By Raphael Pallais, Chef Concierge of The Plaza Hotel
We've all heard the saying "shop till you drop." Well, in New York, there's really no reason to — not when you have so many great in-store restaurants to power you through the day. Within a number of our renowned department stores, you'll find jewel-box cafes serving light afternoon fare. But you'll also find them in more unexpected places too. Here are a few I recommend.
The New Guard
Just open this year, Cafe Kristall is a little Austrian gem within the Swarovski Crystallized concept store in SoHo. In addition to a menu by chef Kurt Gutenbrunner (who also runs Cafe Sabarsky uptown), there's a pastry counter of sweets so pretty they could rival Swarovski's own bling.
There is also Armani/Ristorante on the top floor of the brand's Fifth Avenue flagship, which serves northern Italian cuisine in a sleek, modern space. Even after the store is closed, the restaurant is open for dinner (you take an express elevator up). Request a table by the corner of Fifth and 56th for fantastic views of bustling midtown.
The Old Guard
Where the new guard is elegantly minimalist, the old guard is deliciously sumptuous. Take BG at Bergdorf Goodman — it's like a little fairyland with robin blue chairs, overlooking the Pulitzer fountain. On the menu, there is nothing too heavy for the ladies who lunch (crab cake salad, roasted cod, etc), and they even serve a lovely afternoon tea with French favorite, Dammann Freres tea.
The granddaddy of department store dining is, of course, Fred's at Barneys. More subdued in its décor, Fred's has a menu that consistently gets raves (the lobster club is a favorite). Lunch is absolutely bustling (with more than just shoppers), so try to get in early.
For more insider tips from Raphael and other top hotel concierges in New York, Miami, San Francisco, and elsewhere, go to GloboMaestro.com.
All photos courtesy of GloboMaestro.com