What Do TBWA's CEO and Balki Bartokomous Have in Common?

How Tom Carroll Got His Name on a Steak Tartare

By Published on .

Three items down from the peekytoe crab cake and across from the filet named for Bronson Pinchot -- yes, the "Perfect Strangers" star -- on Maloney & Porcelli's new menu is an item sure to catch the eye of the many ad-industry patrons of this venerable chophouse.

The steak tartare a la Tom Carroll, $17.50, is a wink at the CEO of TBWA Worldwide, a restaurant fixture and one of the many ad executives that can be found sawing through the generous slabs of meat in what's informally known as the "Omnicom cafeteria" just off Madison Avenue.

Mr. Carroll, who's on a first-name basis with the staff, found out about the honor recently, through back channels and without a lot of pomp. He told us, "One of the bartenders, an Irish guy named Colin, called me up and said, 'Hey, Carroll, I just saw your name on the menu. What the hell is that ?'"

He added, "I do go to Maloney & Porcelli as much as anyone."

Mr. Carroll, an old-school ad guy, goes way back with the Stillmans, the old-school New York restaurateurs who own the place. Alan Stillman created TGI Friday's back in the mid-1960s and essentially invented the casual-dining industry. (Click here for a fabulous Q&A on that brand's inception.) Now, with his son, Michael, he owns Fourth Wall Restaurants, including Smith & Wollensky and Quality Meats.

Alan was a client of Mr. Carroll's old agency, Weiss Whitten Carroll and Stagliano, which was paid partly in cash, partly in food for work that included the tagline "Horrifying Vegetarians Since 1980" for the Post House.

Now, TBWA has picked up some of Fourth Wall's business as the agency has been tasked to help promote Maloney & Porcelli's reinvention. (The restaurant group continues to work with NY boutique Walrus, which created the once buzzy Expense-a-Steak app for Smith & Wollensky.) Opened in 1996 and named after Alan's lawyers, Maloney & Porcelli was draped in rave reviews for its crackling pork shank and angry lobster, dishes created by now big-name chef David Burke. However, the buzz wore off, as buzz tends to do. The Stillmans are trying to get it back with a makeover designed to tap into the "Mad Men" craze and a new menu, filled with mainstays and new items.

Besides Mr. Carroll and the Balki Bartokomous nod, there's another reference ad types should be familiar with. The tuna carpaccio is named for the Hotel Du Cap, the astronomically expensive hotel that serves as the most luxe hideaway for executives attending the annual Cannes ad festival in the south of France.

It should be said that Mr. Carroll is not the first ad executive to have a dish named for him. He's not even the first from Omnicom. Andrew Robertson, CEO of BBDO Worldwide, has a $20 egg dish named for him at Michael's. As far as we know, that leaves only the chief of DDB among Omnicom network heads without a dish.

It's your move, Chuck Brymer.

Most Popular