A Seat at the Table

In walks Lenny Kravitz. God, he's cool.

And there's Ron Perelman, Revlon chairman, multimillionaire and serial husband.

Oh, and how are you doing, former Sen. Ford? That's Harold Ford Jr. And yes, there's a pretty woman on his arm.

Exactly where are we, you ask? New York City's Waverly Inn, a small tavern, spruced up with some dark wood, friendly waiters, a good-looking maitre d', and the sort of billowy hype reserved for political media releases or Oscar campaigns.

We don't as a rule do restaurant reviews at ABCNEWS.com. There's nothing wrong with them, they're just not our bread and butter -- but there are exceptions.

It's certainly not the $55 macaroni and cheese with truffles that makes this Lower Manhattan joint so interesting. The food is fine, even quite good, but the folks ain't here for the eats. The hottest dish here is the sort shared between the A-listers at the tables, and, often, served up on Page Six.

The guy whose name is on the place, Graydon Carter, is the editor in chief of Vanity Fair magazine -- a sort of People magazine for people who like to read.

The restaurant is like Houstons for elites: a place for those who want to relax, have a decent meal, and rub up against the connective vein of people who keep the world -- or the tabloid world, at least -- going 'round.

It's the sort of joint where someone will actually pay $55 for mac and cheese in order to sit near a celebrity.

It's fun seeing the designer Roberto Cavalli munching: He's a bit older, a lot more leathery, but still smooth, even with the rose-colored glasses. And who doesn't love Charlie Rose, sitting here all mellow and cool, having a nice time with a group of gray-haired guys. And Bono, who's stopped over to say hello to Charlie. Twice.

And you have to appreciate a place where the owner presides over it all after a day at the office with his tie askew, white shirt still crisp, and shock of wavy, white hair curling up at the ends.

"He's a cartoon," said someone at a nearby table, "but it all kind of works."

The Waverly is Carter's clubby brand extension, a Vanity Fair come to life, a latter-day Algonquin round-table lite.

Here, in his place, Carter lights up and smokes. That pesky billionaire mayor and his smoking ban, eh? When guys with as much juice as Bloomberg stop by to have cocktails and work the room, what's going to happen if Carter puffs on a few cigarettes? They gonna arrest him for smoking?

Every table isn't filled every night with boldfaced names.

You still get the sense that even if all the diners are (or think they are) a pretty big deal in their respective worlds, folks here still get a little thrill at nabbing the spot Harvey, Bob and the rest of the Weinstein gang just vacated.

Everyone does a little neck snapping -- you have to know who's around, after all.

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