By Angela Trostle.
Bicé Grobstein, the founder and CEO of Concierge Redefined, has set a new standard for lifestyle management services. Referred to by her elite clientele as ‘one of the best in the business,’ ‘essential to a robust city life,’ ‘ability to make things happen no matter how last minute or challenging the task,’ ‘amazing aesthetic, organized, thorough, attentive to detail and so pleasant to work with’ – it’s no wonder Bicé’s new lifestyle management company has hit the ground running. Operating on a business-to-business model, CR offers concierge services to New York’s most cutting-edge corporations and residential properties. The unique a la carte offering allows clients to hand-select from a suite of services most suitable to their needs. Bicé and her sophisticated team of luxury concierge professionals are dedicated to delivering an exceptionally curated life, from travel arrangements and front-row fashion week to coveted restaurant reservations. Not only do they optimize life’s biggest and most luxurious moments, at Concierge Redefined they nurture a ritualistic relationship with each and every client, becoming an essential part of their everyday lives.
Resident Magazine sat down with Bicé to get the lowdown on the toughest non-Michelin rated tables in town. Classic New York restaurants such as Le Bernardin, Eleven Madison Park, Carbone and Per Se will always hold their statuses as some of the toughest reservations to score in Manhattan. Whether it’s the caliber of food, their Michelin-rating or the outstanding service, it’s no secret that these tables will always be hard to book. But what about the restaurants that don’t have the prestigious Michelin honor behind them? How do they sustain their tough reservation status? Four stars from the NY Times or a coveted number one spot on Eater’s heat map certainly help. The following hot spots are redefining dining and clock in as Concierge Redefined’s top 5 toughest non-Michelin rated tables in town.
#1 Sushi Nakazawa
Opened August 2013
If you’ve seen the 2011 documentary, Jiro Dreams of Sushi, you’d know exactly why a seat at the chef’s counter at Sushi Nakazawa is one of the most coveted in Manhattan. Owner and Chef Daisuke Nakazawa studied under the most famous sushi chef in the world, and just a taste of the omakase menu proves it. The 10-seat counter will give you a front row seat to the main event, where a smiling Chef Nakazawa will hand-serve you fresh bite after fresh bite. A full meal will cost you upwards of $250 per person, but it’s worth every penny for the unparalleled dining experience. Each dish is crafted with precision and exquisite presentation: a beautiful piece of fresh fish atop the perfect amount of sushi rice, painted with tamari and served on a black marble slab. This is sushi. The restaurant itself is sleek, yet friendly and welcoming. Chef Nakazawa himself laughs, jokes and talks to all of his counter guests, which is very unusual for sushi chefs —especially of this caliber. The restaurant seats the counter in three stages per night, which means there are 30 open seats daily. There is also a small dining room, where the experience is just as special.
A couple weeks ago, Concierge Redefined founder Bicé Grobstein received a call around 7pm from a VIP client — the founder of an award-winning publication regarded as The Bible of New York real estate. This client had an A-list celebrity coming to town the next day, and per her request, he needed to secure a reservation at Sushi Nakazawa in less than 24-hours. For those of you who know the restaurant, it’s hard to secure a table months in advance, let alone hours in advance. Keep in mind, this particular A-lister is quite arguably the Queen of all Foodies —one of the most trusted sources for food, baking, and entertaining. Needless to say, if this woman comes to town and wants to dine here, it’s clearly one of the best that the city has to offer.
In a case like Sushi Nakazawa, where there is limited seating available to begin with, it’s quite a challenge to secure a seat in under 24-hours. However, with the help of the amazingly hospitable team at Sushi Nakazawa, CR was able to secure the reservation.
Why CR thinks it will stay tough: If Pete Wells gives it a glowing four stars, you better believe it’s going to knock your socks off. As long as New Yorkers continue to love one-of-a-kind dining experiences featuring fresh sushi in chic digs, Sushi Nakazawa will always stay tough.
#2 The Polo Bar
Opened January 2015
Exclusivity will never go out of style, which is why The Polo Bar has been a hot spot since opening. The restaurant redefines classic American dishes and puts a big emphasis on the atmosphere. The beautiful, standout design aesthetic is thanks to none other than the King of classic American fashion (and branding), Ralph Lauren. Stunning equestrian photography line the walls, leather booths are ornamented with deep green plaid pillows, guests dine by candlelight, and you feel almost as if you are in a chic, cozy cabin from the moment you enter the space. You don’t even realize that you are sitting in a basement with no windows in the middle of midtown. Even the delicious cocktails come with a mini, wooden polo stick as its stirrer. This restaurant is so elite, you have to have a reservation to even set foot inside. Another reason for the exclusivity is the fact that it’s dinner-only, which means limited dining time and limited reservations. Not to mention, celebrities and socialites frequent the hot spot, making it even more desirable for potential diners.
Why CR thinks it will stay tough: The Polo Bar is located in midtown, which is not the trendiest place for such a hot spot. But it works in their favor. Everything the Master of Branding touches has a sense of sophistication, timelessness and class, and The Polo Bar is no different.
#3 ABC Kitchen
Opened Summer 2010
It’s hard to believe that a restaurant that opened six years ago is still so relevant; especially in a place like New York where new, hot restaurants pop up on a monthly basis. ABC Kitchen, run by the incredibly talented Jean Georges, is still one of the hottest tables in town for brunch, lunch and dinner. Not only is it one of the chicest dining rooms in all of the five boroughs, but it’s also extremely consistent when it comes to food and service. The decor is complete with irregular wood tables, white wooden chairs, and mismatched organic tableware. All of which serve as the best hands-on marketing tactic of all time, as they can be purchased at the neighboring ABC Home and Carpet. ABC Kitchen is ideal for any occasion, all age groups, and any dietary preference. As one of the pioneers of farm-to-table dining, this Flatiron restaurant is one of the most popular venues for visitors and locals alike. With sustainable, organic dishes like roast carrot and avocado salad, mushroom and farm egg pizza, and pan seared organic chicken with lemon potatoes, it’s no wonder this restaurant is so well-liked.
Why CR thinks it will stay tough: ABC Kitchen is a timeless Manhattan staple that will never lose its cool.
#4 The Lucky Bee
Opened January 2016
Opened by husband-and-husband team Rupert Noffs and Chef Matty Bennett, The Lucky Bee has been able to hold strong at number one on Eater’s heat map for three months in a row. This honor is just as impressive as getting three or four stars from the NY Times because so many New Yorkers swear by Eater. Everything that this downtown, boutique Southeast Asian restaurant does goes against the norm. Hot pink walls, bright blue tables, and a black-and-white striped bar are just some of the fantastically fun elements that The Lucky Bee brings to the table. The food is out-of-this-world, too. Chef Matty Bee successfully experiments with different ingredients and tastes, using unique ingredients and taking a risk. Upon opening, The Lucky Bee team had trouble with ConEd turning on their gas, so they’ve been cooking every incredible meal on bunsen burners. Talk about successful improv! Another reason to love Rupert and Matty are their dedication to giving back and making an impact on a much larger scale, which transcends far beyond their successful outpost on Broome Street. Not only do they utilize sustainable ingredients, but they also have a special “Karma” cocktail menu that donates $1 per drink to the New York Beekeepers Association.
Why CR thinks it will stay tough: Two cool guys, a great cause, a fun atmosphere and unbeatable food will keep this place at number one for a long time.
Opened January 2016
Nightlife venues that double as restaurants are certainly not for everyone, but they do cater to a whole lot of people —especially those looking to have a good time. Despite the massive space and multiple dining rooms, Vandal is currently one of the toughest reservations to secure. As with Vandal, Tao Group continues to set the standard in the nightlife industry. The food is better than average, the decor is larger than life and the underground lounge is definitely worth a visit, whether it’s your birthday or not. The success of Tao Groups’ projects is unmatched by any other group in the nightlife space, mostly due to the fact that they truly understand their clientele perfectly. They also understand that trends like these fade quickly; we’d bet that the group is already planning the next big thing while smiling brightly (drinks in hand) as Vandal takes the Lower East Side by storm.
Why CR thinks it will stay tough: Chances are it won’t, but one thing’s for sure: the Tao Group will always be on fire.
Here’s why Rao’s is not featured on this list: “Table rights” are in a league of their own. If you’re really dying for a taste of Rao’s action, anyone can grab a cocktail at the bar. Unlike the reservations-only rule at The Polo Bar, Rao’s won’t turn you away. And who knows? If you play your cards right, you might just be invited to take a seat at the table.
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