Modern fine dining in a historic Gotham gem

26 Tables

Astor Court is where classic New York grandeur meets modern glamour. This Midtown respite in the Five-Star St. Regis New York blends Old World European charm with modern stylings in an open and ornate 80-seat bi-level space.

One of Manhattan’s most exclusive Fifth Avenue addresses, the location is top notch, with world-class shopping, from Gucci to Prada, and tourist attractions — the Museum of Modern Art, Central Park, Rockefeller Center and St. Patrick’s Cathedral — all nearby.

The Look

Step back in time as you walk through the stately grand lobby of the historic hotel (opened by John Jacob Astor in 1904) to the airy, elevated dining room. Sophisticated socialites, tourists and power lunchers all meet in the welcoming open space, where the dress code is smart casual and the service not overly fussy or formal. Soft jazz piped into the dining area complements the classic New York scene.

A sky ceiling fresco, more frescoes on the upper walls and crystal chandeliers adorn the central dining area, flanked by grand marble pillars. Comfortable and elegant, it feels like a cross between Renaissance museum and turn-of-the-century bank. (“The Vault” is the adjacent private room for events.)

Outfitted with gray and white linens and wide gray and black cushioned chairs, the tables are decorated simply with single stemless blooming yellow roses in glass vases, and mini automatic stainless-steel salt and pepper mills provide a modern, utilitarian touch. White Fortessa bone china and Schott Zwiesel stemware complete the crisp tablescape.

The plush black banquettes at the edges of the central dining area offer a tad more privacy. The lower level, facing 55th Street, features a long communal wooden table, perfect for group gatherings, from high tea to evening cocktails. From wherever you sit, the luminous King Cole Bar beckons: You won’t miss its showstopping Maxfield Parish mural behind the bar.

The Food

Astor Court offers daily breakfast, lunch and dinner, along with a popular afternoon tea service (complete with fresh baked scones) and Sunday brunch.

An evolving three-course tasting menu courtesy of executive chef James Ortiaga showcases seasonal ingredients — anything from wild mushrooms to game to asparagus. Try an off-the-menu special (like a grilled salmon bento box lunch special during Cherry Blossom week).

Like the decor, the menu is full of classics with modern twists — from tuna tartare with Asian pear and Sicilian pistachio to duck confit salad nicoise. We loved the kale Caesar, a farm-fresh deconstruction topped with fluffy grated boiled egg and wide shavings of Parmesan.

Fresh vegetables and whole grains stand out, like quinoa tabbouleh, and an array of international classics illustrate the melting pot of New York (everything from classic French onion soup and croque-monsieur to falafel wrap and Reuben sandwich round out the hearty lunch menu).

For dinner, splurge on oysters and caviar followed by champagne risotto or the Titanic Omelet (with osetra caviar, jumbo lump crab and poached Maine lobster). Pair the hearty King Cole prime beef burger or 12-ounce dry-aged steak frites with the signature spicy Bloody Mary, or go heathlier with grilled wild salmon (specify how you like it cooked) on a bed of creamy, richly flavored farro with earthy roasted beets. Garnished with microgreens and edible flowers, the museum-quality plating is clean and modern, and portions are nice and light.

Then you’ll have room for the rich, playful desserts, from milk chocolate mousse with caramel ice cream and sea salt to New York-style cheesecake. Try the 5th Avenue S’Mores, an upscale interpretation of the campfire classic: a chocolate sphere contains marshmallow ice cream, graham cookie crumbles and toasted mini marshmallows. An expertly prepared warm bittersweet chocolate sauce poured tableside tops the decadent surprise. On the lighter side, opt for an airy raspberry pavlova or artisanal sorbet.

The Bar

Descend into the world-famous King Cole Bar for a pre-dinner drink or nightcap. For decades, this hot spot has hosted New York’s elite — from Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio to John Lennon and Salvador Dalí — and was featured in The Devil Wears Prada and The First Wives' Club, among other movies.

This is where the Bloody Mary was first popularized in 1934 when bartender Fernand Petiot poured the historic libation called the “Red Snapper” (illustrated by a framed Mayoral Proclamation and no fewer than six variations on the signature cocktail). It was renamed the Red Snapper because “Bloody Mary” was deemed too risqué for the clientele at the time.

A healthy selection of delectable international canapes is also available at the bar and main dining areas. You can’t reserve tables here, so arrive early to unwind and soak in the glowing grandeur of the recently restored 1906 namesake Maxfield Parish mural while sipping a spicy Red Snapper.

It’s a perfect place to cap a busy day touring the capital of the world.

DETAILS - Insider Information About This Restaurant

DETAILS - Insider Information About This Restaurant