By Lisa Loverro
Whether you go for the drinks, the food or the people watching, Employees Only will never disappoint. As one of the pioneers of the NYC speakeasy craze, the restaurant can be quite crowded all night long, on any given night. But then again, when a restaurant serves dinner from 6:00pm to Midnight and late night snacks until 3:00am what would one expect? Needless to say, this is not a great date-night place but more of a trendy “see and be seen” type of establishment. The decor, beyond the sea of the artsy clientele, is a railroad style bar with antique bottles lining the shelves in the elevated dining room where atmospheric terraced lighting gives everyone a sexy afterglow. The concept behind the name “Employees Only” was to evoke a feeling of the 1920’s during Prohibition when speakeasy bars popped up everywhere allowing merriment to ensue with patrons defiantly raising their glasses in protest of the alcohol ban. It also plays on the idea that the staff has more fun than the customers, although the clientele here seems to enjoy the “behind the scenes” feel of the restaurant. The handlebar mustache bartenders are a throwback to the roaring 20’s as well, taking their cocktail making skills quite seriously. And as you suspect, the cocktail menu reflects the theme of the place with such classics as a potent Ginger Smash, Pimm’s Cup and Manhattan Cocktail. There are also inventive twists on modern day standards like the Hemingway Daiquiri with Rum, Lime Juice and Maraschino Liqueur or a Pisco Sour topped with Egg Whites.
When it comes to the cuisine, the menu is as inventive as drinks. Some noteworthy favorites are the hand-cut Steak Tartare (a must try), Bone Marrow Poppers and Bacon Wrapped Lamb Chop, all of which are starters. For the entrees, the Whole Rainbow Trout and Roasted Chicken are always winners although the Orecchiette with Spicy Pork was a clear front running in the pasta category.
The vibe here is trendy so come dressed in your hippest gear and enter with an air of cocktail snobbery; you’ll fit right in with the employees of one of the finest bars in New York City.
510 Hudson Street
NY, NY 10014