Low Concept

Fifty-One Gravies To Please Your Man

Chez Cosmo, Slate’s Plates, and seven more restaurants based on magazines. Plus, a reader contest to create your own magazine eatery.

Rolling Stone is about to take a leap into the entertainment industry, starting with a large-scale restaurant and nightclub in Hollywood. Owners of the venerable magazine hope to leverage its status as a preeminent chronicler of the rock music world and pop culture into a new business built on food and drinks.Los Angeles Times, “Rolling Stone to launch restaurant chain in L.A.,” Dec. 4, 2009

Chez Cosmo
This downtown hot spot, beloved among fashionable divorcées, is known for tasting menus like “76 Hot Dishes You Need To Eat Now” and “51 Gravies To Please Your Man.” For an entree, try the Lamb Three Ways. Extra-spacious bathrooms leave patrons plenty of room for vomiting, sobbing uncontrollably at the emptiness of it all, and reapplying lipstick. Dress code of Capri pants, stiletto heels, and body glitter strictly enforced.

New Yorker Cafe Although this beloved eatery professes familiarity with international cuisine, it’s best to stick with the dry, witty takes on American classics, which tend to provoke thin smiles of recognition, if rarely outright delight. If they’re out of the Anthony Lane crab cakes, the David Denbyburger is an adequate second choice—while bland, it is easily enlivened with artisanal ketchup. After the meal, patrons may join Adam Gopnik for a four-hour conversation with the chef or watch Bill Buford butcher a free-range hog. Don’t be ashamed if you can’t finish your dinner—the take-home bags are the sort you’d be proud to carry on the subway.

Washington Post Magazine and Gastropub
Refused to seat my grandmother because her wheelchair was “depressing.”

What a selection! Marvel at the 47-page menu of hot entrees, most of which are sourced from other, better restaurants. While you can’t beat the price, remember that you get what you pay for: The food is often reheated and many of the “celebrity chefs” who dabble in the kitchen don’t appear to know how to cook. Remember to pay cash, as the staff has been known to “aggregate” patrons’ credit card numbers.

The Sports Illustrated Room While still a favorite of old timers who remember its glory days and newcomers who are impressed by the name, insiders know this venerable restaurant has been coasting on its reputation. Expect straight-ahead, protein-rich fare without much nuance; mashed potatoes sculpted in the image of Derek Jeter are about as clever as it gets. Crowds can be thin, but the restaurant earns more than enough during “Cheesecake Week”—try a slice encased in a see-through marzipan shell—to stay open for business year round.

Reason Restaurant
This no-frills spot encourages diners to bring their own food or buy meals off other patrons. If you do use the menu, take care not to order the same thing as your friend—the brusque waiters may dismiss you as a “second-hander.” The kitchen’s philosophy is appealing if ultimately incoherent, relying heavily on absinthe, hemp, and foie gras. Desserts are a specialty: Order one of the famous gingerbread houses “eminent-domain style” and a waiter dressed as Uncle Sam will whisk it away just as your children start to dig in. They’ll go home crying, but they’ll have learned a valuable lesson about tyranny. Smokers welcome.

Newsweek Modern American Bistro Recent renovations notwithstanding, this old stalwart is much the same as ever. Nevertheless, the diner’s elderly patrons are often confused by dishes like Fareed Zakaria’s Nonthreatening Falafel and Evan Thomas’ Take on Bacon (pairs well with the Historical Jesus-tini). Don’t miss Chef Meacham’s special Presidents Day menu, which is also served on most other days.

Esquire Brewhouse
This restaurant is trying really, really hard to keep up with the times. The “clubby” dining room now features a plasma TV at every table, plus a plasma TV that acts as the table. Although the menu often changes—the most recent version features a hologram of Neil Patrick Harris—the food itself rarely does. Choose between Seven Lunches We Love, all of which involve ground beef; the barbecue-sauce sommelier will assist your efforts to build a Best-Dressed Burger. Wash it all down with a selection from America’s 20 Best Watery Domestic Lagers, served in a glass that resembles Jessica Alba.

Slate’s Plates
While the dishes are sometimes unappetizing, the kitchen will occasionally convince you that everything you know about curly fries is wrong. The opinionated waitstaff makes it clear that they know what you want better than you do; don’t be surprised if your order of chicken elicits a riff on why you actually wanted trout. We hope the owners know what they’re doing, because the business model—the food is free, but there are ads on the plates, glasses, tablecloths, and forks—seems iffy at best.


Got your own idea for a restaurant based on Slate or any other magazine? Send us a write-up of fewer than 100 words to magrestaurants@gmail.com by Thursday. We’ll publish our favorites next week.