It's been over two years since legendary Upper East Side haunt Elaine's closed for good following the death of matriarch Elaine Kaufman and there's finally new life inside the history-filled walls. Husband and wife restaurateurs Michael and Susy Glick debuted The Writing Room this week, offering an all-American take on bistro fare as well as a glimpse into its predecessor's unique history in the neighborhood. The Glicks, who also run popular steakhouse Parlor nearby on Third Avenue, wanted to channel the myriad notables who frequented Elaine's, many of whom were of a literary mind to one degree or another, while offering an updated eatery and watering hole for the neighborhood.
Brick, leather and wood are the materials of choice here throughout the dining rooms and accompanying bar space; old card catalogue drawers also serve both function and design in the hallway space between rooms. In one dining room, photos of Elaine's many regulars adorn the walls, including Woody Allen, Warren Beatty and other personalities, as well as framed newspaper clippings of Kaufman mixed with images of typewriters. In the other, walls are lined with shelves filled with over one thousand books, creating a cozy and colorful dining space.
Executive Chef Lucas Billheimer, who also helmed the kitchen at Parlor, created a simple but flavorful menu filled with classic dishes from the American cookbook. Starters include homey dishes like Roasted Chicken Soup and a Spinach Salad tossed in a warm bacon vinaigrette. Homemade pastas include a version of Spaghetti & Meatballs with pork and pillowy Gnocchi in an umami-rich roasted mushroom, Pecorino cheese and lemon sauce. Herb brined Fried Chicken, a Veal Meatloaf and Pan Roasted Cod round out the entrees.
The bar space places as vital a role to The Writing Room as it did to Elaine's; cozy banquettes line the back wall, topped with fabric-bound boards where customers will be encouraged to add notes and other clippings to create a constantly changing art piece. The large wine list includes bottles from across the globe including contemporary offerings and older vintages. The cocktail program skews towards the brown liquors, with a large selection of scotches and bourbons mixed with aromatic tinctures and syrups. Try the Blood Orange Sazerac with bourbon, anise bitters and fresh blood orange or the Sassafras, with bourbon, root beer bitters, ginger and lemon.
1703 Second Avenue, (212) 335-007; thewritingroomnyc.com