Chef and Restauranteur Charlie Palmer seems like a natural partner for the renovated Knickerbocker Hotel. As the landmark hotel emerges back onto the New York scene, it put the responsibility of driving its star restaurant to a man who’s already set up multiple successful spots across the United States.
The Knickerbocker is back and running under full steam now, preparing for a busy season hosting Thanksgiving Day Macy’s Parade celebrations and the fuss and bother of New Year’s Eve on Times Square. A major element in those mega-parties will be Charlie Palmer at the Knick, the primary dining spot at the historic hotel.
Once the extremely attentive and polished staff leads you through the softly lit dining room to your table, a complete wine list and cocktail menu of both classics and unique creations welcomes you. This is the Knickerbocker Hotel, and the place claims ownership of the Perfect Martini. I recommend that as your kickoff, but you’re never obligated.
The small plate appetizers are delicate, satisfying and perfectly plated. I reached for the Grilled Octopus with heirloom tomatoes, popcorn purée, chimichurri and chorizo or the simple Meatballs made with veal, smoked tomato and pecorino.
But one of the best things on the entire menu is another starter — the Fried Chicken. Brought to the table with perfect crispness and just a touch of heat with paprika and chipotle. the boneless meat is moist and firm. It already qualifies as the nest fresh fried chicken I’ve tried in New York.
For main, Charlie Palmer at The Knick keeps the choices short and sweet. Diners choose between Sea Scallops, Chicken Paillard, Steak Frites and the Essential Burger.
The most charming aspect of Charlie Palmer at The Knick is the touches of unpretentious friendliness sprinkled throughout the otherwise top shelf cuisine. For example, the Soup of the Day during my visit was a Tomato Bisque. From coast to coast, through Middle America, what should always accompany tomato soup? A grilled cheese, of course.
When my soup arrived, there it was — a grilled cheese finger sandwich. That’s a nice touch, and it’s a sign that Charlie Palmer at The Knick isn’t so far up its own back door that it can’t have some fun amidst all the luxury and New York sophistication.
For a visual tour through more dishes at The Knick, you can flip through the gallery below.