Manhattan A-list folk believe you are where you eat — favoring joints that generate serious heat. These power spots are where the machers, moguls and movie stars break bread.
24 West 55th St.
The venue: This Manhattan power lunch spot of choice is ensconsed on the ground floor of a midtown high rise. Idling town cars and the occasional Cadillac Escalade parked curbside pose as the only outward signs of the impressive star wattage gathered in its spacious, well-lit dining room.
The vibe: A clubhouse where overachievers and up-and-comers mix and mingle between courses. The front room is reserved for boldface names and their handlers; “civilians” are seated in the Garden Room, but some hot shots (like Dick Parsons) prefer its privacy. G.M. Steve Millington and his staff have perfected the science of seating so that Peggy Siegal can throw one of her legendary lunches in the middle of the dining room while regulars like Tom Brokaw and Barry Diller get the requisite star treatment. “We throw a great party every day,” genial restaurateur Michael McCarty says. “We want everyone to have a good time.”
The dish: Plenty of business gets done between air-kissing and table-hopping: Les Moonves wooed Katie Couric here; Tina Brown held court while her “Diana Chronicles” climbed the bestseller list last summer; Showtime CEO Matt Blank recently hosted a lunch for Tracey Ullman and the cast of “The Tudors.”
The menu: The Cobb salad ($34), charred yellowtail hamachi and duck confit.
Famous fans: Everyone from Michael Caine to Orlando Bloom. Power blondes Diane Sawyer, Barbara Walters and Liz Smith are regulars; so are Mel Brooks, Natasha Richardson and Disney’s Bob Iger.
The Waverly Inn
16 Bank St.
The venue: Situated on the corner of one of the most picturesque spots in the West Village, the Waverly is the place for dinner and late nights. Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter (who oversees the nightly seating) and his partners — chef John DeLucie, Eric Goode and Sean MacPherson — have reinvented this classic 1920s downtown pub into a mecca for Manhattan’s elite.
The vibe: If Carter had envisioned a live-action version of Vanity Fair, it would pretty much look like this. “We’re a neighborhood restaurant,” DeLucie says. “Our neighbors just happen to be famous.” Carter holds court from his banquette in the main dining room, presiding over a head-spinning mix of VIPs from entertainment, publishing and fashion. Spotted on a recent evening at adjoining tables: Calvin Klein with Carolina Herrera and Bianca Jagger; Karl Lagerfeld and his entourage.
The dish: Despite Carter’s best efforts to “keep things inside,” every night is a Page Six item in the making. Reports of celebrity couples’ “romantic” dinners abound.
The menu: Mac & cheese with white truffles ($85), chicken pot pie (Carter’s favorite), braised short ribs and, notes Carter, “a killer martini.”
Famous fans: Vanity Fair’s cover subjects Julia Roberts, Renee Zellweger, Gwyneth Paltrow and Tom Hanks. Regulars include locals Harvey Weinstein, Robert De Niro and Julianne Moore (“She’s not fussy about where she sits,” DeLucie says).