NYC Dining: The Monkey Bar, Buddakan & Vaucluse

April 26, 2017

By Tab Byrum

I LOVE to eat, I love good food and I think that’s because I was raised by people who love to cook and take great pride in what they create and that was passed on to me in my love for good food and cooking. Part of the fun of a vacation for me is where we are going to eat and on this recent trip I took to New York City we ate at three restaurants that are new to us. I’m going to share some images of each restaurant and tell you a little bit about our dining experience at each place. As much as I love good food I also love a great interior in a restaurant, it doesn’t have to be over the top with everything gilded, but just have a definite direction or theme and do it well, the three restaurants I’m going to talk about today all have a distinct look to go with their menus and the looks are all done beautifully. So, join me as we tour The Monkey Bar, Buddakan and Vaucluse, Enjoy!!! (above image via)

The Monkey Bar


The Monkey Bar started out as so many clubs and restaurants did in the 1930’s as a dimly lit piano bar. At one time the restaurant’s walls were covered in mirrors but those came down in the 1950’s and were replaced with caricatures by artist Charlie Wala. The Monkey Bar is attached to the Hotel Elysée on 54th Street and is made up of two rooms. The front room is more casual and decorated in a monkey motif, this is where the restaurant’s bar is located, the other room is at the back of the restaurant and is where you can see the murals. 

I enjoyed the Arugula & Frisée Salad with Salmon and Horseradish Cream Sauce, Donna had The Monkey Bar Chopped Salad and we both enjoyed a glass of Rosé. For a look at The Monkey Bar menu click here.  (via)

We had our lunch in the front room where the walls are decorated with murals of monkeys and the tables are draped in red and white gingham cloths. (via

The main dining room is decorated with white tablecloths and red leather seating, pillars in the dining room are still covered with mirrors and the walls are decorated with murals of famous folks from days gone by.  (via)

Today The Monkey Bar restaurant is owned by Vanity Fair Magazine editor Graydon Carter, Hotelier Jeff Klein, and Jeremy King. We will definitely be back to this beauty. (via



Buddakan is an Asian restaurant with a twist, whether it’s Cauliflower Lollipops or Foie Gras and Chicken Dumplings. The decor is huge and magnificent and you feel like you are entering the palace of a 21st Century Khan with grand art, light fixtures, and a sweeping staircase. The dimmers are set to low as you navigate semi-dark hallways and walk from puddle of light to puddle of light. (via)

The main dining room is visible from the top as you walk around to other dining spots in the hall around the dining room. (via)

To enter the main dining room you descend the staircase on the left, we’ve eaten down here one time a few years ago, this time we ate upstairs in a small dining room off the main hall. (via)

For our meal Donna and I started with the Dim Sum Tasting For Two, it was made up of  Tuna Spring Rolls, Sesame Shrimp Toast, Tea Smoked Spare Ribs, Carrot Dumplings, and Cantonese Spring Rolls. For our main course, we had Shrimp & Lobster Chow Fun with X.O. Sauce, AMAZING!!!  To see the menu click here. (via)

On the left is the bar area where we waited for our table, you can also dine here. On the right is the hall lined with tables for diners, to the left of the orange screen is the door to the staircase to enter the main dining room. (via)


Our last night in New York we took the advice Ina Garten and dined at Vaucluse. I had read an article back in the fall last year where Ina listed her top 10 restaurants in Manhattan and Vaucluse was one of those spots, and I have to say we were NOT disappointed. This restaurant is by famed chef Michael White and is oh so so chic, from the moment you step in the front door you are greeted by a wonderful wall of wine, everything in the restaurant is done in a light and neutral color palette of grays, blues, gold, cream, and tan. I love the fact that they have a whole wall of banqet seating done in blue leather and velvet. As you can see from the above image the main dining room is light and bright with lots of windows for natural lighting during the day. Really gorgeous. (via)

This is the bar area of Vaucluse, you walk through it to get from the lower main dining room to another dining area. As you can see the walls are a beautiful creamy color and the seating is covered in grays and blues with light colored woodwork. (via)

This is the other side of the room in the bar area, there’s a banqet along the wall with club chairs and small marble topped tables. (via)

This is the other dining room done in blues, cream and a beautiful gray tile on the floor set in a herringbone pattern. This is the room we dined in at a table along the wall with the windows. I had a salad of endive, blue cheese, mandarin oranges and caramelized pecans, Donna had the Tuna Tartar. For our main courses, Donna had a vegetarian dish, Tagine de Légumes and I had the Grilled Yellowtail Tuna with Artichokes and Olives. Being our last night we indulged and both had Chocolate Soufflés for dessert. Tres Magnifique!!!!  To see the Vaucluse menu click here. (via)

I hope this gives you an idea of some great places to eat if you’re in New York City, there are literally thousands of restaurants in NYC and it can be daunting so just do a little research and trust your gut. Have a great day!!!

Words are my own.


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