Saturday, July 2, 2011

R Lounge at Two Times Square

The sign just off the elevator directing guests to the R Lounge.
Restaurant interior.
View of Times Square from my table.
(All photos: TheHopefulTraveler)
The R Lounge at Two Times Square is the primary restaurant for the Renaissance New York Times Square Hotel and has one of the best views of Broadway. However it appears the hotel is searching for a concept to make it one of the popular hangouts in Times Square.

Before a multi-million dollar renovation of the hotel, the venue was the expensive Foley's Fish House specializing in seafood and tradtional American cuisine. New York magazine reported: "The dining room is relatively quiet and formal. Still, the name is a bit of misnomer. If you shun shellfish your options are limited. The fish is fresh and high-quality but prepared in a heavy-handed way, thick with sweet sauces and salty fry-ups."

Glass of Pinot Grigio
Chop Suey replaced Foley's in 2008 once the modern design of the renovation was completed and permeated every corner of the new Renaissance. From a New York Times review: "Chop Suey, which mingles Korean and other Asian traditions, is an uneven mash of inspiration and clumsiness. The reddish-organge leather funiture inside the restauarant is so amusingly retro cool you expect to see Austin Powers canoodlilng on the banquette."

Chop Suey did not last. By 2009, the restaurant was now called Two Times Square. The decor remained and the menu overhauled highlighted by Blue Plate Specials Monday through Thursdays. Dinner specials included Chicken Pot Pie on Tuesdays and Ravioli Pomodor on Thursdays.

Returning to the Renaissance in 2010, the concept has again changed and it appears the hotel has found one that may last longer than its most recent incarnatons. Officially called the R Lounge at Two Times Square, some menu items from Two Times Square survive but the interior was completely overhauled. Dispensing with the traditional dinner tables, there is now plenty of cushy and comfy seating including chairs swathed in zebra patterns and low tables that allow the room to transition from restaurant to club to bar to lounge depending on the time of day or occasion. Just outside of the R Lounge, the hotel's main bar with its communal table now easily transitions into the restaurant space.

The last of the three BBQ Sliders.
Crispy Calamari
But what has remained the distinctive and constant feature in each of these restaurant concepts is the spectacular view (See the next post for more photos of the view). No wonder on this late afternoon, all the tables along the windows were full and reserved signs place on the few couple of unoccupied window tables. A refreshing glass of Pinot Grigio ($12, Kris, Italian) was the perfect pairing to sip while soaking in the view of Times Square. The BBQ Sliders ($10 for three, with shredded lettuce on brioche roll) from their Blue Ribbon Classics menu oozed with flavor if a bit too sweet; and the Crispy Calamari ($9, with pomodoro sauce) from their Bar Bites selection had a light and crispy coating but needed a gentle more sprinkling of seasoning. Service was efficient and the experience relaxing as the dinner crowd only to began to descend onto the R Lounge.

More info at The R Lounge at Two Times Square is open Sun-Mon 11am-12am; Tue-Wed 11am-1am; Thu-Sat 11am-2am and located on the upper lobby level of the Renaissance Times Square New York Hotel.

This is one of a series of posts in review of the Renaissance New York Times Square Hotel.

The restaurant's bar. The hotel's main bar is located just outside of the R Lounge.
The restaurant interior when the venue was called Chop Suey and then
Two Times Square.
The Vivid Lounge is also located on the main lobby level and open only for breakfast from 6:30am-11:00am. For the remainder of the day, the lounge can be reserved for special events of meetings.
Vivid Lounge (image credit: Renaissance Hotels)


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