Best Restaurant for Ladies Who Lunch

The Zodiac

"Lunch," the verb, is not the same as "lunch," the noun. Noun lunch is something you consume quickly in the middle of the workday, either alone or in the presence of colleagues with whom you commiserate over the latest annoyances in the workplace. It's usually cheap, a matter of expedience over quality. To lunch (verb) is to dawdle over several courses and maybe a glass of wine in the company of friends or family members whose presence does not depress you. To lunch at the Zodiac is to give yourself up to an op-art lotus land nestled in a quiet corner of Neiman Marcus, just behind the Armani department. Sink back into the white upholstered banquettes, gaze hypnotized at the big mirrored mobile and chat idly with the manager and waitstaff while you sip the complimentary chicken broth and nibble at the complimentary popovers and mull over the menu options. To lunch here is to ignore all constraints of time and money. Calories, too; even though the menu is heavy on salads, there are plenty of options for dessert, including NM's infamous chocolate-chip cookies. (Relax. Nobody will charge you $250 if you ask for the recipe. The store has made it available on its website for free.) But don't worry if you decide to drag out your meal with an extra course. Everybody knows that fat doesn't linger, as long as you consume it slowly.

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