132 West 47th St (Sanctuary Hotel)
City: New York, NY
Phone: (212) 514-6000
Hours: Tuesday - Saturday: 5:00pm - 2:00am
Site: Visit the restaurant site
Chef: Dale Schnell
2nd Cuisine: Sushi
Area: West 40s
Tender is housed in The Sanctuary Hotel, steps from the madding crowd thronging Times Square. Finding my way into the restaurant was a little tricky because the action was heading for the Haven rooftop, a popular bar-cum-food hangout up top.. Tender itself leans towards steak and sushi with a nod to fish, pasta and more. The lounge area has a stunning tile floor while the restaurant proper pulses with a techno beat, appropriate to the nightclubby feel. The space is very dark with pops of red and its own brightly lit bar, manned by a bartender and two sushi chefs.
Among the starters, the black cod with butter lettuce brings three lettuce leaves, each holding squiggles of crispy, white noodles with a dab of fish and a dribble of soy sauce. The appetizers (as well as some of the sushi) try very hard to be original as in the Caesar served with a fried egg; the beef carpaccio with almonds, French beans and Fontana cheese and Tuna Crispy Rice with spicy aioli. The avocado fries (unripe avocado in tempura batter lightly fried) win raves.
The sushi omikase offering is "curated" by Executive Sushi Chef Edwin Purmomo and goes for a whopping $58 for ten pieces. The Sunset roll is filled with yellowtail, spicy tuna, salmon, Fiji apple and sprouts with a bit of sriacha sauce atop. It's cut into six pieces ($16), each perched on a cut orange round. Although the Pink Panther roll contains actual crab as well as cucumber and something called "soy paper crunch" it was rather bland and not worth the $18 price tag. Overall, sushi is a little shy on fish, theoretically the main ingredient.
All manner of steaks can be had ranging from a dry- aged NY strip ($54) to a twenty-ounce porterhouse ($58), both cooked as requested. Specialties include the inevitable burger, salmon with a champagne emulsion, tagliatelle with truffles and peas and tomato basil mussels. Executive Chef Daniel Schnell sends forth $10 sides along the lines of Yukon gold mashed potatoes, aged cheddar mac- and- cheese and garlic spinach which diners lap up.
The vibe is sort of Las Vegas, not out of line for a place so near Times Square. Servers wear reddish shirts with black vests and pants; ours was helpful almost to the point of overkill. You can indulge in creative cocktails with riffs on classics like the yuzu margarita as well as nicely made standards like martinis. There is a large wine list with drinks by the glass or bottle as well as a fine selection of beers. Alcohol is very reasonably priced.
Desserts are seductive featuring a sticky toffee cupcake and an over-the-top banana split with candied walnuts, sprinkles and a red velvet cupcake amidst the caramelized bananas, banana chocolate chip and chocolate gelatos and more.
Given the proximity to the theater, the restaurant was relatively empty although I was told that the rooftop was packed, probably due to the lovely weather. Tender is a sexy spot that sings to mid- and out-of-towners who enjoy the dim atmosphere and pretty good food and don't mind the relatively high prices.
Review By: Mari Gold