The most tasteful aspect of the New York Edition—Ian Schrager’s latest boutique hotel collaboration with Marriott—is clearly its second-floor restaurant, The Clocktower, run by Michelin-starred chef Jason Atherton.
The 43-year-old Atherton, like the best Wagyu cattle, was bred for this moment. He spent his formative years in kitchens with Marco Pierre White and Ferran Adrià, then did an extended tour of duty under Britain’s culinary drill sergeant, Gordon Ramsay. Like Ramsay, Atherton has since built a restaurant empire extending to all corners of the former British Empire—first with Pollen Street Social in London’s Mayfair, then Hong Kong, Shanghai, Singapore and Sydney. (He now has 15 restaurants and three Michelin stars, for Pollen Street Social, Social Eating House and City Social.) He did not, however, inherit Ramsay’s much-televised intensity. Atherton, slim and stubbled, instead exudes a studied cool, down to his slim green-and-yellow plaid trousers and Tom Ford wingtips.
After opening the acclaimed Berners Tavern at Schra- ger’s London Edition hotel in 2014, Schrager offered Ather- ton a chance to bring his talents to the new Edition in the landmark Metropolitan Life Tower. “If you don’t get excit- ed about New York, you don’t have blood running through your veins,” he says.
In May, The Clocktower opened, with Philadelphia restaurateur Stephen Starr coming in as Atherton’s 50-50 partner to run financial and business operations. His plan for the restaurant is less a full-blown British invasion than a modest nod to the Queen’s cuisine. “We’ll cook with the sensibilities of back home, with techniques like roasting, braising, slow cooking,” says Atherton a few days before the restaurant’s opening, seated in one of The Clocktower’s three mahogany-lined dining rooms. “I’m not going to come here and put toad in the hole on a menu.” Nor will he ship in any ingredient from England, he says—except the Dover sole.
As in other Atherton establishments, The Clocktower eschews any nose-in-the-air stuffiness. “We create restaurants for the public. Whatever you want to do, you’re welcome,” he says. It’s a line, but a refreshing one in a city of strict come-and-be-served $300 tasting menus and $16 lobster rolls that are more mayonnaise than crustacean.