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“Whoa, it’s dead in here,” says your guest as you enter the Pool. Compared to the restaurant you just walked through to get here (the Grill), a rollicking room bustling with shiny trolleys of prime rib, it indeed seems stoic, hushed. You can practically hear the massive, fishlike Calder mobile spinning imperceptibly on its axis above; what passes for activity in this soaring space is its famous metallic blinds shimmering in the breeze. The last night I spent here (back when it was Four Seasons) ended with my wife, her dad and me drinking whiskey in the white marble pool. But still waters run deep.
Like its iconic predecessor, the Pool—the latest from Major Food Group’s Jeff Zalaznick, Rich Torrisi and Mario Carbone (the Grill, Santina, Carbone)—employs opulence as aphrodisiac, arousing well-heeled New Yorkers not with outright spectacle but with intoxicating indulgence. In the hands of chef Torrisi, that means a tin of caviar—trout roe ($45) if you’re “cheap,” osetra (market price) if you’re not—heaped onto blini (skip ’em), toast points (skip ’em) or the best fucking duck-fat potatoes you’ve ever had. It means even more why-the-hell-not hulking caviar atop impossibly light ricotta gnudi in a $100 combination. It means a coral reef of foie gras ribbons served on a glass cube ($32), its cold petals softening as you lay them onto shatteringly crisp disks of fried orange.
Solemnity notwithstanding, the Pool is filled with subtle and satisfying crescendos. The music swells from breezy Marley to bumping Belafonte to Dick Dale’s manic Pulp Fiction theme song; the backlit mezzanine bar (the Pool Lounge) glows softer with each passing cocktail; the attentive servers get funnier and more irreverent with each passing course. The fish-focused menu swells beautifully, too, starting small with tiny toasts (rich and buttery anchovy; $19) and ending big with crisp-skinned grilled whole fish, pluis a serious contender for surf-and-turf king of NYC: alternating slices of blushing cumin-rubbed lamb loin and fatty seared scallop ($65/pp), slicked with briny shellfish juice and flanked by mostarda-glazed ribs. This is Peter Luger on a fishing trip.
The Pool is a solid addition to Major’s resplendent repertoire. So go ahead and order that $10,000 bottle of Château d’Yquem. Drink in old New York. The Pool is for
lapping it up. Who knows? After that you might just feel like taking a swim.
BY: DANIEL MEYER
99 East 52nd Street
|Price:||Average main course: $51|
|Do you own this business?|