I remember when Hell’s Kitchen was home to vagrants, prostitutes, car dealerships, strip clubs, and idling buses. No more. The car dealers remain (nowhere else to go), but the seedy side of Hell’s Kitchen is history.
Walk the neighborhod now, and you find spanking-new Off-Broadway theaters, upscale apartment towers, boutique hotels, and trendy bars. There’s something new on almost every block. A restaurant boom promised in the Post two years ago hasn’t quite materialized. It’s getting better, but it’s not there yet.
Print Restaurant opened three years ago in the Ink48 Hotel, at Hell’s Kitchen’s most remote address, 48th Street and Eleventh Avenue. There’s nothing wrong with the neighborhood any more, but it’s a loooong hike from the subway.
You can guess the theme here, in this renovated printing plant. The rooftop lounge/bar is called Press, which I visited a while back. You’ll quickly forget the drinks, but the view is one of the city’s best. Even the NYT’s Frank Bruni loved it.
It’s pretty clear that Print was meant to be more than just a hotel cafeteria. Early publicity mentioned chef Charles Rodriguez’s past work with Thomas Keller and Charlie Trotter—maybe just a stage, but still. Starchitect David Rockwell, who never met a dark wood he didn’t like, designed the dining room.
But Print received scant critical attention: a perfunctory Dining Brief from Sam Sifton in The Times, and a “very good” from Serious Eats’ Ed Levine, each in 2010. Both mentioned the car dealerships, and little else in the neighborhood, which shows how much has changed in three years.