Great spots to eat near the Whitney include Pastis, Cookshop, Chelsea Market, the reborn Barbuto and the lesser known Mary Lane (99 Bank Street), a breezy, West Village bistro with outdoor seating. Owned by Blackfoot Hospitality, it is open for lunch, brunch, happy hour and dinner (closed Mondays). Morsels of Jonah crab drift in puréed asparagus soup swirled with smoked crème fraîche. Ravioli plumped with braised chicken in cacciatore sauce boosted with olives, broccoli rabe, garlic slivers and crisp shards of chicken skin is a heartier dish on the seasonal menu.
A small but major show to catch before it closes on May 15 is “Holbein: Capturing Character,” at the Morgan Library & Museum (225 Madison Avenue; $22 for reserved tickets). Hans Holbein, in England during Henry VIII’s reign, painted courtiers, poets, scholars and merchants, some weak-chinned, some strong-jawed, mouths upturned in warmth or in a sullen downturn, and some of whom lost their heads. The portraits are acutely, vividly rendered, their fur collars, velvet sleeves and ornate jewels tempting to paw.
For a meal near the Morgan head to Café China in Murray Hill (59 West 37th Street), which reopened in a three-story building in December. The owners, Yiming Wang and Xian Zhang, whose lovely Tribeca restaurant, China Blue, closed in 2020, favor understated décor, with fringed lamps and luminous touches of jade green. Tea-smoked duck, spicy cumin lamb and lip-tingling, lush ma po tofu swimming in leeks and chili sauce are highlights. So are delicate scallion pancakes, sautéed string beans with fermented mustard green shoots and dan dan noodles woven with sesame paste and ground pork.
While the pandemic saw the closure of hotels throughout the city, including the Roosevelt, the Excelsior and the Omni Berkshire Place, new lodgings in Chelsea are picking up, including Hyatt Place New York (140 West 24th Street), SpringHill Suites By Marriott (140 West 28th Street) and the Motto by Hilton (113 West 24th Street). Motto’s ground floor lobby is an active scene, and there’s an expansive, modern lounge on the second floor. Rooms are built for efficiency and start at $300. A recent check on Trip Advisor tallied 163 reviews, 154 of them with an “excellent” rating and zero “poor.”