The Writing Room Launches in New York – Offers Homage to Its Predecessor

Posted by Rachel S on Thursday, January 2nd, 2014

Street view from the Writing Room formerly Elaine's

Just before Christmas, The Writing Room opened on the Upper East Side with impressive shoes to fill. The recently launched eatery occupies the same space as the legendary Elaine’s – a former watering hole for literary and film glitterati for nearly five decades. While Elaine’s was lauded in novels, songs and movies, one has to wonder how the new establishment will fare.

The Writing Room is the second NYC establishment for owners Michael and Susy Glick who also own the Parlor Steakhouse. A ray of hope is that the Glicks and their partner investor were long-time Elaine’s regulars until it shuttered in 2011 a few months after its namesake’s death.

The Writing Room owners and former Elaine's habitués Michael & Susy Glick

The Glicks brought their Parlor chef Lucas Billheimer over to create a new American menu, although many old-school Elaine’s regulars have bemoaned that the food at the new establishment is far too good compared to the sub-par eats the former proprietress proffered (this didn’t keep her regulars away – Woody Allen ate dinner there every night for years).

Susy Glick said, “We didn’t want to capitalize on Elaine’s but there is a lot of iconic interest. The legacy is there. We want to pay homage to an amazing space, but also to change it. And give it better food.” The Glicks chose the name The Writing Room because it was a consistent element of the previous establishment that played host to literary greats Joan Didion, Joseph Heller, Mario Puzo and William Styron. Elaine once said her restaurant existed so “the poor bastards” (i.e. writers) could “escape writing.”

Zinc bar at The Writing Room

The space has been entirely recrafted with a 20 foot long zinc bar and the re-do has rendered it (from the interior at least) unrecognizably fresh and a drastic departure from Elaine’s. Cushy banquette seating in rich burgundy and black proliferates. Rustic hardwood flooring and exposed brick imbue The Writing Room with a cozy, comfy vibe.

Drastic facelift aside, WR pays tribute to its roots in two distinct ways. First is the library-esque backroom the Glicks have added dubbed “the Study.” Behind the main dining area, this cozy room calls to mind a back room men’s club. Retro black and white tiles evoke ages gone by and floor to ceiling shelves (complete with a ladder to reach out-of-the-way tomes) feature books on New York history and heritage and reads by Elaine’s regulars. The collection was curated by Thatcher Wine of Juniper Books.

The Study in the backroom of The Writing Room

Antique knick knacks – old cameras, manual typewriters and the like – compliment the rich woods and old world feel of the room. The second throwback is that the soothing dusky green walls are replete with photos from the decades-long heyday of Elaine’s.

The Writing Room is truly the best of both worlds where you can soak up the rich history of the establishment’s former life but enjoy more palatable savories without fear of being sent to Siberia if someone more glittery wants your seat…

Check into The Writing Room at 1703 2nd Avenue, Upper East Side NYC.

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