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Our Favorite Fashion-Forward Restaurants in New York

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Word on the street: René Redzepi of “World’s Best Restaurant” fame will sprout a Noma pop-up at Spring Place, in the thick of New York Fashion Week. Women’s Wear Daily clarifies that it is not open to the public. Vogue calls the Danish chef the food world’s Raf Simons—and with a prix fixe menu rumored cost a little less than the Calvin Klein Chief Creative Officer’s $695 Wool Twill Western Shirt, their assessment is valid.

Lucky for us, and whoever else is in town for New York Fashion Week, there are still plenty of fashionable restaurants left to dine in—before, in between, after, and/or completely unrelated to the next few days’ shows. And we don’t mean fashionable restaurants as in, “these are so hot right now.” Nope. We mean: Here’s where to eat and shop, or vice versa, because you’re feverishly inspired by the street style you’ve witnessed and need to re-cultivate your look, stat. Gawk at next spring’s most exciting ready-to-wear collections, but eat like it’s late summer/early fall—a very doable task, considering the menus at these fashion-forward restaurants lean seasonal.

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Like the brands these stores carry, the food is no slouch. Expect New York-y sounding salads (the Waldorf, the Gotham); hefty wine lists; fruits de mer; and a dress code, official or not.

We came. We brunched. We conquered.

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Freds, Barneys

Whether you're power-lunching uptown or in between shows downtown, there's a Freds (and a Barneys) for you. Madison Avenue has a larger menu, plus a 1-item kids menu (pancakes!), and 9th-floor views, and 7th Avenue has a larger cocktail list—one that nods to proximal neighborhoods. (Try the Nolita Sangria, with crème de mure, Aperol, apple brandy, and rosé.) Estelle's Chicken Soup ("Grandma’s recipe to cure colds and stay thin"), on both menus, is a fan favorite; its Neapolitan-style pizzas, dressed with homemade mozzarella and imported-from-Italy olive oil and tomatoes, are wonderful in all their iterations (but especially in the simple, white Emilia Romagna, which—fun fact—won a Pizza of the Year award in Naples in 2004). barneys.com.

The Polo Bar, Ralph Lauren

Eating at the dinner-only, reservations-required embodiment of Ralph Lauren's Americana-forward brand is a rite of passage for anyone proud of our country's contributions to fashion. A quick browse on Open Table shows you'd be hard-pressed to find a slot from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. in the next few weeks, but timing hardly matters in a refreshingly maximalist atmosphere like this. The Polo Bar eschews fashionable distance for homey upholstered brown leather, plaid accents, and very equestrian vibes, highlighting what's always drawn people to the iconic fashion house in the first place: authenticity. This shines brightest in the dessert menu, replete with familiar items like strawberry shortcake, a walnut-studded brownie, and its famous coffee ice cream with dark chocolate shortbread cookies. (Might be worth nabbing that 10 p.m. spot for?) From time to time, the beef is supplied by the designer's Double RL ranch in Colorado, but even when not, Ralph's Corned Beef Sandwich is perfection on marble rye. 1 E. 55th St.; ralphlauren.com.

BG Restaurant

The restaurant on the 7th floor of Bergdorf may overlook a contemporary Central Park, but the insides hearken Belle Époque Paris, dotted with plush, high-backed chairs and regal dishes like Lobster Napoleon, which is layered with fresh pasta, chanterelle mushrooms, and truffle butter. This is where you want to come for afternoon tea, where leaves like Anji white tea, which is harvested for just under two weeks a year, would send your pinky soaring up. Their signature Gotham Salad (diced chicken, ham, Gruyère, tomato, bacon, beets, hard-boiled egg, crisp lettuce, Thousand Island or vinaigrette), though, meets old France and modern New York halfway. 754 5th Ave.; bergdorfgoodman.com.

The Ace Hotel, Opening Ceremony

Okay, okay: The two April Bloomfield restaurants, fantastic lobby bar, and Stumptown Coffee outpost is not exactly a part of their floormate Opening Ceremony, but they're a (whiskey) stone's throw away from the trendy boutique, stocked with relevant highly talked-about designers like Dries Van Noten, Kenzo, Rachel Comey, and its own popular line of kinda-crazy-but-it-works clothing and accessories. The Breslin has long been known to house the city's best lamb burger, and The John Dory Oyster Bar is the laid-back alternative to the white-tablecloth fare on the more-northern parts of Madison and 5th Avenues. Once the laptops clear out of the lobby, finding seats (with room for shopping bags) is not too much of a struggle. Listen to the nightly DJ (or live band) and sip on a drink that includes their homemade pickle juice. 20 W. 29th St.; acehotel.com.

Courtesy Armani / Ristorante
Courtesy Armani / Ristorante

Armani / Ristorante

You have to walk up the otherworldly staircase of Armani's Fifth Avenue boutique, past the tiny Armani / Dolci chocolate stall, to arrive at the sleek restaurant, where silver and black reign. The Milan-based brand has 20 restaurants across the globe (five in its hometown alone), but only two in the Americas. (The other branch is in Santiago, Chile.) Of course you should expect tightly curated Italian food, and you can rely on the buratta to lead you (with pleasure and best-quality balsamic) from antipasti to primi piatti, where pastas in shapes you're unlikely to have encountered take you to simple, meat-centric entrees that aren't crowded with strong flavors. Eat the courses in order, or pick and choose; just make sure you end with a strong espresso. 717 Fifth Ave.; armanirestaurants.com.

What are your favorite department store and boutique restaurants, in or out of New York?

Tags: department stores, fashion week, fashion