Old World Opulence and Collegial Spirit Complement Quality Cuisine

Stepping into Hunt & Fish Club NYC {125 West 44th Street, New York City; 212.575.4949; hfcnyc.com} is like being transported to a bygone era, reminding us that going out to dinner can be a special occasion with superb hospitality and that a certain level of glitz and glamour can be found in fine dining.

“Every night, I’m hosting a party,” Nelson Braff, co-owner and Bergen County resident, says of the swanky steakhouse he helms alongside partners Eytan Sugarman and Anthony Scaramucci. “If it was strictly about the food, then you might as well do a takeout place. When it’s an overall experience, it’s more than just food. It’s how you’re greeted, it’s people recognizing you, it’s laughing—it’s a lot of things. A lot of things go beyond, ‘Oh, this tastes really good.’ That has to be a given, not a goal,” Braff says.


With the post-9/11 transplantation of many financial institutions from downtown to Midtown, those in the newly located sector lacked their own go-to place akin to downtown’s Harry’s or Delmonico’s explains Braff. “We decided to create the industry place, much like if you were downtown and you didn’t feel like going home after work, you would go to Harry’s—even if you were by yourself, chances are you would know somebody. We wanted that same type of environment—whether you knew somebody or you didn’t, whether you were alone or with somebody, you could just come to the bar and figure it out,” he says. “It was targeting the finance and the media communities. We’re near Fox, we’re near CNN, we’re near CNBC, and so this is who we get at night—that sector.”

Still, Hunt & Fish’s Times Square location makes it a destination for tourists. “When people are coming into New York and they want a true New York experience with theater and everything, we definitely get that, and I love it. I love it when we get special occasions, like people coming to New York for their honeymoon or their wedding anniversary,” says Braff, who delights in making memories for celebrating sojourners. Whether it be an invitation to come back, a round of drinks, or a slice of Hunt & Fish’s Twenty-Four Layer Chocolate Cake, Braff makes certain that an occasion here won’t soon be forgotten. “They’re there for a special experience. It’s so little effort to make it more special and give them a story to go home with,” Braff says. “Aside from it being good business, it just makes the job more fun.”

Although Hunt & Fish Club NYC has certainly found a home in its Midtown environs, it doesn’t exactly fit the mold of its neighbors. “The level we’ve achieved is somewhat unusual for Times Square,” says Braff, adding, “I don’t know any other Times Square spots that are as high-end aesthetically as we are.


The owners of Hunt & Fish placed its sprawling, 9,000-square-foot bi-level space into the hands of renowned artist Roy Nachum, who earned a 2017 GRAMMY nomination for Rihanna’s “Anti” album cover, and whose contemporary works—which incorporate Braille—are collected by the likes of Leonardo DiCaprio and Jay Z. “You could run your hands across the art, and whatever he wants you to know about the art is there,” Braff explains.

Beyond the three pieces of Nachum’s work that hang inside Hunt & Fish, the artist, along with design partner Studio Iyor, also took to heart the vibe desired by Braff and his partners. “In terms of look and feel, we told our designer, ‘If the Rat Pack were alive today, what would the restaurant they go to look and feel like?’ We knew some people who knew Frank Sinatra, so we asked, ‘What design elements did he like?’ He liked banquettes, marble, and chandeliers, so we put in those design elements,” says Braff, understating the more than 50,000 pounds of marble that are only made more stunning by a 20-by-40-foot chandelier hanging aloft in the main dining room. “When it’s sparkling, it is spectacular,” Braff adds. Equally impressive event spaces offer the opportunity to “wow” guests with remarkable celebrations.

Despite the restaurant’s decidedly lavish look, diners aren’t asked to adhere to a dress code, but might be inspired for a bit of finery for the next go ’round. “We just wanted to bring back a little of the old-school formality to the restaurant.” Likewise, when Braff and his partners sought to create a club-like atmosphere, it wasn’t meant to feel exclusive. “We were thinking like ‘Cheers.’ We were thinking clubhouse, not club membership,” Braff says.

As in any club though, “membership” has its perks. Regulars and celebrities enjoy the privilege of carving up their dinners with personalized steak knives presented tableside and displayed in a glass case when not in use.


Aside from the variety of tantalizing cuts on offer, the menu includes local seafood delivered daily. Sea scallops, lobster, branzino, and king salmon provide tasty alternatives to steak, as do the Burnt Lemon Chicken and Brooklyn Style Pork Chop, served with hot vinegar peppers.

Pasta dishes come in a variety of decadent tasting portions, including gnocchi with lobster and caviar or wild mushroom pappardelle, among others. “They’re really good. You get a double size as a dinner portion. That’s usually what I eat,” says Braff.

Executive Chef Chad Brown has made the menu his own. “He’s got a good pedigree, and he’s very talented,” Braff enthuses. “Whatever the requests are, whatever the demands are, if it’s what the customer wants, he’ll figure it out.”

While the menu is always evolving, with seasonal tweaks and occasional specials, the steadfast standards are at the heart of what keeps people coming back. “We get the meats out of the Midwest, so it’s a higher quality,” Braff says. “More than one person has told us it was the best steak they ever had.”


The treasures kept in the infinity wine cellar downstairs at Hunt & Fish won the restaurant Wine Spectator’s Best of Award of Excellence, a wine list that proves more extensive than the typical New York steakhouse. Creative cocktails pique the taste buds of the most sophisticated sippers, with options like The 125 Redux, consisting of Hendrick’s gin, lemon and sage simple syrup, and bubbles served up, or the Underground Shake, made up of Montelobos mezcal, mushroom infusion, and lime. Or, for those who want to keep it sweet and simple, Scaramucci’s homemade limoncello is a sure bet. A “Bar Bites” menu offers snacks for after-work or late-night crowds just seeking to graze.

“I love the hospitality part of the business. I meet really cool, interesting people, and I love it,” he says. “It’s too hard of a venture to undertake if you don’t love it. So if you’re in it, you better love it.”

By Jessica D’Amico