table.
Tenth Avenue Cookshop // The Mezze Salad. The Pulled Pork Croquettes. The Crispy Brussels Sprouts. The menu is rich in its passion for the Earth and the seasons. Everything is grilled, rotisseried, or prepared in the wood-burning oven. Owners Marc Meyer, Chris Paraskevaides, and Vicki Freeman are so invested that they are usually the first restaurant to have au-dehors seating in the spring and are the last to bring tables inside in the fall! Thanks to New York’s unseasonable year, ALB had a glorious dinner outside on November 2nd. // 156 10th Avenue. Available to reserve on Open Table.
The Mercer Kitchen // Similar to other superstars, think Manolo Blahnik and Magnolia Bakery, The Mercer Kitchen benefitted gracefully from its exposure on the first Sex and the City movie. It is a sophisticated pied-à-terre into which you enter on SoHo’s Prince Street and descend into a sultry enclave. The Steamed Shrimp Salad and (The Mercer) Burger will call your name from the table next to you. You will be thinking of excuses to return ASAP. // 99 Prince Street. Available to reserve on Open Table.
The Park // Situated conveniently on 10th Avenue, you will think about The Park often (and probably pass it, too). The indoor terrace with eloquently lit trees is incredible, especially during the chilly winter months. It is like escaping to a paradise in the middle of Chelsea. And the food. At The Park, everything is good. Think comfort food, but not the type that causes you to leave feeling superbly stuffed. Go peruse the menu and photos online. Do it. // 118 10th Avenue.
Upland // Upland is named after the San Bernardino County hometown of Starr’s kitchen recruit, Justin Smillie. It is currently one of the most buzzed about Manhattan restaurants. There is a reason why. The refined New York vibe paired with the California-inspired cuisine is a winning combination. The New York Times thinks so. There is something on the [lunch] menu for everyone. You will feel like you have fled to California during lunch, and will find it difficult to step out of the oak, leather, and copper enclave to return to the office. // 345 Park Avenue South. Available to reserve on Open Table.
In spite of evolving sophisticated cuisines, the restaurant industry is becoming more and more attuned to the needs of its clients. If you have a special request — no salt, gluten-free, or a nut or soy allergy — these spots will go out of their way to accommodate you.