A First Look at Sky-High Danny Meyer Destination

A First Look at Sky-High Danny Meyer Destination

Manhatta, the culinary titan's latest venture, promises to elevate Lower Manhattan's culinary landscape.

Manhatta, the culinary titan's latest venture, promises to elevate Lower Manhattan's culinary landscape.

Text: SAMUEL ANDERSON

High above the financial district’s warren of narrow streets, the neighborhood’s Renaissance is continuing apace. Yesterday, Manhatta, the latest venture from Danny Meyer’s Union Square Hospitality Group, opened its doors at 28 Liberty street on the 60th floor. The new venue also includes the private events space Bay Room, one of the largest and highest in the city.

As the maestro behind institutions like Union Square Café, Eleven Madison Park and more, Meyer will inspire culinary pilgrimages no matter where he goes. And with its strong pedigree and inevitably buzzworthy clientele, Manhatta is the latest Fidi venue to counteract the area’s long-held image as a stuffy Gotham, following in the steps of Keith McNally's Augustine at the Beekman Hotel. But the restaurant’s altitude clearly sets it apart—as does its executive chef Jason Pfeifer, formerly of Gramercy’s Maialino, who offers a fresh take on classic Franco-American food with dishes like Veal Blanquette and Scotch snails.

Despite its lofty real estate, Manhatta promises to be a relatively accessible dining experience, in contrast to the increasingly pricey tasting menu at Eleven Madison (which Meyer sold to chef Daniel Humm in 2011). “With Manhatta, our goal is to create an intimate restaurant feel with down-to-earth hospitality and excellent food,” says USHG Chief Operating Officer Ron Parker. “We wanted to give the community a warm hug.”

In return, the surrounding community will have unprecedented access to a top-floor vantage point that had previously been shrouded in private sector use. Erected in 1961 by J.P. Morgan Chase, the building formerly known as One Chase Manhattan Plaza was designed to be the epicenter of the city’s finance industry. But the property underwent a rebranding after Chinese investment company Fosun International Ltd. acquired the tower in 2015, re-christening it “28 Liberty” and devoting a hefty share of the $100-200 million renovation to public-facing retail and restaurant spaces.  

Around the same time, talks between USHG and Fosun began. But Parker says the restaurant’s concept has always hinged on the food rather than the venue. “We found that anyone who had attempted building a ‘restaurant in the sky’ was too reliant on the view and ultimately tried to make their dining concepts too luxurious and over-the-top,” he says. “This space was looking for a chef and we had a chef looking for a space to make his own. “Danny Meyer always says, ‘We have artists that we need canvases for,’ and our Executive Chef Jason Pfeifer is one of those artists.”

And yet, there’s no shortage of high-concept messaging behind Manhatta; the restaurant’s name is a fitting metaphor for how the surrounding landscape has, and will continue to, evolve—taking its name from Mannahatta (1881), a Walt Whitman poem depicting a bird’s eye view of pre-Wall Street lower Manhattan. But if poetry isn’t your thing, a Manhattan cocktail paired with a view of the Brooklyn Bridge is sure to suffice.

Peekytoe Crab Salad, Croque Madame, Heirloom Tomato Salad (Credit: Daniel Krieger)

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