Review: Starr’s new Clocktower

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Clocktower souflle openUpdate August 25, 2015- Pete Wells of the NYT reviewed Clocktower. He raved about it and had no negative comments, but gave it just 2-stars. Pete Wells stars continue to be as useless as a sell-side analysts Buy rating.

Update July 23, 2015- The NY Post came out with their review and it is one of the nicest ones that I have read. Steve Cuozzo calls it the best new restaurant, etc.

I take partial credit for this as he knew about my opinions of the place long ago, and everyone in the restaurant media business respects my opinion (like that time the head of Fox News asked my advice on where to eat Downtown).

By the way, I am not so sure that Ian Schrager is still involved. I think he flipped the property already and has departed.

Clocktower blur room

May 24, 2015- By Steven E. Greer

Stephen Starr and Ian Schrager’s highly secretive project at the Met Life Clock Tower building has finally opened. The restaurant is called Clocktower and it presides within The Edition hotel. It is everything you would imagine from those two collaborating with a world-class chef. Michelin-star’d Londoner Jason Atherton is the executive chef and running the kitchen.

Stuff crab The Clocktower

The stuffed crab

Fish stew The Clocktower

 The fish stew

The Rockwell Group designed the place and did not destroy the pre-war architecture of the iconic building. The 20-feet-high ceilings have the original ornate moldings. The walls are lined with photographs of artists, with each room having a theme of artist and a color (i.e. the red room, the green room, the blue room, and the gold room). Clocktower is like Chef Humm’s Nomad but laid our better.

Clocktower bartenderClocktower bar Pollack

Traditional British silver is also a theme. The beer is served in a silver tankard. The seafood arrives on an elevated silver plateau.

Clocktower beer

Clocktower king crabMuch like Carbone, the menu offers solid hearty meals that are taken to the highest level with ingredients and preparation that you can’t find in a home kitchen very easily.

The pastry chef and baker is Sebastien Rouxel, who used to be the Executive Pastry Chef for Thomas Keller’s French Laundry, Per Se, and Bouchon Bakery. The round warm bread loaf comes with soft butter that you find only in top restaurants (It’s all in the details with baking).

Clocktower bread

Chef Atheron’s “macaroni and cheese” is made with perfect cheddar and topped with oxtail meat. It is worthy of being the entree that it is, for only $24.

Clocktower macaroni and cheeseSebastien Rouxel has created an excellent dessert menu.  The soufflé is primo. It has pistachio to give it a unique look and flavor, along with the chocolate ice cream.

Clocktower Souffle

Clocktower souflle openThe pistachio souffle
Grapefruit sorbetThe grapefruit sorbet with ground fennel

The after-dinner-surprise sweets tin box is great. The boxes are all antique collectables from England, so don’t walk off with them. Ignore the names they gives to the treats because the British have it all wrong. What we call toffee, they call peanut brittle. What we call caramels, they call toffee.

Clocktower sweets box

Clocktower dessert wineThe drinks are memorable as well. They have everything from old-school cocktails to modern themes with glow sticks.

The same excellent staff from the evening also serves the lunch menu, which is similar to the dinner menu.

Clocktower cheeseburger

Clocktower friesClocktower salad

The cheeseburger arrives on a nice bun with crisp English toppings, such as cucumber and bacon. The pub-style fries were fluffy on the inside.

Clocktower ice creams

The dessert for lunch was the $11 “assorted ice creams and sorbets”, which sounded ho-hum, but was decidedly not. It arrived on a spectacular silver tower with six different varieties of vanilla and milk flavors. Much like how a blind person lacking sight can smell and hear better, the all-white display leads one to appreciate more the subtle flavors of vanilla, and variations thereof.

After the dining experience, one is escorted by the manager downstairs to the Ian Schrager lobby lounge with, how shall we say this and keep it G-rated, stunningly attractive waitresses. Bravo, Ian Schrager.

Starr and his team can open a restaurant like no other. The staff all seemed like veterans because they underwent three-weeks of training led by General Manager Robert Kihlstrom, formerly with Chef Daniel Humm’s 3-Michelin-star Eleven Madison across the street. The hospitality cannot be any better unless they buy the guests a hotel room with a spa treatment (which is not a bad idea actually).

Clocktower Edition entranceClocktower billiard room

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