The hottest ticket in town during the Tribeca Film Festival just may be a dinner reservation at Graydon Carter’s reborn Monkey Bar.
The Vanity Fair editor reports his newly opened restaurant at 60 East 54th St. is in “the preview stage.” During the past few weeks, handpicked guests have been invited to intimate dinners to try out the “classic American and continental” fare and soak up the grand, amber-lit scene insiders say is reminiscent of Manhattan’s jazz age.
Carter, with partners/hoteliers Jeff Klein (the Sunset Towers) and Londoner Jeremy King (the Wolseley), “gutted the dining room and started from scratch.” The newly renovated space located in the Elysee Hotel includes a Carter signature — a 100-foot Edward Sorel mural similar to the one that adorns the walls of his other restaurant, the Waverly Inn in Greenwich Village, but populated with supper club icons like Fred Astaire and Duke Ellington.
“Almost every seat is a leather booth” in the bilevel dining room because, Carter says, “they’re enveloping, they’re cozy and they’re great for deflecting sound.” And, not so coincidentally, they’re strategically placed facing outward for some serious people-watching. “It does happen to be good for seeing who else is in the room,” Carter allows.
The editor’s uptown clubhouse will most certainly attract the same high-wattage crowd as the downtown Waverly, which he opened in 2006, and where a live-action version of his magazine plays out nightly. “This will be like that, too,” Carter says, “if we play our cards right.”
He’s off to a good start. During the festival, he’ll roll out the red carpet to host the kickoff dinner with Robert De Niro and Ronald Perelman.
But Carter insists he’s out to make his nonceleb neighbors — the well-heeled Upper East Side set — feel welcome, too. That means unlike the ultra exclusive Waverly, there’s an actual number to call for dinner reservations. (They’ll start serving lunch in the fall.)
“It will be a little difficult at first because it will be booked up,” he says.
Insiders know to call Carter’s office to score a table, since the editor will be handling the nightly seating himself — as he does for the Waverly. “I enjoy it,” he says. “It’s a small form of social engineering. My goal is to make
customers who come on a regular basis feel comfortable.”