The Upper East Side (NYC) is not known for being a destination for craft cocktails like its downtown brother (Lower East Side). Seamstress NYC seeks to change all that. Seamstress is taking over the old JBird location in a joint effort from the Gilroy Partners (Josh Mazza, Francis Verrall, and Steve Laycock), Pam Wiznitzer (formerly of the Dead Rabbit), and chef Will Horowitz (Duck Eatery).
Upon first entering Seamstress you walk into a small leather goods spot where the host and coat check is. After walking past the host into the main area you are bathed in warm filament light from delicate dangling bulbs. There are a range of seating options from low slung booths on the sides, a communal table, and high top tables for a romantic date night.
As of this writing there are 2 bars, one in the front and the other in the back near the kitchen. Both are relatively small with the front one fully functioning and standing room only; the back bar is still waiting for final clearance from the liquor authority and is not currently set up. Because of the incompleteness there are spare chairs stacked behind the bar plus extra glasses and several other random items. While I appreciate a restaurants desire to maximize its revenue if your sitting at the back bar you fell like the black sheep of the family. Staring at stacked chairs and spare glasses does not make for a romantic evenings.
As a small note of warning the bathrooms are located on the basement level and are a sauna because of the hot water pipes running through. Added to this the bar as whole could use some additional airflow as it can get a little stuffy.
The staff is friendly enough although they can be aloof. With a touch more attentiveness the level of service would improve greatly. There are times when water glasses remained empty despite several waiters walking by. Clearly service is hit or miss.
With an extensive drink menu there is a drink for everyone. I think some of the best drinks can be found under the “Gusset” section which includes lower ABV spirits as the base such as Amaros, Potable bitters, and wines. I have often felt that this was an often neglected and underdeveloped area of the craft cocktail movement. This is backed up by a solid non alcoholic section for those who do not imbibe. The rest of menu consists of a mix of shaken and refreshing cocktails and stirred and boozy options. If you are interested in drinking and supporting charity, there is a monthly rotating drink in which all proceeds go to charity.
Seamstress has a range of food options including fried potatoes, a variety of salads, smoked or fried chicken, and pork shank. The fried potatoes are massive as if they have been cut from potatoes grown in the Garden of Eden and are well cooked. The smoked chicken is juicy and well seasoned but the breading is way too thick and overwhelms the chicken. When biting into the crust you come back with a mouthful of breading without any meat. The key to a great fried chicken is a thin crust that adds a bit of crunch to the succulent meat underneath. Sadly while the meat is flavorful the breading takes away from it. This is compounded by the fact that it comes with 4 large pieces of chicken with the inky sides being hot honey and citrus thyme oil. I would like to see one less piece of a chicken and instead replace it with a real side like a biscuit or some cole slaw. While the hot honey is a nice complement I don’t see why you would want to add additional oil to fried chicken.
With solid drink offerings, quality albeit slightly expensive food, and romantic atmosphere, Seamstress is a welcome addition to the UES.
339 East 75th St
New York, NY 10021
Sunday to Thursday 5pm – 2am
Friday to Saturday 5pm – 4am