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Jul 1, 2010 10:04 AM

West Side rooftop restaurants/bars?

My girlfriend is an utter maniac for fireworks but just broke her ankle last week, and so we can't dive into the usual scrum that describes running out onto the West Side Highway to see the 4oJ display.

I know that rooftop places are growing in popularity in New York [ages behind the custom in Istanbul, but better late than never, I guess]; are there any on the West Side that might afford an unimpeded view of the Hudson and the fireworks show? That there might be nice food and drink would be a real draw -and our budget is essentially unlimited (maniacal, like I said)- but frankly it's the space that is most important.

I can guess some of the West Village boutique hotels have something like what I need, but other suggestions are welcome. Thanks, as always.

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  1. Sorry to hear about her bad luck! Any place on the west side is likely to be crowded, but a couple of spots with rooftops are Hudson Terrace (46 b/w 11& West side Highway) and Press lounge on the top of the Ink Hotel. Hudson Terrace is usually a much busier scene but hard to predict what the atmosphere will be like for the 4th.

    Hudson Terrace
    621 W 46th St, New York, NY 10036

    1. The Empire Hotel, across the street from Lincoln Center has a rooftop bar has a 4th of July fireworks viewing party. Don't know if it's filled up yet.

      5 Replies
      1. re: Ann900

        Thank you, ortho & ann,
        I did some parallel research and came up with 'Press' and 'LeBain' (this latter on top of a hotel on Washington St. in the meatpacking district.) I tried to visit the former place last night for a gander, but there was a party of Canadian lawyers above and a glowering bouncer below -so no go just then- but I think that's where we'll end up.

        I have to say I was starting to freak out as the hours went by with no answers to my post. One of the great things about Chow is that the wise masses will answer anything at a moment's notice. [One OP yesterday was starting to bump when she hadn't gotten a single response 11 minutes on!] Thus, "Best place for gluten-free desserts with seasonal fruits?" -you'll get ten answers in twenty minutes. I figure it's because there really *aren't* a lot of places in NYC that take advantage of the water and that that's a shame and a wasted opportunity.
        Painful; I blame O & W Wright and Robert Moses.

        Anyway, I'll return here on Monday with a complete report. Thanks again.

        1. re: Phil Ogelos

          'LeBain' is on the top of the Standard Hotel, just opened this week and is THE hardest door in NYC. Unless you have connections and/or are incredibly beautiful specimens, you aint getting in.

          1. re: chow_gal

            As it happens, I am incredibly beautiful, chow_gal, and so wouldn't ever deign to fuss with steroidals at the door or inside of a place like the Standard.
            Thanks for the heads-up.

            1. re: Phil Ogelos

              I thought you were. You just seem it.

              1. re: chow_gal

                ... and you as well, cg, like flowers made of sugar.
                happy fourth of july, everyone.

      2. So, I went to the rooftop 'Press Lounge' in the Ink Hotel [48th & 11th Ave] to suss it out for tomorrow, as I promised I would.

        The space is beautiful. There are comfortable couches spread about on a limestone terrace, and two shallow, calming pools. The perimeter is chest-high glass-walled [acrophobes should stay away!], which adds to the sense of airiness. The views are good -especially of Midtown and the river- but probably not as fine as those from the Gansevoort, say, because the brace of new high-rises at the tail end of W.42nd are so ugly and characterless, and they obscure any glimpse of Lower Manhattan. I'd say the ratio of outside to inside space is around 7:1.

        Here's their deal for the fireworks: $225 per person buys an open bar and "farm-to-table" (!?!) appetizers from 6-10pm. The total capacity of the space is 240 people, and I was told that as of this evening they're about half-way to selling out.

        It'd certainly be a great place to see the fireworks; one's buying the space. I'm on the fence, though, with a per capita price that high, but we'll see. Still, I have to say -and as overpriced as the drinks themselves are- 'Press' is certainly a nice find (& one I sense never gets over-crowded) if you have out-of-towners visiting you, and the Ear Inn just doesn't have quite the wow-factor you're looking for for them.

        8 Replies
        1. re: Phil Ogelos

          that may be the most ridiculous 4th of July deal that I've seen yet. Half-full? Surprised at that, even.

          The Frying Pan has a $100 deal, I think, and it's on the water. Probably not as fancy as the places you're looking at, but come on, $225 for fireworks????

          The Frying Pan
          12th Ave and W 26th St, New York, NY 10001

          1. re: Phil Ogelos

            Ha! I was also there last night from about 8:30 to 11:00. we were told the same...half full at $225pp.

            1. re: Phil Ogelos

              What can I say, jane & coasts? Both of you are utterly right; but still, the city has its ways and, you know, il faut souffrir pour ĂȘtre belle.
              Anyway, and as coasts can confirm, it is a nice space. Not going there tonight, though -Brooklyn, and done.

              1. re: Phil Ogelos

                I had a very nice dinner at Smith & Baltic with three beautiful women -nice & mellow. No fireworks [well, not enough to leave a mark, anyway] but a good pair of postprandial pool matches.

                Just for the record though, did any ChowHound have a memorable [commercial] rooftop experience this evening? Press; Hudson Terrace; Empire Hotel; LeBain [I'm sure chow_gal was rocking out there -beyond THE hardest door!]; Frying Pan; anything else we missed?
                Do tell: pro bono publico!

                1. re: Phil Ogelos

                  Watched from my rooftop where I could see Press; perhaps everyone was up at the front but it seemed like it definitely wasn't full. Was actually surprised as while $225 is pricy, it isn't all that insane for Manhattan for a great view of the fireworks, open bar, and free appetizers from what is supposedly a solid restaurant food-wise. I figured more people would jump for it. The Frying Pan sounds like ti would be a pretty good deal; was it capped though? I can imagine that place could get a bit stifling if very crowded.

                  The Frying Pan
                  12th Ave and W 26th St, New York, NY 10001

                2. re: Phil Ogelos

                  Phil, you are absolutely right. the space is great and perfectly suitable for any regular night out. we took a friend for drinks after a birthday dinner at Toloache and she loved it. to be honest, i didn't think $225 was unreasonable for some...not me, but others.

                  251 West 50th Street, New York, NY 10019

                  1. re: Phil Ogelos

                    Haha didn't mean to sound like I was poo-pooing your choices. Hell, if I were a millionaire, I'm sure it's just the normal thing to do, but since I'm not... But when I first heard of it, I was shocked that a bar would have the gall to charge that much for... fireworks. but then again here, I feel like fireworks are cool, but not that big of a deal.

                    You know what's dumb though? My big residential building closes its roof deck for the 4th. I guess they're afraid of the drunk douchebaggery that would go on up there.

                    1. re: janethepain

                      Don't worry, Jane, I didn't take your post amiss. And indeed, it was my girlfriend who ended up saying, "I love fireworks, but $225 is too much." [My building in Tudor City couldn't have been more ideal for viewing when the show was on over the East River, and they always close the roofdeck on the 4th here, too.]

                      Completely by coincidence, I was taking a colleague visiting from out of town to brunch yesterday, and we ended up meeting around Lincoln Center. Waiting for her to arrive, I skipped up to the roof of the Empire just to see it. I don't know, but it gave out a funny vibe. The space was overly packed with lounge chairs and funny little curtained cabanas of the sort you find downstairs in the bar at the W Union Sq.. The bar at the Empire was the size of a small park bench.

                      There didn't feel as if there were any place to simply move, although there was an adjacent terrace, locked, that appeared to be a little less cluttered. With the two very large red neon "Empire Hotel" signs sitting less than 10 feet above the space, I can only imagine what the place is like at night. And, finally, there were notices prominently displayed everywhere saying "This facility for the use of hotel guests only." I may go once again after dark, just to see, but I'm skeptical.