Innovative Indulgences in Manhattan

best new york restaurants

the modern at modern museum of art

Relaxed yet brimming over with a city chic vibe, the Bar Room at The Modern takes museum dining to a higher level. My husband Don and I literally stumbled into this gem while on our way to the museum. It was well past our regular lunch hour and we were starved. Following a brief wait, we were gladly ensconced at a comfy table for two in the Bar Restaurant. Our eyes began to bulge in tandem as we perused the small plates menu featuring French-American goodness from Chef Gabriel Kreuther, who hails from the Alsace region. I dove straight in with a starter of Scottish salmon tartare with puffed barley and cilantro. A flawlessly paired glass of white wine was a must and I went with the Chardonnay Louis Michel, 2011 Chablis, per our most knowledgeable waiter’s recommendation. The baby bites of exquisite salmon, onion, tomato and yellow pepper were all in precise balance. I was in heaven and couldn’t wait for my next course of Alsatian buckwheat spaetzle, an absolute coup with yellowfin tuna paillard crudo, roasted fois gras, pine nuts and black pepper gastrique. Don was happy with the grilled diver scallops with cauliflower, toasted hazelnut and pumpkin emulsion. Imagine the best scallops of your life and multiply that by 1,000 and there you have the taste, texture and purity of these beauties. We may have to plan our next trip to the Big Apple simply to dine here once more. themodernnyc.com

Per Se atop Time Warner Center

IMAGES by Deborah Jones and Thomas Keller Restaurant Group

Perched atop Time Warner Center overlooking Columbus Circle on the Upper West Side resides Thomas Keller’s Michelin 3-Star culinary powerhouse, Per Se. Our table for four on the second tier of the dining room, adorned with massive floral arrangements and warm tones, faced a crackling fire with expansive windows overlooking Central Park and the Midtown skyline beyond. Adding to the mystique of this January evening was the freshly fallen snow visible on treetops and rooftops – our view was almost like a painting. What adjective could appropriately describe our experience, along with “innovative” and certainly “indulgent”? The nine-course chef’s tasting menu was nothing short of remarkable. Each course, perfectly timed, drew much discussion about its unique plating, presentation and analysis of taste and my favorite word, texture. The extensive wine list was presented on an iPAD and perusing it brought forth a bit of sticker shock. But we were able to agree on the Ramey Ritchie 2006 Chardonnay and a bottle of Charter Oak 2009 Zinfandel.

Culinary standouts included the Mediterranean turbot with celery root “porridge,” chestnut confit, brown chicken jus and black winter truffles. Another source of fascination was the butter-poached Nova Scotia lobster with toasted bread pudding, caramelized Cipollini onions, Piedmont hazelnuts, pumpkin “Parisienne” and fig-chocolate emulsion. Inspiring indeed, and certainly not creations I could ever imagine replicating at home.

If having nine small plate courses wasn’t enough, the “Mignardises” assortment of chocolate truffles presented in a jewelry box at the meal’s conclusion absolutely put us over the top. Wait staff was more than happy to put together take-home boxes for us to enjoy the following day.

This was a once in a lifetime dream meal for me that I cannot imagine repeating. With that in mind, I shall savor the memory of each perfect bite. perseny.com


The Plaza Food Hall by Todd English

My favorite foodie friend recommended we try this for either lunch or brunch. And when Kay says something is outstanding, I tend to believe her. Wildly successful, this Harrods-like food hall, which opened in 2012, is located in the basement of The Plaza Hotel in midtown Manhattan. It is Chef Todd English’s European-inspired take on casual yet fun, over-the-top culinary deliciousness. The 5,400 square foot space with seating for 80 offers some nine food station options and is bustling with smart and stylish New Yorkers and tourists alike. The ambience and décor were a treat for the visual senses, with mosaic marble floors and dark wood paneling. The menu was overwhelmingly creative with something for every taste, every craving. We started with a shared appetizer of lobster guacamole, then segued into entrees of grilled chicken paillard salad, wild arugula salad and the standout for the table was the dynamic fig and prosciutto flatbread pizza with its unique rosemary crust. Wash it all down with sparkling water and a French Rosé, and there you have the Billings family’s first foray into food hall dining at its best! We shall be back and not a moment too soon. I have my eye on the noodle and dumpling bar for next time. Perhaps the sushi or wine bar? Oh, shoot … I basically want one of everything. Congrats to Chef English and his highly educated and friendly staff. You have a winner on your hands. toddenglish.com/the_plaza/