I've tried to like Brasserie 8 1/2. Recently, I joined friends there for dinner. It was my third visit in the last year. It's hard to describe why I don't like it. First, you walk into a stark, sterile lobby. Then you go downstairs into the basement that is sort of Jetsons-like. The starkness, the red color scheme, it has no atmosphere. It's cold and uninviting.
The food is good, but not great. I had striped bass. It was nicely presented. The service is friendly, but not professional. The wait staff do not seem to know the menu. It is obvious that waiting tables at Brasserie 8 1/2 is their "other job".
Brasserie 8 1/2 is not terrible by any means, but it's not outstanding either. There are so many great restaurants in New York. Why go down to the basement in a restaurant that has no atmosphere (but tries to be modern chic), have good (but not great) food, with a wait staff that is friendly but not knowledgeable.
Zagat gives Brasserie 8 1/2 23 points out of a possible 30. I think this is generous.
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