The New Bill’s in Midtown

Overheard: The Lion, the Crown, and the Billy Goat—The New Bill’s  in Midtown

Research at steakhouses in Hong Kong and Doha, hunting for antiques in Paris and Sicily—exhaustive background work has been logged in the name of Bill’s Food & Drink, a reimagining of the midtown institution that opens this Monday. Under the direction of business partners John DeLucie, Sean Largotta, and Mark Amadei and interior designer Meg Sharpe —the same team behind hotspots the Crown, the Windsor,  and the Lion—the town house that was home to the original Bill’s Gay Nineties for more than 80 years has reclaimed its Old New York ethos.

An original mural, hidden behind drywall since the forties, has been rediscovered, and the miniature jockey statue that vigilantly has stood guard on East Fifty-fourth Street for nearly a century have been maintained. The menu, supervised by Gotham Bar and Grill chef Jason Hall, is a study in Manhattan steak specialties: The 40-ounce, 35-day prime porterhouse served with béarnaise and pommes soufflé promises to be a carnivorous adventure.

There are plenty of new elements at Bill’s, as well. A glass-roofed atrium is a forthcoming addition to a downstairs bar, upstairs dining area, and sumptuous private room. Works by contemporary artists Michael Coombs, William Bennie, and Maxwell Snow can be found interspersed with nostalgic photographs and lithograph prints. And a taxidermic billy goat reclaimed from one owner’s Pennsylvania country house has become the restaurant’s de facto mascot, his likeness appearing on everything from the menu to the water carafes.

“We as a group enjoy curating more than creating,” Largotta says of his partners at Crown Group Hospitality. “The Lion is our rollicking West Village place. The Crown is our subdued uptown place,” DeLucie adds. Both geographically and in spirit, “Bill’s is sort of right smack in the middle.”

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The main dining room of the reimagined Bill’s Food & Drink maintains the overall template of the original restaurant, with thoughtful embellishments. The preexisting exposed timber beams were bolstered by more wood, for instance, and a smattering of vintage wall decorations were collected from “literally all over the world,” says interior decorator Meg Sharpe.

Photo: Adam Kane Macchia 

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A collection of silver-dollar coins on the floor of the restaurant’s foyer is one of several original elements that Bill’s new partners left unchanged in the restoration.

Photographed by Taylor Jewell 

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This early-twentieth-century mural, not seen since the 1940s and almost perfectly intact, was discovered underneath six layers of wallpaper, paint, and drywall.

Photographed by Taylor Jewell 

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Diners choose their knives from a selection brought to the table by the waiter. Sharpe said she was inspired to use antique safety-deposit boxes as knife-display cases after seeing the elaborate presentation of cutlery at a Hong Kong steakhouse. And the craftsman responsible for building the velvet inserts? Partner John DeLucie’s brother.

Photographed by Taylor Jewell 

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Taxidermy adorns the walls of the masculine space. This particular goat, fittingly named Billy, has become the de facto mascot; his image can be found everywhere from the water carafes to the menus.

Photographed by Taylor Jewell 

(Source: http://www.vogue.com/culture/article/overheard-the-lion-the-crown-and-the-billy-goat-the-new-bills-in-midtown/#1)

Intruduction:

Bill’s Food & Drink, the latest stylish restaurant and bar venture of Crown Group Hospitality has opened in the heart of midtown Manhattan. Situated at 57 East 54th Street, Bill’s offers a modern take on the traditional New York steakhouse in a clubby, art-filled setting.

The multiple floored restaurant that comprises a stunning nineteenth-century townhouse takes inspiration from its former tenant and is indicative of what the space used to be: one of the most infamous speakeasies during the Prohibition Era. Knowing that the building had such a rooted history, Crown Group Hospitality Partners Sean Largotta, John DeLucie and Mark Amadei wanted to expose as much of the original details as possible to celebrate its storied past.

According to Sean Largotta, “Original beams and the former Bill’s Gay Nineties piano can be found in the bar downstairs while original moldings appear in the main dining room. Murals on the first floor can be dated back to the 1940s and round silver dollars are still imbedded in the
bar’s tiled floor.” Designer Meg Sharpe, known for embodying classic details with a playful edge, transformed the five-story 1890’s brownstone into a chic and fashion-forward restaurant with a masculine feel. With a large fireplace, taxidermy and framed oil pieces sprinkled throughout the space, the restaurant takes the form of an old fashioned club in a new, lively home. A private event and dining space makes up the third floor with deep blue walls and a bathroom covered in crocodile wallpaper.

The menu at Bill’s features dry-aged meats, seafood, homemade pasta, and an array of salads and sides all of which are overseen by Executive Chef Jason Hall. Chef Hall was most recently the Executive Chef at Crown and the former Chef de Cuisine at New York’s iconic Gotham Bar & Grill. Hall—who has a passion for American classics— continues to creatively push the boundaries of contemporary American cuisine at Bill’s.

Some of Chef Hall’s reinventions of classic dishes include the Manhattan Shellfish Chowder with Jumbo Prawns, Oyster Crackers and Saffron; Atlantic Fish Fry with Preserved Lemon, Parsley and Malt Vinegar Mayonnaise and Bill’s Bolognese with Tagliatelli and Cabrito. Bill’s also offers fine steaks dry-aged for 28 days that can be paired with a number of sides including Yukon Potato Puree with Cheddar and Chives, Pommes Souffle with Parsley and Black Pepper and the Cremini Mushrooms with Escargot Butter.

Ben Scorah, Crown Group Hospitality’s Head Mixologist brings classic, Prohibition style cocktails to the menu. Ben has received critical acclaim for his modern take on classic cocktails, extensive knowledge and artful delivery having been named “Most Inspired Bartender” by GQ in 2009. Using original, early 20th century dated recipes that are referenced on the menu; Scorah has revived Bill’s cocktails using organic, fresh ingredients that appeal to the present day drinker. Specialties include Bill’s Royal Rickey — Aylesbury Duck Vodka, Cedia Acai Berry, Chartreuse and fresh Ginger Lemonade; Hanky Panky – Dorothy Parker Gin, Sweet Vermouth and Fernet Branca and the Gingerbread Sazerac – Bulleit Rye Whiskey, Aged Cognac, Gingerbread Spice, Peychaud’s Bitters and Absinthe Wash.

Bill’s Food & Drink offers a warm, convivial atmosphere, impeccable service and an unrivaled culinary experience.

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