In the past, the mention of the swank Midtown restaurant Michael's used to bring to mind $23 eggs Benedict.
After spending a revelatory hour at the restaurant's bar recently, where we found sublime cocktails and inspired Korean-inflected bar snacks, we now have fresh thoughts.
The elegant scene in the dining room has not changed, nor has the presence of Michael McCarty, one of New York's most charismatic restaurateurs, who's been in business since 1989. The bar, though, is an entirely new creature, having been reborn this past summer.
Michael Flannery, formerly of the Mondrian Soho and Compose, now holds court over the intimate, nine-seat bar, where he serves Oaxacan Negronis ($12) with Del Maguey mezcal, Campari, vermouth and grapefruit bitters to a mixology-curious crowd (click here for the recipe).
Here, you can eat well without splurging. Chef Kyung Up Lim cooks incongruous bar snacks that make for a surprisingly separate and playful experience from the dining room's more staid routine. Spicy tacos with tender galbi hanger steak and pickled slaw ($14) and fried-chicken lollipops ($12) are nods to his native Korea.
A classy Midtown hangout without the stifling pomp? Save us a stool.
Michael's, 24 W. 55th St. (between Fifth and Sixth aves.); 212-767-0555 or michaelsnewyork.com
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