Bill Boggs Corner Table: Swifty’s, Where New York’s Elite Meet to Eat
#1: It has a devoted clientele that could be defined as socialite types, polished business winners, ladies who lunch, and preppy millennials who might have just arrived from shopping at the Ralph Lauren store around the corner. You're dining among well-groomed, friendly people, many of whom treat the place like a neighborhood hangout.
#2: It has an atmospheric club-like ambiance, with its front room all abuzz, and a slightly more formal, magnificently designed back room where you might have seen Jacqueline Onassis or Paul Newman back in the day. There are loads of contemporary celebrities at Swifty's these days, but rather than name a few, I’ll urge you to go spotting on your own. OK, I'll give you two names: Ricky Gervais and Martha Stewart ― but not together.
#3: It has a terrific, friendly, and professional staff overseen by the straight-from-central-casting handsome maître d’ Robert Caravaggi. He will welcome you, a first-time visitor, like one of the many regulars. That warmth is a key to the restaurant's success.
#4: It has executive chef and co-owner Stephen Attoe in the kitchen preparing well-portioned, straightforward American and European dishes with all ingredients locally sourced when possible.
So, let's talk food:
Some of the appetizers I've enjoyed during several visits include the corn fritters with Alaskan salmon roe and crème fraîche; the endive, arugula, baby beet, and goat cheese salad; the truly outstanding jumbo lump crabmeat salad; and the vibrant gravlax with English cucumber and mustard dill sauce.
Before we visit the entrées, just an aside on a side dish. I'm a slaw fan. I love to try all kinds of slaw, from the heavily-mayoed and peppered slaw of the local diner to all kinds of exotic variations. Swifty's slaw, which is offered as a side dish, is outstanding. It hits the right balance of red and white cabbage, carrots, vinegar, sugar, and mayonnaise. The other side that I like is the sautéed kale, garlic, and red pepper (I ask for “light on the garlic, please.”).
The wide selection of entrées touch all bases ― wild salmon, tuna carpaccio, paella, a cheese soufflé, curried chicken salad, meatloaf, calves liver, roast chicken, spinach ravioli, and more. Recently, I've enjoyed the grilled swordfish with green rice and heirloom tomato sauce; the grilled vegetable taco; and the swinging-for-the-fences pasture-raised Prime Black Angus hamburger with aged Cheddar, chili fries, and chipotle ketchup. Wow!
Follow up with a gluten-free blood orange cake, Swifty's chocolate mousse, or carrot cake with molasses cream frosting.
Swifty's is a restaurant that can best be described as timeless. It is not rooted in the past or pushing too far forward; it's simply a lovely place with very good food, interesting people, and outstanding service. It’s a beacon of civility.
Try the slaw and let me know what you think.