What’s better than living in one of those fancy skyscrapers on Billionaires’ Row? A dinner that’s just an elevator ride away — at a private restaurant helmed by a Michelin-starred chef.
In September, world-famous chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten will open a residents-only restaurant at 220 Central Park South — the swanky new tower designed by starchitect Robert A.M. Stern where the most expensive home in US history recently got sold.
That’s despite the fact that, just a few hundred feet away on the other side of Columbus Circle, Vongerichten continues to run his famous flagship eatery, Jean-Georges, at the Trump International Hotel & Tower.
“Who can’t cross the street to Jean-Georges?” one amazed real-estate broker asked after learning of Vongerichten’s 58-seat, private-dining enclave on the building’s second floor.
Apparently, it’s the well-heeled denizens of 220 Central Park South, including Sting and hedge-fund tycoon Ken Griffin, who bought the US’s priciest-ever apartment there this spring for $238 million.
“It’s an exclusive amenity that is attractive to ultra-high net-worth buyers,” Pamela Liebman, Chief Executive of Corcoran, says of private restaurants. “You never have to leave the building. You can go right downstairs and know that everything will be perfect.”
Two blocks south at 225 W. 57th St., developer Gary Barnett’s Central Park Tower — which will become the tallest residential building in the world at 1,550 feet when it opens next year — will boast a private restaurant on its 100th floor, right next to the ballroom and cigar bar.
“It’s going to be stunning,” gushed a broker.
Meanwhile, 432 Park —soaring 1,396 feet — already employs Michelin-starred chef Shaun Hergatt at its residents-only eatery.
The 12th-floor venue spans 8,500 square feet and comes with a 4,000-square-foot terrace. The menu is varied and changes often, and if you have a private party, Hergatt can cater it.
“Breakfast is free. Everything else you pay for,” said Douglas Elliman broker Alexander Boriskin, who, with DE’s Michael Lorber, is co-listing a 62nd-floor, $28 million unit in the building.
“Residents who don’t think they would be eating there often quickly change their tune once they move in and try it,” Boriskin added.
“They even import their own types of butter, one of which is buckwheat,” adds Lorber. “It’s amazing!”
Nevertheless, private, in-building restaurants aren’t everyone’s cup of tea, and some experts aren’t sure the chefs will last.
“They do well the first year but they can fizzle out quickly,” said Ed Mermelstein, who owns advisory firm One & Only Holdings. “As an owner, how often will you eat in your own building?”
Developer Aby Rosen’s 711-foot tower at 100 E. 53rd St. doesn’t have a residents-only restaurant, but it does have two private dining rooms on the second floor that can be accessed from a private residents’ elevator, said Leonard Steinberg of Compass.
Meals there can be catered by the buildings’ two restaurants that are open to the public: Le Jardinier and Shun, run by top Chef Alain Verzeroli, a protégé of the late, great chef Joël Robuchon.
“Too often, residents-only restaurants look like ghost towns, which is depressing at best,” Steinberg said. “And from a political perspective, being so exclusionary these days seems so out of touch.”
While residents-only restaurants are drawing attention lately, they’ve actually been around since at least the 1920s.
“The Dakota at 1 West 72nd St. had a legendary private dining room where Lauren Bacall would often do lunch with her celebrity friends,” said top broker Dolly Lenz. “Unfortunately, that was converted and sold a while ago.”
Jayma Cardoso, the Brazilian proprietor of Montauk’s Surf Lodge.
WE HEAR … that Jayma Cardoso, the Brazilian proprietor of Montauk’s famed Surf Lodge, will be helming the kitchen this Tuesday for a private event at the hotel, personally preparing a dinner for 90 people.
The menu, which she chose, features appetizers like watermelon feta salad, yellowfin seared tuna and heirloom tomatoes. The mains will include roasted coconut curry cauliflower; coconut green curry sauce, quinoa and fresh herbs; market grilled fish on a banana leaf; and Brazilian picanha steak. For sides, think fries; local grilled vegetables and grilled cumin carrots.
WE HEAR … Coffee brands continue to go upscale. It started with Starbucks Reserve. Now New York-based Joe Coffee has just opened this week The Counter by Joe Coffee, adjacent to Todd Snyder’s flagship store, on the northeast corner of Madison Square Park. The cafe, which features 9 seats at the counter and 8 seats at the cafe, will serve wine, beer and light bites in the fall. It also carries the special Todd Snyder coffee blend and Todd Snyder X Joe Coffee apparel. Snyder was looking for a home grown New York brand, and Jonathan Rubinstein’s Joe Coffee, which is now also partly owned by restaurant mogul Danny Meyer’s Enlightened Hospitality Investments, fit the bill.
A slice from Sauce Pizzeria.
WE HEAR … that the East Village’s Sauce Pizzeria opens its third location in Herald Square today, at 315 Fifth Ave. The thin crust, square pies include specialties like the Al Pastor Pie with chipotle-spiced roasted pork, white onion, pickled red onion, pickled jalapeño, pineapple sauce, and cilantro — reflecting Adam Elzer’s time at top chef Alex Stupak’s Empellón. The 15-seat space is from Everyday Hospitality founders Elzer and Perry Rahbar.