In a city filled with French cafés, brasseries, and patisseries, New Yorkers and visitors alike have the luxury of savoring authentic French cuisine without needing a transatlantic flight.
However, Café Chelsea, operated by Sunday Hospitality and partner Charles Seich, is the newest culinary gem nestled within the fabled Hotel Chelsea that stands out as a captivating destination, effortlessly transporting diners to the enchanting streets of France with its array of classic fare.
Just over a year since the illustrious hotel reopened its doors under the ownership of Sean MacPherson, Ira Drukier, and Richard Born, Café Chelsea marks a significant milestone as the first culinary-focused addition since the inception of the legendary Spanish-style El Quijote restaurant in 1930, adjacent to the beloved Lobby Bar.
The Capitol Fishing Tackle Shop once occupied the very spot where Café Chelsea now stands. However, the restaurant’s design brilliantly preserves the hotel’s original bohemian spirit while seamlessly blending into its storied legacy.
The expansive space is made up of three distinct spaces: a warm and vibrant bar; the Petit Café – bathed in sunlight, perfect for brunch and afternoon tea; and the Grand Café – an energetic grand dining area adorned with sumptuous deep-hued banquettes and elegant marble floors. There is also a private dining space called “The Wine Room.”
Eclectic works of art belonging to Hotel Chelsea’s decades-old collection dot the walls, while traditional French interior accents, including a striking Zinc bar, decorative molding, and vintage chandeliers, create a dazzling ambiance.
Under the guidance of Executive Chef Derek Boccagno, Café Chelsea offers a meticulously curated menu that draws inspiration from traditional French offerings. Each dish is elevated by focusing on “exceptional ingredients,” resulting in timeless classics such as Poulet Rôti, Tartare de Boeuf, and Façon Niçoise.
Chef Boccagno’s Italian heritage and French culinary training shine through in dishes like Ravioles du Dauphiné, which consists of an entire uncut sheet of 24 fresh ravioles filled with Comté and crème fraîche, drizzled with a buttery wine sauce, aged Comté, ground black pepper, and olive oil. Another standout is Spaghetti au Citron Meyer, prepared with fresh spaghetti, Meyer lemon, pine nuts, parmigiano reggiano, and basil.
For lovers of red meat, the Chelsea Cheeseburger topped with herbed raclette, raw onion, and dijon on a brioche bun or the Steak Frites garnished with maître d’hôtel butter provide tantalizing options.
Wine Director Claire Paparazzo selected a wine list that reflects French and American winemaking traditions, offering a diverse range of offerings for wine enthusiasts of all levels. Each bottle pairs perfectly with the exquisite dishes.
Alternatively, Director of Bars Brian Evans crafted a cocktail menu that presents inventive riffs on classic sips, highlighting French-born spirits in various styles such as the Blue Venus (a twist on the French ‘75) and the Vesper de Provence (inspired by the Boulevardier).
Café Chelsea has quickly emerged as a delectable addition to the hotel’s heritage and New York City’s thriving hospitality scene, inviting diners to savor France’s flavors without leaving the Big Apple’s bustle.
Location: Chelsea, New York City
Address: 218 W 23rd St, New York, NY 10011 (Within Hotel Chelsea)
Price Point: $$
Takes Reservations: Yes – Resy
The Vibe: Elevated Parisian-inspired all-day neighborhood eatery
Our favorite thing on the menu: The question is more so what’s not to love (spoiler alert: everything is phenomenal). Do not miss the Croquette de Chèvre or the Chocolate Soufflé (best enjoyed with the fresh strawberries).
The attire based on the vibe: Smart Casual
Breakfast, Lunch, or Dinner: Breakfast: Daily from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m. Lunch: Weekdays & Brunch on weekends from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Dinner: Sunday to Wednesday from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. and Thursday to Saturday from 5 p.m. to 12 a.m.