If you’ve felt like Charlie Palmer’s been a little more prevalent in the news lately than normal, it’s because he has a trifecta of concepts about to come to fruition in this city, at least one of which has been in the hopper for a couple of years. This month, he’ll open Crimson & Rye, a midtown cocktail bar he built to “feel like it would belong downtown;” later this year, he’ll debut Charlie Palmer Steak — an outlet of the steakhouse he first launched in Las Vegas and then took to D.C. — and then a restaurant at the Knickerbocker Hotel, about which he’s still not saying much more than it will serve his take on progressive American cuisine.
Crimson & Rye (885 Third Avenue in the Lipstick Building), he says, is a “selfish thing. I want a bar where I can drink what I want to drink and get the kind of food I want to eat, but I don’t want to travel 20 minutes in a cab to get it.” It’ll be a craft bar doling classic cocktails, and Palmer hopes it’ll help address the glaring lack of cocktail joints in midtown.
You’ll be able to order food there, too, from a small bites-oriented menu. Look for sliders, simply presented roasted meats served on a platter or in sandwiches, and corn blinis with smoked salmon and caviar. The latter, he says, “is great with a glass of Champagne,” which you’ll be able to get, along with many other sparkling wines. “We’ve also put a pretty intense focus on sparkling wines at very aggressive pricing, because we want to promote that kind of thing,” Palmer says. “When I go to a restaurant, I start with a glass of sparkling and then go to cocktails.” The bar will also pour craft beer.
As for the Knickerbocker Hotel (6 Times Square), located directly across the street from Aureole, Palmer says his restaurant there has been in the works for over two years, but he’s unable to divulge many details of what he’s doing. “We’re overseeing a cafe on the ground floor, a restaurant on the fourth floor, and a rooftop bar and lounge,” he says, though the name and exactly what he’ll be serving, beyond the fact that it will be distinctly his style, is still under wraps. Look for that restaurant to open with the hotel in October.
In the meantime, he’ll focus on Charlie Palmer Steak (3 East 54th Street), which has also been on the horizon for awhile. “We’ve been looking for a location and the right situation for a long, long time,” he says. “This opportunity came about — I think it is an amazing location, and it’s where I wanted to be.” Charlie Palmer Steak is a modern steakhouse, he says, and that means both design and food. Expect the typical steaks and sides set-up, but dishes will have contemporary twists, he promises. “We’re becoming more and more focused on ingredients,” he says. “We’re sourcing the best quality beef and aged beef, and we’re looking for different types of cuts as well as pedigree. We’re changing and getting better and better all the time. There’s a lot of creativity, but we’re really highly focused on ingredients and execution and cooking.”
The food will match to a robust wine program as well as a drinks list that’ll take some inspiration from Crimson & Rye, doling classics and unique creations. The steakhouse is slated to open in early September.
And there are some changes underway at a couple of Palmer’s older NYC spaces, too — Aureole has a new patio, and the team is gut renovating cafe and events space Astra to turn it into Upper Story (979 Third Avenue at the D&D Building, 212-644-9394). “Astra was incredibly successful for 17 years,” says Palmer. “Upper Story is really going to allow us to do much bigger parties — we can do sit-downs of 180; Astra was really limited to 110. The space overlooks the 59th Street Bridge, which makes it a great option for events in a neighborhood where there aren’t a lot of options. This will be great for weddings we could never do.” Upper Story will also be a cafe open to the public during the day. Look for that to open in November.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on July 9, 2014