Interior of Eighty-One from 81nyc.com

It's not too late to score one of the 150 free anniversary dinners Ed Brown is offering at Eighty-One for this Friday. (Just email free@81nyc.com ASAP today; tomorrow they will pick people, who can bring up to a party of four, at random). What I'm wondering is whether this is a harbinger of things to come in the New York restaurant world.

Eighty-One is a good restaurant, and Ed Brown is a very talented chef, but it probably opened at the worst possible time (a year ago) given its high-end orientation. As one prominent restaurateur told me yesterday, the restaurants that will survive this economic climate are the ones with deep roots, not saddled with leases signed in 2006 or 2007.

Only a year old, Eighty-One does not have deep roots, and is likely saddled with a lease signed at the wrong time (and as a result, the wrong price), and its initial prices were simply too high for this moment in the New York food culture.

Hopefully Brown's new two-course $30.81 prix fixe menu will do the trick. The Upper West Side specifically and New York in general need chefs like Ed Brown to stick around and feed us. Time will tell if he will get to do just that at Eighty-One.


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