With recent openings like Betony, Bill’s Food & Drink, and a forthcoming branch of Butter, Midtown hasn’t hopped this hard since the era of Studio 54, where coincidentally, Richie Notar, the owner of recently opened Harlow got his start. Notar learned the ins-and-outs of curating a scene at Studio 54, then moved on to become a managing partner of the Nobu empire before going solo to open Harlow in February.
Another hot item this year: branzino. That’s right — Mediterranean seabass is the “it” fish according to Nation’s Restaurant News, which recently called it the “fastest growing seafood protein,” showing up on 28 percent more menus in the last four years.
Put this hip fish dish in a white-hot venue and you’ve got Harlow chef Danny Ye’s branzino with wasabi stem gremolata and crispy hearts of palm ($35), a light yet substantially flavorful preparation, with a hint of spicy burn from the wasabi and an airy crunch from gently fried hearts of palm. The blend of Asian and South American flavors nod to Ye’s years at Nobu. A menu of crudo, including hamachi marinated in yuzu, cilantro and avocado ($21), also plays up Ye’s strengths, highlighted even more by a entire bar devoted to crudo in the dining room.
Adjacent to the Lombardy Hotel, Harlow’s dining space dates back to the Roaring ’20s. Legend has it that the room was built by William Randolph Hearst as a private entertaining venue for his mistress, the actress Marion Davies, and the current-day scene conveys that same Hollywood-in-Manhattan glamour. The crowd is indeed fabulous and the room exudes elegance, with chandeliers, painted mirrors, towering white columns, vast marble bars and original Warhol paintings, but the velvet rope doesn’t seem to apply here. Just a reservation gets you in.
111 E. 56th St.