New York City has a very eclectic music scene and there is no shortage of live music options. But when I walked into The Cutting Room, I was reminded that all music venues are not created equal.
If the name sounds familiar to you it’s because it first opened in 1999 but changed its location to the trendy Flatiron District in early 2013. Co-owned by Steve Walter and Law & Order and Sex in the City star Chris Noth, The Cutting Room has hosted musician royalty like stars Sheryl Crow, Lady Gaga and David Bowie, as well as fun burlesque acts like Arcana Lace.
Walking through the doors, you immediately notice the captivating hanging chandelier created with eighteen guitars and a grand staircase leading you upstairs to a gallery of paintings of music gods. If you are lucky enough to be seated upstairs, you get a great view of the massive bar that takes the shape of a guitar.
Music venues are hardly known for their cuisine, but The Cutting Room’s food menu reads more like a fine dining restaurant, including items like Steak Frites, Lobster Rolls and Crab Cakes.
We had a chance to catch up and chat with co-owner Steve Walter about his music background, his favorite menu item and more.
How did you come up with the concept for The Cutting Room?
It kind of happened organically. I always went to concerts growing up and when the band finished playing for the night, people were left with nowhere to go. So I wanted to create a space where people could hang after hours, have a delicious, hot meal and a nice bottle of wine – not just a frozen meal and wine that’ll give you heartburn the next day! There has always been a demand for a music venue that had both an intimate feel, but also had top of the line acoustics with a more sophisticated feel.
What’s your favorite part of running a business in NYC?
The best part of running a business in NYC is the amount of wonderful acts that come through the door. There’s nothing like a really good band that when you listen to them, you just get chills down your spine because you cannot believe what you’re hearing and seeing in front of you. NYC has quality music; I’m an East Coast guy and believe that the city forces you to have really good quality acts.
Who are some of your favorite musicians bands? And why?
Personally, Jeff Beck is an amazing guitar player. He’s so talented. Joni Mitchell is pretty amazing to say the least. The Beatles are #1, they’re classic rock and roll. Some of my favorite people that I’ve hosted at The Cutting Room would have to be, George W. Bush – he was pretty cool. He did a Q&A and took pictures with the crowd, a real down to earth guy. Some of my favorite musical acts we hosted over the years include, Billy Joel and Pete Seger. Pete played one of his last shows before he passed away at The Cutting Room. Other amazing talent to come through the door includes, Al Kooper, an American songwriter, record producer and musician who is best known for organizing Blood, Sweat & Tears. Judy Collins, Jimmy Webb – there’s just so many!
What inspired the menu for The Cutting Room? What’s your favorite item?
The nachos are great! I’m an eater and traveler, so when I find something in a specific region that I love – like chili over pasta, a Cleveland favorite – I put my own creative spin on it and serve it up hot!
What was your inspiration for the décor?
I’m a guitar player so that’s why we have the guitar chandelier and guitar bar. I also wanted to create a space that was a combination of comfortable and kitsch with a warm NYC vibe. I’m also a big fan of red, it’s a rich color and my friend Elaine always said red takes the best pictures! I’m also into setting a fun, artistic atmosphere so a lot of the artwork on display here is by Mark Kostabi.
What’s your musical background?
My heart was always in music, I started playing guitar when The Beatles were on Ed Sullivan and I never looked back. I graduated from Berklee College, played around in a few rock bands at the Jersey Shore where I grew up, composed my own musical scores. There was a time when I worked for a coat manufacturer, but my passion was always in music!
From top musicians to the new comers to the industry, every night at The Cutting Room is an experience like no other. For upcoming shows check out their website at thecuttingroomnyc.com.
Twisted Talk: Have you seen any performances at The Cutting Room? What’s your favorite dish on the menu? Discuss below!