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Society Canteen

Swifty's is where New York City's bold-faced names go for comfort and crab cakes.

Successful second acts are hard to come by, but Swifty's Restaurant, which picks up where Manhattan's late, lamented Mortimer's left off, is an overwhelming triumph. Credit goes to the owners--maître d' Robert Caravaggi, chef Stephen Attoe and business manager Peter Geraghty--who helped restaurateur Glenn Bernbaum, make Mortimer's what it was. Last fall, the three men launched Swifty's (named for Glenn's pug) at 1007 Lexington Avenue, just a few blocks from the Mortimer's site. They've created a cozy, clublike ambience, which feels like home to the old crew of Bernbaum loyalists, their good-looking twentysomething children and a new group of Europeans, who might not have made their way into the hallowed halls of Mortimer's.

WELCOME TO THE CLUB
Dinners at Mortimer's were great because they were always relaxed and private. Glenn didn't alert the press to who was there or what was going on. Swifty's has the same vibe, although with a younger buzz: I have run into Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg, Cornelia Guest, Aerin Lauder and the beautiful Miller sisters. Swifty's is not the place to go on a bad hair day. It's all about seeing and being seen. And, by the by, about eating good food without the aftertaste of pretension. On a recent visit, I dined with the legendary designer Mario Buatta, who (with his partner, Anne Eisenhower) decorated the place like an English club, with banquettes and chocolate brown accents, plus plenty of mirrors so patrons can check each other out. I started with a wonderful mushroom soup, followed by a Mortimer's favorite, crab cakes--99 percent Maryland lump crabmeat, no filler. On another occasion, this time lunch with the girls, I began with a lovely tuna carpaccio, then had the chopped Cobb salad. I cleaned my plate and could have asked for seconds!

Published March 2000
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