Can a restaurant in a luxury retail store ever live up to the best standalone fine dining establishments in the world? We decided to find out. In our ongoing series, Retail Restaurants, we go in search of the best restaurants in luxury retail stores in cities around the world. In this edition, we review the Zodiac Room, one of three restaurants at the new Neiman Marcus at Hudson Yards in New York.
One upon a time, when everyone shopped retail, the dining options in even the best luxury department stores were not really about the food.
They were about the glamorous setting, the people-watching, the convenience, and the chance to gab and gossip with your shopping companions. If the food was good, that was just a nice extra. The real point was to be surrounded by a chic setting and a fashionable clientele of your peers.
Fast forward, and all of that has changed. As retailers fight to stay relevant and to lure shoppers off their sofas, the retail restaurant is experiencing a major renaissance and rejuvenation.
Around the world, luxury retailers seem to be doubling down on the idea that food is a core part of what attracts shoppers to retail. And that having an exclusive, buzzed-about restaurant is mission-critical to their success.
We love shopping retail. And we love eating at interesting restaurants. But does one plus one equal more than two when you combine this pair of beloved experiences? Dear reader, we decided to find out.
our review of the zodiac room at neiman marcus hudson yards
The Zodiac Room is the flagship restaurant at the new Neiman Marcus. Named after the original in the Dallas store, the New York iteration borrows many of the signature elements of its southern sister. You’ll find it on the 7th floor of the store.
The space is expansive, and includes a bar for casual dining, a long narrow room that’s perfect for people-watching, an alcove for private dining, and a large main dining room with spectacular views of 10th Avenue. On a clear day, you can see the Statue of Liberty.
The furnishings are quiet and understated. This restaurant is much more about the view and your fellow diners than it is about bold interior design statements. There are brushed-gold screens and Art Deco light fixtures. The booths and tables are simple and modern. The glow in the room is a flattering golden light. It’s all extremely civilized.
The service we experienced was exemplary – attentive, prompt and friendly. Unlike many of the new eateries at the new Hudson Yards, here the staff seemed highly polished and ready for the rush of traffic to see the new space.
There were no stumbles when we were there, and we give the team style points for knowing all about the in-store event that we had attended just before lunch.
The food and drink
On the menu, there are several signature Neiman Marcus dishes, including popovers and strawberry butter. For lunch, there are also seasonal salads, sandwiches, substantial entrées, bubbly and caviar. In other words, festive and fancy food.
We know a good popover when we see it, and these are really good. The strawberry butter is pretty in its little ramekin – on the piping-hot bread, it plays the role of both butter and jam in one elegant swoop.
Our companion ordered the French Onion soup, and he was quite happy with his choice.
We saved room for our entree while we sipped a glass of surprisingly good Chardonnay. We can vouch for the quiche as an excellent choice.
The duck salad was also a huge hit.
If you have fond memories of the zenith of grand old department stores, where people dressed up to shop and it was a huge deal to have a meal at a retail store, then you will love the Zodiac Room. It took us back to the days of lunch with our mother and the thrill of being in such a swanky environment.
The crowd the day we were there was spirited and diverse in every possible way. We saw a chic group of ladies having lunch. A grandfather and his grandchildren.
A group of friends in jeans. It was tough to say who was a visitor and who was a native New Yorker. Somehow, it really didn’t matter.
the bottom line
Bottom line? This is a splendid way to spend a lunch or dinner with friends and family. It’s too bustling to be described as romantic, but there is a lovely sense of place and gracefulness that permeate this space.
We’ll definitely be back, and we think if you try it, you will, too.
Lunch: Monday-Friday 11:30A-5:00P
Dinner: Monday-Saturday 5:00-8:00P, Sunday 5:00-6:00P
Reservations: (646) 562-3599
We’ll be continuing our series on the best restaurants in retail stores in New York City and in the world. It’s a tough job, visiting the great shopping emporiums of the world and sampling their dining options. But someone has to do it, dear reader. We’ll report back. In the meantime, bon appetit!
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