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RESTAURANT: Empire Room At The Empire State Building

It could be a 1930s movie set. Photo courtesy Empire Room | NYC.

 

Soaring more than a quarter of a mile above the heart of Manhattan, the Empire State Building is an Art Deco masterpiece and perhaps the world’s most famous office building.

On May 1, 1931, President Herbert Hoover pressed a button in Washington, D.C., which turned on the Empire State Building’s lights and officially opened the now-iconic building.

Observatories on the 86th and 102nd floors offer unmatched views of New York City to some four million visitors each year. On a clear day, they can see to New Jersey, Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania.

But what about lunch, before or after the observation decks? The Empire State Building is surrounded by fast food outlets and Irish bars—not exactly the type of ambiance one craves after the high of spectacular views.

 

Thank goodness for the Empire Room. On the ground floor of the West 33rd Street side of the building, the space, which opened two years ago designed as a 1930s-era swanky cocktail lounge, is now serving lunch.

The menu comprises classic American luncheon favorites: popular sandwiches, flat breads and panini; salads; and a chicken breast with sautéed mushrooms, Swiss cheese, bacon and honey Dijon. For a bargain $3.00, you can add a glass of wine or a beer; or a more pricey but delicious house-designed cocktail.

We lunched there recently and wanted to try everything on the menu. We ended up with an excellent starter (chili, a special house recipe with flavors deepened by 100% cacao chocolate and a pinch of cinnamon), the chopped salad main course (top-quality feta cheese, garbanzo beans, roasted peppers, tomato, onion and grilled shrimp) and a delightful miniature cheesecake.

The highest compliment we can pay is that we would gladly have returned to eat the same meal for dinner. At our earliest opportunity, we’ll be back for more.

 

The 3,500 square feet of brushed stainless steel, curved marble bar, tufted banquettes, glass-topped tables and Art Deco chandeliers looks like a movie set. It accommodates up to 150 guests and is often rented for private parties.

HOW TO GET THERE

  • The official address of the Empire Room 350 Fifth Avenue, which is between 33rd and 34th Streets. If you enter through the main entrance, you’ll have to perambulate through the Art Deco lobby.
  • If you’re coming from downtown, you can save a bit of walking by turning left on Fifth Avenue and 33rd Street (or a right from Sixth Avenue) and walking down the block to the entrance of the restaurant.
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    A popular cocktail lounge, the Empire Room now serves lunch. Photo courtesy Empire Room.

  • The hours are 11 a.m. to 3 a.m. Walk-ins are welcome, but for a reservation call 212.643.5400.
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    For more information about the Empire Room, visit HospitalityHoldings.com.

      





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