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Bistro of the Week

New York City

The tony Clarkson transports us to the days of the big game hunters (and the joint breathes)!

Manhattan is starting to ride again as the gastronaut-and-nightlife Mecca you always hear about, and then go…feh. And it’s evident in the opening this month of Clarkson, Chef Rachel Weitzman’s incredible transformation of a gigantic corner box at Varick Street and its namesake, in the south West Village.

Home to countless failed dining enterprises, it took a complete makeover to make this space, across from the newish butt-ugly IHOP (along the Holland Tunnel route), into a tony, handsome and most importantly, intimate destination spot. There’s a woody sporting club vibe to it all, the sort of place where Teddy Roosevelt would have regaled crowds on his trips to the bush. The designers smartly broke up the space into various drawing rooms.

What we like best, however, is the bar, which is the centerpiece and is U-shaped, so you can see everybody around you. Clarkson gives the term “watering hole” new meaning. Watch out for those cougars and pumas (or…don’t!). The wide bar is the spot to hit the raw fare, featuring heads-on prawns, clams, oysters, lobster tails, and stone crab claws. (We also super-dug the game-y braised beef shortribs, the fresh chunks of charred octopus, and the juicy and lean truffle-scented New York Strip, cut off the bone in two sublime filets. Do try the specialty cocktails, as its rare they’re any good. Too precious. But at Clarkson we gladly quaffed down a tequila-based libation called a French Intervention and an Old Fashioned Armagnac (with crushed bitters). Sorry boys, we don’t do that lavender puffery. Stick to strong, not florally.

This is going to be a hit, we predict, as it’s already drawing big after-work crowds, dressy too.

For all the menus, visit here.