First there was Hotel Delmano, then Hotel Griffou, then Hotel Tortuga, and now yet another hotel thats not a hotel: Hotel Chantelle. Benjamin Shih named the bar after a French World War II safe house, and like his Williamsburg destinations Sweet Ups and the Royal Oak, he designed it to have a retro look this time with Moulin Rouge in mind. To that end, he re-milled wood salvaged from Philadelphia buildings dating back to the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The ground-floor cocktail den, which soft-opened a couple of weeks ago, is just the start of it; when he and his partner, Ravi Patel (owner of the Ravel Hotel), get the go-ahead from the Department of Buildings, theyll open a cellar bar called SGTs (for Sargeants) thatll be staffed by returning soldiers (via a nonprofit) and accessed by skeleton keys. And on the second floor, therell be a lush tropical roof deck.
Upstairs, the French Colonial menu will vary seasonally according to the harbors that French ships visited throughout history New Orleans and Northern Africa during warm weather; Polynesia, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos during fall; and Quebec during the winter (therell be multiple varieties of poutine). But the most notable thing about the dining program will be the environment. A 5,000-plant jungle thats encased in a greenhouse roof that rolls open and closed depending on the weather. As for SGTs, itll look like the sort of place where the GIs wouldve drank before heading into English Channel. Youll have to be a friend of the house to score a key, but you wont need to be on any list to attend the grand opening party tomorrow night, when therell be an open bar from 5 till 7 p.m. Food service hasnt yet started, but you can check out the cocktail list below.
Hotel Chantelle [PDF]
Hotel Chantelle, 92 Ludlow St., nr. Delancey St.; 212-254-9100