Photos by Dillon Burke and Noah Fecks
The gist: Hospitality veteran and BR Guest founder Stephen Hanson is back at it again with Henry at Life Hotel, a modern NoMad bistro in the former headquarters for Life magazine opening Friday, December 1. For Hanson’s first project since his 2013 departure from BR Guest, chef Michael Vignola (Strip House, ex-Aquavit, The Modern), a BR Guest alum, will be leading the kitchen and offering a global menu of shareable plates.
Dry-aged beef tartare, Dillon Burke
The food: Vignola presents updated classics, with starters like wild striped bass crudo with miso butter, kombu and caviar; dry-aged beef tartare with malt chips; and housemade burrata with kabocha squash and Calabrian peppers.
Making use of the kitchen’s wood-burning oven, Vignola fires up pizzas (including a classic Margherita) and plates like baked clams with 'nduja —spicy spreadable salumi—plus a suckling pig pressé with rutabaga and quince-hazelnut mostarda that’s slow-roasted overnight.
Slow-cooked halibut, Dillon Burke
Rounding out the dinner menu are pasta dishes including cavatelli with Rhode Island squid and shrimp in squid ink sauce and proteins like slow-cooked halibut with braised celery, Castelvetrano olives and chamomile.
Catalan Standoff, Noah Fecks
The drinks: The wine list highlights boutique varietals like Mencia, Cinsault and Roussanne, plus blends from both old and new world wineries, while the cocktail program draws upon seasonal ingredients and flavors from the food menu with concoctions like the Mumbai Slugger (Sagamore rye, spiced chai, lemon) and Dirty Times (marrow-washed Helix vodka, Bigallet Thyme eau de vie, Contratto Bianco).
A larger cocktail list will be served at the soon-to-open Gibson & Luce, an underground cocktail bar named after former Life magazine editors Charles Dana Gibson and Henry R. Luce and the site of what was rumored to be a secret bar for Life staffers during the days of Prohibition. On the menu are classic cocktails, an impressive menu of digestifs (with more than 25 bottles of vermouth alone) and bar bites from Vignola including a falafel dog, chicken tots and a house-ground burger.
Dining room, Noah Fecks
The space: By Brooklyn-based designer Tara Oxley, the cozy dining room at Henry maintains a classic, yet modern, feel with copper- and brass-topped tables and plush chairs set against wood-paneled walls and antique brass sconces. An eclectic mix of art pieces incorporating several different mediums adorn the space.
The details: 19 W 31st St.; 212-615-9910. Open for dinner Sunday to Wednesday 5PM–10:30PM and Thursday–Saturday 5PM–12AM; breakfast, brunch and lunch service forthcoming.