NYC Hotspots: How to Do a Tasting Menu Like Taylor Swift

Almanac, where the singer celebrated her birthday in December, and nine other hotspots are all about the scene as Bryan Lourd and Bradley Cooper flock to dine chez Ralph (as in Lauren), and Sarah Jessica Parker samples quinoa pasta and cauliflower steak in the Village.

This story first appeared in the April 24 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.

WHERE TO EAT:

Almanac
28 Seventh Ave. South, West Village

If the name sounds slightly familiar, it's because Almanac made headlines in December for hosting Taylor Swift's birthday dinner, at which guests included Jaime King and Cara Delevingne. But this West Village spot is more relatively low-key restaurant than party palace, offering three tasting menus, with the eight-course ($145) boasting a feast of razor clams, quail, short ribs, roasted oysters and black bass. "I love bringing friends to watch them devour the menu," says composer and producer Josh Ralph. "It's always changing, and they use the finest ingredients out there."

Cafe Clover
10 Downing St., West Village

A restaurant that would be nothing remarkable in Los Angeles seems refreshing in New York: Restaurateur David Rabin and his co-owner, socialite Kyle Hotchkiss Carone, have opened an upscale American eatery offering dishes that place an emphasis on healthy cuisine. Must-haves include quinoa tagliatelle, cauliflower steak and side dishes made with olive oil — not butter. Diners have included Leslie Moonves, Sarah Jessica Parker, Common and Dianna Agron, who says, "Cafe Clover is filling a huge void in New York. Pairing clean, light, delicious food with a beautiful space is an idea more people should be embracing."

The Polo Bar
1 E. 55th St., Midtown

Everyone is jostling for a reservation at this 3-month-old eatery, the first restaurant by design icon Ralph Lauren. So unless your name is Rockefeller or Rihanna, a table is hard to come by. "The Polo Bar has the makings of a true New York City establishment. It's a great reflection of the warmth and impeccable taste of the entire Lauren family," says Ivanka Trump. Others who have dined at the bi-level restaurant — done up in aged leather upholstery and tartan pillows — include CAA's Bryan Lourd, model Karlie Kloss and Bradley Cooper. Practically no reservations are available within the next six weeks, even for their least attractive 6 p.m. seating. And while being privy to the secret reservation email may help book a table (think the Waverly Inn circa 2008), if it doesn't, don't expect to grab a drink at the bar: A pair of iPad-carrying employees stand outside, making sure no one gets in who isn't on the list. Menu highlights include cheeseburgers, brownie sundaes and the designer's favorite corned beef sandwich. For those not into calories, don't be afraid: There's plenty of kale and tuna tartare, too.

The dining room at the Polo Bar.

Santina
820 Washington St., Meatpacking District

Mario Carbone and Rich Torrisi — the James Beard-nominated chef/owners of Carbone and Dirty French — have a new hit, where the food is just as delicious — and the reservations just as hard to come by — as at their other establishments. Santina, their newly opened coastal Italian restaurant, gleams inside a glass cube designed by architect Renzo Piano at the base of the new Whitney Museum, just under the High Line. The tastiest morsels on the menu also are the hardest to pronounce: cecina, giardinia crudite, chitarra santina and bass agrigento.

Upland
345 Park Ave. South, Flatiron District

Stephen Starr, the mastermind behind Buddakan and Morimoto, has debuted another restaurant offering some major star-gazing: Upland, a California-inspired restaurant whose menu includes duck — rather than chicken — wings basted in chili pepper and yuzu paste. Since opening in October, the 88-seat spot, which features glowing, backlit jars of preserved lemons along the wall as a tribute to the West Coast, has attracted Natalie Portman and Gwyneth Paltrow.

WHERE TO STAY:

Sixty Soho
60 Thompson St., SoHo

Jason Pomeranc's newly renovated hotel is an art lover's paradise: Formerly 60 Thompson, the property has debuted a new look following a multimillion-dollar ren­ovation to all 97 guestrooms (from $499 a night). London-based artist Harland Miller was commissioned to create pieces for guestrooms and the lobby, and there are additional works by artists-of-the-hour Ryan McGinley and Will Cotton.

The Quin
101 W. 57th St., Midtown

New York City's historic Buckingham Hotel, built in 1929 and frequented by such music legends as pianist Ignacy Jan Paderewski, has been grandly restored, opening less than a year ago as The Quin. The 200-room property (from $499 a night), just two blocks from Central Park, now has a strong emphasis on partnerships with the art world, with recent exhibitions by Irish painter Patrick Graham and Blek le Rat, a street artist who was a major influence on Banksy. A bank of 17th-floor terrace suites has just opened.

WHERE TO DRINK:

The Happiest Hour
121 W. 10th St., Greenwich Village

This whimsical new tiki-inspired cocktail bar and restaurant by Jon Neidich — the guy behind NoHo's rambunctious club ACME — quietly opened in October, luring a celeb-dotted crowd partial to the impresario's brand of expertly concocted drinks and late-night partying. For those looking for a quieter vibe, a downstairs area will open shortly, featuring a more elegant cocktail bar.

The Late Late
159 E. Houston St., Lower East Side

Try your luck fitting in with the cool kids at The Late Late, where the open-door policy says you can come in and gawk, but that doesn't mean you'll blend in with the crowd of celebrity scions, actors and socialites with a rock icon or two thrown in. They come for the wide array of cocktails, including the Minty Fresh (a Guinness served over ice in a crystal goblet with mint liqueur and a sprig of mint), and an eclectic music program featuring DJs and per­formances, curated by Rob Ackroyd, lead guitarist of Florence & The Machine and co-owner of The Late Late with James Morrissey. "There's a chilled vibe here, which makes it attractive to music industry professionals," says Ackroyd, whose bandmates — along with musicians from such groups as Fall Out Boy, One Direction and Disclosure — all have paid a visit.

A bartender at The Late Late, open every night of the week until 4 a.m. — and offering USB ports under chairs throughout the bar.

The Nomad Bar
10 W. 28th St., Midtown

Connected to the Nomad Hotel, this upscale hostelry's version of a neighborhood tavern opened in June 2014 to rave reviews. The mahogany-filled bar features a fireplace and large comfy banquettes. The pub feel is dialed up a notch, however: Think carrot tartare and a chicken pot pie made with foie gras and black truffles.

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