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Gotta Eat

By Lauren R. Harrison

Though some industry insiders have said the days of three-hour lunches at the Four Seasons are over, editors and writers still have to eat and schmooze somewhere. We asked around to find out where the media elite congregate for power lunches, a quick bite, or to see and be seen.


Power Lunch
Michael’s
Location: 24 W. 55th St.
Cuisine: Californian
Claim to fame: Voted one of America’s top power-lunch spots by Forbes.com in 2008
Try the $34 Cobb salad.

MikeMichael’s is the archetypal power lunch destination for media moguls like Vogue’s Anna Wintour and Glamour’s Cindi Leive. It was also the spot where Les Moonves courted Katie Couric for her lucrative job at CBS. The 30-table seating arrangements are carefully planned according to the day’s “power wattage” levels, almost as a competitive sport. Regulars like New York Social Diary writer David Patrick Columbia are accustomed to sitting at “their” table. (His is table 8.) “It’s been a publishing lunch destination for decades,” Columbia said. The menu, based on clean California cuisine, and the people-watching keep the media elite coming.

 

Crowd Pleaser
Half King Bar & Restaurant
Location: 505 W. 23rd St.
Cuisine: Classic pub fare
Claim to fame: Co-owned by Sebastian Junger, author of The Perfect Storm, war correspondent Scott Anderson and filmmaker Nanette Burstein
Try the stewed beef served with Guinness or the fish and chips.

Though it lacks the pretentiousness usually associated with the “see and be seen” set, Half King attracts substantial crowds to its literary events. “This is a place for journalists to come and trade tips, like how do I get to Afghanistan from Pakistan?” said Richard Grant, author of the Mexican travelogue God’s Middle Finger, who has also been published in Esquire and Details. “Often, if I’m meeting other writers and journalists, they want to come here. They have good burgers!” The restaurant hosts more than 50 events each year, including a weekly Monday reading series with authors like Ishmael Beah and Trevor White, and a semi-regular magazine night.

 

Très Chic
Bar Americain
Location: 152 W. 52nd St.
Cuisine: American with a Southwestern twist
Claim to fame: Owned by Bobby Flay, an “Iron Chef” on the Food Network
Try the “plate of the day” special, like Monday’s pulled BBQ duck sandwich with coleslaw and spicy pickles.

Lunching at this midtown eatery isn’t for struggling freelancers; it’s for the people who pay them. “The people tend to give Bar Americain its power vibe. You can tell they’re talking business or assigning stories,” said Lauren Lipton, contributing writer at Condé Nast Portfolio and author of It’s All About Your Husband. “And the fries are to die for—women’s magazine editors get them and (naturally) split them.” Low-lit lamps shaped like Wisconsin cheese wheels hang from the ceiling, making it too dark to offer line edits over lunch, but it’s still an ideal people-watching spot to find out whether InStyle editors are really in style.

 

Celeb Sightings
Philippe
Location: 33 East 60th St.
Cuisine: Chinese
Claim to fame: “The best Peking duck in the city,” according to the New York Observer in 2006
Try the crispy duck entrée, at $58 for two.

PhilAfter 25 years as a chef at Mr. Chow’s, Philippe Chow (no relation) opened this eatery specializing in upscale Chinese cuisine in 2006. Since then, the feeling of luxury at this sleek dining space has attracted high-profile diners of all kinds, from PR people and entertainers to the journalists who write about them. “Right this second a co-worker is discussing how she ran into two celebrities there last night—Anthony Anderson, the actor, and a basketball player,” said Sekou Writes, online editor of Uptown magazine. “It's a great place to network in a low-pressure milieu and get yourself set up for future stories—most of entertainment writing is about access.”

 

Convenience Factor
Hearst Cafeteria
Location: 300 W. 57th St.
Cuisine: Á la carte dining, with a daily theme
Claim to fame: Winner of the “Cafeteria War” against Condé Nast, according to Epicurious.com
Try the sushi station. It’s only $6 an order.

Nowadays nothing says “My time is valuable” like an in-house cafeteria. Located on an extended ledge overlooking a man-made waterfall, the new Hearst cafeteria is a multi-station gastronome’s paradise, with grass-fed beef fresh off the company ranch, gorgonzola mashed potatoes, made-to-order pizzas, and a variety of sweets from peanut butter cookies to petite ricotta fruit tarts. It’s also a relaxing setting, with light streaming in through huge, open windows and plenty of pristine white tables where workers can gab. “It’s such a warm and yet sleek, modern experience,” said Hearst talent director Eliot Kaplan. “And the food is pretty damn good and pretty damn cheap.”

Hearst



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