Extremely famous Mr Chow brings his executive chef, David Hor, to his latest venture, an over-the-top restaurant of 12,000 square feet in Tribeca. With seating for 130 inside, an outdoor terrace for 40, and a private dining room for 40, Mr Chow himself selected the fascinating and lavish furnishings. From the black lacquer bar to dining room signature center lit table with Hoffmann chairs, guests will doubtless be impressed by the many silver trolleys and exquisite floating-panel ceilings with dots of crystals and off-white limestone from France. David Hor's Beijing and Shanghai specialties will consequently seem even more lavish in such a setting. You will absolutely want to be seen here, but the question is: Will Mr Chow want you to be seen? Even in a city where it's always about YOU, here it's more about Mr Chow than you, unless of course you are very famous. In that case, you will get great service and likely a very interesting selection of dishes brought to your table, assuming you are neither anorexic nor allergic. In any event, the artwork is stellar, as are the place settings and fixtures.
For actual aficionados of the great dishes of Chinese cuisine, far more interesting selections served on plain white porcelain at roughly one-fifth to one-tenth of the price can be had approximately eight blocks to the east in a neighborhood called Chinatown. Given how fine dining at lavish top-end restaurants has evolved to an art form in the big cities of today's China, Mr Chow seems to have gone astray. We are reminded of a famous Latin phrase: art to deceive art. If the stilted artifice of Mr Chow Tribeca turns you on, then clearly Mr Chow has succeeded once again as one of the great sorcerers of gastronomy. Many hopeful diners have tried to ingratiate themselves with the Mr Chow system, and few have succeeded. Treating the non-famous so roughly (and at such high prices) recalls a previous regime: Gruff gastronomy—when restaurant food was actually available—was the hallmark of Mao's China. But in today's heady atmosphere of unbridled Market Leninism, the edict to serve the people has come full circle. Our final advice when dining with Chairman Chow? If you ask for a menu, you are already doomed.
Mr. Chow — Tribeca is located in the Tribeca neighborhood of Manhattan. TriBeCa, or the Triangle Below Canal Street, became a popular neighborhood for artists and others seeking relief from the rising prices in SoHo in the late 1980s. In some ways similar to the SoHo of decades past for its conversion of gritty old industrial warehouses into beautiful loft spaces, the real estate boom of the later 1990s transformed forever the small-town feeling of TriBeCa. No longer is it tough to find good food, grocery stores or newsstands. Chic boutiques now compete with high-end restaurants and bars, while the influx of upper-income families have led to the quick disappearance of the downright cheap apartment bargains of years past. Forbes magazine recently ranked the 10013 zip code in TriBeCa as the 12th most expensive zip code in the United States. Anonymous high-rises are sprouting up next to the historic older buildings, whose cast-iron façades and gleaming picture windows bespeak a New York of decades past. TriBeCa is a neighborhood where luxury apartments can be found adjacent to city government offices, where the quiet of cobblestone streets contrasts with the heavily trafficked truck routes to the Holland Tunnel, so one should expect the unexpected. In short, expect a microcosm of New York. Recently the neighborhood profile has been raised tremendously by the new TriBeCa Film Festival. Founded by Robert De Niro and Jane Rosenthal in 2002, this New York attraction was created to celebrate the city as a major filmmaking center and to contribute to the long-term recovery of lower Manhattan. In a remarkably short period of time the TriBeCa Film Festival has become known as one of the leading annual film festivals in the world. Other famous film companies are in the neighborhood as well, most notably Miramax Films Studios on Greenwich Street. In the 19th and 20th centuries TriBeCa was known as a center of the textile and cotton trade, but today in its stead there are a number of modern institutions and important landmarks in the neighborhood. The Holland Tunnel connecting New York to New Jersey has its entrances and exits in the northwest corner of TriBeCa. Washington Market Park, bordering Greenwich, Chambers, and West Streets, is a 1.6-acre park that is extremely popular with children for its large playground. While in terms of educational institutions, Stuyvesant High School, one of New York City's prized specialized science high schools, as well as PS234, an elementary school considered one of the best public schools in the New York metropolitan area, are located in TriBeCa. Brunch, lunch and dinner activities in TriBeCa are highly regarded, not just due to the excellent (and usually expensive) cuisine options, but also in regard to the relative tranquil atmosphere of the neighborhood. Bubby's Restaurant on Varick Street remains popular among the film crowd and is known to be a family friendly restaurant. The Odeon on West Broadway provides the most beloved bistro setting and French comfort food in the neighborhood. And for more refined tastes, Robert De Niro has ownership in not one but two well-known local restaurants here. The TriBeCa Grill, located between Franklin and Greenwich Streets in the first two floors of the TriBeCa Film Center Building, offers classic American cuisine in a converted industrial warehouse setting, and Nobu, a favorite haunt of many New York celebrities, which serves innovative "new style Japanese cooking" to those who are willing to handle the hefty prices on the menu. In addition, the numerous David Bouley properties are always a favorite. Staying in TriBeCa during a stay in Manhattan can offer visitors a welcome escape from the hectic, bustling streets of the neighborhoods in and near Midtown. An obvious choice would be the Tribeca Grand Hotel which plays host to the TriBeCa Film Festival and lies in close proximity to Little Italy, Chinatown, Hudson Square nightclubs, Greenwich Village, New York University, and Wall Street. The Greenwich Hotel, located on the Western edge of the neighborhood right next to the TriBeCa Grill, offers 13 luxury suites and 75 unique rooms. The Cosmopolitan Hotel in southern TriBeCa is geared to the needs of out-of-town visitors and has affordable rooms, a convenient location, and newly refurbished in-house restaurant, the Cosmopolitan Café.
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