After living in New York for almost ten years, keeping up with the trendiest foodie hotspots has become like a second job (or third I guess since blogging is already my second). You can’t live in New York without hearing about the neweset, hippest, and best restaurants without needing to try them. So aside from rent and travel, my next biggest expense trying out all the best restaurants NYC has to offer.
As a resident Upper East Sider, I was psyched when I heard that the next “it” restaurant was on the Upper East Side. This rarely happens, so I had to make a reservation, stat. This was no easy feat either, even for a Wednesday night. Months after being opened, the only available times when I called a few days prior to when I was hoping for a reservation were 5:00 and 9:15. I took the 9:15 and ran.
When we arrived at The Arlington Club, I realized why it was so difficult to get a table. This place was a scene. Not the same kind of scene as the Lower East Side, this was a scene for Upper East Side cougars, financiers and a generally an older crowd, clearly looking for a fun night out. The bar was mobbed, one woman told us they had a waiting list for bar stools. I don’t believe to be true since I stole her seat shortly after she stumbled out. Before she left she drunkenly slurred how much the bartender loved her. Since she apparently loved me as well, she waived the bartender down and put in a good word for me before leaving: “This is the coolest girl I’ve ever met.” Not a bad impression for 30 seconds worth of small-talk, right? I had found myself a fine specimen of a very drunk, Upper East Side cougar.
As usual, I digress. As I mentioned, our reservation was for 9:15 but we waited until after 10pm to be seated. While I was enjoying the bar scene and my $15 glass of wine, I was getting a bit hungry by this point. We were finally seated upstairs, which is where you want to be. We were greeted by a waitress who was nice enough. As a foodie, I always love hearing the staff’s recommendations and about the restaurant’s specialties. It was clear from the start though, the waitress was not well educated about the menu. Thank goodness I was armed with my foodie knowledge after reading every review of the place I could get my hands on.
I asked how much food we should order, not knowing how large side dishes, appetizers and salads were and she stared blankly back at me, albeit with a smile. She proclaimed, “I don’t know it depends how hungry you are.” Great, I thought, you have no semblance of a clue.” I smiled back and asked for another minute. After returning about ten minutes later, I asked about these parmesan fries I had seen online, she said, nope, our fries don’t come with anything. Hmm, curious. I then asked if they had soy paper for the sushi since I really am not a fan of seaweed. She said they did not but then named off a few rolls that didn’t have seaweed, which we promptly ordered even after reading the New York Times’ harsh review.
The sushi arrived–with seaweed. When we mentioned this to her, just so she should know for the future, she looked dumbfounded as if we had never discussed my aversion for it. We had the rock shrimp roll, which happened to be delicious, despite the waitresses incompetence. We then waited nearly 30 more minutes for our food, which at this point was nearly midnight. It arrived, lukewarm and rather mediocre. My husband ordered the skirt steak and I got the filet mignon. They were both decent but not out of this world by any means, and also, not very hot. The fries were plain and cold. The macaroni and cheese, while prepared professionally so that each noodle could crisp perfectly on top, was burnt and the gruyere flavor a bit overwhelming. The blue cheese sauce we ordered for our steak was pretty much the saving grace of our meal as I put it on almost everything we ordered. The barbecue sauce was decent as well, which of course our waitress didn’t inform us was included so we also ordered the peppercorn sauce, which was ehh. Pretty much though, the meal went downhill for me after the delicious popovers, which were bizarrely and served with half-sour pickles ( a desperate attempt to mimic trendier steakhouses in BK).
Honestly, I could have gotten over the mediocre food if the service hadn’t been so pitiful. The restaurant was empty by the time we were dining and the staffers just stood around in the back talking the entire night blatantly making fun of their customers. I had a front row seat to this, which also significantly diminished my experience. The bathroom upstairs was a disgusting disaster, paper towels and toilet paper on the floor. Nothing says fancy steakhouse like a filthy bathroom five feet away from your table. This griminess was compounded by the fact that two very drunk older women proceeded to stumble in minutes later and get sick. Someone, who I can assume to be the manager sent in a busboy who carried out a bag, holding it as far away from himself as possible, as if it might contain radioactive materials. I was left to my imagination as I ate my meal. As this was going on, I watched an order of parmesan fries whiz by me. I mentioned this to my waitress when I went to pay the bill and I saw a look of recognition flash across her face, “Oh yea, I guess we do have those. Sorry.”
The entire experience at The Arlington Club was anything but cool. While the bi-level, open space itself is beautiful and has potential, unless you’re a member of the Upper East Side baby boomer generation, this scene isn’t hip at all. It reminds me of somewhere the Real Housewives of New York would frequent because this is likely the only “hotspot” they might be considered celebrity. Unless the staffers think that you are worth anything, you will be treated poorly. Something I’m not a fan of if I’m paying nearly $50 for a piece of meat. Save your money and skip the Arlington Club.