Magazine article The New Yorker

Capitale;

Magazine article The New Yorker

Capitale;

Article excerpt

130 Bowery, at Grand St. (212-334-5500)--This temple of extravagance and confusion, an 1894 Beaux Arts landmark designed by Stanford White, originally housed the Bowery Savings Bank. The words "Your financial welfare is the business of this bank" are inscribed in big block letters over the door. The space is tremendous: nearly an acre of marble, forested with Corinthian columns and Jurassic potted palms. The banquettes swallow you up; even tall patrons look like kids at the grownups' table (a friend measuring six feet five resorted to sitting on the wine list, which has the heft, if not quite the range, of the Hoboken phone book). Waiters in brown bank-clerk outfits patrol the floor like park rangers, though they often seem lost--ask them what's good and they tell you what's popular. Rounding out the bewildering atmosphere is the music: boomer pop courtesy of satellite radio. Sting's hideous ululations on "Desert Rose" bounce off the marble as you chip away at a burger-size terrine of foie gras. You may feel that you are trapped in a Jaguar commercial.

So what kind of people come to a place like this? "Circus freaks," a bartender said the other night, referring to the celebrities who'd recently thrown private parties there. …

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