Power Hour: Do Lunch Like A NYC VIP

by BILLY GRAY · January 6, 2010

    Casa LeverThe saying "faster than a New York minute" perfectly describes the time it takes most local restaurants to go out of business. But today's Times review of Casa Lever, a glass treehouse for uptown Richie Riches, made us realize that this fickleness rarely applies to the gilded feeding troughs of New York power players.-

    In his two star review, Times restaurant critic Sam Sifton mentions that Casa Lever's all too Anglican sounding predecessor, Lever House, positioned itself as an upstart David to the Four Seasons' Goliath when it opened in 2003. As much as New York loves an underdog, Lever House lost the battle for power lunch supremacy to its 51-year old (!) rival across the street. But given the durability of  New York's VIP saloons, no one should have been surprised.

    Consider these other power-broker mainstays, broken down by the New Yorker archetype that flocks to them:

    Really Rich Old People: The Four Seasons

    The granddaddy of all New York power lunch meccas. The typical Four Seasons patron is a granddaddy himself. And rest assured, every last one of those greedy little spawn is counting the days until the restaurant's captains of industry kick the Krugerrand-stuffed bucket. Until then, the brittle-boned, wrinkled likes of Barry Diller and Barbara Walters will continue to enjoy the Grill Room's soft banquettes and softer lighting.

    New Media: Balthazar Breakfast and Lure Lunches

    Ironically, the proudly forward-thinking online media crowd craves the comfort of the familiar most of all. And so you'll find Silicon Alley's painstakingly disheveled leaders having the first of their day's countless coffees at Balthazar, that unstoppable SoHo warhorse. (Breakfast is primetime here; the A-List long ago ceded dinner reservations at the faux French bistro to lower Broadways' fanny pack brigade.) Come lunchtime, the same crowd can be found at Lure Fishbar wooing potential advertisers with last month's impressive traffic numbers.

    Old Media: Michael's

    Michae'ls Despite toiling away in an industry high up on the endangered species list, the stampede of print media luminaries continues at Michael's in midtown. Who cares if Frank Bruni panned it? Like most other VIP-clogged restaurants and nightspots in this city, the quality of the experience is secondary to pressing the flesh and having your all-but-mandatory attendance noted by Page Six.

    Emaciated Fashion Wenches: Hidden From Public View

    For sure, the biggest laughs in The Devil Wears Prada arrived when Miranda Priestly, the movie's Anna Wintour facsimile, ordered a thick, juicy Smith & Wollensky steak for lunch. Time was, these svelte gals would saunter over to 44 at the Royalton to pick at their salads. Now, for fear of blowing away in a strong wind, Vogue higher-ups remain safely ensconced indoors as they split a box of raisins in Conde Nast's much-blogged-about cafeteria.

    Ladies Who Lunch: Swifty's

    Frankly, minked-out Park Avenue septuagenarians are off my radar. But I hear today's social x-rays flock to Swifty's between Botox injections and charity board infighting. Joan Rivers, that emblem of Upper East Side class and reserve, even took Kathy Griffin here! Apparently, this canteen for geriatric socialites replaced the venerable Mortimer's. Ah well, so long as these grand dames avoid Nello's, we'll be happy.