Like Elizabeth Taylor’s call girl in the movie of the same name, Butterfield 8—the restaurant—is a jarring mishmash of high-brow and lowbrow. Is it a sports bar, an after-work meat market, an upscale saloon or a downscale restaurant? It seemingly wants to be all things at once. Crystal chandeliers hang from the ceiling. Sports teams collide on a half-dozen muted flat-screen TVs. And then there’s the noise, a cacophonous buzz from 200 beer-drinking suits all talking at once. If you’re looking for more than a bar snack, push through the mob to the back of the room. Behind twin soundproof doors lurks a dining room of sorts with only two TVs, thank heavens. The menu serves to spotlight the identity crisis. Do you go for nachos and dip, filet mignon au poivre, or angel-hair pasta with mussels and shrimp? Take your cue from the crowd and stick with the simple, beer-friendly bites. The hot wings, for example, are as meaty, greasy and spicy as one could hope for (a “nuclear” option promises much pain). The warm spinach dip is pleasantly gooey and cheesy. And a chicken sandwich topped with bacon and tangy barbecue sauce proved to be plenty juicy. Pricier fare may just be too ambitious for this kitchen: The blackened Cajun rib eye was a charred, sinewy hunk that added insult to injury with its $22.95 price tag. Stick with drinks, watch the game, meet some locals and you’ll be okay.
|Venue name:||Butterfield 8|
5 E 38th S
|Cross street:||between Fifth and Madison Aves|
|Opening hours:||Daily 11am–11pm|
|Transport:||Subway: B, D, F to 42nd St–Bryant Park; 7 to Fifth Ave|
|Price:||Average main course: $12. AmEx, MC, V|