New Restaurants: Charlie Palmer’s Hat Trick

New Restaurants: Charlie Palmer’s Hat Trick

Everyone knows Charlie Palmer. He cooks “Honest American,” and each of his outposts, from West Coast (Cali, Vegas, Reno) to East (D.C. and Manhattan), operates as a dramatic, individualized realm. Of eight spots in NYC, the three newest grace a site that boasts its own historic intrigue—the legendary Knickerbocker Hotel. The 1906 property, turned into offices in 1921, reopened as a luxe hotel in 2014, and Charlie Palmer Group got the nod to create the fare and ambience for a casual café, a lounge and a fine dining room, all opening in the spring of 2015.

The “Knick” martini—dry and rouge vermouth, Tanqueray 10, orange plus citrus bitters—pays homage to the drink that didn’t really originate here with a bartender named Martini (though it should have). It makes a fine prelude to dining in the serene fourth-floor quarters of Charlie Palmer at The Knick. Here, Executive Chef Cliff Denny shows his respect for seasonal ingredients on an evolving menu that keeps a major focus on seafood. Small plates feature colorful lineups like peaches with figs and frisée or heirloom tomato and whipped burrata, rich veal meatballs with pecorino or grilled octopus with chorizo and popcorn purée.

Executive Chef Cliff Denny plates a seasonal dish at Charlie Palmer at The Knick. (Courtesy Charlie Palmer Group)

Denny, whose résumé includes time with chefs like Bernard Gaume and Fabio Trabocchi, came here from the top spot at the Viceroy Anguilla. In collaboration with Palmer, his dishes include the “Knick Burger”—a beef patty topped with short ribs and Irish cheddar on brioche—and always chicken marinated in Tabasco and zinged by chipotle and cayenne. Autumn desserts will likely play with apple and pumpkin, he says, and incorporate surprises like foams and micro basil leaves.

St. Cloud, the 7,400-square-foot rooftop bar and lounge, gets its name not for being a perch in the sky but for the earlier hotel that was demolished by John Jacob Astor IV to make way for the Beaux Arts Knickerbocker. Serene interior rooms feature tones of pewter (walls) and silver (deep leather couches), metal flooring that reads “wood-grained” and an 80-foot nickel bar.

Cocktails ($16) include the signature St. Cloud of Citron vodka, St-Germain liqueur, grapefruit and brandied cherry as well as The Aqueduct of bourbon, Licor 43, strawberries and (nice touch) basil. Wines come by the glass or bottle, champagnes ($165 to $5,200) from a serious collection. Light fare ranges from hummus and salumi to a wagyu hot dog and tuna tacos with cilantro and wasabi aioli.

Also here: Jake’s @ The Knick, a coffee shop/café for custom coffees and espresso, flatbreads, pastries and fruit, to linger over or grab and go. Even this setting says “stylin’” with a gleaming mosiac floor, accents of Italian marble and an illuminated barrel-vault ceiling.

Let the slide show below further whet your appetite.

6 Times Square, at W. 42nd St. & Broadway, 212.204.4983, www.theknickerbocker.com