The team behind Tenjune has now installed Abe & Arthur’s in the former Lotus space. It’s open until 11 p.m. early in the week and 1 a.m. Thursday through Saturday. When Eugene Remm and Mark Birnbaum gave us a tour back in August, they told us that the main floor would be for “very serious dining” while the mezzanine, with its louder music and D.J.’s, would be more casual (there are also two private dining rooms and, of course, there’s a separately operated lounge Simyone, or SL, in the basement). Remm and Birnbaum insist that they’re serious about shifting their attention to the restaurant world (and then into hotels), citing Keith McNally’s model of hospitality as an inspiration. (Chances this place has a secret resy number: high.)
The concept has evolved over time. “Imagine,” says Birnbaum, “Two years ago, we were like, ‘Let’s do really expensive French.’” The duo also considered seafood and pan-Asian concepts, but with the help of the recession, they ultimately settled on straightforward American food. “Franklin Becker is not trying to re-invent the food world,” said Remm, who’s known to frequent Houston’s. “He’s adding his accents to basic traditional classic dishes that everyone loves.” That includes a version of Birnbaum’s mother’s sweet-and-sour meatballs, as well as perhaps a revival of Becker’s cheese-stuffed burger, the Minneapolis-inspired Juicy Lucy. (The latter didn’t make it onto the opening menu, which you can see below, but Becker has been tinkering with it.) Bit of trivia: Adam Landsman, who was out of a gig when Atria closed, has landed here as G.M.
Abe & Arthur’s, 409 W.14th St., nr. Ninth Ave; 646-289-3930