If you like trendy, of-the-moment spots that serve decent fare, and morph into a randy merry-go-round of suits as Thursday night approaches, you should head the way of Lexington Brass in the new Hyatt on 48th Street. The space has floor-to-ceiling windows that gaze out onto the rush-hour hubbub of midtown Lexington Avenue and a clubby vibe. Subway tiles of various shades, a large, marble topped bar with requisite brass fixtures, and soaring ceilings enhance the airy feeling of the room, which will go head to head with its lighter, excellent neighbor The National on 51st Street and the more affordable Smith’s second installment around the corner. From the guys behind scene-making spots like Abe and Arthur’s, Tenjune, SL, and now Top Chef favorite Hung Huynh’s Catch in the Meatpacking District, Lexington Brass is a good spot for cocktails and nibbles. But for repeat visits, this jury’s still out.
On recent trips to Lexington Brass, I sampled most all of the appetizers, and a fair number of the entrees. Some deliver beautifully—like the standout burger and truffled fries ($18)—while others, like the lobster mac and cheese ($18) and the buttermilk fried chicken ($23) fell flat. Though the crumb-topped pan of macaroni looks swoon-worthy (and is loaded with chunks of lobster), it is ultimately bland and lacks cheesy punch. The chicken, though crispy as all get out, was equally lacking in flavor. I wanted to savor each of the herbs used in the coating, but could barely taste past the flour base in the chicken or the accompanying biscuit. Fresh honey butter elevates the biscuit entirely, so make sure douse yours with a sample.
Though one of my dining companions whacked back the deviled eggs with caviar ($11) like it was her job, I found the caviar an unnecessary flourish on an otherwise perfect dish. A small portion of crispy baby artichokes ($12) are a good addition to an otherwise seafood-heavy list of appetizers. The crab-stuffed fried oysters ($17) were delicious, though I warn diners NOT to eat the mountain of SALT on which the oysters are so nicely displayed. It’s not polenta; I promise.
Tuna tartar tacos, a make-your-own plate of sashimi grade tuna and mini taco shells, deliver in DIY kitsch and quality ($18), while the raw bar is equally fresh and worthwhile. Entrees like the monkfish ($28) and the New York strip ($44) erred on the salty side of things, but the pork chop ($31), perfectly braised with a side of sauerkraut, was a hit all-around.
Finish with the silky vanilla cheesecake topped with heaps of raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries. For your inner id, the ice cream sundae with brownie bits delivers.
Though I wanted to love Lexington Brass and throw it into my midtown rotation, it inspired the same feeling I had on multiple visits to Abe and Arthur’s (albeit at slightly more accommodating prices): another nightlife hostess dressed up in a chef’s coat.
Me? I’m headed back to The National.