Final Update: As of 2010, Lever House became Casa Lever, an Italian restaurant from the Sant Ambrosius team.
Update 2: As of Friday, April 10, Lever House is “closed for renovations.” We put that in quotes because many such closures turn out to be extremely long-lasting, or indeed permanent. It certainly seems that if Lever House re-opens at all, it will be in a much altered form.
Update: As of April 2008, Scott Bryan was announced executive chef at Lever House, replacing Dan Silverman. But just days later, he quit. As of June 2, 2008, Bradford Thompson was announced as the new chef at Lever House. The alum of several Daniel Boulud restaurants, Thompson was previously chef de cuisine at Mary Elaine’s at the Phoenician in Scottsdale, Arizona, where he won the James Beard Best Chef (Southwest) award for 2006.
I dined at Lever House in late May with two colleagues. The modernist space is striking, with the abundance of hexagonal shapes almost letting you forget that the walls are a plain-Jane light brown. Tables are comfortable and impeccably set, but they are exceedingly close together, with waiters performing Olympic-class gymnastic manoevers to get to your table. The noise level is uncomfortably loud.
The cuisine is a mostly undistinguished New American. Roasted asparagus with duck egg and parmigiano reggiano ($17) sounded promising, but a puddle of fried egg somewhat overwhelmed the asparagus. I was pleased to find that Colorado rack of lamb ($38) came with two thick double-cut chops, which were lusciously tender. They came with a spicy lamb sausage that was the evening’s highlight, along with a salad of parsley and mint that didn’t wow me. Strawberry cheesecake for dessert ($12) brought the evening to a fitting close.
I enjoyed a cocktail called the Bourbon Smash, although it was over-priced at $15. I was annoyed when the server removed it before I was finished. He asked if I’d like some wine with dinner. I hadn’t had time yet to peruse the list, so I entreated him to return in a few minutes. We never saw him again till dessert, so I drank water.
The bill for three was $200 including tax, before tip. That was for food only, as we drank no alcohol. (My cocktail was ordered at the bar.) At that price, you certainly expect the food to be good—which this was—but I prefer quieter surroundings and more attentive service. I won’t be rushing back.
Lever House (390 Park Avenue at 53rd Street, East Midtown)