Evidently, the Polar Vortex wears Prada.
The world's top designers, editors, stylists, PR firms, and aspiring fashionistas planned every last detail of New York Fashion Week months in advance. Then detail upon detail fell apart when the first snowflake landed on Lincoln Center. Cancelled flights? Black ice? Blizzards? The Polar Vortex probably pushed out stilettos from this week's lookbook (were they even a contender?). There will be fewer "woman on the street" images of style icons popping in and out of shows with famous faces and labels exposed for cameras. Those that are published will surely be blurry from the shivering.
Of course, the shows will go on, but plan on sticking close and comfortable on the black-icy streets surrounding Lincoln Center. Avoid trips for downtown dinners and forget about popping into little SoHo cafés unless you like the subway in couture. Scoring a round-trip cab will be, in a word, impossible.
Here is the good news: there are plenty of options to unearth in the immediate surrounding area. While others flock to the standards, here are some suggestions off the Time Warner Center's beaten path. These are smart, overlooked, and highly fashionable dining alternatives:
For a breakfast pastry or afternoon pick-me-up: Tiny little Pain d'Epice (formerly Soutine Bakery) is ready with impossibly beautiful little cakes and flaky pain au chocolat that you'll burn off during the three-block walk back to 66th.
For cocktails with a view: Head to Per Se Lounge at 5:30. No earlier, no later. This is when the lounge opens and the velvet couch facing a picture-window over Columbus Circle is sure to be free. No reservations can be made in the lounge, so if you arrive at 5:45, someone will have probably beaten you to it -- though the rest of the lounge is lovely and the staff is unparalleled. And if you feel peckish, indulge in a course or two from the same menu that is served in the dining room.
For a glass of wine or small plate: Try Bin 71. Their old- and new-world wines are a refreshing departure from other ho-hum lists. Start your night with a sparkling Austrian rose or go with a food-friendly Spanish Albarino or French Gigondas to accompany their small plates.
For a simpler, quieter dinner: Everyone knows Jean-Georges, the Michelin-starred icon that one books well in advance, but ever heard of Nougatine? It's a lovely little café, quiet and stylish, tucked into the same Trump Tower but at fraction of the price. The lobster-burger is killer.
For a big table with less-than-horrifying wait: Try PJ Clarkes. It's what Don Draper would do. There may be a wait at peek times, but this enormous space expands and winds through floors and rooms and nooks that lesser drinkers would miss. P.S.: there is a second bar tucked into the back of the basement.
For hearty steak frites or cassoulet: Café Luxembourg is as much of a NYC institution as the area knows. Sit at the shiny stainless bar for the best martini this neighborhood has ever shaken. Chose a table with fingers crossed and you just might end up in a banquette next to Lorne Michaels and Tina Fey. (That happened last week!)
For all those assistants trying to grab a bite whenever they can: Epicerie Boulud. This place is bound to be outrageously crowded at mealtimes, but they're usually open from 7-11, and chances are you're not going to have time for a sit-down meal, anyway.