Posts Tagged ‘restaurants’

Valentine’s Day Ideas for New York Procrastinators – It’s Not Too Late

Bad weather, busy schedules, forgetfulness…. All can put you in a position to need a last-minute Valentine’s Day gift or reservation.  Not to worry – we’ve got you covered with these incredibly interesting and available fun things to do for Valentine’s Day (or later) in New York City.

Bluebird London

Dining out is a no-brainer, unless you can’t get a reservation. Since this special lasts for three days, you might have a chance.  At the glamorous, truly gorgeous import from London, Bluebird London, Valentine’s Day will be a special evening. Offered from February 13-15, the special prix fixe menu features four courses of decadent offerings, like Oscietra caviar served on warm buckwheat blini with sour cream; duck foie gras and chicken terrine with Sauternes jelly and toasted brioche; beef Wellington for two with mushrooms, truffle and red wine jus; and dark chocolate and passionfruit mousse with Champagne. Pair the indulgent menu with a selection of shareable cocktails like the Thyme for Tea with Johnnie Walker Black Scotch, Drambuie, Rishi Tea Earl Grey, honey and thyme and you’ll have a memorable evening. The Columbus Circle restaurant’s been packed since it opened – it’s on everyone’s “hot” list. Now’s your chance to score some points! https://www.bluebirdlondon.nyc/restaurant/

Ben & Jack's Steakhouse

As they say, here’s one that you’ll see “only in New York, kids, only in New York.” Ben & Jack’s Steakhouse in the Theater District, in partnership with Judges For Love, Inc., will be performing private vow renewal ceremonies in a private dining area at the restaurant. Of course, a special prix fixe menu and Champagne options accompany these celebrations. Ribeye and romance, anyone?  http://benandjackssteakhouse.com/

Since pizza is a New York favorite, why not celebrate Valentine’s Day with a heart-shaped one at Sorbillo on the Bowery. On February 14, the Naples-inspired restaurant will be serving a four-course prix fixe menu  including the pizza, a  Prosecco toast, antipasti like fried calamari and Fiori di Zucca Ripieni (ricotta-stuffed zucchini flowers), a main dish such as Fettuccine alla Bolognese or Saltimbocca alla Romana, and the pièce de résistance,  Sorbillo’s angelini (crispy pizza dough with Nutella) for dessert. www.sorbillonyc.com

Sorbillo

If you’d like a more relaxed and perhaps more private celebration, consider Sir Henri Penthouse for a boozy special. On the penthouse floor of Hotel Henri in the Flatiron district, you’ll soak up the speakeasy vibe in this dimly lit space filled with cozy nooks perfect for snuggling up with your sweetie.  Sir Henri’s Valentine’s Week cocktail specials include fun drinks like Tickle Me Pink, Glow of Love, and Lovely Lilac. If you decide to spend the night in the hotel, you’ll get two free cocktails. www.sirhenriny.com

Sir Henri Penthouse

For a seductive overnight gift, book the “Fifty Shades of Pink” package at the Moxy NYC Downtown in FiDi. You can start your evening at the retro-inspired bar Recreation where you’ll enjoy a specialty Valentine’s cocktail, bar bites and even a movie. Recreation’s half-court sized basketball court will be transformed into a cozy movie theater showing a special Valentine’s Day movie. After, your hotel room awaits along with the evening’s special toys: romance play cards, handcuffs, a blindfold and sexy chocolates. https://www.moxynycdowntown.com

Moxy NYC Downtown

The Pierre Hotel is giving you lots of choices to book your last-minute celebration.  You could surprise your sweetie with a stay at the hotel for a truly romantic evening, and, if you do, you’ll be treated with a decadent bottle of Taittinger Champagne and a pair of crystal flutes from Tiffany’s, yours to take home as a souvenir of your romantic evening. The following morning, you’ll breakfast at charming Perrine, the hotel’s swanky restaurant. And what’s better, you can book this romantic getaway any time through February 28 so you don’t have to stay in the middle of the week.

The Pierreny

If you’d rather do something on Valentine’s Day itself, however, the Pierre’s Two E! Lounge will host a special afternoon tea menu featuring heart-shaped sweets, extending the hours until 8pm. Or choose dinner, instead, at Perrine with a romantic three-course menu of seasonal favorites and the aptly named Temptations Four Ways dessert: orange dark chocolate mille-feuille, warm single origin chocolate hazelnut cake, milk chocolate crème and white chocolate lavender ice cream. It’s as pretty as it’s decadent. https://www.thepierreny.com

What would Valentine’s Day in New York City be without a party with an international twist? At Fonda in Park Slope (Brooklyn), the East Village and Chelsea, you can indulge in a traditional Mexican celebration of El Día del Amor y la Amistad (the Day of Love and Friendship). Each dish of the meal takes on a cheeky, romantic significance starting with the Sopa Marte y Venus which pays homage to Mars and Venus (a twist on the traditional soup with a Venus love overlay), Lovers’ Guacamole mixed with mango and red grapes, and Shrimp Apasionados adorned with passionfruit. The dessert is Chef Roberto Santibañez’s Valentine’s Day version of a lava cake with bright red raspberry sauce and whipped cream.

Fonda

Also embracing the Mexican spirit, at the Dream Downtown, Bodega Negra’s Executive Chef Brad Warner has created a romance-inducing menu of guacamole made with white chocolate, hibiscus, pomegranate and almond tostadas; lobster ceviche; and sarape, a seductive combination of delicata squash, hen of the woods mushrooms, mole and queso Chihuahua. For a sweet finish, Chef has some fun with a selection of limited-edition conversation desserts, reminiscent of the candy hearts traditional for Valentine’s Day. Diners will pre-select a personalized saying such as “Mi Amor” (my love), “Te Amo” (I love you), or “Besame” (kiss me) to be embossed on their celebratory Tres Leches dessert. Book your dinner and pre-select your dessert message by February 13.

Bodega Negra

Since Valentine’s Day and chocolates go hand-in-hand, you could buy your SO a gift from the luxurious bean-to-bar chocolate company, MarieBelle in SoHo – they’ll even deliver to you if you live in Manhattan — but you might actually want to go to the shop together; MarieBelle is a feast for the eyes as well as the appetite with its gorgeous room and tantalizing choices. Pick out some artisanal ganache, lavish truffles or chocolate bars, or indulge at the Cacao Bar in the back where you can also select from a menu of desserts, pastries and hot chocolate drinks. This is one of Manhattan’s hidden gems. https://mariebelle.com/

Mariebelle

Another way to satisfy a chocolate lover is to reserve a table at the luxe Alsatian-inspired Gabriel Kreuther restaurant near across from Bryant Park where you can try Chef Kreuther’s new Chocolate & Liquor Pairing.  www.gknyc.com Guaranteed to wow any foodie, dinner and dessert here will be evening to remember. And you can take the experience home, too, from the next-door Kreuther Handcrafted Chocolate emporium where pastry chef Marc Aumont has created some of the most beautiful chocolates and pastries you’ll find anywhere. For Valentine’s Day, there will be many special chocolates including Chocolate Heart Locks inspired by the love locks lining Paris’s iconic Ponts des Arts bridge; Chocolate-Covered Strawberry Pops, a molded dark chocolate heart lollipop decorated as a chocolate-covered strawberry; Pink & Red Confetti Heart yogurt chocolate bars; Cherry Cola Dollhouse Donuts coated in pink and red; and a Chocolate “Hug” Sculpture inspired by the copper statues in NYC subway stations. www.kreutherchocolate.com

Gabriel Kreuther

If all this isn’t enough to win a New Yorker’s heart, the Seaport District’s iPic movie theater and Tuck Room restaurant are offering two over-the-top packages for Valentine’s Day. If you’re sure that you’ve picked your mate for life, you can pop the question here. You can choose the Big Screen Proposal Package, where you create your own proposal to be shown on the big screen with a surprise “movie trailer,” an extravaganza that will make any romantic filmie swoon. This celebration can be as large as you’d like, too, by including friends and family (unknown to your sweetie, of course) and arranging a catered meal with cocktails.

The Tuck Room

Or go completely crazy with the “I Do” package in the secret Green Room at the Tuck Room at iPic, where a four-course aphrodisiac  dinner includes a diamond ring tucked inside a golden apple cloche with the words “Will You Marry Me” written in chocolate and gold dust on the outside. That’s truly “A Night to Remember.” https://www.ipictheaters.com/#/home/ http://www.thetuckroom.com/

Eataly Flatiron’s Manzo and Chef Adam Hill Offer Special Chef Collaborations All Summer

Diners are invited to enjoy a program featuring the best of New York, with local chefs and local producers coming together in a delicious way, courtesy of Manzo located in the everything-Italian-emporium Eataly in Flatiron.  The collaborations also benefit Grow To Learn by GrowNYC, a local charity.  Started in 2017, the highly successful multi-chef dinners, “From New York to New York – Manzo,” will continue through September.

Manzo

Earlier this summer, Chef Fortunato Nicotra from the acclaimed restaurant Felidia treated diners to his exceptional tutto tonno, with tuna prepared three ways: a semicarpaccio tartare, preserved, and tonnato sauce. He also created an exceptional prime beef striploin battutina pounded thin, and served with housemade burrata and heirloom tomatoes. The tutto tonno special was added to Manzo’s menu for the month of July.

In August, Manzo will show off the special menu creation of Chef Ali Larais of The Sosta with her corn agnolotti with an Invincible Summer Farms heirloom tomato pomodoro sauce added to the menu at Manzo. Sosta is an authentic Italian restaurant located between New York City’s Little Italy and NoLiTa neighborhoods.

Chef Ali Laraia

September ‘s guest chef and menu will be announced soon.

The special menus are featured throughout the month with a special cocktail and wine pairing.  A percentage of the proceeds from the dish are donated to the Grow To Learn by GrowNYC, an environmental non-profit that runs a New York City farmers’ market program, builds urban farms and community gardens, and teaches the city about recycling. GrowNYC is active in creating school gardens in each and every public school in New York City that wants one and is currently working with more than 750 schools in all five boroughs.

For information and reservations, contact Manzo, https://www.eataly.com/us_en/stores/nyc-flatiron/nyc-manzo, Eataly, 200 Fifth Avenue, Flatiron District.

Celebrate Chinese New Year: Where to Dine for Good Luck and Prosperity during the Year of the Dog

The Year of the Dog celebrates the return of spring and the beginning of the Chinese New Year.  This is a festival of unity, a way for friends and family to come together to enjoy traditions that will bring good fortune for the coming year. 2018 celebrates the dog, a symbol of loyalty and honesty, as we breathe some optimism into the days ahead. Unlike one-night New Year’s celebrations, Chinese New Year is celebrated for two weeks, through March 2 so you have plenty of time to enjoy. Here are some ways you can participate in this important holiday:

The sexiest celebration in New York City happens at Hakkasan in the Theater District. Kicked off by a lion dance on the first evening, the two weeks of the Chinese New Year are filled with special dinners and drinks.  For 2018, there is a $118 prix fixe menu (for a minimum of two guests) featuring the best of Hakkasan’s modern Cantonese signature dishes. Dishes have been selected for the cultural significance of their ingredients and their ability to portend good fortune. Baked Chilean sea bass with kumquat glaze will bring prosperity as eating fish at the New Year is said to increase wealth. Similarly, oysters, traditionally symbolizing fortune and good luck, are included in Szechuan oyster with lotus root and crispy rice in mantau.  Fat choy is an ingredient that means “to grow wealth” in Chinese and is found in the abalone fried rice in bean curd wrap with Chinese sausage and shiitake mushroom.

Hakkasan’s dinner also features a special Chinese New Year cocktail, the Good Fortune, made with Grey Goose Orange and fresh blood orange ice (oranges are traditionally given during the new year to symbolize good luck, happiness and abundance); five-spice pomegranate syrup, adding red to the drink, an important color of good luck, and the pomegranates to inspire fertility; satsuma godai; lime juice; and an orange peel rosette to add a touch of floral design, signifying rebirth and luck. Toast away!

A sweet finish is provided with Hakkasan’s reimagined fortune cookie, the macartune, which has 88 (8 represents prosperity in Chinese tradition) New York-centric fortunes written by author Jay McInerney like “Your train will arrive on time and there will be a seat available” (happy) or “A new skyscraper is being built next door to your building and your view is about to disappear” (sad). The writer of “Bright Lights, Big City” and Hakkasan  Executive Pastry Chef Alexander Zecena have imagined the vanilla-flavored cooked as a riff on New York’s beloved black and white, with one half coated in chocolate and then stamped with a red chocolate seal to symbolize good luck for the New Year.

Another tradition continues at Hakkasan, too, the annual wishing tree. Guests receive a red ribbon upon arrival on which they write their wishes. Ribbons are hung around the dining areas, a custom that is said to have begun hundreds of years ago in Hong Kong. In Lam Tsuen, Hong Kong, villagers would arrive to visit the secret Wishing Trees and hang notes on the branches with wishes for the year ahead.  Today, as yesterday, guests are encouraged to write their wishes with the hope that all written down will come true. www.hakkasan.com/newyork.

Little Tong Noodle Shop in the East Village pays homage to its Yunnanese roots with its first-ever 16-Day Chinese New Year Celebration.  The mixian menu here is enhanced with a special dish at both lunch and dinner such as Day 3’s goubull 18-fold dumplings and Day 16’s Yuan Xiao, a sweet sticky rice ball soup.  Each day represents a different celebration starting with the Celebration of the Chicken on February 16 with shaokao, fire-grilled chicken wings with gingko and the Celebration of the Dog on February 17 and finishing with the Celebration of the Dragon on March 1 when red snapper and dragon fruit slaw will be served. The grand finale happens on March 2, the Lantern Festival. www.littletong.com.

Where to Eat Now in New York City: Healthy and Not So Much

Hawaiian poke is a newish trend in New York City – it’s healthy, fresh, and relatively inexpensive.  Try Pokeworks on 37th and 6th, next to a restaurant that’s anything but healthy, Chick-fil-a. You start by picking your fish – tuna, salmon, shrimp (or even chicken), add toppings like seaweed, pineapple, and garlic flakes, and create a personalized bowl that’s far superior to those quinoa or salad bar things.
Sushi Nakazawa and O-Ya – two splurge-y restaurants for sushi and fish.  You can request no meat dishes and have an outrageous omakase (chef’s choice) meal.  Sushi Nakazawa is on Barrow Street in the Village.  O-Ya is in Murray Hill. Both feature superstar food talents, Chef Daisuke Nakazawa, a protégé of Japan’s acclaimed Jiro Ono and the O-Ya team from Boston,  Tim and Nancy Cushman.
Chicken is high on everyone’s list for healthy foods.  Le Coq Rico in the Flatiron District is Antoine Westermann’s tribute to the bird.  He brings his French-Alsatian expertise from Paris to NYC with chicken sourced from the farms of New York.  Roasted, it’s a healthy alternative to that breaded or fried version. I’d save my calories for Chef’s wonderful Ile Flôtante. For pure, unadulterated rotisserie chicken in a luxe setting, visit Rotisserie  Georgette on East 60th Street, where the owner’s many years of experience working with Daniel Boulud is in play at this sophisticated midtown restaurant.
When I’m craving something decadent, I love ordering fried chicken. It’s not something I do every day, and I realize that’s it less-than-healthy, but it’s always wonderful. My go-to is the tiny, quirky Birds and Bubbles on the Lower East Side. You go down a narrow metal stairway to a very narrow restaurant where Southern food is the star. Sarah Simmons, most recently of City Grit fame, has brought her North Carolina upbringing to NYC and paired her amazing dry-brined, fried chicken with Champagne. Who would have thought? It’s pure brilliance.

I always like finding the small bistros that really make you feel at home.  Little Frog sits quietly on busy East 86th Street, an authentic French bistro from people you should know from their time at Balthazar, and also from Minetta Tavern.  Order all seafood – try their amazing oysters — or splurge on the fab coq au vin, and you’ll have a wonderful cozy meal. It’s a quick walk from the new Second Avenue subway stop, too.

Indian cuisine has always been notable for offering wondrous vegetarian dishes, and NYC has a Michelin-starred one that takes Indian cooking to a new level.  Tulsi, on East 46th Street, brings cooking from Goa, mixes it up with street food, resulting in a showcase of unusual takes on somewhat familiar dishes.  Here, it’s worth saving room (and calories) for dessert as well. The creations from Chef Eric McCarthy (yes, that’s really his name and he IS from Goa) are anything but ordinary.

Finding a good restaurant after going to Carnegie Hall just got a little bit easier with the return of Jams to New York City. The original California cuisine restaurant of the 1980s, Jonathan Waxman’s Jams is now on the West Side walkable from the Theater District as well as Carnegie Hall. The airy room is a great choice for sampling their signature Jams chicken and pancakes with caviar and smoked salmon, both from the menu of the original restaurant.

For that special-occasion, serene but sensational dinner, book a table at Gabriel Kreuther.  The former chef at The Modern, Chef Kreuther serves up a meticulous menu of Alsatian dishes that are as beautiful as they are delicious. If you don’t want to have the full set menu every night, there’s a separate bar with its own menu where you can order the tarte flambée, a pizza-like creation with sweet onions, smoked bacon and fromage blanc that put this chef on the map.  The restaurant is an oasis across from Bryant Park and has an extraordinary wine list, too. Walk next door to the amazing new handcrafted chocolate shop.

And speaking about wine, how about a wine bar and a tapas bar that’s so small that you’re advised to arrive by 5:30?  Desnuda on the Lower East Side on East 7th Street will thrill you with its tiny space and its chef’s prowess and creativity. Tea-smoked oysters are sensational — it looks like they’re being cooked in a bong — as are the ceviches.

Photo By: Daniel Krieger

If a scene is more your speed, head to the back of the NoMad, to the NoMad Bar in the city’s newly coined NoMad district (north of Madison Park), where the bar is lively and the menu is pure comfort.  In cold weather, the perfectly indulgent chicken pot pie with foie gras and truffles is a knockout, as is Chef Daniel Humm’s Humm dog, a hot dog unlike any you’ve had before. Trying to eat healthy?  The carrot tartare, originally on the menu at sister restaurant Eleven Madison Park, is an exceptional vegetarian dish, with the consistency and ingredients of its meat-based counterparts sans the meat.  Add a touch of caraway seeds, horseradish, apples and … because we’re talking about carrots after all.  It’s pretty and delicious.

And, finally, one of the newest “hot” restaurants on the Manhattan scene is in Midtown, just behind Bryant Park. Coffeemania is NOT a coffee shop.  Rather it’s a Euro-Russian-American eatery that’s chic and has unusual choices in both beverages and food. The menu is so creative that you can eat healthy (or not, as you wish).  I love the hamachi tartare (very healthy) but also the bone marrow (definitely not healthy) and the warm borscht. Teas from around the world are as creatively curated as the wine list.

Happy eating!

Three Winter Dining Finds in Manhattan

January is a great time to check out NYC restaurants — it’s not tourist season and they’re a good reason to escape the cold. Happy dining!

GatoGato – Bobby Flay has gone international again!  New York City has missed this super chef whose well-loved  Latin restaurants Mesa Grill and Bolo have been absent for many years.  The original master of BBQ and Spanish cuisine, Bobby has created a menu of small plates as well as larger entrees, all designed for sharing.  In a room as beautiful and inviting as they come, Flay’s cooking stands out against the Rockwell Group’s gorgeous design.  With tile floors, suspended metal lighting, and warm woods, Gato’s central bar area and dining spaces are inviting. Even the bread brought out at the beginning is exceptional – be sure to try the olive bread.  A menu of bar “bites” is designed for ordering on a plank of threes – choose from bites like artichoke heart with sea urchin and quail egg, or chorizo crepinette with apricot mostarda and pickled Brussels sprouts, and the tangy piquillo filled with raw tuna, with a drizzle of saffron sauce.  The appetizers are equally satisfying.  Many Spanish restaurants offer octopus dishes, but no one prepares it like Bobby Flay.  The roasted octopus is crunchy and a tad sweet, covered with a tangerine vinaigrette and bacon sauce that is an absolute standout. Main courses like the red prawns beautifully presented with Meyer lemon and garlic are similarly delicious. 324 Lafayette Street, 212.334.6400.  www.gatonyc.com

CosmeCosme – There’s a reason that Enrique Olvera has the number 20 restaurant in the world, Pujol from Mexico City. His Mexican cooking is way beyond that found in the more typical taco restaurants in other cities including New York. While New York City has strong contenders in the more upscale category, like Alex Stupak’s three Empellons (Cocina, Taqueria, and Parlor), Olvera’s menu mixes up tastes that elevate Mexican to a fine dining experience.  Most ingredients are sourced locally, although some arrive from their original homes, including octopus swimming in briny water from Spain.  Dishes are unusual from appetizers to dessert.  For the adventurous, try the uni tostada with avocado, bone marrow salsa and cucumber; and the thinly sliced vinegary scallop aguachile appetizers, and the two-person duck carnitas with white onions and radishes as a main course.  Small plates are shareable as well, so plan so you have room the one-of-a-kind husk merengue with corn mousse and a chaser of the house’s special Mezcal.  The room is warm and sexy at the same time, a wonderful refuge from the cold outdoors. 35 East 21st St., 212.913.9659. www.cosmenyc.com

DejustationDegustation – Not a newcomer like Gato and Cosme, Degustation is the most elevated of Jack Lamb’s restaurant group.  With 16 seats set around a U-shaped counter and open kitchen, Degustation shows off Nicholas Licata’s mastery of precision preparation and Iberian, French and American cuisine.  While you can order off the a la carte menu, it’s the $80 tasting menu that really shows off Licata’s talents.  Let him decide what to share with you, whether it’s his scrumptious Hawaiian blue prawn paella, or the wild boar ribs with romesco.  Or perhaps a serving of the irreverent Brussel sprouts dolled up with Funyuns and cashews.  A sophisticated wine list explained by knowledgeable servers matches well.  Cozy and small, Degustation will leave you feeling warm and satisfied.  239 East 5th St., 212,979.1012.  www.degustation-nyc.com

Great Winter Activities for February

It may be off-and-on cold and warm this winter, but the reality is still that scarves and hot chocolate are becoming the accessories of choice.  If the winter blues are getting you down, try these suggestions to put a smile on your face.
More on Great Winter Activities for February

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