When Crown Shy opened at the base of the beautiful 70 Pine Street in 2019, it was eerily clear that it was that year’s best new restaurant. Its semi-secluded location down a narrow, alley-like street exuded a "place to be" quality. Its exhilarating marble lobby made every entry feel like the answer to a pulse-quickening invitation. Most importantly, its uncommonly breathtaking food and drinks actually delivered on all of its theatrical promise. Now, after a long intermission, it's back with a second act.
Next Wednesday, Saga, from Crown Shy’s chef James Kent and restaurant partner Jeff Katz, will open on the 63rd floor of that same obscured-in-plain-sight Art Deco building. It is its own restaurant, but comparisons are inevitable. While even an accomplished drinker can get out of dinner at Crown Shy for about $125 on the high end, the minimum spend at Saga will be $245 for an eight-to-ten course tasting that includes one welcome cocktail. The intro drink itself is an obvious narrative device, but let’s go back half a page in any case.
To enter Saga, you will pass through 70 Pine’s lobby to the elevators, where you will be escorted dozens of floors up by a host who will speak a bit to the building’s history. The air pressure will change before the doors open to Saga’s lovely bar, which mirrors Crown Shy’s, writ small. As subtle as it is, the lighting might be the first thing to catch your eye. Soft beams enhance the space’s Deco finishes and recall happy times downstairs, or cue new ones to come. Both restaurants share the lighting designer David Weiner, who has created a pattern so unmistakably Crown Shy, or, now Saga, it should be patented.
But this is not a drinking bar. You’ll collect your welcome cocktail before you’re shown to one of Saga’s many terraces that make you realize, if you’ve managed not to so far in life, why some people chase money so hard. There are many good views in New York City, but this one feels particularly rich, imbued with the spirit of the building’s top three floors’ almost unbelievable original intended use as an early 20th century financier’s private home.
The space’s present iteration also aims to feel like home. That first west-facing terrace, for example, only seats about 12 on steel chairs wired to self-heat when it's cold out—its intimacy amplifying an already expansive landscape. Inside, there are two-and-a-quarter dining rooms for up to 56, all with plush textures in shades of pale salmon and deep green and more of that geometric design that echoes 70 Pine’s exterior. Those aesthetic elements reverberate in linear accents, like upward grooves on the glassware.
Between the dual main wings, a smaller slip that seats 12 will be available for private bookings, replete with a terrace of its own. Windows are carved like portraits throughout and a Basquiat and a Schiele are on loan from the restaurants investors’ private collections. There is carpet, too, but it feels nice under your shoes and improves acoustics.
There is no menu. Or, not in the conventional sense. Saga serves a seasonal tasting, so it’ll change somewhat frequently. You’ll likely make a couple of choices at the outset and some courses will be plated to share. Opening items include fluke six ways: Marinated with crème fraîche and trout roe; kombu-cured with shiso; citrus-cured with honeydew; bruléed fluke rib with mushroom XO; escabeche fluke chop with jalapeño; and fluke leche de tigre. Illustrated menus will arrive via email after your visit. Paper editions can be posted to your address upon request.
Regardless of the evening's offerings and where you’re sat, each party will relocate to the solarium for one course. For now, it’s a hot or cold Moroccan tea service, likely toward the end of the meal. To finish, amber-hued candy dishes custom-designed by artist Steph Mantis will be filled with little sweet treats. Mantis’ approximately 8” x 5” creation is just one eye-catching element in a seemingly endless galaxy of detail. The bathroom soap is another, made by the English company Haeckels using the restaurant’s own citrus rind. It was important for scent not to interfere with the experience.
Saga’s upstairs bar, Overstory, also opens on Wednesday with its own gilded accents and impressive outdoor area. This is a drinking bar. With $24 cocktails like the Phantom Fortune (whiskey, strawberry, coffee, plum, soda) the and Easy Money (vodka, coconut, yuzu, lime leaf, soda), its a relatively easier entrée into the operation’s single-skyscraper empire, though how easy will be determined when Overstay’s walk-in policy is finalized. Additional private dining space is available on 70 Pine Street’s 62nd and 66th floors.