“We jokingly say that we want the view to be the worst part of Manhatta," says executive chef Jason Pfeifer.
While the universe might see Danny Meyer as the proprietor of Shake Shack, New Yorkers know him for his neighborhood restaurants, from Union Square Café to Gramercy Tavern. Today, Meyer’s Union Square Hospitality Group opens yet another space intended to become a local staple: Manhatta.
Located on the sixtieth floor of 28 Liberty Street, the Tribeca restaurant—named after Walt Whitman’s poem "Mannahatta"—has floor-to-ceiling windows that offer a 360-degree sweep of the city. The restaurant connects to Bay Room, USHG’s first private event space. While the views will be a draw for diners, they’re also a perk for the kitchen staff.
“Most kitchens are in the background,” says Manhatta’s chef, Jason Pfeifer. “Sometimes you go in when it’s dark and you come out when it’s dark. Here, we get to have the sunlight right on us.”
When it comes to the height of the restaurant, Pfeifer hasn’t noticed any difference in cooking on the ground versus sixty stories in the air. This is good news, because Pfeifer wants the food, not the skyline, to be the restaurant’s main attraction. He says, “We jokingly say that we want the view to be the worst part of Manhatta.”
The dinner menu offers three courses, with a choice of starter, entrée, and dessert, for $78. Appetizers include heirloom tomato salad and foie gras custard, entrées range from turbot to wagyu, and dessert can be sweet or savory, with chocolate mousse and a selection of daily-changing cheeses.
The price of dinner—which includes tip because, like all of Meyer’s restaurants, Manhatta is hospitality-included—is significantly less than the $340 tasting menu at Per Se or the $375 one at Noma, both of which are Pfeifer’s old stomping grounds. Having also worked at Gramercy Tavern, as well as Meyer’s Roman trattoria Maialino, Pfeifer hopes to build Manhatta into something that rests comfortably between rustic and fine dining: a "New American Bistro" where the food, service, and prices feel approachable.
The bar menu is a cheaper alternative for those who want their views with a side of fried chicken. The snacks range from candied nuts to French onion burger, and you can even snag some of the dinner menu dishes—like Veal Blanquette and Warm Date Cake—without paying for the prix fixe meal.
Menu aside, Pfeifer wants the restaurant’s vibe to be laidback and fun.
“I would love it if people come in in jeans and a t-shirt and just have a great meal, feel casual, but also have this beautiful view,” Pfeifer says. “This is a restaurant for everyone. For all of New York and beyond.”