There's a wonderful scene in the movie "500 Days of Summer," when the young lovers giddily rush through Ikea, pretending that the showrooms are their home. It's easy to transplant that "playing house" fantasy to Wall & Water, the enviably stylish new restaurant at the Andaz Hotel Wall Street, with a David Rockwell design that feels like that sprawling, sleekly-attired downtown loft you always wanted. Rockwell smartly sidesteps Financial District stereotypes so that the space feels decidedly unstuffy, contemporary, inclusive and, here's an adjective you never hear for the neighborhood -- chic. Happily, that translates to the clientele, subtly hip, in-the-know types, a far cry from their back-slapping, cigar-smoking area counterparts. A curving white staircase leads guests to the host station, flanked by a white marble table displaying cheese, charcuterie and fresh herbs -- a picturesque appetite-enhancer. Banquettes abound in the dining room, where the mood is clubby-cool living room. Chestnut browns and slate grays set the sexy tone throughout, with stainless steel gleaming from a kitchen so open, it's downright exposed. Chef Maximo Lopez May's menu shuns dramatics by simply showcasing a seasonal Hudson Valley bounty. Starting with some Old Chatham Black Sheep Camembert ($12) was a heavenly choice -- gently sweet, with an alluring, buttery consistency. An appetizer of thick, meaty scallops ($17), so tall they were conical, were enhanced by a sweet and stewy pepper sauce with mussels. Red snapper ($26), light and lemony, is given a precious treatment, though served with curiously clunky raw cabbage. As May is a native of Argentina, he has a deft hand with beef, so much so the terrifically flavorful prime New York steak ($48) didn't need the accompanying bÃ©arnaise. For dessert, an espresso chocolate tart ($9) with salty caramel and clotted cream held a welcome, firm texture, a departure from gooey messes often emoting from plates across the city. The skilled staff, highly trained in the art of hospitality, made me wonder why we don't see hotel-quality performances in NY restaurants more often.
Wall & Water
75 Wall St.