Some scholars theorize that humanity as we know it began with the invention of fire. Contemplate these and other deep thoughts as you stare into the ember flames at the following establishments. You can keep warm too. By Jessica Allen.
Friend of a Farmer
This two-level restaurant on Irving Place, one of Manhattan’s loveliest streets, seeks to re-create the feel of the owner’s childhood home upstate. Friend of a Farmer features wallpaper, brass knickknacks, heavy wood tables, curtains, and a roaring stone fireplace. Sit close to make the “old-fashioned chicken pot pie” and “ranch hand meatloaf,” among other American specialties on offer for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, all the more comforting. Lines for brunch are legion.
MexiBBQ Kitchen & Draught
Three glass-and-steel fireplaces light up the back wall at MexiBBQ. This Astoria restaurant offers almost craft 50 beers on tap, as well as American and Mexican barbecue and bar food like wings, nachos, pulled pork sandwiches, brisket tacos (pictured), and southern fried chicken. On Mondays you can get a beer and a burger for $10, on Tuesdays all-you-can-eat ribs for $19. Check the website for other specials, and the tv listings for upcoming football games, just in case sports are or aren’t your thing.
As you might expect from a restaurant named “The Place,” this West Village restaurant has a definite vibe: organic, sustainable food on the table, fireplaces roaring in the corners, intimacy in the air. The 19th-century subterranean space also boasts original oak-beamed ceilings. Cod comes pan-roasted and dusted with polenta, chicken oven-roasted, hanger steak herb-marinated and char-grilled. With 10 percent of profits going toward local environmental and children’s charities, you can feel good while getting cozy and full.
The stone hearth at the back of Gwynnett St., a New American restaurant in Brooklyn, would likely be a focal point at lesser restaurants. But this definitely isn’t a lesser restaurant: Esquire named Gwynnett St. among its best new restaurant of 2012, and Pete Wells awarded it two stars in The New York Times. Like the brick-lined dining room, the food looks simple. But each bite—of duck breast with gooseberries (pictured), of asparagus soup with egg yolk—reveals layers. And then there’s the whiskey bread, which just might change your life.
Fire and steaks go together like chocolate and peanut butter, ham and cheese, sunny days and weekends. At its Meatpacking District location, STK combines the leather and expansiveness (four floors!) you’d expect at a steakhouse with the restrained atmosphere and smaller portions you’d expect at a lounge. The result is high-end, celebrity-friendly, and pricey, with plaster animal horns above the bar and mirrors everywhere, including the fireplace. The restaurant’s slogan is “not your daddy’s steakhouse.” So true, so true.
Jim Lahey’s paen to pizza has a fireplace as unique as the pizzas he serves: it’s a projection. All the beauty, none of the smoke or char. The image of a crackling fireplace appears on the back wall, lending the usually crowded communal dining room a kind of warmth and hominess. It also serves as a reminder of the super hot oven cranking out pies like the boscaiola (pork sausage, mushroom, onion, chili, mozzarella, and tomato) and popeye (mozzarella, spinach, pecorino,black pepper, garlic, and gruyère [pictured]) in the kitchen.