When The Hill first opened, people speculated that Heidi and Spencer Pratt of The Hills were behind the venture. That was just a rumor. The spot actually takes its name from its neighborhood, not the Los Angeles reality show. Now that the initial mystery surrounding The Hill has lifted, the pub has become a neighborhood go-to for catching the game while sipping drinks and devouring philly sliders, baskets of crispy tater tots, and pots of fondue.
A Reflection of Murray Hill
As New York Times reporter Jeff Vandam explains, Murray Hill is a hard neighborhood to pin down. Quiet rows of brownstones and apartment buildings contrast with a lively pub scene geared toward the 20-somethings who have recently become more of a fixture in recent years. Like the neighborhood it calls home, The Hill has somewhat of a split personality. From afternoon to early evening, it is predominantly a sports bar, with more than 25 high-definition televisions broadcasting live games in the bar and upstairs lounge. As soon as the action wraps up, though, things start to get interesting. Candlelight replaces the flickering glow of television screens, and the bar transforms into a stylish lounge for Murray Hill?s sophisticated set.
An Upscale Pub Setting
The Hill welcomes postcollegiate fans to cheer on their alma maters in a setting that's far more refined than that of a typical sports bar. Chandeliers glimmer overhead, and leather cushions line long booths. Polychromatic planks of wood line the walls on both floors, giving guests something interesting to admire when the bartenders take a break from stirring lemon-drop martinis or pouring glasses of watermelon sangria.
M1-5 boasts all the amenities of an upscale lounge, including a spacious, 5,000-foot main floor, private VIP areas, HD TVs and projection screens, a stage outfitted with a high-end sound system, and running water. But there is one thing noticeably missing: a cover charge. Despite the extravagant digs, revelers can party here without the added expense of admission (except for certain private events). This is due to the establishment's more laidback, customer-first approach to clubbing, and it is in that spirit that M1-5 also offers, but doesn't mandate, reserved seating and bottle service.
The menu is a perfect complement to the easygoing vibe. It was developed by Chef John Sierp, a New York City fireman who has cooked onscreen for Martha Stewart and Rachael Ray, served as a guest judge on Throwdown with Bobby Flay, and was featured on Food Network’s Chopped. His gourmet take on comfort food includes barbecue-chicken sliders, personal pizzas topped with pulled pork, and the staff favorite, homemade cheese-rice balls with bits of Genoa salami. And in addition to to these classic American pub eats, the menu includes Asian influenced dishes as well, such as veggie spring rolls glazed with sweet chili sauce and steamed shrimp dumplings ignited with a hot chili sauce.
Spherical lights seem to drift in smooth bubbly spirals up toward the ceiling of Fl?te Bar & Lounge?s Gramercy location. Conversation bursts effervescently off walls and artwork in a palette of ros? pinks and prosecco tans. Myriad champagnes and sparkling wines, including Perrier-Jou?t gran brut and a range of cavas, form lacelike crowns of bubbles in an atmosphere that aims to blend the French art de vivre aesthetic with a dash of NYC nightclub. Patrons can select single flutes or bottles, or they can sample several flights that showcase different grapes, a single producer, or the patience of a waitress willing to help you pick out all the bubbles. Cocktails lean heavily on sparkling wines and include bellinis, a blend of prosecco and fruit puree, which pair nicely with small plates of cheese and fruit or foie gras terrine.
Fl?te now operates locations in Midtown, Gramercy, and Paris. In Midtown, visitors descend a short flight of stairs before sinking into intimate booths or plush benches. The original Midtown location celebrates its speakeasy roots with fiery jazz nights every Saturday, complete with performers and guests alike dressed in period apparel.
?This is no Carrie Bradshaw bar,? The Rundown NYC firmly states about Bishops & Barons?a swanky cocktail joint created by the owners of Employees Only and The Gates in summer 2012. Despite fashion-forward accents of peacock feathers, zebra stripes, and delicate chandeliers, a vintage speakeasy vibe predominates, thanks to a gold pressed-tin ceiling, paisley-patterned wallpaper, and dark wood furnishings. Named for two historic Brooklyn street gangs, Bishops & Barons harkens back to prohibition's heyday with delicate cocktails dreamed up by mixologist Dushan Zaric and a flat-screen TV that only plays speeches made by Calvin Coolidge. The unique drinks blend together potent liquors including absinthe and tequila, with unusual ingredients, such as brown sugar, rosebuds, and fig puree. Bartenders also sling draft, craft, and bottled brews include Sixpoint Crisp Pilsner and Abita Light as well as seven types of white and eight types of red wine. Back in the kitchen, chefs put a twist on traditional dishes, from corn on the cobb slathered in garlic, lemon, and scarmozza, to St. Louis?style ribs crowned with honey barbeque and peanuts. The petite menu also showcases East Coast Blue Point oysters, quail, and wagyu flank steak.
A puff of smoke accompanies a striking transformation: at Horus Cafe, a small piece of New York City becomes a chunk of another continent. Egyptian hieroglyphics cover walls and pillars within a softly lit dining room, and colorful tiles pattern the tables. Middle Eastern music starts to play, and like djinni emerging from a multifamily bottle, a group of belly dancers begins to move. As they do, they might disrupt clouds of hookah smoke that smell of pineapple, mint, and other nicotine-free flavors. The music and applause can be heard outside, where outdoor tables brim with Mediterranean and Egyptian cuisine, with grilled kebabs and traditional vegetarian dishes such as hummus, falafel, and kosharee, a blend of lentils, pasta, and chick peas.
This is the scene at Horus Cafe's Avenue B location, where the celebration of international culture and cuisine stretches until 4 a.m. every night of the week. The displays of belly dancing happen four nights a week, followed by DJs spinning hip hop, top 40 hits, and international music. Similar festivities unfold at Horus' other New York City locations.
A ceiling fan gently spins overhead and lush potted bamboo flourishes in the corner. Painted shutters and rattan chairs give the dining room an outdoor feel as light trickles in through French doors. At Le Colonial, the Upper East Side becomes the other side of the world and the final element of transport is the restaurant’s French-Vietnamese fare. The delicate pairing harks back to the 1920s, when France maintained colonial rule over Southeast Asia, and is evident in everything from the flavors to the chefs’ cooking techniques. The dinner menu here is divided in two sections, but not the ones you might expect: From the Land and From the Sea. Banana leaf-wrapped sea bass over glass noodles represents the glory of the former, while roast duck with tamarind dipping sauce stands out from the latter. The restaurant’s light yet flavorful fare—which even covers sautéed filet mignon with Asian long beans—makes lasting impressions, and did so for reporter Julie Wilcox of Forbes: “I consider [Le Colonial] one of the most consistent and best Upper East Asian Restaurants,” she wrote in a 2012 article.