What once was an old garment factory and tailor’s office has transformed into a spacious multi-level restaurant in Manhattan’s Garment District. The Rag Trader, the latest venture from Fox Lifestyle Hospitality Group, evokes mid-20th century vibes with nostalgic architecture, but also doesn’t sway from trendy.
“Apart from the space’s ever present nod to the Garment District, I wanted to bring a fun and playful drinks program complemented by eclectic comfort food, appealing to a range of consumers,” said Mark Fox, founder of Fox Lifestyle Hospitality Group. “I also love that we were able bring a nostalgically romantic vibe to this area of Midtown—something it was missing.”
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There’s much to marvel at in the decor with exposed brick, mannequins, decades-old issues of Vogue, dramatic light fixtures and a glowing sign that reads, “It started with a kiss.”
The food at The Rag Trader is just as enticing. Defining the menu as “refined comfort food,” executive chef Justin Ottervanger revealed one of his favorites: a BLT made on challah bread with deep-fried green tomatoes, tarragon and avocado aioli.
But diners are in for more treats whether choosing from the lunch, dinner or brunch menu. Think meat options like baby back ribs; fish dishes like the crispy skin salmon served with black rice, green coconut curry, crispy ginger and cashews; and small plates like crispy Brussels sprouts with sweet chili. Some of the same items appear on the brunch menu along with breakfast classics including avocado toast and eggs Benedict. But brunch lovers shouldn’t leave without trying the already popular Drunkin’ Donuts. It’s three donuts with different fillings—chocolate, pumpkin and vanilla—mixed with cocktail flavors.
And no matter what time of day, a slew of pizzas are also available. Ottervanger said customers are gravitating towards the classic margherita and the house-made sausage with marinated broccoli rabe, ricotta, arugula, grana padano and chili flakes.
The pizza can also be enjoyed at another gem inside The Rag Trader: Bo Peep. The downstairs dimly-lit piano bar features red plush banquette seating. There’s also a bar made from a tailor’s old drafting table serving more than 30 cocktails chosen by beverage director Evan Hawkins. Favorites include the Stirred Pictford (rum, smoked pineapple, cherry, vanilla and spices), the Jalisco Switchblade (tequila, spiced carrot, lime and pineapple smoked rosemary) and the Tunisian Toddy (bourbon, rye, Moroccan spice, lime and mint Tea).
“I felt an elegance in the space, and wanted to relay that through The Rag Trader’s beverage program, while also including fun riffs on classic drinks that people find comfort in day or night,” Hawkins said.