The Decoration and Design Building (DDB) sits quietly on Third Avenue on Manhattan’s East side on a business-like street dominated by the nearby plaza that is home to the 54-story Bloomberg Tower and the Bloomingdale’s department store. You could pass the D&D Building without hardly noticing it was there.
But inside are 18 floors of lavish showrooms for designers and decorators. The corridors swarm with people in the trade and their clients. The attraction for me is the 14th floor, which is home to the Upper Story by Charlie Palmer, a New York restaurateur with dining palaces in Las Vegas and Washington and many other cities.
By day, the Upper Story meets the dining needs of the people who frequent those studios of furniture, design, and home fashion. At night and on weekends, and occasionally for special daytime events, it bustles with private functions, weddings, and product launches.
It’s more like a luncheon club for the knowledgable, primarily slim waisted women, fashionably attired sales staffs, and equally well dressed shoppers, who dine quietly in a light and airy room overlooking the east side skyline. One wall is completely mirrored while another is a huge window framing that skyline. It’s a wonderful hideaway from the clamor of the streets outside and canny New Yorkers, many not involved with the building, also take advantage of the quiet and calm of this hidden gem.
The menu is equally light, big on oversized salads for the fit and fashionable, a few mains, a couple of burgers. And I did see a few orders of French fries amidst all the greenery on those otherwise all white tables. Eschewing the salads, I opted for an eggplant sandwich, rather than a burger on a brioche bun or classic white meat on toasted cranberry-nut bread.. The eggplant was crisply fried, dressed with a creamy burrata and balsamic glaze and came on a multigrain roll, with a creamy burrata, shreds of arugula and a pickle. That’s a sandwich I may replicate in my kitchen.
It also came with French fries, but staying in tune with thoset obviously diet conscious diners, I rejected the potatoes in favor of a side order of sautéed wild mushooms. A huge serving of delicious cremini arrived and though I have always thought of cremini as being cultivated rather than wild, they were a delicious dish. I also enjoyed a crisp Sancerre from Les Chenets, a favorite of mine from the Loire.
Most Manhattan restaurants offer a far broader lunch menu. But I found enough to satisfy me and most diners, I am sure, on the simple one page sheet of café cuisine at Upper Story. I also liked what was absent, no loud music, a pleasantly low level of conversation, interrupted only by an occasional round of laughter in this hidden hideaway in midtown.
About Chef Jennifer Day: Upper Story by Charlie Palmer, the newly opened private events venue and daytime café in Manhattan’s D&D Building welcomes a new Executive Chef, Jennifer Day. With over 15 years of culinary experience coupled with a life-long passion for food that started with an Easy Bake Oven at the age of six, Chef Day is a welcome addition to the Upper Story and Charlie Palmer Group team. A New York native, Day brings a fresh approach to Upper Story’s daytime café and private events menus in signature Palmer progressive American fashion.
The Upper Floor is open Monday through Friday, 11:30 a.m. to 3:00 pm. Most sandwiches and salads are priced in the mid-teens, a trio of mains slightly higher, everything under $20.
Photo credit: Upper Story by Charlie Palmer
Go to the UpperFloor website for additional information.