CAFe ST. BART'S; Tables for Two

The New Yorker, August 27, 2007 | Go to article overview

CAFe ST. BART'S; Tables for Two


Among the skyscrapers that dominate Park Avenue just north of Grand Central Terminal, the Byzantine Romanesque fantasy of St. Bartholomew's Church, with its dome, arches, and rose windows, looms as an unexpected outcrop of curves. A few years ago, it occurred to someone that the church's gated terrace would make a nice spot for lunch or a beer. Terrace restaurants tend to fight shy of culinary fireworks, but this year the cafe has reopened under the management of the food-service giant Sodexho. Clearly aiming to fancy the joint up a little, Sodexho has appointed Matthew Weingarten, formerly of Savoy, as a "consulting chef," to overhaul the menu, and is building him a big new kitchen for a year-round indoor restaurant at the site, to open later in the year.

For now, the restaurant attempts to straddle the divide between casual and upmarket. At lunch, the menu offers individual items like lobster rolls and pizzas, and a two-course prix fixe. On balance, the casual option seems better. Sitting at the twenty-seat circular bar, you find yourself to the right of two blue-shirted, signet-ringed men tearing into hamburgers with smoked-onion remoulade and saying things like "I like Romney: his business record is impressive" and to the left of a pair of women judiciously leaving half their B. …

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