Sarah Jessica Parker and Blythe Danner asked to be photographed there for Vogue. Erica Jong throws Chanukah parties in the back room. Duane Hampton and Chris Craft President Herb Siegel like it for Thanksgiving. The Christmas season is a blur of Hermes and Chanel as the ladies who lunch fete their friends. Swifty’s, heir to Mortimer’s of Truman Capote and Lee Radziwill fame, is the Mario Buatta designed home away from monied Manhattan’s Buatta designed homes. Ensconced in it’s two cozy rooms, the smart set orders chef/owner Stephen Attoe’s updated versions of their comfort food, madeleines literally and figuratively reminiscent of childhood cooks.
To bring them together from 4-6, wife, Pat Attoe has been hosting art and book parties in the back room.
Pat, who has a Masters in Art History, held longtime positions at both Sotheby’s and the Wally Findlay Art Gallery. A few years ago, she began curating her own “shows,” bringing New York artists to Swifty’s walls. “We have a lot of regular customers,” Pat told us. “So seeing new artwork on our walls gives them a lift, and they look forward to seeing what comes next.” Because they’ve had a chance to live with paintings that reflect a certain sensibility, the paintings sell, sometimes even sell out. But, it’s a service, not a business. “They see it at lunch, fall in love, ask the Maitre d’ and strike a deal with the artist,” said Pat. The unusually small commission Swifty’s charges pays for the cocktail reception.
On weekends, Herb Bernstein, who has worked with Bob Dylan, Tina Turner and Dusty Springfield, and conducted at Carnegie Hall, Lincoln and Kennedy Centers tinkles the ivories from 7-11 PM. Boomers will remember his hit composition, “See You in September.” “He’s developed his own following,” said Pat.
For those who like the privileged feel of a private club, without the hefty ticket, follow your own way, to this uniquely New York spot.