For half a century, New York’s prime movers converged over Power Lunch — a daily conclave of the high-and-mighty, who mingled and table-hopped between tastes of foie gras and California Cabernet Sauvignon. The ritual was born at the original Four Seasons, in the Seagram Building. When it closed in 2016, most New York social chroniclers said it marked the end of an era that started in the “Mad Men” days.
But power pits aren’t done. In fact, they pack a bigger punch then ever. They just look — and taste — a little different.
Some movers and shakers still break bread at old-guard Midtown restaurants such as Michael’s, ‘21’ Club and the new Four Seasons. But some 1-percenters have migrated to more discreet places. Others have left Midtown altogether, as marquee companies, including Condé Nast and Sony, have migrated downtown. As if to prove that power’s all over the map, there’s even a status spot in Long Island City — Adda Indian Canteen.
The crowd’s changed, too: It’s younger, and more female. Orders have gotten healthier and drier, with lighter Italian and Asian dishes favored over old-school American, and bottles of Saratoga water replacing martinis and Chardonnay. And fledgling entrepreneurs are keeping it casual, schmoozing over grain bowls on bare tabletops.
Here’s a look at the who-and-where of a phenomenon that makes New York special.
No tablecloths, no waiters! This is power-lunching 2019-style. Young entrepreneurs, website creators and social-media influencers swap shop talk over gluten-, soy- and red-meat-free dishes at Village Den, the previously closed West 12th Street cafe that was revived by avocado-mad “Queer Eye” star Antoni Porowski.
The downtown spot is bare bones, with a communal table and a walk-up counter to order healthy dishes like spinach-based salads and citrus-poached salmon bowls. But MADE Fashion Week co-founder Jenne Lombardo says that the lack of table service is part of the draw for busy young things.
Today’s entrepreneurs, she explains, want “shorter and healthier” lunch meetings — making fast-casual spots “ideal” for dealmaking. “I was there last week and closed a big deal over lunch in just 30 minutes,” she tells The Post. The shared tables are strategic, too: “After my lunch date left, I started talking to the person sitting next to me, and now we’re in the process of collaborating.” 225 W. 12th St.; 646-952-0018
Look out, Fred’s. The clubby, friendly Parisian-inspired bistro on Saks’ ninth floor opened for lunch in February. It’s already drawing fashion and retail royalty, including Vogue honcha Susan Plagemann, Estée Lauder exec John Demsey, Louis Vuitton CEO Lanessa Elrod and Gucci America COO Federico Turconi.
“It’s what Ralph Lauren’s Polo Bar would be like if it was open for lunch,” an insider says.
Another who can’t get enough of the place? Prison-bound former Donald Trump lawyer Michael Cohen. He was overheard telling a pal he wasn’t worried about having no drugs or alcohol behind bars, “because I don’t do that.”
Unlike Fred’s, which loads the menu with pasta and rich Italian dishes, L’Avenue’s popular power dish — lightly curried sea bass and vegetables — won’t ruin svelte waistlines. Regulars prefer booths against the wall near the entrance to avoid shoppers and tourists gazing out the Fifth Avenue windows. 611 Fifth Ave.; 212-753-4000
Michelin-starred chef John Fraser’s airy, modern-American place, on the new hotel’s ninth floor, packs in New York’s glammest for lunch.
“You could mistake it for a nightclub even when the sun’s coming through the windows,” a waiter says. Hotel designer Ian Schrager, who hasn’t missed a trick since Studio 54, has the knack for cool — here in the form of lots of greenery, comfy banquettes made for hobnobbing and a mysterious, seductive scent in the air. Proximity to lounges make the whole floor feel like a party.
Our eyes in the sky spotted fashion designer Jason Wu, Vanity Fair writer Amy Fine Collins, “Today” show producer Jackie Olensky, Glenn Close and Naomi Campbell. They fuel their dealings with Chinese chicken salad, Turkish mezze and chili-sparked tuna crudo. An open-air terrace over Times Square is great for food-and-skyscraper Instagrams. 701 Seventh Ave.; 212-261-5400
The slightly raised section of Michael Lomonaco’s Time Warner Center steakhouse, which overlooks Central Park, has been power central since it opened 15 years ago. Much brainstorming for Hudson Yards was done at east-facing window tables prized by Related Companies honchos including chairman Stephen M. Ross. We’ve also spotted CNN president Jeff Zucker, Whoopi Goldberg and squads of William Morris agents.
“Few of the big names order steak at lunch even though it’s a steakhouse,” an insider says. “They want fish and salads.” 10 Columbus Circle; 212-823-9500
The power-lunch crowd’s colonized every downtown neighborhood — including Wall Street and Tribeca a few blocks north. The Italian Mulino empire’s downtown outpost blends the two: white tablecloths say “grownup,” brick walls and pillars say Tribeca. Its cloutful crowd includes AmEx CEO Stephen Squeri (who treks from his office just a few blocks south for off-the-menu tricolore salad), and BlackRock’s muni bonds chief Peter Hayes. Drew Barrymore loves seasonal-berry zabaglione whipped up tableside. It’s also a favorite of CNN show host Chris Cuomo, who’s partial to the chicken parmigiana. He favors the corner table against the back wall — “if Hayes didn’t get there first,” says a tipster. 361 Greenwich St.; 646-649-5164
The plush dining room of the Indian-owned Pierre Hotel, on the Upper East Side, has Indian-born chefs and dishes in addition to the French ones. Not-too-spicy Malabar shrimp is a favorite of power-munchers who prize the pretty room’s civilized air. Some lunchers, like Tory Burch, don’t travel far because they live in palatial apartments upstairs. 2 E. 61st St.; 212-940-8195
Google parent Alphabet owns Morimoto’s Chelsea Market building and two others nearby. So when techies get sick of their cafeteria, they head to the Japanese restaurant, with glass-brick walls and sleek, hard edges by architect Tadao Ando. Counters and communal tables are for socializing, hidden nooks for dealmaking.
“Thousands of Google people work upstairs, and they practically own Morimoto at lunch,” an insider says of the sushi palace, which serves lunch sets with black cod and wagyu beef for under $ 30. “It’s a break from their algorithms.”
Seats at the long sushi counter are especially prized. 88 Tenth Ave.; 212-989-8883
Regulars brave traffic and a gloomy walk under the No. 7 trestle to reach this tiny gem in the Long Island City food desert. Thanks to proximity to the Citi tower, it’s a fave of global bankers — and of Suhel Jagtiani, aka DJ Suhel, a “serial entrepreneur” who founded the Indian craft-beer brand 1947. Author Suketu Mehta has been spotted with actress Fiona Shaw and former Senator Bob Kerrey. An alcove with two tables are favored for privacy. Almost everyone orders classic chicken biryani spiced with mild green chilies. 31-31 Thomson Ave., Long Island City; 718-433-3888
Since it moved one block north from West 45th Street a few years ago, this Italian favorite has drawn an all-star lineup of Broadway talent. Frequently spotted at lunch: Shubert Organization president Bob Wankel, mother-son “Kinky Boots” producers Daryl and Jordan Roth (who head for the antipasti bar), theater owner Jimmy Nederlander Jr. (a chicken-parm guy), “Dear Evan Hansen” producer Stacey Mindich and “Hamilton” musical director Alex Lacamoire. If you see only tourists, look closer: the glitterati are in the area one step up behind the bar, where big booths and a partition lend some privacy. 221 W. 46th St.; 212-869-4545
The fabled eatery’s second coming, in a more modest but beautiful, mid-century-modern space in Midtown East, still draws old-guard titans such as Barry Diller, Martha Stewart and real-estate kingpins Steven Roth (whose company Vornado owns half the building), Jerry Speyer and Mickey Drexler. Nancy Pelosi, who pops in with Edgar Bronfman Jr., said the Dover sole was the best she ever had, while banker Jane Heller’s partial to the lamb burger.
Funnily, the most prestigious seat in the house isn’t a seat at all, but a door: Henry Kissinger sometimes enters the dining room through a special entry on the 48th Street side. 42 E. 49th St.; 212-754-9494
When MoMA temporarily moved to Queens back in 2000, real-estate dealmakers who loved its Sette MoMa cafe helped launch this luxe leopard across the street. Its Neapolitan meatloaf, pasta and seafood are so popular with the likes of Millennium Management founder Israel Englander, investment bank legend Joseph Perella, MoMA director Glenn Lowry, actor Stanley Tucci and gallerist Marian Goodman that the place moved into the twice-as-big former Aquavit space next door.
And yes, the menu leans heavy, but if you’re powerful enough, that can be tweaked, too: Paul McCartney, who has an office a few doors away, routinely pops in for vegetarian dishes specially prepared by chef Vito Gnazzo. 13-15 W. 54th St.; 212-246-0412
Politicians and wonks head to this lively Times Square steakhouse to flex. Its lunch hour has hosted the likes of Bill Gates, former British PM Tony Blair, Carl Icahn and Fox News Channel’s Charles Gasparino and Maria Bartiromo for dishes ranging from chopped salads to filet mignon. Its reputation has also made it a destination spot for business-minded millennials, including Instagram-famous artists Robyn Davidson and Jojo Anavim and Cody Levine, co-founder of the hip toothpaste company Twice. Heavy-hitters of all ages fight over the corner booths at each end of the dining room. 125 W. 44th St.; 212-575-4949
A who’s who of downtown power clusters on the second floor of this restaurant, beneath Peter Beard’s iconic photo of galloping giraffes.
“The lawyers and bankers love it because, unlike Capital Grille or Delmonico’s, it’s all upstairs, which scares off tourists,” a former employee says.
Despite the presumed privacy, The Post last November caught American media CEO David Pecker having a “stormy encounter” with his company’s top lawyer, which led to the lawyer’s firing. 55 Wall St.; 212-699-4099
Another Midtown power pit that’s hidden in plain sight, classic-Italian Cellini draws former Bear Stearns chief Richard Fuld (a thrice-weekly visitor who favors the first ground-floor alcove table on the left and eggplant parmigiana), Deutsche Bank CEO Christian Sewing, and Citigroup CEO Michael Corbat at lunch. Books on the wall by customers like Whitney Global Media president William O’Shaughnessy remind everyone they can write, too. They’re not overspending: Dishes are reasonable, including first-rate pasta under $ 25 and Dover sole for $ 36. 65 E. 54th St ; 212-751-1555
Nobu Matsuhisa’s beloved miso black cod and other classics draw the lunchtime likes of power lobbyist Suri Kasirer, former Bill Clinton adviser Doug Band, landlord Richard LeFrak and Midtown showbiz execs. A handful of central booths are the place to be. 40 W. 57th St; 212-757-3000
The long-popular temple to Indian regional cooking draws an unlikely mix of notables to its luxurious booths. Money types, including real-estate investor Ashok Mehra and Maverick Capital Partners phenom Adi Chugh, share the elegant space with PCS Research founder (and Kentucky Derby horse owner) Randy Hill, as well as power-publicist and actress Kelly Cutrone. Owner Avtar Walia — “Mr. Walia,” to those in the know — presides with the grace of uptown impresarios of the past. 99 Hudson St.; 212-775-9000