Lights On…In Lower Manhattan

02/01/2012 in

By Kelly Rush

Without vision, a people perish. Or, in my version of this proverb for the column: Without glasses from the right eyewear shop, one might not be able to find one’s way to the spa … or to the restaurant for ribs. In this week’s edition, pamper yourself with a facial, indulge in barbecue and get lost in art while you wait for your new custom eyeglass frames. As usual, if you see any new retailers or spot changes to a long-time friend, please email me at [email protected] and I’ll check them out.

Affina Beauty & Spa – 125 Church Street
(212) 233-8822 |

It’s appropriate that Affina Beauty & Spa is located on Church Street because a trip here could be a heavenly experience. The interior looks like your ultra-hip friend’s loft with warming influences from grandma. Manager Shine Guo said spa employees designed the space themselves. It features a relaxing pale gray, blue and white color palette, dangling lights in whimsical shapes and floral artwork. Think of the manicures and pedicures offered here as an introduction, an opportunity to get your feet wet. The spa offers Swedish, deep tissue and hot-stone massage and several different facials such as the derma acne facial which clears up skin and prevents future breakouts from occurring.  Check back because the spa soon will be offering laser hair removal because no one wants to pluck for the rest of her life. Receive 20 percent off services until April 1.

North End Grill – 104 North End Avenue
(646) 747-1600 |

North End Grill, the other new offering from Danny Meyer’s restaurant group in Battery Park City, is also operating at full capacity. Chef Floyd Cardoz, formerly of Tabla and a competitor on Top Chef Masters, is bringing his spin on high-end American cuisine to a lovely space overlooking the Hudson. Appetizers include Louisiana shrimp with fennel and radish or a torchon of foie gras with quince paste and grilled brioche. Entrees include a Nova Scotia halibut, diver sea scallops, a Berkshire pork chop or a duck breast and leg with leeks and tangerines.

Artsee Eyewear – 220 Murray Street
(212) 227-2400 |

Curated art shows meet fashion frames at this eyewear shop across from the Shake Shack in the Goldman Sachs building’s restaurant alley. The current exhibition, David L. Nicholas’ Night Vision II, features large-scale and panoramic color photographs on the walls. The artwork accentuates the shop’s selection of eyeglass frames and both work in tandem to create a unique shopping experience.  General Manager Carlos Venegas said the exhibit space is currently booked; it’s easy to see why artists would want to showcase their work here. Frames sit atop pedestals and under glass domes that receive just the right amount of light from the fixtures above. Come for the eyewear, stay for the artwork.

Blue Smoke 255 Vesey Street
(212) 889-2005 |

Danny Meyer’s eatery has been getting a lot of press, so diners will be pleased to hear that Blue Smoke is finally serving its full menu full-time. The restaurant features many barbecue favorites such as Texas salt and pepper beef ribs, pulled pork and Kansas City spareribs and some unexpected treats including chicken gumbo and bourbon pecan pie. Vegetarian and gluten-free menus round out the options for people with allergies or restricted diets.  Just because Blue Smoke is a barbecue place doesn’t mean you have to indulge, but I would.

OBAO – 38 Water Street
(212) 361-6311 |

The second Obao outpost, on Water Street, calls itself the “casual extension” of the flagship Obao in Midtown, which earned a Michelin Bib Gourmand in 2011 and 2012. The Water Street location, like its predecessor, specializes in blending Thai and Vietnamese cuisine but at a pace fast enough for its Financial District patrons.  Start with the caramelized pork belly, move on to the massamun chicken or pho, add a side of sautéed bean sprouts or Chinese broccoli and end with a green tea panna cotta.


Bolton’s – 95 Wall Street
Syms – 42 Trinity Place
Cafe Doppio – 55 Broad Street
Hidden Treasures – 32 Warren Street
Twin Café – 275 Greenwich Street

For more information on retailers in Lower Manhattan, visit the Alliance for Downtown New York at You can check out an interactive map with details on hours, locations and services and search the events calendar. Or, stay connected through the Downtown Alliance iPhone app, available for download on the website.


Tags: Carlos Venegas, Chef Floyd Cardoz, Danny Meyer, David L. Nicholas, Lower Manhattan, Michelin Bib Gourmand, Shine Guo, Tabla, Top Chef Masters

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