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The partners of The Trilby, the recently opened lounge and eatery at The Cooper Square Hotel, have avowed to separate themselves from the trendy and pretentious vibe that emanates from so many other downtown upstarts in Manhattan’s night scape.
“The Trilby is harkening back to a time when you went to places in New York because you had a really great time, not because of who the chef is or who is mixing the drinks,” says James Stuart, a partner at the lounge and eatery, and the former food and beverage manager of the Bowery Hotel. “The hotel bar of old where drinks are very expensive and it’s somewhat elitist is somewhat out of fashion.”
Although drinks and food don’t come particularly cheap (cocktails range from $9 to $12, small plates cost $5 to $13 and entrées are between $15 and $25), the bar is inviting and feels oddly familiar. Decorated with smooth, comfortable couches, large leather booths and small tables that resemble tree stumps, the 2,500-square-foot space seats about 100 people, and is reminiscent of an upscale cafe or library.
“Everyone’s welcome,” says Klaus Ortlieb, another Trilby partner and the hotel’s managing partner. Ortlieb explains that there’s no cover at the door and reservations aren’t accepted. “We wanted to create a warm, unique space [where people can] experience a book or a newspaper; this is not a lounge or a nightlife destination.”
The Trilby is divided into two rooms — a bar in the front and an adjoining lounge area in the back that looks out to the hotel courtyard — and is inspired by bars in Europe such as Claridge’s in London, where patrons come for consistently good drinks and a few nibbles. The bar — which is named not only for a narrow-brimmed hat but also for its signature drink, a Prohibition-era cocktail that’s a blend of scotch whiskey, sweet vermouth and Parfait Amour — also serves a variety of European-inspired comfort food. Thus far, customer favorites include steak tartare served with a quail egg and a shot of lager on the side, as well as a dish called the “six-minute egg,” which consists of a cooked egg served with anchovy and spinach on toast.
“The spirit of The Trilby is a place where you go to eat and drink and drink and eat,” said Stuart. “We should put that on our menus. It’s our motto.”
25 Cooper Square, New York