In advertising, the “agency of record” is essentially the group responsible for a company’s advertising efforts. It is also the name of a new restaurant and lounge in Midtown inspired by Manhattan’s bygone Golden Age.
Tucked away within the Renwick Hotel, once the dwelling of literary luminaries such as F. Scott Fitzgerald and John Steinbeck, Agency of Record breathes new life into the storied space. At the same time, the property is just steps away from the Madison Avenue advertising corridor, which inspires the team’s “anything went, and anything goes” ethos.
Upon pulling back the velvet curtain, guests are transported to what can only be considered an intimate boozing den fit for the cast of Mad Men themselves. An homage to New York’s elegance and timelessness, Agency of Record is decked out in playful fringe, leather accents, mahogany tones, and brass. Framed advertisements from the 1950s and 60s adorn the walls, setting the scene for a trip down memory lane.
In keeping with the nostalgic theme, 27 Tales Hospitality––the same team behind the visionary Patent Pending––ensures their extensive collection of vinyl soundtracks each evening through their state-of-the-art sound system. This musical motif even continues into the washroom, with walls lined by records and album covers.
Don Draper’s famous quote, “Make it simple, but powerful,” inspired Agency of Record’s private dining space. An oval-shaped leather banquette is the focal point, complemented by softly underlit paneled mirrors. Arched silver ceilings give the illusion of a metal vault, and red florals are placed throughout, possibly as a nod to Mad Men’s crimson-contrasted opening sequence. The real show-stopper here, however, is the vintage martini cart staffed by a private bartender.
Agency of Record’s cocktail program is an ode to classic advertising vernacular. Divided into four sections, each promises a journey through unique, artful concoctions. “Like Soda for a Baby” boasts bright, awakening sippers, while “The Big Sell” fills imbibers with a warm, fuzzy feeling. “From a Far Away Land” offers sips with tropical flair, and “Everyone is Doing It” has drinks designed for a party.
Standouts include The A+B Test, a bold mixture of blanco tequila, aged cachaca, Thai chili, and Sex Sells, a tempting blend of Japanese vodka, passionfruit, and pistachio orgeat. Rich Media is the south-of-the-border riff on the dirty martini: Mexican pox and sotol blend with modern dry gin, aloe liqueur adds a bright high note, and all culminates in a briney, blue cheese olive finish.
Under the culinary expertise of Consulting Chef Edward Carew (known for his work at Gramercy Tavern, Craft, and Ace Hotels), Agency of Record serves elevated takes on traditional bar and bistro fare. The menu––comprised of shareable bites and hearty entrées––takes center stage within the wood-fired kitchen. From Housemade Chips & Charred Onion Dip with Smoked Trout Roe and Grilled Salt & Pepper Prawns to the tantalizing French Onion Burger and Veggie Shawarma, there is something for everyone. Finish off sweet with one of the four ever-changing desserts; if available, the Olive Oil Cake is a crowd-pleaser.
At Agency of Record, the past converges with the present within a time-defying sanctuary embodying the sophistication of old New York.
Location: Midtown Manhattan
Address: 118 E 40th St, New York, N.Y. 10016
Cuisine: New American
Price Point: $
Takes Reservations: Yes – via Resy
The vibe: Designed to evoke a bygone era––dark wood and brass elements, playful fringe, moody lighting––this space is fit for any nostalgic New Yorker or “Mad Men” aficionado.
Our favorite thing on the menu: The Rich Media is an exceptional take on a classic martini. In terms of bites, order the Lobster Cocktail or the French Onion Burger.
The attire: Smart Casual
Breakfast, Lunch, or Dinner: Agency of Record is open seven days a week for walk-ins or reservations from 4 p.m. until late.