Whether on a lunch break or in town to see the sites of New York City, guests can grab a bite in a consistently good restaurant in Midtown Manhattan. Named after its creator, William Randolph Hurst, the nation’s largest newspaper publisher in the early 20th century, Randolph’s Bar and Lounge and the Warwick Hotel was built 1926 for his starlet mistress. Since then a long string of celebs has stayed and dined there. You might not rub elbows with a personality during daytime, but the odds increase in the evening when you come for a drink or dinner.
My associate and I – both New Yorkers — had a day off from work. Before embarking on a museum visit (MoMA is close by) and shopping (myriad fine shops line Fifth Avenue), we decided the American bistro fare at Randolph’s would be appropriate.
Short Staffed and an Inauspicious Start
At the 1 pm lunch hour, the room was crowded. Chari, the maître d had disappeared (apparently nature’s call was urgent). Even though the bartender told us to seat ourselves, our table had been reserved; we didn’t know which one was ours. The couple behind us couldn’t wait and left. Laura, a busy and efficient 18-year veteran of the restaurant came to the rescue, showed us to our table and took our drinks order. The rest was a pleasure.
Randolph’s has retained the simple, comfortable décor of the 1920s. Wood and inlaid smoke glass tables, leather club chairs and settees are positioned along the windows on 54th Street and around Fifth Avenue. Opposite the seating arrangement a dozen leather barstools flank the long full-service bar and accommodate guests of the hotel and neighborhood office personnel. Two flat-screen TVs at either end of the bar feature news or sports matches. Dress is casual or business.
Executive Chef James Sakatos who trained at the French Culinary Institute has worked as a chef for a number of well-known hotels and has created an eclectic mix of flavorful Mediterranean and American dishes expressly for the Warwick. (Where in New York can you still order a rib-sticking homemade corned beef hash and poached eggs?) Still, French toast is made with a buttery brioche and served with poached strawberries and bourbon bananas foster. Other items on the menu include soups and salads, fish (red snapper and a mélange of fried seafood), mixed grill, sandwiches and entrees and shared plates. My guest and I shared the tuna tartare, which was sumptuous. The small chunks of raw tuna mixed gently with avocado and tomato were augmented with the slightly sweet flavor of Wakame.
Rather than ordering the crispy calamari, which I love, I settled for my standard, sensible fare, a generous portion of Atlantic Salmon, served with steamed vegetables and light and fluffy basmati rice.
My guest ordered her favorite as well, the prime hanger steak and French fries.
A few guests ordered the seasonal cocktail –the New York Lemonade — a heady concoction of citrus vodka, Grand Marnier, lemon juice and club soda. We watched jealously when young guests ordered a New York favorite: the New York cheesecake with raspberry coulis. For us, discretion was the better part of that treat.
Randolph’s Bar & Lounge serves lunch until 5 pm, dinner from 5 pm to 11 pm, with a last call seating at 12:30 am. I always judge a place by the crowd. My formula held true: Randolph’s Bar and Lounge is superb.