Imagine spending several years in a basement working on a machine that could send a piece of paper across the world in a matter of seconds. You work nights and weekends, and when you finally finish, your friends and loved ones inform you that you’ve just recreated the fax machine. Your invention is still useful in limited scenarios, but, much like TAK Room, it isn’t nearly as impressive as it would’ve been 70 years ago.
TAK Room is the latest NYC restaurant from Thomas Keller, the chef behind Per Se and the French Laundry, and it looks like a place from the 1950s where you might celebrate a merger or your fourth marriage. It’s boring, old-fashioned, and extremely expensive - but a lot of the food is good enough to make you feel like minor royalty, and you’ll find this restaurant useful if you need to plan a special dinner with a wealthy uncle who only leaves his castle on Long Island once every 15 years.
While TAK room feels like going back in time, it’s located inside Hudson Yards, the massive, shiny real estate development that will almost definitely be the place where robots turn against us. To get here, you enter the enormous mall, make a left at the Cartier store, pass Van Cleef & Arpels, then take four escalators to the fifth floor, all while wondering which alien civilization built this place and for whom. Once inside, you speak to a host, then walk up a carpeted spiral staircase where you’ll talk to a second host - at which point you realize the first person you encountered was actually some kind of pre-host, and your brain begins to hurt. It’s more confusing than it is welcoming.
The main dining room is just behind the host stand, and it’s a large, dimly-lit space full of velvet furniture, pristine white tablecloths, and waiters dressed like they’re heading to a wedding reception or an important deposition. It’s an attractive room, but it has about as much personality as a country club, and you immediately get the (correct) sense that you’re about to be addressed as Mr. or Ms. for the duration of your meal. And this is just one of the many ways in which TAK Room feels outdated.
If you found TAK Room’s menu washed up on a beach, you might assume it came from a luxury liner that sank a half-century ago. It has dishes like oysters Rockefeller and an iceberg salad, for example, as well as a salty crab cake and a bowl of fancy potato chips with excellent creamy onion dip. Entrees are similarly opulent, and they range from an $85 filet of Dover sole so delicate and flavorless your mind tries to fill in the blanks by imagining what it should taste like, to a few different steaks (ranging $75-$166), and an extremely tender $66 veal chop that might just be what humans had in mind when they decided to start eating meat. There’s also a take on lobster thermidor with creamy bisque, crispy puff pastry, and plenty of lobster. Like most things here, it’s luxurious, satisfying, and implausibly expensive.
With its stuffy yacht-club atmosphere and servers who act like they’re at cotillion, TAK Room feels about as relevant as a fax machine. That said, the food is mostly well-executed, and if you squint really hard, you can pretend you’re at a dinner party thrown by Jackie O. This isn’t enough to make it worth a trip to Hudson Yards, and you shouldn’t intentionally burn through a stack of money here - but if someone asks you to find a place with lobster thermidor and you get the feeling that you won’t be paying, get a shoeshine and arrive hungry.
These deviled eggs are priced individually, which we find hilarious. But they’re very good and creamy, and in the context of this white-tablecloth restaurant, they’re definitely worth $3 each.
What’s a Kennebec potato? It’s just a type of potato that’s especially good for frying. That isn’t really important, but we thought you should know - and you should also be aware that these Kennebec potato chips come in a big glass bowl with some onion dip that tastes like an excellent version of what you get in a jar at a grocery store. If you want to feel like you’re at a fancy baby shower in 1955, order away.
On the menu, it says that this salad is prepared tableside - so we ordered it, and braced ourselves for an exhilarating experience. Would the server mix it fast or take it slow? Would the dressing be added all at once? Would any croutons fall out of the mixing bowl and land on the floor? We never learned the answer to any of these questions, because our salad arrived premixed from the kitchen. And it was boring and overpriced.
At a vegetable beauty pageant, this dish would take home - at the very least - a bronze medal. Or a bronze ribbon (or whatever). It’s an immaculate salad consisting of an avocado and various other fresh vegetables with what tastes like fancy Russian dressing, and it’s a good, light snack. It’s hard to justify spending $18 on it - but just take a deep breath, and come to terms with the fact that your check is going to run well into the triple digits.
When we close our eyes and picture the nicest nursing home in the world, this is what’s on the menu for dinner. It’s old-school and luxurious, with a rich bisque and plenty of lobster, and it makes us feel like oil barons who finally quit the oil game and decided to spend more time enjoying the finer things in life. Also, it’s $85.
We’ve had plenty of veal, and we can confidently say that this is some of the veal-iest veal we’ve ever eaten. It’s a thick cut that’s incredibly tender, and if you’re looking to spend $60+ on an entree here, it’s one of your best options.
At the end of your meal, a server will come by with little menu, and you’ll have to decide whether you want dessert. The correct answer is: yes, you do. And there are several reasons for this. First off, if you’re at TAK Room, it’s probably a special occasion. Also, this chocolate cake is dense, moist, and wonderful, and, after all those lobsters thermidor, it’s not like this is going to make a huge dent in your tab.