Lonely Planet Writer

The world’s first ‘steakeasy’ is in an old NYC bank vault

A New York City steakhouse is a dime a dozen, but dining here might guarantee more bang for your buck. For those who like their ribeye, not just medium rare, but served in a stylish, secluded setting – this might be the joint for you.

Butcher and Banker
Butcher and Banker, NYC. Photo by: Pap Studio Images

The newly opened Butcher & Banker is offering a new take on the classic steak and chophouse. The eatery is housed below ground in the former bank offices of the Manufacturers Trust Company, underneath the storied New Yorker Hotel on 8th Avenue. Now, for the first time in almost 40 years, patrons can see the historic bank vault and original safety deposit boxes. To enter the venue, you actually step through a colossal circular vault door – sure to please any fans of heist movies.

The restaurant is located underneath the New Yorker Hotel in Manhattan. Image by Getty

Under the culinary leadership of Executive Chef Scott Campbell – an alum of Union Square Cafe and Le Cirque – Butcher & Banker’s menu pays homage to classic cuts. Think aged prime rib steaks, tender Tomahawks, bone-in cowboy ribeyes; some topped with seafood or Béarnaise sauce, others blessedly plain. For the non-carnivores, seasonal New American cuisine is also on the agenda, with vegetarian and seafood dishes aplenty.

If you can tear your gaze away from your meal, diners will note that the room’s decor nods to the New Yorker’s Art Deco sensibilities. The hotel, once Manhattan’s largest, opened in the 1930s during the Great Depression and is one of the last remaining examples of the aesthetic in the city. Among the hotel’s most famous guests were Joan Crawford, Muhammad Ali, and the brilliant inventor Nikola Tesla, who passed away in one of the rooms. The New Yorker also houses a secret tunnel that once led guests to nearby Penn Station.

In Butcher & Banker, chandeliers, plush red velvet, and a vintage jazz playlist all contribute to an old world feel, but for a modern crowd. Spearheading the design vision behind this restaurant concept are consultant Michael Whiteman – of Rainbow Rooms fame – and architect Richard Bloch.

Thought a steak dinner was ten a penny? Think again. Remember your bank card and head to the vault.