031808palmcourt.jpgAt the beginning of March, the Plaza Hotel welcomed the public back after a three-year, $400 million makeover, which transformed part of the 1907 landmark building into private condominiums – where the super-rich tenants are complaining about how lonely and desolate their lives are. (Seriously.) And now reviews are trickling in for the famed Palm Court (pictured) and the new Champagne Bar, both under the auspices of chef Didier Viro.

If you’ve got no problem spending $26 on pancakes, then read no further. But Bloomberg News critic Ryan Sutton has words of caution for anyone hesitant to drop $60 on the Palm Court’s signature afternoon tea service. Sutton notes the absurdity of the fin de siècle scene at the Palm Court, where diners sit in “throne-like chairs” and order $100 caviar and truffles while the U.S. economy nosedives. But the food? “Old and tired.” And his biggest complaint is that those thrones “have no lumbar support; your back will hurt by mid-meal.”

Despite back pain, the trouper hobbles back to the “barren” Palm Court for dinner, where Bloomberg News picks up a $277 tab for more of Sutton’s musings: “The rare lamb loin got a side of dry beans and a glob of gluey goat-cheese ravioli… It looked like a sad buffet plate from Sizzler.” After dinner he sniffs out the new Champagne Bar – again with those cursed chairs! “The royal chairs are even more cumbersome here. They look like small phone booths and restrict your vision like horse blinders.” Two glasses of champagne plus three small plates: $139, which is nothing compared to his chiropractor's bill.

The Plaza’s Oak Bar and Oak Room are scheduled to open sometime in the late spring – new owner Arthur Emil might want to consider furnishing them with ergonomic chairs before Sutton’s arrival.

Photo: Ryan Charles