Tom Otley goes star-spotting in New York's Meatpacking District on a trip to One restaurant.
New Yorkers might think that the Meatpacking District has hit premier league status, but get in a cab and ask for the place by name and the chances are you'll still be looking for it after the kitchens have closed all over Manhattan. A marked-up map is the solution if you don't want to spend your stay with your face pressed against the window, trying to spot landmarks. Either that, or you should check in at one of the hotels - The Maritime (363 W 16th St), for instance - or the brand-new (and newly-built) Hotel Gansevoort (18th Ninth Ave), or failing that, the NY outpost of the members-only-but-if-you've-got-the-money-we'll- take-you-as-a-guest-anyway Soho House, of which more later.
To begin with, it really is a meatpacking area; big men loading and unloading huge slabs of flesh, cobbled streets and, thanks to a recent preservation order, authentic brick warehouses being converted rather than demolished (although the Hotel Gansevoort is a noted exception). This lower west side neighbourhood may have attracted fashion luminaries such as Stella McCartney and Alexander McQueen, both of whom have set up shop there (at 429 W14th and 417 W14th street), but for any business traveller busy during the day but craving new attractions in the evenings, it?s the bars and restaurants which are the main draw.
Spice Market(403 W 13th St), as the name suggests, might seek to recreate the feel of a hawker market stall, and Matsuri (363 W 16th St) ? reviewed in Business Traveller March issue ? takes care of any Japanese yearnings, but the truly international nature of the area becomes apparent in the sheer range of options: Markt (401 W 14th St) for Belgian cuisine, Paradou (8 Little W 12th St) and Macelleria (48 Gansevoort St) for Italian and Florent is a good old 24-hour American diner, open for two decades.
Which brings us to One, which opened at the end of last year. Modern American cuisine is served up as tapas in a seductive space furnished in brown and beige suede, leathers, mohair and silks, with brick, wood, onyx, stone and mirrors. We thought the food was good, though conversation was difficult (Thursday night is Manhattan's busiest - and noisiest - night out).
Service was poor (the wine was corked and being told that Morgon is "meant to taste like that" (ie fizzy) doesn't inspire confidence, nor does learning that it was the last bottle when a replacement was asked for. All said, though, it's worth a stop, especially if you are wanting a late night (open until 4am) or are staying across the road at Soho House, where the sixth floor bar is as interesting as ever. Star spots included Neil Morrisey of Men Behaving Badly and The Rock the night we were there.
One,1 Little West 12th Street, tel 1 212 255 9717 Average price for two courses is $25.