Three's a trend! A few months back we saw the debut of upscale tiki lounge Painkiller; in the next few weeks two more arrive on the scene: Lani Kai (from The Clover Club's Julie Reiner) will open in the former Tailor space next month, and on Monday, The Hurricane Club flings open its upscale doors. Has NYC gone tiki crazy? Restaurateurs are betting big bucks on it, at least judging by the dark opulence on display at The Hurricane.
Earlier this week, the huge, 13,000-square-foot space opened to the media and dining industry insiders for a party kicking off the New York Wine and Food Festival. This afforded us an up-close look at the sprawling club, designed by AvroKO and broken up into several different theme rooms. In the middle is the Hurricane Room, which boasts butternut wood millwork, butternut caning panels, and a 30-seat bar in the middle beneath a spectacular chandelier. Off to one side, by the entrance, is the Lagoon Lounge, identifiable by an oversize coral and shell fireplace, black-and-white zig-zag patterned floor, a golden chandelier fashioned out of cast glass and shells, and a 10-foot long, three-tiered barnacle chandelier.
And then: Two "Cave Rooms" with low-hung sculpted ceramic ceilings panels resembling Polynesian-inspired lattice screens. The Volcano Room is all glossy red lacquer wood paneling, gilded framing and wallpaper evoking native Polynesian tattoo patterns. The only thing missing is a bamboo water slide! Downstairs, more wonders await: A shoeshine stand and a water fountain that pours rum, not water, into little takeaway bottles. In the bathrooms, the walls are lined with animal bones from a mix of different species, including tiny birds. (Don't tell Franzen.)
Cocktails come in coconut shells or beautiful tiki glasses or daiquiri glasses, and cost about $11-$12 each, unless you want to splurge on one of the giant family-size portions to share. Executive Chef Craig Koketsu's menu emphasizes "Inauthentic Polynesian," including an expansive Pupu platter selection, as well as raw fish ("poke"), ribs, crispy peking pig, seafood from the South Pacific, and a number of luau options if you give them 72 hours notice. (Peruse the full menu below.) The cocktail menu is the work of upscale pastry chef Richard Leach, which may explain why several of the cocktails tasted at the preview were considered too sweet by some. But it's hard to say, because they were served at a pre-opening party clusterfuck—where harried bartenders desperately tried to keep up with demand—and that kind of situation never offers any accurate gauge of quality. What is certain, however, is that this place looks like a total knockout, and you can't go wrong with a shoeshine and a shot of rum from a water fountain. Ever.
360 Park Avenue South at 26th Street; (212) 951-7111