Hill and Bay
581 2nd Ave (31st & 32nd St)
City: New York, NY
Phone: (212) 245-5554
Site: Visit the restaurant site
Area: East 30s
Payment: Amex Visa Mastercard
What would be a perfectly ordinary—and perfectly pleasant—neighborhood dining spot is a cut above thanks to its slightly tweaked menu and incredibly pleasant, helpful staff. Hill& Bay is a Murry Hill/Kips Bay (hence the name) spot featuring the output of Honduran-born Executive Chef Oscar Antunez. The roomy, stainless-steel bar is a good place to enjoy a drink whether your preference is for a margarita jazzed with jalapeno -spiked tequila, a classic Martini, a glass of Tempranillo or another wine from a well-currated list —ask for a taste from the accommodating barkeep. Draft, bottled or canned beers are on offer as is the usual array of non-alcoholic beverages including mocktails like the Royal Tennenpoms with pomegranate juice, lime and club soda (a punster is clearly involved in the cocktail menu.) Beer flights, four draught choices for $12 are popular.
Meals can be had at the bar or at one of the tables in the front or the surprisingly large back room. The signature burger sits on a brioche bun (some like ‘em soft) and arrives with bacon, lettuce, onion and pretty good BBQ sauce on the side. Other burger options are turkey, salmon, and a house-made veggie that isn’t a brown hockey puck. All burgers come with a choice of fries or an above-par green salad. French onion soup is dandy as are the salads (grilled chicken and spinach with black-eyed peas; You Gotta Try the Burrata (named by whomever brought you the alcohol humor ); mixed greens with goat cheese and more. Most mains are standards but brought to life with little touches like the lemon beurre blanc with the salmon or the nicely executed red wine reduction pooled around the half chicken.
At brunch, the Hill Benny is on a biscuit, the bacon is smoked and the whole accompanied by tater tots. The Bay Benedict means smoked salmon, red onion with the cream cheese and more tots. Plenty more egg dishes and other brunch faves.
Mondays at 8 PM is trivia night in the barroom; Tuesday’s rock with live music and Happy Hour, Monday through Friday, is 4-7 PM. A coffee window is open at 7 AM weekdays and 8 AM weekends. Hill and Bay does private parties and caters. The vibe is pleasant and despite the lack of any fabric décor to deflect noise, as a rule you can hear your dining companion(s) speak (except during the live music hours.) Hill and Bay is open weekdays from 11:30 AM to 11 PM rising to midnight on Fridays and Saturdays when it opens at 10 AM.
Nothing is wildly original but everything is fresh with enough high notes to keep crowds coming back. They had me at dinner served at the bar with linen napkins and a companion with numerous special requests who got what she wanted—no fuss necessary. Drop in for a pleasant surprise.
Review By: Mari Gold