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Le Pavillon
Photograph: Isay Weinfeld

A French chef’s opulent new restaurant is opening in Midtown's tallest building

Le Pavillon is expected to open early next year in One Vanderbilt, a soaring skyscraper located across the street from Grand Central Terminal.

Written by
Bao Ong

The future of indoor dining in New York City is still murky even with a limited rollout beginning September 30th. But at One Vanderbilt—the tallest skyscraper in Midtown—one of the city’s most celebrated chefs still plans to open a lavish restaurant early next year.

Le Pavillon will be among chef Daniel Boulud’s empire of French-American restaurants. It borrows the name of an iconic stalwart that helped usher in an era where French restaurants represented the standard of fine dining. While Boulud’s 11,000-square-foot restaurant will eschew traditional notions of fine dining common at many three Michelin-starred establishments, diners can still be expected to be impressed.

“I wanted to bring back the name as a memento of New York dining history,” Boulud tells Time Out New York.

Le Pavillon
Photograph: Isay Weinfeld

The heart of Le Pavillon will sit on the second floor of One Vanderbilt, which SL Green developed on the corner of Vanderbilt Avenue and East 42nd Street across from Grand Central Terminal. Inside there are 57-foot ceilings and it will be filled with plants and trees that help frame views of the transportation hub across the street and the Chrysler Building.

Le Pavillon, which is not set up for outdoor dining at the moment, will be open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. It’s not clear what capacity the restaurant will allow for indoor dining (it has 120 seats including the bar), but Boulud shares that the menu will draw heavily on seasonal seafood and vegetables sourced from local purveyors. There are also plans for a Garden Table in the middle of the restaurant for tasting menus and possible guest chef collaborations.

“Right now, indoor is challenging for certain restaurants,” Boulud says. “But I think if you have the volume and space to distance tables and the privacy, it’s much easier.”

Le Pavillon
Photograph: Isay Weinfeld

While Boulud is not mimicking the original Le Pavillion, which opened during World War II, he did want to give a nod to an historic restaurant—even with his own modern spin. He plans to bring chefs from his flagship Restaurant Daniel, which debuted outdoor dining for the first time this year, to the new location but hasn’t yet named the chefs heading this kitchen.

Yesterday’s ribbon-cutting ceremony for One Vanderbilt, which is second in height to One World Trade, comes at a time when New York is figuring out how to navigate the current crisis. Many office buildings remain empty, Broadway is still on pause and many restaurants and bars continue to close permanently.

Yet, Boulud echoed the sentiments of some city officials who say the opening plans are signs that New York will make a recovery.

“We are dressing up 42nd Street a little bit,” Boulud says.

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