By Gamal Hennessy
For the past year, tiki culture has attempted to gain a foot hold in New York nightlife. Spots like Painkiller and Lana Kai have made the grass skirt and tiki lamp fixtures in lounges from the LES to Midtown. The Hurricane Club offers its own spin on the trend, blending Polynesian pleasures with Park Avenue sensibilities in an attempt to create a shiny replica luau.
You get the flavor before you even walk through the door. The space is the corner of Park Avenue South and 29th Street, hidden by thick white curtains. You might mistake it for a closed retail showroom until you get closer and see the small sign identifying the place. A trip through the revolving door puts you right in front of another interior door. I only mention this secondary door because it is the kind of huge metallic barrier than you expect to see in an adventure movie, blocking Lara Croft or Indiana Jones from a fantastic forbidden treasure. I don’t know if the designer was trying to be impressive or ironic here, but it feels like something that would be a better fit for a Las Vegas club than the subdued class of a New York City venue.
If you dare venture into the inner sanctum, you will be pleasantly rewarded. You’ll walk right up to the hostess station, but you’ll probably spend most of your time looking over their shoulders to the bar in the center of the room and the huge chandelier that stretches out like a spider web above it. Your seating choices range from the tables surrounding the bar, the semi private alcoves along the south wall or the more relaxed lounge area on the East Side of the room. The interior design reminds me of pictures I’ve seen of Boom Boom Room, but I've never tried to get in Boom Boom Room because I dislike overly tough doors. This place wasn’t hard to get into at all. On certain nights there is a big crowd, but if you don’t get it will be an issue of capacity and not a doorman’s whim.
The service for the most part is friendly and helpful. I got the feeling that the hostesses were still working out who covered which table because I sat for quite a while without being served at all and then three waitresses asked to take my order within ten minutes of each other. The menu for both food and drinks are inspired by Polynesian ingredients and serving styles, so you’ll find Pu Pu platters, Hawaiian fried rice and Peking pig. I normally just go out for the drinks, but they do have a decent selection of rum, gin and mezcal based cocktails served in various styles from copper mugs to tiki heads and imitation shells. The presentation doesn’t enhance the taste, but for the most part the drinks are sweet and enjoyable.
While you might expect the music to have some kind of Polynesian theme to match the food and décor, it doesn’t. When I was there it floated from ambient to house to hip hop in a way that suggested someone plugged in an iPod Shuffle. You also might expect a well dressed, older crowd considering the Park Avenue address and the up-to-the-minute opening. The crowd was older than what you might find at Lavo or Lambs Club, but like so many other venues in the city, only the women made an effort to look good. Thank you ladies.
At its heart, Hurricane Club is a decent spot to take clients or dates that you are trying to impress with the opulence of a shiny new restaurant/ lounge. Isn’t as intimate or musically unique as Salon Milliseme. It doesn’t have the relaxed sophistication of a Lambs Club, but it is a welcomed addition to the growing selection of midtown nightlife venues.