What’s Haute: New York including Townhouse Spa, La Caprice, Avenue, Piccola Cucina

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Le Caprice

The original Le Caprice opened in London more than 60 years ago, and has remained a British hotspot since reopening in 1981. This October, a New York edition of the London institution opened at the Pierre Hotel on the Upper East Side. The medium-sized restaurant seats 74 with room for an additional dozen or so at the sleek black bar. Martin Brudnizki designed the space, which is a contemporary version of the chic white and black original. Like the London restaurant, the photography of British legend David Bailey adorns the walls. British Chef Michael Hartnell presides over a menu that combines new dishes with London favorites like Thai-baked sea bass, Dorset crab with celeriac rémoulade, and Scandinavian iced berries with white chocolate sauce, to name a few. Le Caprice serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner seven days a week to a decidedly elite crowd that includes a steady stream of celebrities like Anna Wintour and Jennifer Lopez.

Le Caprice is located at 795 Fifth Avenue in the Pierre Hotel, across the street from Central Park.

 When she opened the spa three years ago, creative director Jamie Ahn drew on a number of aesthetic influences from Africa, Asia, and South America.

Townhouse Spa

In desperate need of a manicure but can’t miss that lunchtime conference call? At Townhouse Spa, choosing between work and play will no longer haunt your conscience. You can take private meetings and work on your laptop all while receiving one of the city’s poshest pedicures in the spa’s Phoenix Suite.

The lounge serves up light meals and signature anti-oxidant rich cocktails of exotic mangosteen fruit and Champagne. You can also watch one of the many LCD televisions, browse through the music library and even play X-Box video games on the boys’ floor. Yes, there is a floor for boys and one for girls too. With its dark mahogany finishes, the 6,000-square-foot spa is decidedly business-like and gender neutral.

When she opened the spa three years ago, creative director Jamie Ahn drew on a number of aesthetic influences from Africa, Asia, and South America. Signature treatments include the Cosmecellular Facial, which is tailored to age and skin type, and the Hybrid Massage, which mixes a number of different massage techniques. The first-floor boutique proves its hauteness, not just with the vast array of cosmetics and skin care products but with the bathrobes for puppies that we adore. The spa is conveniently open until 9 p.m. and later upon request. Private memberships are also available.

Townhouse Spa is located at 39 West 56th St. between Fifth & Sixth Avenues.

Avenue

Noah Tepperberg and Jason Strauss of the Strategic Group are busy men. They currently run the restaurant and nightclub Lavo at The Palazzo Resort-Hotel-Casino and are set to open a New York version of it on 58th Street this spring. They are also in the midst of helping revamp New York Italian restaurant Artichoke along with owners Tony Basille and Francis Garcia, and are responsible for Marquee, the A-list Chelsea nightclub.

Tepperberg and Strauss’ latest addition to Manhattan nightlife, Avenue, opened this summer to resounding success. Avenue is not a club, but has been billed by the dynamic duo as a gastrolounge—an exclusive, intimate, star-studded space that is currently one of the hottest destinations in the Meatpacking District. You don’t go to Avenue to dance, but to sample new twists on classic drinks and have scintillating conversation with New York’s most elite clientele or visiting starlets and leading men from Tinseltown.

While you’re there, you can also try the playful dinner menu that features twists on our favorite comfort food like Kobe beef sliders, grilled cheese, popcorn shrimp, and what Tepperberg described for Haute Living as a “fantastic pretzel dog.” The food is served in bento-like boxes on raised tables into the wee hours of the morning. But for a pure lounge experience, be sure to head to the second floor.

Avenue is located at 116th Tenth Ave. in the Meatpacking District.

Piccola Cucina

Three months ago, Sicilian brothers Philip and Christian Guardione opened Piccola Cucina in Soho. The infectiously positive Executive Chef Philip oversees the menu while the more reserved Christian keeps a lower profile handling the business aspects of being a restaurateur. The intimate Italian restaurant, which only seats about 25, focuses on the food itself, rather that the fuss around it.

The brothers make a point of using fresh, authentic Italian ingredients. That means constantly shipping in buffalo mozzarella from Naples for a Caprese salad with cherry tomatoes from Puglia, swordfish from Messina, and wines from Italy. Simplicity is the motto, and it is reflected in dishes like a creamy mushroom risotto made using only rice, olive oil, and porcini mushrooms. But don’t let the seeming simplicity fool you; Chef Guardione is constantly finessing the seasonal menu, which changes every three months. The cuisine is mimicked by the elegant, understated décor in a space designed by Italian architect Pane Pinto.

The warm, inviting atmosphere is no coincidence. “The first lesson in this restaurant is to smile,” explains Philip Guardione. Finish your meal off with an impeccable cappuccino and a cannoli so rich, it is definitely for sharing. You will undoubtedly leave smiling—if you can fit out the door.

Piccola Cucina is located at 184 Prince St. between Thompson and Sullivan.

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