By Bailey Beckett
Cheers, dears. Summer is finally here. So, take off those Ugg’s (literally and figuratively) and grab your sandals and indulge in all the sunny-season has to offer. Although the Hamptons are fantastic, Bailey prefers to stay local, and for good reason: reservations are aplenty and the shopping is sublime.
The biggest surprise this month is the still-new and sparkling Four Seasons Hotel Downtown, an 82-story oasis that reaches high above the skyline to announce its majestic glory. And that megaphone is not loud enough. The Four Seasons Downtown is, hands down, among the top five hotels in the city. I was awed. Featuring 189 guest rooms, which include 28 ultra-luxury suites, the hotel is exquisite, modern and welcoming all at once. Atop the hotel sit 157 private residences, which all get the Four Seasons services and amenities, but it was the hotel portion that captured my heart. Aside from the typical luxuries you find with this luxury chain, the downtown property is infused with a sense of serenity, peace and wellness, whether it’s a “purpose built” gym, with all the latest equipment, a spa you won’t want to leave, an artisanal oil and scent bar that lets you create your own potions, and even programs that help encourage better sleep and diet.
You’ll need it after eating at Cut, Wolfgang Puck’s celebrated steakhouse off the lobby of the hotel. To say this is gleeful gluttony is an understatement. Bailey wanted to eat everything and felt the buttons on his bespoke Kiton shirt threaten to burst as he looked down the menu. I settled with a delicious petite filet and delicious fries, and maybe a glass or three of wine. Afterward, I retreated to my suite—double the size of my apartment, natch—and enjoyed a plate of complimentary macarons (the diet was shot anyway) and a mid-afternoon nap. Drinks in the bar was next, followed by a glorious sleep on luxury linens. It takes a lot to impress Bailey—but this fits the bill. Well done, Four Seasons, well done. Info: fourseasons.com/newyorkdowntown.
A NEW L’AVENUE
Having spent many hours at the world-famous L’Avenue restaurant, a bigger-than-boite retreat for Paris’ well-to-do down the tony Avenue Montaigne, imagine my surprise hearing it was opening its only other restaurant in New York—atop Saks Fifth Avenue. A strange choice, for sure. Department store restaurants are always a mixed bag (although I loved the previous SFA Café). But Saks has nailed it with L’Avenue. Designed by star architect Philippe Starck (LA’s Mondrian, Miami’s Delano, Paris’ Le Meurice), the restaurant spans two floors with a French Art Deco-vibe. Its brushed oak wide wood plank floor is accented with soft area rugs while large glass vitrines with surrealistic objects create a dream-like atmosphere. Columns are wrapped in shagreen throughout, complementing warm gray walls with luxurious curtains. The food is almost second thought but scrumptious nevertheless – avocado and tuna tartar, shrimp dim sum, spicy lobster pasta and Tom Yam chili sea bass are among the selections, as well as desserts by Pierre Herme (macaroons! Ispahan!). Downstairs from L’Avenue is the bar/ lounge Le Chalet, which looks just like a chalet in the French Alps (Ralph Lauren, someone’s knocking at your door!) The log cabin feel gives a cozy, winter feeling no matter what the weather, as does the dark red wood paneling, classic sconces, logs procured from Europe and a bar made of rich hammered metal and warm wood. Though the menu is not as elaborate as the upstairs restaurant, you won’t quibble over its nibbles.
SAKS TO THE MAX
You can’t get to either L’Avenue or Le Chalet without entering through its home base Saks Fifth Avenue in midtown, and wow-wow-wow. What a difference a year makes. The storied department store wisely did a facelift to its lobby, jettisoning its beauty and fragrance “super market” style floor to the second level in favor of a 53,000 square-feet mecca of luxury handbags—50 designers fill the stylish new floor, including 14 new brands. The new space includes an OMA/Rem Koolhaas-designed escalator, custom terrazzo flooring from Italy along with transparent and opaque high-design fixtures that guide customers down runway-inspired aisles, and folded metal origami inspired tables and glass fixtures built with two-way mirrors. “The opening of our reimagined main floor offers our customers a modern and expansive experience the moment they walk through the doors,” said Saks president Marc Metrick. “The new handbag floor reinforces Saks’ position as a fashion authority with an exceptional offering.” Info: saksfifthavenue.com.
It’s no secret that between pan-seared foie gras, lobster and whatever else Thomas Keller puts in front of me, Bailey likes a good burger. The honor of “World’s Best” used to solely belong to the “BB” Burger at Bar Boulud inside The Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park London, but there’s now a tie: L’Hamburger at the Italian wine bar Felice. The Tuscan-influenced collection of restaurants, whose few locations include on the Upper East Side and downtown on Gold Street, features a menu of Italian favorites—pastas, chicken parmesan, fresh fish—but it’s the burger that tickles my fancy: a short rib blend on brioche bun, with fontina cheese, bacon, caramelized red onions and tomato, served with hand-cut fries. I’m obsessed. Info: felicenyc.com.
A ROAST WITH THE MOST
Something very obscure that caught my attention this month is a bespoke café called the Felix Roasting Co., a design-forward, “experiential” coffee shop on Park Avenue—at the cross section of midtown, Murray Hill and Union Square. The unexpected locale is part of its allure—and a prescient decision, given the area’s growth. Conceptualized by hotelier Matt Moinian and coffee entrepreneur Al Ansari, Felix offers guests innovative espresso drinks and its signature Hickory-Smoked S’mores Latte, made with graham cracker infused milk, a shot of espresso, dark chocolate, and topped with a marshmallow. Specially-selected beer, wine and soju are also available after 5 pm. Felix features a whimsical design curated by Ken Fulk, that features a hand-drawn mural composed of 500 individual tiles, patterned terrazzo floor, vibrant color palette, and eclectic artwork, with a striking wooden coffee bar as the focus. Info: felixroastingco.com.
DON’T DISMAY YOUR DELAY
One thing Bailey misses desperately is frequent trips to London, which he took in a past life and always on British Airways. But let’s face it: the JFK terminal—especially its Club Lounge—was a dump. They knew it too, which is why, after a two-year-long renovation, it has finally unveiled a lux setting worthy of its first-class reputation. The airline spent more than $50 million updating its terminal, including its business class lounge. Spread across 22,000 square feet, the lounge now includes a pre-flight brasserie-style dining room where travelers can enjoy freshly prepared dishes or a range of smaller items chosen to allow customers to “grab and go.” There’s also a granite topped Quaich Bar with a full range of fine wines and cocktails like the “Broadway Copper Cup” made with Copper Dog whisky, orange bitters and berries. Another new addition is a BrewDog craft beer room, which features an original blend—Speedbird 100—created for British Airways, named after its flight call sign. The First lounge, which opened last year, offers an opulent bar, kitchen with pre-flight dining service, state-of-the-art wine room with an enomatic dispenser and wine list expertly curated by London-based Borough Wines. Info: britishairways.com/en-us.
Bailey is obsessed with Frevo, a new French restaurant by Chef Sampogna and his business partner and General Manager Bernardo Silva which recently opened in Greenwich Village. Frevo derives from the Portuguese word ferver (to boil), but in this case it’s sizzling! The menu reinvents contemporary French cuisine (meats and fish) in a way that will have your palate doing the bourrée. Immersed in the culinary cultures of Paris and the Mediterranean, Frevo presents refined dining and unpretentious service. Info: frevonyc.com.