By Bob Nesoff
What do actor John Travolta, Yankee baseball great C.C. Sabathia and mob scion John Gotti Jr. have in common? New York’s hottest eatery for celebrity watching…the Hunt & Fish Club. Ordinary people frequent the H&F (as regulars refer to it) as well those you see in the movies, on television, the Broadway stage and those frequently named in newspaper and television gossip pages and television programs. Inconspicuously located on the north side of West 44thStreet (125 West 44th), those who enter the restaurant’s modest doorway are always greeted by a smiling employee be they major celebrity or a visiting tourist. Everyone who is in the restaurant is considered to be an honored guest and receives the same warm welcome and exquisite service as, say Travolta.
New York could easily match Paris for the number of fine restaurants within its borders. But while
Parisians are used to the “snob factor,” New York is much more laid back and accepting. That is
immediately obvious at H&F for celebrities and guests from Iowa.
Two of the main owners at H&F are former White House Communications Director, Anthony
“Mooch” Scaramucci. His tenure at H&F has long outlasted that of when he was in Washington. Mooch was there for only about 10 days when then President Donald Trump cut his stay short. Some put the ouster to a profanity-laced encounter during an interview. But then, Trump’s staff was on a revolving door.
Mooch’s partner, Nelson Braff, is generally the face of H&F and is ensconced there regularly. Braff’s background is as an attorney and finance assets manager. Apparently, that experience has worked well. Braff quietly makes his way around he restaurant with his eyes on everything from food presentation to ensuring that all is well with every guest.
Hunt & Fish was conceived in 2014 and in a business noted for the exceptionally short life span of
eateries in New York, it has defied the odds. It could not have existed with celebrity guests alone. Food is served by waiter staff professional and capable to be in virtually any eatery in the world. The kitchen staff is on the same par.
Chad Brown is one of the secret ingredients to the success. As head chef, his background and
experience guarantee the food served to gusts. At the tender age of 21 he became executive chef of an upstate New York Italian restaurant. A graduate of the prestigious school, the Culinary Institute of America (fondly called the “CIA,” but without the intrigue), he worked his way up from Chef De Partie to banquet chef of Michelin 20-star Italian restaurant the reviewer called “The best Italian restaurant in the country.”
Brown began life as a student studying mechanical engineering at Clarkson University. Step-by-step he watched, worked and learned to make fine meals, his true passion in life. Nelson Braff, singing the praises of Brown comments that the most popular dish at Hunt & Fish is the bone-in ribeye. That’s followed very closely the dish burnt lemon chicken.
Just in from the entrance is a bar most often populated by an upscale crowd of young executives,
entertainers and athletes. Patrons hardly give a glance at the likes of singer Will.I.Am, rapper Taboo, baseball’s pitchers such as former Mets Matt Harvey, known as “The Dark Knight,” and so many others relaxing with friends.
Upholstered seats along the wall offer a comfortable respite for those who want to give their feet a
rest. There they can chill while listening to the sounds of live piano music. Only steps from the bar is arguably one of the most elegant restaurants in New York City; or anywhere else for that matter. The room is fitted with beautiful marble and the restaurant is decorated with more than 50,000 pounds of the stone. All of this is sparkles under a gorgeous crystal chandelier. No expense has been spared to make Hunt & Fish an outstanding destination, but at the same time guests can
feel relaxed and “at home.”
One of the hallmarks of the H&F is the professional wait staff. In far too many eateries the staff will
hover, frequently snatching a plate as soon as the meal has been finished, making he diner uncomfortable. Here the staff is available, never staring or seeming to be waiting to move. But yet they have an ability to judge when a diner needs something.
As you might expect, the menu is somewhat pricey, but no one, celebrities and others do not seem to mind because the food and atmosphere deliver. You might expect exotic fare on the menu, but you’d be mistaken. You won’t find bison, venison, shark or octopus, but you will see Atlantic or Pacific Oysters, lobster cocktails, Alaskan King Crab and, as noted mouth-watering steaks. For those on a religious regimen, Hunt & Fish offers a specialty-cut kosher rib eye.
Oh, and that burnt lemon chicken, don’t let the term “burnt” fool you. The skin is blackened and the
meat is juicy and tender. Steaks, one of the more difficult to prepare because diner’s tastes run from almost raw to well-done. Fear not, a good chef will never spoil a steak no matter how the diner requests it. Even well-done are tender and juicy.
There is original artwork decorating the Club throughout and if you check out a section near the rear, you will see glass cases filled with inscribed steak knives. Each carries the name of an honored guest…and there are many.
The well-appointed lower level has recently bee home to a series of shows that are drawing raves
from attendees. Check with H&F to see what’s on tap and who is starring. Hunt & Fish Club not only earned a coveted rating from the Michelin Guide, it was rated five stars by New York Lifestyle Magazine. Why not give it a try?
Bar Open at 4 p.m.
Dining Room 5 p.m.-10:30 p.m.
Closed Sundays except for private functions
Hunt & Fish Club
125 West 44th St.