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Plaza Food Hall a triumph


Fat Guy
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Today is the official opening of the Plaza Food Hall, a 6,000-square-foot dining-and-retail area underneath the Plaza Hotel. I recently wrote about the revitalization of the Palm Court at the Plaza, under chef Willis Loughhead. The Food Hall project is separate, operated by a lessee at the direction of Todd English, the chef who made his name at Olives in Boston but is now a major restaurateur all over.

The food hall is a series of stations arranged in a U shape. It differs from a food court in two ways: First, it's a mix of dining and food-shopping options, so you can sit at the raw bar and eat a meal, sit at the wine bar and have a glass of wine, or buy bakery items across the way. Second, it's all operated by one company so you can, for example, sit at the wine bar but have food brought to you from the raw bar, pizza station, grill, noodle bar, etc., by your server. Altogether there are 8 seating counters with about 80 total seats. There's also a "concierge" up front who can take a phone order and put together a lunch to be eaten in Central Park, or whatever. And there's delivery within a certain radius, as well as a series of room-service options for Plaza residents and hotel guests.

I went in the other day for a tour and preview tasting, and wound up eating way too much. I had something from almost but not quite every station. I didn't take any photos but I got some from the PR company that I'll post here. (The photos are by a photographer named Evan Sung, who holds the copyright, and are reprinted here with permission.)

I started off with a selection of sliders. This is a photo of the normal, hamburger slider.

Food Hall Burger (Slider) - copyright Evan Sung.jpg

I also had a crab-salad slider and a roast-beef slider. If you actually go in and order sliders you'll get three of one kind for $10 - $18 depending on the type (crab salad is the most expensive). Another relevant slider photo:

Sliders - copyright Evan Sung.jpg

The sliders come off the grill station, where I sat. The grill menu also offers sandwiches, steaks, chicken, etc., all cooked on a grill of course.

I tried some sushi from the sushi bar, which was quite good and very well priced (you get a massive dragon roll for $10, for example), and some absolutely first-rate beef dumplings and kimchi from the dumpling-and-noodle bar. Here's a photo of the dumpling bar and some stuff I didn't eat:

The Dumpling Bar 2 - copyright Evan Sung.jpg

Chilled soba salad, carrot, sesame, snowpeas, cilantro, chilis - copyright Evan Sung.jpg

Here's a photo of a pizza from the mighty Woodstone oven:

Fig and prosciutto pizza, rosemary crust, fig jam, gorgonzola, prosciutto - copyright Evan Sung.jpg

The oven turns out very good pizzas. I would have eaten the whole thing, but I was stuffed.

I had some excellent oysters from the raw bar. I tried a selection of pastry items, all impressive, including a "grasshopper" cupcake designed I think by Mr. English's daughter. Some pastry/bakery items:

The Bakery - copyright Evan Sung.jpg

I tried a very strong Nicoise salad that I was surprised is priced at only $14. I didn't try anything from the cheese-and-charcuterie menu, but that looked appetizing. Also nothing from the wine bar. The only dish I had that needed work was an underseasoned, weak pork-udon soup. That's a very strong ratio of great-to-not-so-great dishes for a preview tasting. I imagine they've got the soup right by today.

I've never been a partisan of Todd English, who I've long thought had too heavy a hand (the one Olives classic I had -- butternut squash ravioli from the $9 tapas menu - reminded me of why I've never loved the overly sweet, fatty food at Olives here or in Boston), but he has done a fantastic job here. Much of the food evidences lightness and finesse, and the heavier items are not gratuitously so. And he has accomplished it all at a very friendly price point. I imagine that if they hold the line on prices -- or maybe even if they don't -- they will be mobbed, especially at lunchtime.

Here's Todd English with Jeffrey Beers (who designed the Food Hall) and Miki Naftali (who I believe is the developer responsible for the whole project).

Jeffrey Beers, Todd English, Miki Naftali - copyright Evan Sung.jpg

I should note that the actual chef on the ground, there every day, is a fellow named Mike Suppa, who trained at Olives New York.

Practical info:

Location The Plaza

Concourse Level

1 West 59th Street

New York, New York 10019

(Dedicated entrance on 59th Street and Fifth Avenue)

Website www.ThePlazaFoodHall.com

Telephone 212-986-9260

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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So...is it meant to be more of a restaurant-type space, or does it encourage stopping in and getting these dishes for takeaway? It seems a bit like a take on an up-market Japanese department store food hall, but with more focus/ability on being able to eat there.

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It's a combination of restaurant and retail. The PR materials describe it as a "European-style food hall," but it's much more heavily weighted towards sit-down dining than I'd expect from a Japanese department-store food-hall-type setting. There are some nice retail products there, but the dining operation really dominates.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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The crab sliders are the most expensive sliders, and I do think they're pricey -- as in expensive (not overpriced, however, given the going rates for crustaceans around town). But I wouldn't say the Food Hall is pricey overall. The pricing overall is substantially lower than I'd have expected.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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The crab sliders are the most expensive sliders, and I do think they're pricey -- as in expensive (not overpriced, however, given the going rates for crustaceans around town). But I wouldn't say the Food Hall is pricey overall. The pricing overall is substantially lower than I'd have expected.

as a whole its not terribly pricey but somethings are. i paid 6 dollars for a cupcake.

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I went on the the Food Hall launch day and wrote up a little review you can see here on my FearlessCooking.tv blog. I added pricing for the pizza station in the comments section.

I sat at the Tapas/Wine Bar, but was able to order from other stations. That's a very nice feature.

Grace

Grace Piper, host of Fearless Cooking

www.fearlesscooking.tv

My eGullet Blog: What I ate for one week Nov. 2010

Subscribe to my 5 minute video podcast through iTunes, just search for Fearless Cooking

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I went on the the Food Hall launch day and wrote up a little review you can see here on my FearlessCooking.tv blog. I added pricing for the pizza station in the comments section.

I sat at the Tapas/Wine Bar, but was able to order from other stations. That's a very nice feature.

Grace

i enjoyed my food and i saw someone order the pizza which looked to be a decent size. Im def gonna go back. and yes the feature where u can sit at one spot and order from another is a nice touch. im a big fan of this place.

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  • 1 month later...

I was slighly confused at the start (do you seat yourself...is there a hostess?). But very much enjoyed the concept and the space and loved having something to watch. I was seated at the raw bar station but we ordered from two others. The menu is slighly overhwelming at first, but everything we had was excellent. Will absolutely go back! Also a really great place for dining alone.

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