By Jim Lochner
From ancient Mexico to the Jazz Age and beyond, you’ll find a mixture of scaffolding, Scandanavia, and skulls.
The Black Ant blackantnyc.com 60 2nd Avenue (212) 598-0300
élan elannyc.com 43 East 20th Street (646) 682-7105
The Ludlow ludlowhotel.com 180 Ludlow Street (212) 432-1818
Ace Hotel acehotel.com/newyork 20 West 29th Street (212) 679-2222
The Black Ant takes its name from the Mexican god Quetzalcoatl, who transformed into a black ant and gave to man the corn and seeds he found in the mountains, forming the basis of Mexican cuisine. Chef Mario Hernandez shares his vision of contemporary Latin cuisine, paired with owner and mixologist Jorge Guzman’s handcrafted agavebased cocktails. Hernandez traveled throughout Mexico and Latin America picking up ideas from family recipes and antique techniques used for generations. Tacos are given a twist incorporating unusual meats like cod cheeks and free-range goat. You can also find surprises like Buñuelos de Pato, crisy roasted duck dumplings with mole negro and cotija cheese, and the braised rabbit in the Enchiladas de Conejo. For dessert the Black Ant Nest with poegranata panna cotta coated with cacao crumble, vanilla sauce, chocolate truffle, and Granada pop rocks gelée will get you in the spirit of the décor. Designer Welly Lai combined wood, tile, metal, glass, and a multitude of plants with more offbeat elements like skulls and hand-painted ceramics, stencils, and a mural that keep the ant theme alive. And don’t be surprised if chicatanas, dehydrated and imported from Mexico, dust your plate or cocktail.
Chef David Waltuck and co-owner George Stinson bring their experience at former downtown mainstay Chanterelle to the Flatiron District. The à la carte dinner menu, rooted in classical French technique, draws inspiration from America and abroad. Sea urchin guacamole and roast rabbit salad make for tasty shared starters and appetizers. For mains, there’s everything from grilled mackerel with clam-dashi risotto and yuzu to General Tso’s sweetbreads, made with leeks, orange, and chilies. Waltuck tips his hat to Chanterelle with a handful of menu items, including the iconic Grilled Seafood Sausage. The restaurant’s full bar (made of concrete) includes clever cocktail names like “M.F.K. She’s a Peach,” made with bourbon, peach, and lemon verbena. Andrew Wilkinson Architects designed the bar space with rich chocolate browns and smoky grays, while the dining room features banquettes, large mirrors, and white brick walls. Two art walls will feature a new installation by an established or emerging artist every six months as well as an homage rooted in classical French technique. Though élan is only open for dinner as of this writing, lunch and brunch service will follow in the coming months.
This new 184-room Lower East Side hotel evokes everything from the area’s “Gangs of New York” era to Jewish immigration to the 1980s art and music scene. The hotel occupies a once-derelict building that owners Sean MacPherson, Ira Drukier, and Richard Born rescued when its original developers abandoned it after the financial crash. From its solid brick façade and factory casement windows, steel and glass doors open to oak-paneledwalls and marble mosaic floors in the hotel’s red-brick entryway. A distressed-limestone fireplace dominates the lobby lounge, which also features glass walls leading to the bluestone-paved back courtyard. The bedrooms feature furniture and artisan touches hand-picked by MacPherson, including hardwood floors and handmade silk rugs, artisan-crafted Moroccan pendant lamps, Indo-Portuguese-style beds, and “tree-trunk” nightstands in petrified wood from Brooklyn’s Organic Modernism. Heavy wooden doors help muffle noise and add to a sense of place and history. A “Rockstar” suite with wraparound windows and 1,100-foot terrace, and “Skybox Loft” with designated sitting area, offers amazing views of New York’s bridges and landmarks.
The Ace Hotel is housed in the former Breslin Hotel, built in 1904. “Diamond Jim” Brady was once a regular, and photographers Alfred Stieglitz and Edward Steichen were neighbors. The hotel’s ecosystem of boutiques, dining, cultural events, and thriving bar scene bring new life to the NoMad neighborhood. Roman & Williams designed the hotel with a combination of vintage and custom furnishings and objects, mixing original industrial patinas with felt, wool, and suede. Lobby focal points include an 18-foot laboratory table and a graffiti mural by collage artist Michael Anderson. The library combines a French bakery table, school chairs, and English wing chairs for a unique feel. For the lobby bar, Roman & Williams took the library of a Park Avenue apartment and installed it like a stage set. The rooms were designed with mid-century efficiency in mind—clothes racks instead of closets, constructed from bent plumbing pipes with hanging steel boxes; turntables with a collection of new and used records; and full- size vintage Smeg refrigerators, stocked with real food.