NEW YORK — Bordello chic seems to be cropping up all over New York. Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s V Steakhouse at the Time Warner Center is decorated in plush maroon tones and appears to have sprouted out of a Russian forestal fairy tale. If Frederick’s on 58th Street wasn’t a members-only club, it might pass for an establishment for the Oldest Profession, and now Silverleaf Tavern, a new restaurant in Murray Hill, features an equally dark and rich landscape: tufted leather booths with pearl buttons, velvet-backed chairs and a sculpture of a tree in the center of the dining room whose original etchings were deemed too risqué.
The cocktail menu, created by Dale DeGroff, plays on the tavern setting with colonial-like beverages including the Stone Pole (vodka, cider, ginger syrup and Jamaican Ginger Beer) as does a long, wooden communal table.
The decor of Silverleaf runs in sharp contrast to that of the 70 Park Avenue Hotel, of which it is an offshoot. The Jeffrey Bilhuber-designed property, which opened in July (Silverleaf opens this week), is of the Smith & Hawken school of design: subdued greens; large, livable showers; cashmere blankets, and flat-screen televisions. The hotel is the first venture from Kimpton, a San Francisco-based company known for encouraging its guests’ yoga practice.
After eating a meal at Silverleaf, a little yoga practice might do you some good. Chef Kevin Reilly, formerly of Union Square Cafe and Zoë, has created a menu that doesn’t skimp on the calories. “Richness is big around this time of year,” Reilly says. “And I don’t think you want to be eating dainty in a place like this.”
The chef’s favorite thing to do is visit neighborhoods in New York and adapt their delicacies to fine dining. Hence, from Jewish delis he’s created his version of matzo ball soup. A hanger steak features a short rib knish. His tagliatelle with spicy Maine lump crab meat is mixed with duck cracklings, a shout out to Chinatown, and a pork schnitzel is topped with a truffled duck egg.
Besides using specifically Northeastern ingredients (there is an East Coast Shellfish Pan Roast and the cheeses are all local), Reilly likes to play with breakfast items. Appetizers include foie gras with a ginger rice waffle and a Westfield chèvre French Toast — a brioche stuffed with goat cheese sauteed with mushrooms. As Reilly says, “That’s as rich as you can get, man.”
— Marshall Heyman