American, Nouveau American
$$$$ ($25-$34)

Editorial Review

Tom Sietsema wrote about a 14K for his First Bite column in March 2009.

The Hamilton Crowne Plaza spent $350,000 and the first two weeks of January giving its ground-floor dining room a fresh look. "We wanted to make it more cosmopolitan, like our neighbors," says John Rickling, the hotel's food and beverage director.

Mission accomplished, we think as we stroll through the door of 14K Restaurant and Lounge. The wood floors are shiny new, and so is the lighting. Blue draperies add a regal touch; tufted white chairs encourage lingering. There's even a raised chef's table with room for 10 diners. Coming soon: a new striped awning for the patio overlooking Franklin Square Park.

The menu choices consider a variety of appetites. 14K lets a diner have his Cobb salad and his New York strip, but also his vegetable "pot-au-feu," his ahi tuna with ponzu sauce, even his tandoori wings.

Avoid those wings. Offered on the lounge menu, they're bland and greasy and spiced more with Middle America than India in mind. You should also bypass the roast beef sandwich, served at lunch. The meat is okay, but everything else about it detracts: the bread that resembles cardboard, the fries that smack of the frozen variety. Shrimp tagliatelle gets the seafood right, but not the gloppy pasta, tossed with a wan tomato cream sauce.

Can we split that Cobb? Our waiter is happy to oblige. And while it takes some digging, we find plates with promise. Sea bass ringed with a chunky moat of clams, smoked salmon, bacon and potatoes is an entree that better suits the setting.

"Rush hour" is celebrated between 4 and 7 p.m. at 14K, and it helps forgive the food slips, with 50 percent off all beverages, be they "soda or XO Remy Martin," Rickling tempts us.

Entrees, $24-$33.

(March 18, 2009)