There’s a certain standard for a restaurant in the Flatiron District. This is a neighborhood that’s a little more grown up, home to affluent yuppies who like their take out from Eataly and their classes at Flywheel, and it’s just a few stops away from the business hustle and bustle of Midtown East. So it’s perfect for when you want to feel a little more dressed up, to squeeze in a power lunch, or to show your parents a good time. The downside to this is that things are a little too buttoned up for you to totally let loose and have a fun time, although with enough drinks that can change.
That essentially describes my dinner experience at The Clocktower, the new British restaurant run by Stephen Starr, who runs a successful empire of stylish and grown up restaurants in the city like Upland and Buddakan. The Clocktower is a hotel restaurant, located on the second floor of The New York EDITION Hote, which already sets the tone for a more formal evening, and the clientele reflects a mix of well heeled out of towners and an older crowd on a night out. The decor is slightly reminiscent of a country club, a design touch that restricts the level of mayhem to an old boys’ cigar hour. Again, with enough drinks you can change the tone to whatever you want it to be.
But the great thing about grown up restaurants is that they have their shit together and can make really good food. First off, they believe in the concept of high quality house bread, and the IPA bread here is excellent. Also, with their years of experience, they know what’s good for you, so when they tell you to order the marinated yellowtail and the striped bass, you do as you’re told. If you can somehow fit in the whole baked chicken for two, which can actually feed three and is previewed with much fanfare before being carefully carved and brought out to the table, you would have the perfect meal. Maybe you could have done without the scallop crudo, which came in a strange and overdone citrus-based sauce, but otherwise there wasn’t really much to find fault with. Going from the kids to the grown ups’ table comes with a few rules, but with better seats, better service and a steady hand behind the kitchen, there’s no turning back.
The New York EDITION Hotel
5 Madison Ave (between 23rd and 24th St)
New York, NY 10010