By David Porat
Lexus, Starbucks and Restoration Hardware (RH) are all trying to make friends by tickling your taste buds and satiating your tummy. All three have opened up impressive, or shall I say grand, temples to their brands in the Meatpacking and Chelsea Market Neighborhood. I have enjoyed in curious ways visiting all three and yes, they do satisfy your hunger amongst other things.
Intersect by Lexus is maybe my favorite of the three: it is the least impressive physically, and yet, the décor is very tasteful. The restaurant has a relatively unassuming storefront on the south side of 14th Street between 9th Avenue and Washington Street. It is managed by Danny Meyer’s Union Square Hospitality Group, with the premise that it will feature rotating chefs from well-known restaurants. The Global Chefs-In-Residence, as they are called, develop the menu and dishes, and will change every 4-6 months. I happened to wander upon it after reading about it online and have been back three times to eat in the upstairs restaurant (there is also a café on the ground floor and a cocktail lounge which features a round bar upstairs across from the restaurant). Currently, the space is a platform for Frenchie, a restaurant owned by Chef Gregory Marchand. The original Frenchie is in Paris, but Marchand recently opened a new branch in the Covent Garden neighborhood in London. The chef has a book that came out in 2017 which I almost bought on my first visit (I hesitated because I thought I would get it on Amazon, but I was pleasantly surprised that it was not available there) and then later actually bought (a signed copy!) on one of my subsequent visits. The book includes chapters on New York (where Marchard worked at Gramercy Tavern), London and Paris. The restaurant has a lunch menu, a larger and slightly more expensive dinner menu and a bar menu, all of which are thoughtfully done. The food, whether it be his interpretation of a Lobster Roll, Fried Chicken, or more classic French items was impressive and I would recommend going before the next gig starts. The prices include service and were, in my mind, very reasonable for the quality.
Starbucks Reserve Roastery, which opened in December, is a 26,000 square foot space that includes a large and small coffee roaster, a restaurant, a bar area, a few shopping areas, a bakery and a take home area. The whole is very visually appealing: it has a wood, cooper, and leather theme and it appears that no expense was spared in creating an environment that will attract tourists and locals who are looking for a lifestyle experience rather than a quick cup of coffee. A quick cup of coffee can still be obtained across the street at a ‘regular’ Starbucks, which has a completely different feel from the new store (and having the two across the street from each other makes it seem that Starbucks is saturating the area). Starbucks acquired an Italian bakery called Princi and they bake breakfast pastries, bread (which is used in the breakfast and lunch sandwiches), pizza and desserts. Most of the items are quite good, and many are available at a number of the different stations in this fascinating space.
Restoration Hardware, or RH as it has been renamed, has the grandest store. The entire five story building is dedicated to the brand which now features very high end home décor, and which looks like a not overly urbane furniture superstore. Food can be obtained on the 3rd and 5th floors. The 3rd floor has a barista and cocktail bar—you can get your beverages to go and stroll through the store, shopping for your new living space. The 5th floor restaurant does not take reservations, but once you have put your name on the list they will take your cell phone number and text you when your table is ready. This also gives you the opportunity to walk around the store looking at the furniture on display. The food portion of the store is run by the Hogsalt Restaurant group from Chicago which also operates 4 Charles Prime Rib in the Village. The chef, Brendan Sodikoff is famous for his Au Cheval Hamburger, and the RH burger is a delicious facsimile. (While dining there, one of the waiters confided to me that Au Cheval will also be coming to New York soon.) The food I had during my one visit seemed good—not overly special—but with attentive service. The experience is a good bit about meat and meeting in the Meatpacking district not to mention the social media possibilities for the brand!
Intersect by Lexus —412 West 14th
Street, between Ninth Ave. and Washington St.
Starbucks Reserve Roastery—
61 9th Ave. between 14th and 15th Streets
RH (Restoration Hardware)—
9 9th Avenue at 13th Street