One of the joys of life in a city of hard knocks is wandering into a restaurant and finding a party in full swing. Suddenly, you feel you're in the right place at the right time.
Of course, it isn't entirely surprising to find the downtown denizen dining in Hell's Kitchen; after all, Field was the costume designer and stylist who brought downtown glamour and rock star fashion to "Sex and the City" (as well as "The Devil Wears Prada" and "Ugly Betty").
Ever since the gay center of Manhattan moved north from Chelsea to Hell's Kitchen (affectionately known as Hellsea), midtown west has been percolating with popular eateries and new nightclubs.
For those who have yearned for a sexy and reputable restaurant at the far western edges of 42nd Street, KTCHN is a dream fulfilled on that historically bawdy stretch.
KTCHN's front room, which seats 35, is a sleek, gleaming vision of white leather, Lucite, and marble with floor-to-ceiling glass windows facing 42nd Street. A larger dining room behind the bar is a more restrained affair with plush banquettes, wood floors, and a long communal dining table.
In other words, you eat in the main dining room for the first date - and then enjoy brunch in the front room on the morning after.
Backed by the same team that runs Eatery and Whym, two other popular Hell's Kitchen restaurants, KTCHN is helmed by Executive Chef Dale Schnell, whose background includes stints at Artisanal and The Setai in New York. The modern American cuisine is an amalgam of traditional and nouveau comfort food, with a seasonal menu that features grilled black sea bass with poached squid, grilled ahi tuna with spaghetti squash, and diver sea scallops served with asparagus risotto.
Sunday brunch at KTCHN is a bit like walking into the Miss'd America pageant in Atlantic City, or Lucky Cheng's on the morning after an all-night bridesmaids' blow-out, the room a-buzz with the chatter from a panoply of New Yorkers, including little old ladies with walkers escorted by fashionable young aesthetes, and Manhattan hipsters as skinny as wraiths, as sexy as models, encased in sausage leggings, which elongate their bodies so that they look like walking spoons. The overall effect is akin to those raucous and bibulous morning-after brunches in Miami Beach or Provincetown with local C-list celebrities and one-name deejays.
Entertainment at Sunday brunch at KTCHN is provided by The Haus of Mimosa, a larger-than-life comedic duo, whose Italian-American, character-driven comedy show features musical performances and off-color punch lines about menu items, such as "How about that sausage? Short but girthy."
Some of the merry mayhem is fueled by the "Make It Your Own Mary Bar," a DIY Bloody Mary bar with three house mixes and "all the fixins'", including smoked bacon, capers, fresh peppers, pickled veggies, cucumbers, cheeses, aged balsamic, and olives.
Soak up some of the alcohol with Maine crab cakes served with a piquant remoulade sauce. A grilled yellowfin tuna sandwich comes with ancho chili aioli, while the signature "Sexy Fries" are dusted with salt, vinegar, smoked paprika, and garlic. Thick cut French toast is as thick as a brick and lighter than air and served with berry compote, fresh ricotta, and spiced vanilla Vermont maple syrup. It's every bit as tasty as it sounds.
At this point, you might consider taking a breather. Sit back and sip another cup of coffee - and then order the fresh donuts for two served with a trio of dipping sauces in chocolate, salted caramel and raspberry. (After a meal at KTCHN, you'll better understand why so many New Yorkers walk.)
This season, get into Manhattan's KTCHN for some good, sexy fun.
508 West 42nd Street (near Tenth Avenue), New York, NY 10036