Jue Lan Club, New Restaurant in the Former Limelight

You might not have heard of Jue Lan Club ( Limelight ), which opened in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood. At the end of last year, but you probably know the famous rectory that houses it. In the 1980s, the deconsecrated Episcopal Church of the Holy Communion on Sixth Avenue. Converted into a nightclub that later became Limelight. One of the wildest clubs in history.

Grace Jones partied there. So did Madonna and Debbie Harry. But to entrepreneurs, the star was owner Peter, known then as the king of the New York club scene. After they deported Gatien to Canada following a tax fraud conviction, the church became a rehab center and a mall-slash-gym. Reviving its ’90s-era glory (already fading by 1998, when it featured in Sex and the City) would be impossible. but Jue Lan Club has made a winking effort by naming one of its private dining rooms in Gatien’s honor. There is work by Keith Haring on the show, along with new ceramic sculptures by artist Yeats Grin.

Maybe it’s the insistent nods to a lost past, the servers in flight attendant-red belted dresses handing out endless hot. Perfumed towelettes, but dinner at Jue Lan Club can feel more enjoy. Taking a wild ride at a garish theme park than enjoy eating dinner. The main bar and dining room are all dimly lit bare brick. A kind of Disney Gothic, and it outfits them with baroque green velvet banquettes. 

Those with middle-aged white men in shiny suits and women clinking glasses of Champagne. Over plates of hastily sliced raw fish in various gaudy shades of pink and orange. One man kept it brief when introducing another to his girlfriend: “We used to party, babe, back in the day.”

Limelight NYC restaurant

The restaurateur behind Jue Lan Club is Stratis Morfogen. Better known as the founder and former CEO of Phillipe Chow Restaurants. Along with partners Robert Collins and Richie Romero, named their new place after a Chinese art society of the 1930s. 

You can draw it out with fried noodles and choose-your-own-meat skewers. Which are crispy-edged and wrecked with butter, and oxtail bao—lonely, unseasoned heaps of braised meat.

At Jue Lan Club, the meat is in skinny, frizzled pieces, thick with a sticky batter. And doused in a sticky sweet syrup that looks like something you’d force down to help you sleep. A lot of the savory entrees are not unlike the takeout versions you’d turn to during a night in. At twice the price, and without the comforts of slippers and your favorite giant, unbreakable wine glass.