By Dave Cathey Food Editor NewsOK
About a month ago, chef Bruce Rinehart threw his hat into the downtown ring with The Manhattan, a small bar and restaurant aiming to become “a little gem” for downtown. Rinehart opened his first Rococo Restaurant and Fine Wine 13 years ago in the old Tony’s Italian Specialties space. He calls it his “little island,” which is an apt description. Before Chae opened around the corner a couple of years ago, the original Rococo operated with zero synergy and succeeded — no small task. Then came the grand Northpark Mall location, which is large enough to swallow both The Manhattan and the original Rococo and have room left to host a clambake. Up until two Sundays ago, Northpark was home to a cruise-ship brunch. Rinehart said they’ve simplified their brunch offerings at Northpark. Somewhere amid all that, Rinehart and his wife, Amber, have found the time and energy to take on downtown. The Manhattan, 210 N Park Ave., offers 14 variations on the cocktail it’s named for, is open six days a week for lunch and dinner and Sunday brunch on the ground floor of the Oklahoma Tower.
The single-room space has a 10-seat bar plus another 48 around tables. When the patio is open, the Manhattan can serve another 24. Like every operator whose come to downtown since the late 1960s, Rinehart has had to get used surrounding streets being in some kind of disrepair. But he said once he added a few entrees to the menu, The Manhattan has found some traction. “People said ‘Bruce, we love the cocktails, but we have to go somewhere else for dinner,’ so (we) added some entrees.” That includes a filet, roast pork and pasta. Salads also play up to entrees, and of course Rinehart wouldn’t open a place without offering the signature crabcakes that founded two successful restaurants. Lunch fare revolves around sandwiches and salads made from scratch daily. House-cured pastrami is available on a sandwich of its own or The Reuben. No one walks away hungry from either of those. The Lobster Roll is delivered with the aplomb of a chef whose been making and serving them for close to four decades in the kitchen. Happy hour begins each day at 4 p.m. and has its own menu, including oysters on the half shell, house-made pita chips and dips plus deviled eggs. Brunch is served Saturdays and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and includes special omelets, smoked salmon and bagel and baked eggs. Downtown businesses are quickly learning about The Manhattan’s box lunches, which are available for pickup or catered for office parties.