New York

The Nines opened in January and it's since become one of the hardest-to-get-into supper club and piano bars in the entire city.
The Nines opened in January and it’s since become one of the hardest-to-get-into supper club and piano bars in the entire city. Photo by Liz Clayman, courtesy of The Nines

The One Who Keeps the BookNew York

How to Get Into The Nines, and What to Order Once You’re There

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After a turbulent past two years, one of the most sought-after places these days is a spot that gives New Yorkers a great reason to dress up, while also offering a quality meal, standout drinks, and live entertainment.

Enter The Nines, the latest from Golden Age Hospitality, the same group behind Le Crocodile, The Happiest Hour, and Acme. A nod to the swank supper clubs and glamorous European hotel lounges and café societies of days-gone-by, The Nines couldn’t feel more of-the-moment.

Situated above sister spot Acme Downstairs, The Nines came to Noho in January, replacing the original Acme space with a buzzy front lounge leading to a ritzy, scarlet-hued dining room and a grand piano as its centerpiece. The menu matches the ambition of the ambiance, with smart cocktails by Ashley Santoro (previously of Standard Hotels) and comfort-meets-classy dishes by executive chef Nicole Gajadhar, formerly of Saxon & Parole, Nix, and The Loyal.

With all of this glitter, and a city hungry for big nights out, the reservation book at The Nines is almost always fully committed, especially since it’s become a favorite of the fashion set and a Page Six fixture for its celebrity clientele. But that doesn’t mean scoring a table is impossible. Luckily, Resy tapped Justin Caron, director of service, for tips on how to land a coveted banquette, and more, in this latest installment of The One Who Keeps The Book.

Justin Caron, The Nines’ director of service. Photo courtesy of The Nines
The Nines Martini
The Nines Martini. Photo by Liz Clayman, courtesy of The Nines

Resy: How many seats are there at The Nines?
Caron: 70 seats total, which includes 55 in the dining room and 15 in the front lounge.

When do reservations drop on Resy?
Two weeks out, and they drop exactly at midnight.

How quickly do the seats get booked?
Within five minutes. It’s wild.

Do you hold any seats for walk-ins?
Yes, we hold the entire front lounge for walk-ins. We also hold some of the bar seats in the main room for walk-ins as well.

What time would you recommend for someone to stop by if they wanted to walk in?
It’s definitely easiest to come and grab a seat right at 5 o’clock. Between 5 and 5:30 all of the walk-in space is seated. It can either be people popping in for drinks before a night out or staying for dinner. The other time we encourage to try walking in is for drinks after dinner service, around 10:30 to 11 o’clock. And that’s when people get a little more cozy.

Day-of cancellations tend to happen on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. And those happen to be my favorite days to dine. I think there’s a beautiful, lovely vibe in the room on those weekdays.

What’s the usual wait time for walk-ins?
During prime time the wait time will probably be close to two hours. We have the Notify list but we do have an in-house waitlist as well. So a lot of times, if someone finishes early, or there is a cancellation, and you get there at 5 or 6 o’clock and we’re full, if you get on the waitlist, it’s totally possible that within two hours we may have something open up.

What is your prime time for dinner reservations?
Between 7 to 9 p.m.

How many covers do you do on your busiest nights?
We typically seat the room three times. So around 200 covers a night.

When are you the least busy?
Right at 5 o’clock, but honestly, we’re pretty packed the whole time. We’ve been super-fortunate.

How long is your Notify list on average?
For the weekdays — Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday — it’s around 800. On the weekends we get up to 1,200 to 1,300.

When is it best to get on Notify?
Day-of cancellations tend to happen on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. And those happen to be my favorite days to dine. I think there’s a beautiful, lovely vibe in the room on those weekdays.

Do you accept bookings for large groups?
Yes. Through Resy, the largest group you can book is six people. And we have a reservationist who will answer to larger inquiries. Those inquiries can be sent to our email, which is info@ninesnyc.com.

What’s the best seat in the house?
You really can’t go wrong in the main dining room, but my favorite seat is in the far back corner. There’s a little nook that’s right behind the piano player by the candlelit fireplace, which is this super-cozy, intimate corner where you can see the whole restaurant and have the vantage point of the piano player. It is quite magical.

A Closer Look at The Menu From The Nines

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The Nines' Kaspian potato dish comes with a generous serving of caviar.

The Nines’ Kaspian potato dish comes with a generous serving of caviar.

Photo by Liz Clayman, courtesy of The Nines

The gnudi is prepared with a beurre blanc and gets topped with winter truffles.

The gnudi is prepared with a beurre blanc and gets topped with winter truffles.

Photo by Liz Clayman, courtesy of The Nines

The burger features Raclette, Burgundy onions, black garlic, and dijon.

The burger features raclette, Burgundy onions, black garlic, and Dijon.

Photo by Liz Clayman, courtesy of The Nines

Cocktails stick mainly to the classics.

Cocktails stick mainly to the classics.

Photo by Liz Clayman, courtesy of The Nines

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Tell us about the musical lineup.
Every night we have programming of live piano from 6 p.m. to midnight. There are two piano players every night. The first is from 6 to 9 p.m., which is a player with no vocals, a little more on the mellower side of programming, playing Motown, Nina Simone, and funkier songs than you might hear in an old-school piano bar. Then from 9 p.m. to midnight we have another pianist who plays with vocals, playing covers of artists like Chaka Khan and a little more upbeat, funky, fun music.

Are there any sing-along opportunities?
Definitely. There are times when whole tables are singing along. But it’s not like karaoke where there’s an extra mic for guests to use. It just happens spur of the moment. People do get pretty engaged with the music.

Can you give an example of how diners engaged with the music on a recent night?
Oftentimes toward the end of the programming, in the later part of the second set, around 11 p.m. or so, there will be a group of people surrounding the piano. The other night our piano player, Sam, was playing an Amy Winehouse song and one of the tables all stood up and stood around her to sing along, which was very fun and special.

Do the pianists take requests?
Yes, they will, especially during the second set.

It’s Friday night at 7 p.m. What’s happening? Can you set the scene?
So we’re right into that first hour of our first piano set. We’re at the peak of our dinner service. The room is full. At this time of year the sun is just going down, which always brings an elegant mood to the room. And it starts to get really buzzy and lovely. It’s a really beautiful start to the weekend, with that feeling of a little bit of relief of the week ending and people settling into enjoying the experience, which is a great feeling. The parlor room in the front is full with people enjoying cocktails and then there is dinner seating in the back main room.

Right, dinner! It’s more than just a piano bar. How would you describe chef Nicole’s cooking?
She has a way of combining and using beautiful, rich flavors and classic presentation with a delicate and elegant touch. And she incorporates complex elements into otherwise simple dishes. For example, the turkey for the 9’s club is brined in dashi. It adds another layer of detail to a classic dish.

What are the other dishes that people need to order?
The Kaspian potato is definitely what we are known for right now and it is fantastic. It is a twice-baked potato with crème fraiche and Parmesan and topped with 30 grams of Osetra caviar. It’s super-decadent and incredible. The other thing that I love is the smoked salmon with really large, fluffy blini, crème fraiche, and Ora King salmon roe; it comes with gribiche sauce on the side. My favorite thing to do is pair that with our shaken martini which has vodka, a little bit of vermouth, and a little bit of dill aquavit. It’s a great, fresh pairing. And then there’s the N˚9 burger. It is a must-have. It’s dry-aged beef, Burgundy onions, Dijon and Comté cheese and I think it’s the best burger you can get in the city right now. For vegetarians we have a roasted maitake and sunchoke dish that comes with potato onion puree — it’s vegan, actually. And there’s a mushroom pâté that has a surprisingly rich texture and it comes with a warm baguette.

So who are we going to meet at The Nines? Who’s your clientele?
It’s kind of a mixed crowd. We tend to get people who are looking for a special experience. We get a lot of celebratory diners. It’s a really special place to dine out and I think we tend to get people who are in the mood to dress to the nines and enjoy it. We’re already building a handful of regulars, too.

I understand it’s already become quite the celebrity hangout. Care to drop any names?
I can’t mention specific names but yeah, there’s definitely been a few celebrities who have dropped by, which has been exciting.

What do you think The Nines has ultimately brought to the New York City dining and entertainment scene?
I think people are really craving spaces, especially downtown, where there’s a desire to indulge in a world of being hyper-social and decadent, dressing up and celebrating being with each other and having an elevated experience again.

 

The Nines is open Tuesday through Saturday from 5 p.m. to 2 a.m.

 

Kathleen Squires is an award-winning food and travel writer based in New York City. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter. Follow Resy, too.