One of the most anticipated new bars in NYC, The Office from Chicago's Alinea group, officially opened its doors Friday night and we just happened to score one of the last reservations. Located at the top of the Mandarin Oriental Hotel, The Office took over the space that used to be MoBar while the attached Lobby Lounge is currently undergoing construction for the full service restaurant The Aviary. For now the entrance to The Office is at a door to the right but according to Eater NY the future plan is for guests to enter through The Aviary, be escorted through the kitchen and then enter the bar in true speakeasy fashion from the back.
The room is decorated with deep brown couches, soft lights illuminating pieces of artwork and a collection of antique office items like an old fashioned typewriter and thick stacks of leather bound books. The bar currently has a small list of drinks specializing in Chartreuse and "Dusty Bottle Cocktails" created with vintage liquors at expense account prices. Mr. T began with an incredible Old Fashioned with strawberry, fernet and orange oil while I tried the more adventurous Passionfruit with rum, Dijon mustard, chartreuse and egg white.
Both drinks were delicious. I may give a slight upper hand to the Old Fashioned since the small addition of strawberry really gave a wonderful balance to the classic orange zest and bourbon. Of course I've never had a drink made with mustard and I can honestly say it was wonderful.
The food menu includes snacks like Foie Gras Terrine with strawberry jam, Salmon Rillets with creme fraiche and one incredibly delicious bowl of Mussels.
When this gorgeous bowl arrived the waiter informed us these mussels were made using the classic french technique of butter. He was joking of course but once I took a bite I completely understood his candor; this was some of the most delicious broth I have ever tasted. So creamy and buttery with big cloves of roasted garlic, leeks and smokey bacon squares studding the plump juicy clams.
Prime Ribeye Tartare decorated with edible flowers and a salted egg yolk was our second dish of the evening. The meat was velvety smooth and I appreciated the cornichons and mustard ailoi presented on side rather than on top but $40 for this small sized portion felt a bit excessive.
Overall I enjoyed my night at The Office. The drinks were tasty and the decor was elegant but this is certainly not going to be a regular stop by any means. The price point is just a bit too high when other places in the city are making cocktails even more inventive and delicious (for example Mace in the East Village). I'm also not sold on the super-aged spirits. Once they leave the barrel there'not much that happens in the bottle except oxidization over the course of opening and closing the bottle which just makes the flavor worse and $100 + is just too much to pay for a faded old Gin or Whiskey drink for me.
Mandarin Oriental Hotel
80 Columbus Circle
New York, NY 10023