Interior shots by Adrian Gaut, food photos by Eric Medsker Photography
The gist: Following the opening of the Freehand New York hotel in Flatiron last month, Gabriel Stulman of Happy Cooking Hospitality (Joseph Leonard, Jeffrey’s Grocery, Fairfax) debuts Simon & The Whale, a New American eatery, as the hotel’s main restaurant. The newcomer joins all-day Studio and vintage haunt The George Washington Bar, also from Stulman.
The food: Executive chef Matt Griffin has crafted a menu of refined riffs on familiar plates, with bites like roasted barley black bread with seaweed butter, and smoked Gouda and bacon-stuffed zeppole by head baker Zoe Kanan (Vaucluse, Sadelle’s, Milk Bar) to start the meal. Other starters include chicory tonnato with soy egg, Parmesan and simit bagel chips (an elevated take on a classic Caesar salad); arctic char toast with finger lime and smoked cream; and cauliflower with gribiche and veal tongue pastrami.
For mains, there’s ricotta-filled sunchoke casonsei (pasta) with aged sherry vinegar, spinach and crispy sunchoke chips; and guinea hen served two ways — crispy skinned breast alongside leg meat sausage made by Freehand’s head butcher Joe Geinert — atop a bed of roasted pearl onions, turnips and apple purée. Also of note is the Wagyu flap steak, a lesser-known yet still luxurious cut with plenty of marbling, served with beets, mushrooms and bordelaise sauce.
The drinks: Look for a selection of wines, many from France and Italy, curated by Aaron Thorp, the beverage director at Freehand, and craft cocktails by Drew Nemetz, head bartender at Simon & The Whale. House creations include Cloud Cover (vodka, crème de violette, Prosecco, egg white), 3 Sails (gin, Cocchi Americano, thyme, lemon) and Call me Ish (Torres 15, bourbon, Meletti, orange).
The space: The comfortable yet elevated setting designed by Roman and Williams complements the menu, with mint tufted upholstery, green and blue ceramic tile and brass finishes accenting the historic space. A wraparound bar, glassed-in private dining room and sidewalk tables offer additional seating.
Monkfish; arctic char toast
The details: 23 Lexington Avenue; 212-475-1924. Open Sunday to Wednesday, 5–11 PM; and Thursday to Saturday, 5 PM–12 AM.