Story by Barbara and Manos Angelakis
Photos by Manos Angelakis
Playboy Club NYC
512 West 42nd Street
New York, NY 10036
After an absence of more than 30 years, the Playboy Club has returned to New York City. It is no longer the “wink wink” pleasure palace of your father’s generation, though as you would imagine the restaurant, bar and entertainment venue still ooze with opulence and sybaritic promise. The well-groomed hostesses still wear the trademarked bunny costume in black, with white collar, cuffs, and a big fluffy white bunny tail.
The large circular bar area is the first room you enter. Couches and seating areas are scattered throughout the large dimly lit room giving plenty of opportunity for private conversation. There are also a number of backgammon tables if you prefer that distraction. To the right is the dining room on two levels and, like the Playboy Bunnies they are dressed in black and white and totally atmospheric – Editors Tip: bring a flashlight to read the menu.
A middle room on the first level hosted a jazz quartet consisting of drums, base, guitar and keyboard and a guest trumpet/trombone player that came in for the late crowd. Speaking of the crowd, it was mixed with all sexes, all ages and all manners of dress with a heavy focus on trendy, so appeal is far more widespread and inclusive now than in days of yore.
Black banquettes and black/white marble tables provide seating in the restaurant while the walls are covered with red velvet flocked wall-paper reminiscent of a 19th century bordello. The menu is pared down -- only eight mains are shown as the dishes -- but a wide range of appetizers are offered to share, a selection of sushi and sashimi, and of course included in the mains are high-end Hudson Valley duck breast, wagyu steaks and Australian lamb chops. There were many of our favorite steak-house sides including their terrific signature brussels sprouts and truffle flavored French fries.
The cocktail selections are fun and served with a goodly amount of liquor unlike many New York eating establishments where the spirits barely say howdy-do to the other showier ingredients.
The wine list is fairly standard for a New York City restaurant, with a few by-the-glass selections of Champagne and other sparklers, a number of Italian whites and a number of reds. I decided to try a glass of Tempranillo (a classic Spanish red wine) and it was nice, but certainly not in any way distinctive. The by-the-bottle section was much more interesting but considerably weighted towards the pricier reds.
Our dinner began with a generous plate of fleshy jumbo shrimp covered in kataifi (shredded wheat) and served with a spicy dipping sauce. Next delivered to table were grilled oysters Rockefeller topped with spinach and thick melted gruyere cheese… yum!
An inside-out sushi salmon/avocado roll followed, along with a Playboy roll containing salmon, tuna, yellow tail and avocado, wrapped in seaweed and covered by thinly sliced cucumber topped with a sliver of jalapeño pepper and a dollop of black caviar. The raw fish was fresh and perfectly prepared.
Of course the meal would not have been complete without tasting their featured wagyu steak served with a tasty green salad and signature fries. I also could not pass on a side of Brussels-sprouts which lived up to their reputation for being delicious. Given that our selections were heavy on the first plates, we shared the steak and it was still so satisfying that Manos passed on dessert and ended the meal with a perfectly made double espresso. I on the other hand could not pass up tasting their signature Manjari Chocolate Gold Bar dessert and it was as rich and decadent as promised and which I thoroughly enjoyed.
The Playboy Club on the lower lever was off limits to us as we were guests and not members but the same menu is available there as well. So member or not it was an evening very well spent.
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