The Year of Living Deliciously
This year revealed many classics, both new and old with some unexpected treasures—in other words, just what you’d expect from old New York. So, here is a taste of what we found to be most tempting and divine as we dined around town!
We luxuriated for hours over the sprawling 15-course tasting menu at Eleven Madison Park (11 Madison Ave, 212-889-0905, ElevenMadisonPark.com). The entire experience was pure theater, involving a misty morning Maine “clambake” as well as glittering striped bass and pink roasted duck. An enchanting beach-ready picnic basket was loaded up with pretzels, a Mason jar of mustard and a couple of chilly beers.
@Nine (592 9th Ave, 212-265-4499, AtNineNYC.com) was a step beyond many of the other Thai joints in gay HK. While sipping refreshing Fresh & Young cocktails, we delighted in gently fried Crab Ragoon and bright, tangy beef salad. Vegetable pad see ew arrived in a beautifully crafted, crisped cellophane noodle bowl.
If only we could have stayed overnight at Juni (12 E 31st St, 212-995-8599, JuniNYC.com) to continue our feasting! A spectacular, elegant and seasonal menu offered foie gras with pert apple relish and warm brioche, rich kale soup with simmered pork neck, creamy blankets of salsify agnolotti and sumptuous duck, all served in an intimate, social atmosphere.
Le Périgord (405 E 52nd St, 212-755-6244, LePerigord.com) was such an old-world experience; a sophisticated, secluded French restaurant on the Upper East Side. Greeted by a lined-up arsenal of waiters, we were led into the dining room full of bloomed roses quietly gracing the tables. We gladly supped on mushroom-stuffed fat quail with black truffle sauce and roasted lobster tails. Sheer heaven.
We dined on caviar with blini, borscht and stroganoff at The Russian Tea Room (150 W 57th St, 212-581-7100, RussianTeaRoomNYC.com), where the storied opulence has grandly returned with much of the restored, historical elements intact. Contemporary items such as sliders and brined pork chops now share the menu as gracious gentlemen handsomely attired in Russian military jackets wait on you hand and foot.
In a breezy environment evocative of the sand-tanned Hamptons, Greenwich Project (47 W 8th St, 212-253-9333) presented us with the keenly matched Odd Couple, a pairing of sautéed sweetbreads, salty cubes of bacon and sea-worthy snails, laced with a garlic froth. The halibut with brioche crust was extraordinary! We finished with red velvet cake, of course.
Pennsylvania 6 (132 W 31st St, 212-727-3666, Pennsylvania6NYC.com) in the Penn station ’hood was surprisingly wonderful. While combating the transient, boisterous commuters flooding the bar, we quite enjoyed embarking on oysters from both the East and West coasts. Blue crab mac followed, lushly robed in a fontina cream sauce. The bone-in pork chop was enlivened by a spicy maple glaze and mashed sweet potatoes.
Joe Allen (326 W 46th St, 212-581-6464, JoeAllenRestaurant.com) is the lullaby of Broadway on Restaurant Row. Although hardly our first visit, we still started with the aromatic, buttery steak tartare and Caesar salad before moving on to a juicy burger. The chocolate pudding cake and banana cream pie are keepers. Keep an eye out for the fabulous Joan Rivers, a frequent visitor!
Beautifully lurking in the Meatpacking district, Manon (407 W 14th St, 212-596-7255, Manon-NYC.com) has a revolving menu that rises up like the spring, ladling out vibrant pea soup, sweet corn tortellini, bursting Amish chicken breasts and outrageous smoked butter mashed potatoes.
The winner of the most gorgeous place we encountered this year is…Villard Michel Richard (455 Madison Ave, 212-891-8100, VillardMichelRichard.com) in the legendary New York Palace hotel. We were spirited by our negroni cocktails, lobster bisque, côte de boeuf au poivre, fried chicken and a puff pastry Napoleon piped with ridiculously good cream.
Shown above, clockwise: Greenwich Project, The Russian Tea Room, Manon, Le Perigord.
First published in part in Next magazine.