The Hunt & Fish Club in Midtown Manhattan looks nothing like it sounds. There are no deer heads on the wall, no trout trophies, no pheasants taxidermied to appear as if in mid-flight. Most of the surfaces are mirrored, and the ones that aren’t are made of marble. It looks like the basement ballroom of a two-star Vegas hotel, the site of the Long Island bar mitzvah you could never afford to have, the classiest strip club in Bayonne, New Jersey. On a recent Friday night, the clientele was mostly old and white, a pre-theater dinner crowd that appeared to clear out at precisely 7:45 PM.
And, for a restaurant with a fishing rod and and a gun on its crest (it has its own crest!), the menu offers a scant three items for which either tool would be required – salmon, sea bass and a bison burger. Most of the menu is either shellfish or steak.
I found myself at Anthony Scaramucci’s Times Square-adjacent steakhouse, along with three female friends, also journalists, with the goal of trying to understand what, exactly, its owner has been up to since leaving the White House in an obscene blaze of glory nine months ago. What better place to contemplate the question than from his personal booth? (A sign, emblazoned with the HFC crest, hangs just above the table; it reads simply “Anthony Scaramucci.”) And, of course, we wanted to try the food, including what the restaurant boasts is “the best steak in NYC.”
In the time since Scaramucci left the Trump administration, the former hedge funder has launched a Twitter account, @ScaramucciPost, best known for its poll asking how many people died in the Holocaust. (The Twitter presence is seemingly untethered to ScaramucciPost.com, a Medium account filled with posts written before the 2016 election). He’s appeared on cable news too, to offer trenchant insights into Trumpworld. (“If I had to flip a coin, is [Michael] Cohen going to turn on President Trump? …I would say adamantly no,” he recently opined on MSNBC.) And, last Thursday, according to Page Six, his restaurant was set to host a “‘Sugar Social,’ where 25 ‘invited gentlemen’ will meet for cocktails and dinner with 35 ‘stunning women'” seeking money-for-sex arrangements. (A representative from Hunt & Fish Club contacted Rolling Stone shortly after publication to clarify that the event did not take place as advertised.)
Scaramucci’s publicist told Page Six the event in question was being organized by a private club, but since the Hunt & Fish Club opened in 2015, the steakhouse has embraced its characterization as the kind of place where “beauties trawl for sugar daddies;” a “haunt for bigwigs hunting for new deals and beauties fishing for rich husbands.” A 49-year-old woman who was interviewed at the time of the opening described the restaurant as making a woman “feel like a lobster, just like, ready to be declawed.” (According to the Post, Mob Wives star Carla Facciolo, 48, agreed with this assessment at the time. “If girls want to meet some men,” Facciolo said in 2015, “this is where you meet them.”)
I can’t speak to what the atmosphere was like at the Hunt & Fish Club three years ago, or even the night before we dined there. And I can’t say that at any point during the two hours I spent there I felt much like a lobster, declawed or otherwise. What I can tell you is that our meal did leave my friends and I with a distinct physical sensation the next day – one that we came to refer to as “The Mooch’s Revenge.”
Everything we ordered was wet. When you cracked them open, the complimentary popovers wheezed with a damp, cheesy breath. The lettuce that accompanied the HFC New York Chop Salad – featuring chickpea, tomato, sopressata, provolone and cucumber – came so drenched in dressing it was hard to tell whether it was iceberg or Romaine (subject to a nationwide recall earlier that day). All the same, it evoked a tender sense of nostalgia in one of my companions, who said it was “literally what I ate when I moved to New York and was starving, working at trade magazines … you paid by the pound so they made it soggy to weigh down the scale.” The mac and cheese reminded me of my own high school cafeteria’s, the way it coated my entire mouth in a thick, molten layer of Elmer’s glue.
The tater tots tasted like hot, moist, deep-fried cylinders of garlic paste. The “owner’s recipe” seafood salad was a wet pile of rubbery calamari rings and sandy scallops, garnished with rough-cut parsley and a wedge of lemon. The boneless ribeye, ordered medium rare, was both crunchier and fattier than any steak I’ve ever tasted – and at $60 per cut, more expensive, too.
We had an amiable and highly capable waiter, whose excellent service was supplemented by a second, extraneous figure who would occasionally drop by our table for what appeared to be no reason in particular. That man, whose role we struggled to understand, asked at one point if we had a questions, then, when I inquired about his favorite things on the menu, smiled and walked away. Later, he pretended to pour hot sauce in one of our cocktails.
The decor, which reportedly includes 55,000 pounds of marble, is said to have cost $5 million at the time of installation. (The figure reminds me of Dolly Parton’s famous saying: “It costs a lot of money to look this cheap.”) It costs a lot of money to eat at the Hunt & Fish Club, too. The tab for one steak, one green salad, one seafood salad and two sides, plus drinks, came to $278 before tip. We were the only single women we could see in the restaurant, but no older, wealthy gentlemen dropped by our table offering to pick up the check, which, at least from our perspective, was a point in the restaurant’s favor.
In the end, we determined that the Hunt & Fish Club is just a sad, overpriced steakhouse trying to hook customers with the premise that it’s some kind of meat market. If you’re a man looking to pick up women there, just be aware: you’d probably have better luck – to use a Scaramuccism – trying to suck your own cock.
Editor’s note: This story has been updated to reflect Page Six‘s clarification that the “sugar social” did not take place as advertised.
Anna Merlan, Cady Drell and Elisabeth Garber-Paul contributed to this report.