Tucked onto the second floor of a boutique hotel that was once a printer house, InkSpa invites clients to relax amid eco-friendly surroundings. It’s no wonder that New York Magazine highly praised the spa, noting it “exceeds one’s expectations.” Inside, clients gaze upon bronze-accented decor and photographs from local artist Michael Palladino as they make their way to private locker rooms where plush bathrobes and sandals await. From there, pairs can retreat to the couple’s suite for a rejuvenating massage—perhaps with foot reflexology or a hot stone treatment—as they enjoy each other’s company or enjoy treatments despite each other’s company. In the spa’s other private treatment rooms, aestheticians exfoliate bodies with Turkish body scrubs and brighten complexions with organic aromatherapy and Kerstin Florian products.
Stepping into Firebird Restaurant is like time traveling to 1912 Russia. The velvet-cushioned, curlicue-encrusted mansion—where Natalie Portman directed her short film Eve—sprang from the dreams of Baroness Irina von der Launitz, granddaughter of Saint Petersburg's turn-of-the-century mayor. A two-story entrance guards the dining room, just one of the many rooms where gourmet Russian meals and a sea of domestic and imported vodkas slake appetites. The caviar menu is sprinkled with poetic details about the roe's colors, flavors, and textures. Supping guests can choose from the main menu, and they can also opt for a dinner tasting, prix fixe meal, or private dining experience.
Suited for royalty, Firebird's decor is lush and dramatic, with vibrant curtains parting to reveal plump, cushioned chairs and fine porcelain. Marble busts contrast with the crimson wood and dining seats of the library, where gold gates corral avenues of old timey books. The ballroom's domed ceiling centers around a skylight, and the China Room's unexpected green walls, carpet, and curtains serve as a refreshing backdrop for delicate filigree accents.
Traditional Thai dishes get a bold, modern twist at One Thai Chef, where culinary veteran Taweewat Hurapan artfully plates entrees for lunch and dinner. Panang curry gets an update with the addition of tender lobster meat, and glasses of fresh lychee juice pair with beef short ribs braised in massaman curry. Hurapan serves his signature roasted duck with bao buns that are round and fluffy, just like the tiny pillows upon which ancient kings rested their forks between bites. Chefs apply equal attention to desserts, which they adorn with caramel drizzles and fresh fruit.
With a history spanning three generations, Le Rivage now bubbles in the hands of Chef Paul Denamiel, who presides over a menu of French cuisine that garnered a 2011 New York award from the U.S. Commerce Association. Vibrant oil-paint landscapes and crosshatched wooden fixtures carry thoughts away to the French countryside, and white tablecloths warm beneath steaming plates of duck and mussels. Beside vases of cut flowers, lamb and filet mignon don Francophile garb in the form of burgundy and bordelaise sauces. Beyond the eatery's unobtrusive glowing sign, sautéed frog legs and other traditional dishes join a prix fixe or à la carte menu, and wines by the glass or bottle offer vintage luxury without the hindrance of a solid-teak sidekick.
Although the Atlantic Ocean separates L’Ybane’s Manhattan location from its station in Nice, France, little changes across that distance. Mediterranean influences are the constant, guiding both locales’ robust lists of Lebanese-style mezzes, or small tasting plates. At L’Ybane on Eighth Avenue, chefs add splashes of imported olive oil to dishes of marinated broad beans or cumin-spiced yogurt. In addition to lebanese sausages and grilled skewers of lamb, the menus feature vegetarian-friendly options, including meatless moussaka and cabbage leaves stuffed with basmati rice. Befitting its Old-World inspiration, L’Ybane’s decor combines rustic and stately elements amid soft candlelight. Round bistro-style tables tuck up to a wall of high-backed booth seating, although the restaurant also features more distinctive dining arrangements, such as a table with a Victorian armchair. In the evenings, L’Ybane transforms into a spirited environment as DJs and live bands perform for the nighttime crowds.
Whether it's a balmy afternoon in June or a posttheater food hunt in the wee hours of an icy December morning, the chefs at Maison stand ready to fuel New Yorkers with a taste of Brittany. Led by executive chef Mario Urgiles, the restaurant is open seven days a week around the clock, serving plates of the fish, shellfish, and crepes that you might find along the French coast. Diners can take in the interior's welcoming ambiance, admiring the abundance of natural light reflected in the mirrors along the bar and sipping varietals retrieved from the balcony wine room overhead. The warmth of its plush red drapery and red leather banquettes pairs well with orders of provençale mussels steamed with white wine and herbs or ratatouille-and-goat-cheese crepes. Fresh fruits de mer including oysters, lobster tails, and jumbo shrimp might best be enjoyed in the patio area. Its large, climate-controlled umbrella and white beams dotted with light bulbs resemble an amusement-park carousel, or the Parisian Tilt-A-Whirl where Hemingway did most of his writing.