TAK Room

I've been looking forward to Thomas Keller's new restaurant, the eponymous TAK1 Room, located in the new Hudson Yards project near the Javits Center on the west side of Manhattan. Regular checks on Resy2 proved fruitful when they started showing openings three weeks out at the end of March, although calls to reservations couldn't confirm a formal policy for opening reservations. On April 3rd, reservations opened-up into May and I was able to secure a reservation for four during our next weekend in New York.

The weather was quite nice, so rather than take the subway, we had a brisk walk above-ground from our hotel near Gramercy Park. While Google Maps had the more accurate travel time (27 minutes vs. 43 minutes for Apple Maps), it brought us to the neighbouring, unconnected, 10 Hudson Yards instead. Once we made our way into the mall, we worked our way up the escalators3 and to the fifth floor, where the reception desk and small seating area was tucked into a dark but comfortable (in a plush 1950s-style lounge way) corner. Our dining guests had not yet arrived, and we were offered to either wait at the bar, or find our way to our table4. We accepted the offer to find our way to the table, and were lead up plushly carpeted spiral stairs to the sixth floor which housed the principal restaurant.

TAK Room

Entrance from the mall

The stairs opened to a bar area which would have been quite a nice (and pricey) waiting area, but quickly gave way to two-person tables with booths tucked-away in alcoves, with dim lighting suitable to maintain privacy even in a crowded restaurant. We kept walking; to our left (and the west) was another area that appeared to be an extension of the dining room, and we walked past the doorway to the kitchen and a hallway leading to the bathrooms which overlooked the mall outside the restaurant entrance. We then arrived at a small room with only three booths, the first two fitting about four people and the last one looking like it could probably fit another couple comfortably. Opposite the tables was a viewing window looking straight at Hudson Yard's iconic Vessel5, and beyond it a cruise ship and then New Jersey.6

Vessel and NJ

View from our table

Drinks menus were already present when we sat down. My wife ordered one of the cocktails while I perused the wine list, trying to find the section on sparkling French wines. The selection was not as extensive as some of Mr. Keller's other restaurants, but contained a wide selection from both the Americas and Europe. While many restaurants like to put Champagnes right-up front, at the TAK room, they waited their place with the rest of the French selection. Our dinner companions were more in the mood for a red wine, so the sommelier suggested a couple of nice Italian wines which turned out to be quite good companions to our dinners. While the Lobster Thermidor piqued my attention, the strength of the menu admittedly rested in its beef7. Jamie and I split the beef Wellington which was brought-out and sliced at the table. Admittedly, the only beef Wellington I had for comparison was a frozen-dinner style—so basically none. What I had before me was beautiful (more focus on presentation than Bouchon), with flaky pastry and deliciously tender and buttery steak inside of it. If you do not feel like red meat, one of our group had the King Salmon which she also praised. Regardless of what you order, save room for dessert. The cheesecake was delicious, but the correct choice is almost certainly the K+M chocolate cake.

Beef Wellington

Dinner of Beef Wellington

Cracker Jack

After dinner snack of Cracker Jack

After dinner, the maître d'hôtel stopped by and chatted. We talked about his time at Per Se, how excited he was to be opening the new restaurant, and how crazy the transition was. Apparently he'd worked his last day at Per Se the day before the TAK Room opened, and basically gone straight to the TAK Room's opening without any sleep. He enthused about the energy present in the new restaurant, and the energy was apparent from the people with whom we interacted. This wasn't the well-oiled machine of a three-star restaurant like TFL or Per Se, but the service was still top-notch and eager to please.

Unlike temples of fine dining (including the chef's own Per Se and the French Laundry), the most important aspect of the service is the sense of energy and social interaction. "Yes, we want to be able to filet that Dover sole…beautifully, but if the steak gets to the table a minute before the sole does, that's okay," Keller said.

TAK Room doesn’t tout exotic ingredients or lengthy formal courses, says Keller. Rather, the focus is on the quality of the food and the exceptional service.

“This should be a restaurant where people can come anytime during the day or evening and really enjoy themselves without feeling that they're in a fine dining environment.”

To be sure, reservations are nowhere near as difficult to get as at Thomas Kellar's famous flagship location, The French Laundry, but as the culinary anchor to the hottest new place to visit in New York, I was a little anxious that we might have trouble getting a reservation that worked with our schedule. Since the American Express concierge was the easiest way to many of Mr. Kellar's existing restaurants, I had tried them earlier which proved counter-productive. For similar atmosphere, albeit less pretentious, and with views of the Brooklyn Bridge instead, The Rever Cafe provides a more authentic atmosphere of classic New York. One criticism, beyond simply the price, is that the TAK room is really just Mr. Keller's Miami restaurant re-created in Manhattan; I wouldn't know, as I haven't eaten there, and I don't particularly care even if that is the case. The TAK room knows what it wants to be, and its execution is incredibly enjoyable.


View from the deck seating

  1. Thomas Aloysius Keller

  2. the OpenTable competitor popular with many big restaurants in principally NYC and San Francisco

  3. The first couple of floors were configured to maximize foot-traffic, forcing you to walk around to go up to a higher level, while the higher floors had adjacent escalators going in the same direction

  4. I was surprised we were offered, unprompted, to wait at the table without our full party.

  5. The working title of the structure, although Schawarma seems to be popular as well.

  6. A diner at the table next to us commented while waiting for dessert how he'd never again be able to get such great seats. Our reaction was similar.

  7. With American Wagyu steaks sourced from Snake River Farms, which are crossed between Angus and Japanese Black cows