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For a New Yorker (or any seasoned visitor), the age-old question remains this: where to eat before or after a show? Over the years, Midtown's food and drink culture has begun to deviate from its tired suits-and-steakhouses scene, ushering in a new wave of restaurateurs with a definitive downtown cool, changing the game with new attention to detail beyond the standard.

Marc Forgione's American Cut is a prime (pun intended) example of this, now a benchmark for steakhouses across the country in its fourth incarnation preceded by sister locations in TriBeCa, Atlantic City, and San Juan, with the fifth planned for Atlanta in the near future. The Midtown behemoth occupies a sprawling portion of 56th Street's storied Lombardy Hotel and was once home to Sir Randolph Hearst's private dining and entertaining salon - a fitting history for the 6,000 square foot Art Deco-meets-modern glam space brought to life by SLDesign's Chris Sheffield. The 132-seat dining room is aglow with soft lighting as warm as its tones, accessed through an intimate vessel in the form of a 40-seat bar and lounge space, the former setting the stage for Forgione's love affair with the art of tableside presentation while the latter welcomes a robust post-workday crowd as both fill out nicely throughout the evening.

Arrive by 5pm to snag a seat at the bar. Yes, there's plenty a banquette seat to go around, but you'll want an up-close-and-personal view of the action for the drink that's put American Cut's bar program far ahead of the rest. Two charred maple planks flank a copper bin full of perfectly formed cubes of crystal clear ice at the center of the bar, one plank set alight in preparation of the plank-smoked old fashioned masterminded by bar expert Nick Nistico for the original iteration of the brand. The smoke is trapped inside an overturned rocks glass while Wild Turkey 81, house bitters, and caster sugar are combined over ice in a beaker, stirred to temperature, and poured into the aromatized glass with an orange zest finish. At $20, the cocktail is worth every last sip, and any meal at American Cut is best begun in such fashion.

American Cut Midtown accepts reservations for lunch (weekdays) and dinner both by phone and OpenTable; visit site for opening hours and details.

109 East 56th Street between Park and Lexington Avenues; 212.388.5277

Image courtesy of SLDesign

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From This Author CĂ©line Bossart

CĂ©line Bossart is a French-American twentysomething with a passion for travel and an affinity for epicurean exploration. CĂ©line holds a BS in International Merchandising Management (read more...)

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