The Four Seasons
Imagine how highly The Four Seasons would be ranked if its food was first-rate. In fairness, we’re being flippant, but only a bit. The type of place that prices their crab cakes at $55 needs to serve some seriously appetizing food in order to justify the inflated price tag. Well, actually, apparently they don’t, insofar at The Four Seasons is invariably packed, but they should nevertheless strive to do so. The reason the restaurant stays perennially full is that no other restaurant’s dining room exudes the class and sophistication of The Four Seasons – it is the most classic, iconic dining space in all of New York.
The restaurant actually has two dining rooms, the Grill Room and the Pool Room, which are separated by a gigantic curtain (20’ x 22’) executed by Picasso for Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes production of “Le Tricorne” in 1919. The Grill Room is, of course, most famous for hosting Manhattan’s quintessential power lunch. More landmark deals are hatched in the rarefied air contained within its French walnut-paneled walls than anywhere else. The double-height room has two-story windows and a dazzling Richard Lippold sculpture of dangling bronze rods that are suspended from the ceiling over a perfectly square wooden bar. At sunset, the rods glisten magically. The Pool Room is actually the more beautiful room, however. The sheer scale of the room and its soaring ceilings is breathtaking. Designed by Philip Johnson and Mies van der Rohe, it has a beautiful white marble pool at its center, with a canopy of ceiling-scraping trees that, appropriately, change seasonally. The room’s size allows for generous spacing of the tables and intimacy in dining. The windows are gorgeously draped with three tones of gold-anodized aluminum chains in the style of Vienna curtains, shimmering and undulating in the energy of the room (well, actually from convection, at least insofar as anyone been able to tell). The effect is like a magical metallic waterfall.
The old-fashioned table service and attendant dramatic flourishes remind you to luxuriate in the womb of privilege ensconcing you. It’s easy to see why Town and Country magazine named it their “Favorite Restaurant in the World”. Opened in 1959, the restaurant has been something of a pioneer in the culinary world, credited with introducing seasonally changing menus to America, as well as being one of the first restaurants outside of California to serve American wine. It received rave reviews up through the ‘90s, but then diners began to notice that things seemed adrift. That’s not to say that the food is uniformly unimpressive, but rather that it is no longer commensurate with the restaurant’s prices or its legendary reputation. The kitchen does occasionally produce some successful dishes, particularly those that draw on its long-standing deftness with bison and duck, such as the filet of bison with foie gras and perigord black truffle and the crisp farmhouse duck with apple-cranberry charlotte. But, lamentably, these are now more exceptions to the rule. This timeless restaurant is the epitome of elegance and its grandeur is awe-inspiring. It’s a pity they don’t serve better food.
99 E. 52nd St.
New York (nr. Park Ave.)
(212) 754-9494 Mon-Fri, noon-2:30pm, 5pm-9:30pm; Sat, 5pm-10pm;
RECOMMENDED DISHES See All
- Chestnut Soup - vanilla-poached lobster
- Maryland Crabmeat Cakes - Mustard Sauce
- Butternut Squash Risotto - Pinot Noir Sauce
- White Truffle Risotto
- Georgetown Farm Bison Burger
- Crisp Farmhouse Duck - Apple-Cranberry Charlotte / Roasted Figs
- Filet of Bison - Foie Gras, Perigord Black Truffle
- Aged Sirloin - Spring Vegetable