Need a shopping break? Try NYC department stores’ new-look dining options
- Last Updated: 11:51 AM, March 23, 2012
- Posted: 11:11 PM, March 22, 2012
Ladies who lunch are creatures of habit. They have their favorite table at celeb-laden Fred’s at Barneys, their favorite drink at Saks Fifth Avenue’s femme-friendly Cafe SFA and plenty of time for languid two-hour midday meals safely ensconced in the luxe egg chairs at Bergdorf Goodman’s BG restaurant.
But department stores are shaking up people’s routines with a stable of chic contemporary cafes that give frenzied shoppers a respite, without all the pomp and circumstance of the shops’ flagship restaurants.
Bergdorf’s 5F soda shop, Saks’ SnAKS, and Barneys’ newly opened Genes@Co-op cafe all cater to this younger, on-the-go crowd.
And talk about the future. Genes boasts “Matrix”-like tables embedded with extra-large touchscreens from which customers can order. SnAKS offers all of the food and none of the lines its big sister restaurant suffers from, while 5F is renowned for having one of the best low-cal fro-yos in town.
“I can’t tell you how many requests we’ve had since Fred’s opened asking, ‘Is there anyplace we can go just to get a cup of coffee? Something quick,’ ” says Barneys chef Mark Strausman. “I love Fred’s. But sometimes you just want a sandwich.”
So in November Barneys opened Genes@Co-op, which has communal tables.
“My mother will probably never go to Genes,” admits Samantha Solmonson, 28, an Upper East Sider who works in digital media.
That may be the point.
Here’s the skinny on the latest crop of cafes — perfect for a quick bite while spring shopping.
Genes@Co-op at Barneys
Location: Eighth floor
View: The fancy-shmancy buildings of 61st Street
Decor: Futuristic. “It’s really high-tech and glossy,” says patron Samantha Solmonson. But the kinks are still being worked out: “I wanted something custom — skim milk in my latte — and I had to call the waitress over anyway.”
Clientele: “I’ve seen Japanese avant-garde fashionistos and Brooklyn hipsters and then just some local eccentrics,” says Simon Doonan, Barneys’ creative ambassador-at-large. And there’s plenty of celeb sightings: Busy Philipps, Steve Tisch, Sharon Osbourne and Michelle Trachtenberg.
Most popular dish: The Gene salad, a diet-friendly medley of field greens, arugula, endive, tomatoes, artichokes, onion, Italian tuna and Parmesan, $21. Most expensive menu item: A few of the dishes top out at $21, including Genes Chicken Pot Pie.
Cheapest menu item: Biscotti plate, $3
Dieting damsels: “I tell the servers, instead of minus-ing everything, find out,” says chef Mark Strausman. “You basically just want lettuce and turkey? OK, I can do that.”