A commitment to enjoying life in Manhattan means taking advantage of the many finer things that New York City has to offer. One of those fine things is visiting unique restaurants where you can linger over a delicious meal in a relaxed and beautiful setting, with gracious service that elevates you from the daily grind, and creates a memorable experience. Because you only live once! Recently, the Worley Gig was invited to dine at Brassiere 8/12, a true hidden gem in the heart of midtown: and when we say hidden, we mean it, as the restaurant is tucked away just below street level in the famous Solow Building on West 57th Street (you know, the one with the big red 9 out front)!
Just enter through the revolving door and follow the spiral steps down the your destination, where a lovely evening awaits you!
While our visit to Brasserie 8 1/2 was all about tasting the excellent French cuisine of Chef Franck Deletrain, my dinner date and I were instantly charmed by the restaurant’s classy-cool décor. The Solow Building was built in the mid-70s and the décor pays homage to that distinctive era of design . If Mad Men had taken place in the ’70s, you might have seen this place used for more than a few 3-Martini-Lunch location shoots! Please enjoy our many interior shots, along with highlights of the food we enjoyed on or visit!
Whether you’re enjoying a cocktail while waiting for your party to arrive, or having after-work drinks, there’s lots of room in the spacious cocktail lounge/bar area to sip or sup. Take a seat at the bar, grab a small table or sit back and relax on a plush leather sofa. You won’t be waiting long before a friendly waitress arrives to take your drink order, and they also have an appetizing bar food menu with items to please a range of palates. Happy Hour, which includes a $1.00 Oyster Special, runs weeknights from 4:30 to 7:30 PM.
Extending naturally from the circular, atrium-like anterior lounge area, the dining room maintains an expansive feel, and the open stairway design adds light and warmth to the space. Already a popular spot for a midtown Business Lunch, Brasserie 8 1/2 is an absolutely ideal date destination.
Along with well-spaced, round tables (for ease of conversation) the many large booths are luxuriously comfortable and spacious enough for party of four to enjoy lots of elbow room. The booths also offer more privacy for business discussions or cozy encounters, but a mirror mounted high on the wall adds a sense of openness.
And now to the food!
The first order of business is the cocktail order, and we started off with the special Cocktail of the Day, the Royal Bourgeois. Made with 2 ounces of run, orange juice, sparkling wine and a little grenadine for color, it tastes as good as it looks: fruity, tropical, and very potent! The bartender creates a different off-menu cocktail each day, so be sure to ask what he has concocted on the day of your visit!
For Lobster lovers, Brasserie 8 1/2 offers a BYOB Lobster Dinner on Sunday and Monday nights, which includes your choice of appetizer and a main course (each featuring lobster prepared in a unique way) for just $45 per person. Bring your own bottle of wine and enjoy with no corkage fee! Additional sides and desserts are not included in the price, but with the cash you save on drinks, you can afford to splurge!
There is also a regular Prix Fixe menu, which is very reasonably priced at $42, that includes three courses. I liked the look of that, while my dining companion chose to order à la carte from an extensive array of Angus Beef steaks and French specialties.
While we waited for our appetizers, we were served a delightful amuse-bouche of creamy Mushroom Soup!
My appetizer was a rich Asparagus Risotto with Tomatoes, Black Truffle Essence and a generous shaving of Parmigiano-Reggiano on top. It was excellent.
My friend chose the White Asparagus appetizer ($17.00) featuring tender steamed white asparagus, Chanterelles Mushrooms, a tiny Fromage Blanc Flan, and a very generous portion of slice Smoked Duck in a flavorful broth. I snagged a slice of the duck, which was perfectly cooked, juicy and tender with a tantalizingly crispy skin! This is a very hearty starter which you might even order to share.
It is true that I can never resist a prime cut of meat, so I had to choose the Filet Mignon au Poivre Vert: a Roasted 6-ounce Petit Filet, served with Bordelaise Sauce, Potato Lyonnaise and possibly the most delicious Green Asparagus I have enjoyed to date. When it comes to scrumptious tenderness, it is hard to go wrong with a filet, but that does not mean that meat quality is to be taken for granted, and Brasserie 8 1/2 serves only prime, grass-fed Angus beef. So good! This entree can be ordered accompanied by a Half Lobster on the prixe fix menu for an additional $12.
For the serious red meat craving, choose a generous 10-ounce Filet Mignon au Poivre ($45.00) which comes with Pommes Frites and Béarnaise Sauce. Brasserie 8 1/2 is famous for this french fries, which have a reputation as being among the best in New York, but when our waitress overheard my dining companion mention that she was counting calories, she cheerfully offered the option of substituting a salad for the fries, which was very accommodating and much appreciated. (I will have to order those fries for myself on a future trip!)
I also could not resist ordering a side Macaroni & Cheese with Truffle Butter ($8.00), which is a steak house go-to side dish for me. Served straight for the oven, all golden brown and crunchy on top, tender and creamy inside, this Mac & Cheese is made with small shell pasta, which cradles the creamy sauce for an extra rich flavor. This side is sized to share, but since I was with a calorie counter, I got to take half of it home to be enjoyed the following evening. It was amazing!
For my dessert, I chose the classic French Tarte Tatin, made with generous layers of tart Granny Smith Apples in a delicate Puff Pastry, a Caramel Drizzle garnish, and Caramel Ice Cream on the side. This dessert manages to be both light and decadent!
Even though I suspected I would be eating it by myself, I couldn’t resist ordering a second dessert, which was the Pear Tartelette ($9), baked on an ultra-rich Almond Frangipane filling (so delicious), also drizzled with Caramel and served a scoop of Vanilla Ice Cream. If you are fan of any dessert flavored with almonds, this is the choice for you. I did end up enjoying all but two bites of it at home the next night, and I am still thinking about it.
We had a wonderful evening at Brasserie 8 1/2 and, while it is not in my neighborhood, I will be adding this plaice to my list of preferred dining destination in the future, for sure. Their Sunday Buffet Brunch is also garnering rave reviews on Yelp, so we may have to plan a return visit to check that out sooner rather than later!
Brasserie 8 1/2 is located downstairs at 9 West 57th St (in the famous Solow Building) between 5th and 6th Avenues in New York City. Phone 212-829-0812 for reservations or visit them on the web at This link!
I happened to walk past the building last week and noticed that the restaurant is now and Italian place called Cucina 8 1/2. I have no idea when that happened or what the food is like, but if you go there please let know in the comments!