This week, Sydell Group (The NoMad Hotel) brings the Freehand hotel brand (distinguished by its hip, communal spaces and low-key vibe) to NYC with Freehand New York in Flatiron, at the site of the former George Washington Hotel. On the food and beverage front, the hotel’s main restaurant, cocktail bar and an all-day concept is led by Gabriel Stulman’s West Village–based Happy Cooking Hospitality group (Joseph Leonard, Jeffrey’s Grocery, Fairfax), with an outpost of Smile to Go and acclaimed Miami-based bar Broken Shaker to follow in the spring. The hotel’s design (by Roman & Williams) pays homage to the building’s history, an affordable home for creative types, with restored millwork and a rotating selection of art pieces throughout for a modern edge.
Simit shlomo platter and quinoa muesli from Studio, photo by Eric Medsker
On the ground floor is Simon & The Whale, the main dining concept inside Freehand New York. Helmed by executive chef Matt Griffin, it will offer elevated comfort plates like chicories with tonnato, soy egg and simit (Turkish bagel) chips; grilled whole fish with charred carrots and orange butter; crudos and tartares. The relaxed space is outfitted with warm woods, green and blue ceramic tile and marble, and burnished brass accents. Simon & The Whale is set to open later this month.
Assorted pastries and date dulce de leche babka from Studio, photo by Eric Medsker
Off the second floor mezzanine is Studio, an all-day eatery, and The George Washington Bar; also from Happy Cooking Hospitality. Bright and warm, Studio’s offerings highlight North African and Middle Eastern flavors, in reference to Stulman’s Jewish-Moroccan heritage. In the morning, look for baked goods like date dulce de leche babka from head baker Zoë Kanan (Milk Bar, Sadelle's), grain bowls and egg dishes like brik-style eggs with house phyllo, cilantro and harissa.
Rotisserie duck and spit-roasted celery root from Studio, photo by Eric Medsker
The all-day menu features plates like Turkish beef dumplings and spit-roasted celery root with taramasalata and Moroccan spices, plus larger plates meant for sharing like rotisserie duck with tea-steamed rice, mint yogurt and Bibb lettuce. Studio is open every day 7AM–late, with breakfast Monday to Friday 7AM–11:30AM and the all day menu available 11:30AM–late). On Saturdays and Sundays, brunch is served 7AM–4PM and the all-day menu is available 4PM–late.
Inside The George Washington Bar, photo by Adrian Gaut
Set in the former Library Room of the George Washington Hotel, The George Washington Bar is a stark contrast to the light-filled Studio, with vintage furniture, original mahogany millwork and a fireplace setting the classic scene. The cocktail menu is curated by head bartender Ben Rojo (Angel’s Share) and features sours like Sweep The Leg (Mizu no mai shochu, pineapple, Thai basil, lime), spirituous libations like Babe and Bunyan (Ardbeg 10, black pepper, coriander seed, porcini, jaggery, curry leaf), aperitifs, savory cocktails and more.
Making of a Commodore Perry Cooler and deviled eggs, photo by Eric Medsker
To complement the drinks, Griffin has created a succinct menu of small bites from a housemade soft salted pretzel with honey butter to American caviar with buttered toast. The George Washington Bar is open Monday 4PM–1AM, Tuesday and Wednesday 4PM–2AM, Thursday and Friday 4PM–4AM, Saturday 1PM–4AM and Sunday 1PM–1AM.
Freehand New York, 23 Lexington Ave; 212-475-1920