The gal’s final night in the Big Apple turned out to an eye-opening theatrical experience, start to finish. First, Mandarin Oriental New York’s GM Susanne Hatje, who oscillates between sybaritic surfing and Manhattan magic, wove the wand of the latter incarnation to take me to what must be the city’s finest speakeasy, The Office. The hotel turned to Alinea Group, led by Grant Achatz and Nick Kokonas, to replicate their freestanding Office back in Chicago. With the help of designer Adam Tihany, the luxury hotel’s MObar was transformed, its door blocked off. Now you enter via an unmarked door behind a kitchen. Inside, lured by word of mouth, up to 45 connoisseurs sip drinks that go up to a 50-year old Glenfiddich, at $3,000 per ounce.
Sitting only here, by the way, no standing allowed, said Aldo Sersale, son of the owners of Le Sirenuse, in Positano: here, he seems to be interpreter both of The Office and its baby sibling, The Aviary, which opened only end September. Adam Tihany, in bright scarlet glasses, happened to come by as I drank a Hendrick’s, an unsuitably ordinary drink for this venue – but then the nibbles, which turned out to be a cruditée arrangements about the size of two soccer balls, was out of the ordinary too. Interestingly, whereas Adam Tihany did ‘dark’ for the window-free Office, he could not do much to transform the adjacent former lobby lounge, which has all-wall windows. He has, as the image to the right shows, added ceiling lights, and a working bar-kitchen. The offerings here are sensational, with cocktails that include ‘Science A.F.’ (see above, and the second video below), and ‘Wake and bake’.
‘Wake and Bake’ is inspired by single-barrel rye, and coffee and orange and Vermouth, and you get a blown up transparent plastic bag that, when pierced, oozes out typical breakfast aromas. What did we eat, that passionate surfer and I? Well, most memorable one-bites were led by Black Truffle Explosion, a single truffle-infused ravioli, in a spoon that appears to sit on a small dish but when you lift the spoon you see that the dish is merely a halo rim. All dishes are one-bite, and I also loved a single octopus croquette, and A5 Miyazaki Wagyu: we both passed on Okinawa brown sugar icecream and other desserts.
Honestly, there are so many reasons this is such an outstanding luxury hotel. Suite 5200 came with big bowls of popcorn for movie watching (though the flower displays were so gorgeous I could simply have watched them). Room service called to ask what kind of Nespresso pods I would like, and sent up three tubes. Night security opened the gym for me at five minutes’ notice, and the facility’s supply of apples, bananas and plums, all perfect of course, had not been taken away over night, as elsewhere seems to be the norm. In the morning, without asking I found all possible English-language papers, and then, as I left, there was my surfing pal, just to make sure I really was leaving. Oh, and the Central Park view is breathtaking. See the first video below. FIRST, SUITE 5100
AND NOW FOR SCIENCE A.F.