Only Employees Only is to thank for NYC's current obsession with old school cocktailing. They were the pioneers. Without them, there is no Death & Co, Clover Club, Ward III, PDT, Little Branch...the list is endless. Employees Only paved the way and helped change the nightlife landscape in this city. Sure, it's always been a little pretentious, but we'll take a peacocked mixologist and his fancy drink over a bunch of Jersey goons and a bottle of Sky Vodka at a red-roped douchepad any day.
These days, Employees Only is not the hotspot it once was. But while the crowd might have lost a step, the cocktails have not, and it's still packed with people every time we stop by.
I still don't get the psychic in the front window. It was cute 10 years ago, but now it's a little tired. And speaking of tired, that's pretty much how we feel about the food here too. While E.O. can still be relied on for some Action at the Bar and a snack (bacon wrapped lamb chops), we don't suggest messing around with a full meal. This place is best used for drinks after your meal at Hudson Clearwater, Takashi, or The Spotted Pig.
Bacon Wrapped Lamb Chops
The best dish on the menu, hands down. Instead of coming for dinner, come for drinks and chase them down with an order the bacon wrapped lamb chops and the steak tartare. That's a respectable meal.
Hand-Cut Steak Tartare
Second best thing on the menu. While this tartare doesn't compete with Post Office in Brooklyn, it's still pretty damn good. We were impressed with the tableside preparation and the option of adding hot sauce.
Mussel & Squid
Eh, this is OK, but isn't necessarily something you need to order. You want to know what pulls the entire dish together? The polenta fritter. If you take a little forkful of that and combine it with some of the mussels, octopus and roasted cherry tomatoes, you can put together a decent bite.
Cucumber & Radish Salad
This is a solid salad, but you better like dill, because that's pretty much all you can taste. Apparently there's some kind of poppy seed vinaigrette, but you won't notice it.
Crispy Skate Paprikás
This is lightly fried skate with spaetzle and crème fraîche. Fried skate is questionable. It would seem to me that if you're going to fry some fish, you might as well just serve me fish and chips. I did, however, enjoy the presentation and the combination of flavors on the plate. I might order it again if I was absolutely starving.
Roasted Half Chicken
As you've probably heard someone tell you before, you can allegedly tell a lot about a restaurant by how good their chicken dish is. By that standard, Employees Only is in trouble. After one bite of this roasted chicken, it was evident that this meal was over. They should probably take this off the menu.