One of the reasons I love New York City is the rapid change. Even in a bear economy, stores and restaurants bud, bloom, and then die, supplanted by the next new thing. It can be exciting and stimulating, manna for someone who thrills with the vibe of transition. But it also means that nothing can be held sacred. Old favorites can never be taken for granted, and the idea of a “classic” has an unusually temperamental tinge.
So when a colleague of mine suggested meeting at Café des Artistes for a leisurely lunch, I immediately recalled this history of this archetypal “Old New York” destination, opened in 1917 and renowned for serving some of the city’s elite.
Except that it wasn’t Café des Artistes anymore. It was reborn in 2011 as The Leopard at des Artistes.
Despite the jazzy, exotic new name, The Leopard at des Artistes maintains the stately feel of its predecessor. The large-scale murals covering the walls, a holdover from the Café days, remind you that this is still a place to bring your parents (or grandparents), assuming they are as well-heeled as the rest of the clientele.
If you are in the mood to linger and really want to treat yourself, The Leopard at Des Artistes is a perfect place to sit and enjoy a sumptuous dessert.
But choose wisely. The Leopard, despite its pedigree, has some standouts, but it also makes some rookie mistakes.