New York City: Monkey Bar

In times like these nothing feels quite so comforting as a little piece of the past. That’s the charm of restaurants like The Waverly Inn and Minetta Tavern, with their restored murals, refurbished interiors, and familiar, unthreatening menus. And that’s the charm of Vanity Fair editor-in-chief Graydon Carter’s just-opened Monkey Bar. Despite the fact that Ed Sorel’s wonderful murals are barely dry, they look as if they’ve been there forever. And the tiered restaurant, with its prominent bar, seems so much like the sophisticated New York of the wicked ’30s that you’ll look around to see if Nick and Nora Charles are at the next table, feeding one another witty lines. The smooth service fosters this illusion, as does the extremely likeable menu with its classic lineup of oysters Rockefeller, clams casino, and lobster Newburg. There are steaks, chops, roast chicken, roasted sea bream (“Would you like that with or without the head?”). The nods to modern tastes show up in the guise of a good burger, penne with tomato or pesto sauce, and a soft-boiled duck egg with foie gras toasts. The dessert of the moment, sticky toffee pudding, also makes an appearance. Served as it is here, with crème fraîche, it is irresistible. I suspect that, for the many who are currently in need of reassurance, the Monkey Bar will be, too.

Monkey Bar 60 E. 54th St., New York City (212-308-2950)



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