The Cooper Square, the chilly-chic East Village hotel that looks like it belongs in Dubai, is less than three years old, but already its restaurant is in the try, try again stage.
First came LA celebrity chef Govind Armstrong’s Table 8. Trendy and self-conscious, it lasted less than a year. Next up, Faustina. But even chef Scott Conant’s stylish Italian cooking couldn’t warm up that hard-edged dining room, so not the East Village.
Maybe all that was needed was a hat. Trilby, the restaurant’s latest incarnation, pulled back its sheer gray curtains and opened its sleek glass doors last week. It doesn’t have a famous chef. And like the Royalton’s refurbished Forty Four, it’s more of a cocktail lounge on steroids than a restaurant. And that may do the trick.
I stopped by recently for lunch. The menu? Upmarket comfort food with occasional flourishes (the burger’s secret sauce promises to be more than the Thousand Island Dressing in Fast Times at Ridgemont High). My tasty $13 avocado BLT came with onion rings in a heavenly batter (I probably gained a pound with every bite) and a good cup of coffee, promptly refilled.
Yes, offerings are predictable gastro-pub fare – veggie burger, steak tartare, steamed mussels, oysters. But food that prizes comfort over cutting edge goes with the revamped comfy/casual/high style setting – velvet, neo-Victorian tufted sofas, leather footstools, gnarly wood coffee tables and a line-up of booths, welcome at breakfast.
In short, it’s an inviting place to hang out with friends, small plate offerings and the house drink, the Trilby (scotch, sweet Vermouth, Parfait Amour).
Still, I’m not sure how I feel about the mural of the restaurant’s trilby-topped mascot. (Is it just me, or does he look like Jack the Ripper?)