The place: Lobby Lounge at Mandarin Oriental, Columbus Circle
The place: The Ritz-Carlton New York, Central Park
The space: A cozy retreat from the craziness of Fifth Avenue, the Ritz-Carlton’s Star Lounge feels like a well-appointed living room straight out of Southern Living. You get a sense of comfort and relaxation as you settle into the plush couches or leather lounge chairs under high wood-paneled ceilings. In a city where you’re occasionally subjected to a less-than-hospitable staff, the Ritz reminds you what service should be. By day, Star Lounge is filled with wealthy hotel guests who look like they may have traveled with steamer trunks at one time, which makes it a great place to unplug from intense hedge fund types. The executives you’ll find here likely run companies that build things like airplanes. Or cars. Or power plants. This is an optimal place for not only a corporate coffee, but to play mobile CEO for the day. The lighting is nice and there are plenty of outlets throughout the room in case you need to recharge. And, typical to Ritz-Carlton hospitality, you’re welcome to gratis WiFi for four hours, along with an accommodating staff that takes as much care with their coffee as they do with caviar and blinis.
The complement: The lounge menu serves simple American dishes with a gourmet touch, like burgers on brioche, lobster rolls with caviar and an array of crispy flatbreads, from heirloom tomato to moo shu duck. There’s even chicken noodle soup, with slow roasted chicken and a rich, savory broth. Afternoon tea is by reservation (you can try asking in your very charming way) and is a dark horse of an experience. Don’t expect wilted sandwiches or miniscule portions; the egg salad is prepared with black truffle on pain de mie. The rosemary ham with Dijon and sour pickle on a mini cheddar scone was the surprise favorite, and had us wishing for a full entrée size. We almost didn’t want to share this corporate coffee locale, but we’ll see you there.
(Photo courtesy of Ritz-Carlton New York, Central Park)