New York is a plethora of restaurants and bars. It is difficult and takes planning if you want to plot out your foodie path. However, I was both plotting and leaving a few meals to chance during my trip.
With so many restaurants and bars to choose from it can be a whirlwind of planning and making reservations before you even reach Manhattan. Many popular restaurants are booked up 2-5 weeks in advance so for those who like to plan I advise you to start 2-3 months before your departure date to New York if you have a special restaurant in mind (perhaps even further in advance if you’re traveling during a holiday).
Grand Central Station Oyster Bar
For those who don’t enjoy deciding where you’re going to dine far in advance and want to keep schedules open I would recommend you hit the Grand Central Station Oyster Bar during your visit which is conveniently located in Grand Central Station (a place you should visit anyways). After you’ve checked out this iconic hub of transportation, film location and historic meeting ground with gorgeous art and architecture, as well as taking classic pics of the famed clock, head down to the lower level to the food court where you can find the 100+ year old Oyster Bar. At the food court you’ll find gelato, cafes, and my favourite, freshly shucked oysters and seafood. No reservations necessary!
It wasn’t the first time I had eaten at a Thomas Keller restaurant. In fact, this time last year I had found solace in the form of his Bouchon’s restaurant at the Venetian in Las Vegas after an underwhelming experience at Picasso’s (at Bellagio by Julian Serrano). Not only was it a delicious dinner but I was able to afford a few more Black Jack hands.
Now I was on to try Keller’s Per Se in New York which has a much different atmosphere than Bouchons and requires the guest’s complete attention for three and a half hours of pure culinary pleasure. This is what three hours of eating Keller’s genius looks like….
Upon entering the famed blue doors of Per Se, after escalating three floors in anticipation – and confusion of how those doors fit in with the cold glass architecture of the Time Warner Centre – the dinning room is quiet despite being filled with people both snobby and accepting but no matter the attitudes the fact is everybody waited at least a month for this moment. At Per Se you can only make a reservation one month in advance maximum and if you procrastinate a day or two (say 28 or less days before your desired date of reservation) you probably won’t get in.
I should probably mention that after a hangover and three days of staying up late and waking early that we thought about cancelling our birthday reservation at Per Se on the day of. However, when I called to do so the woman notified me that it would be a $175 charge per reserved seat (4 in our case). If we were to be paying no matter what we would most definitely be eating. Not only did we wonder what we were getting ourselves into but wether or not we belonged.
The following is true for all Keller plates: At the first moment of taste, I would call it a moment of conception, you are impressed with the flavours but then there is another moment a few seconds after conception and that is what I call the moment of ascension where the flavour rises to a new level of complexity and suddenly you realize that you don’t know when the next time you’ll have food prepared with such precise care and genius…but that’s okay because you still have so many courses coming, some you ordered and some that are complimentary. There are so many dishes coming your way during the three hour tour de food that by the end each dish served is verging on hilarious and you laugh because you are happy yet full or because you find the irony in being full and yet wanting to finish every last bite of a $1200 lunch that has lasted 3.5 hours. Plus you’re jet lagged and hungover.
One If By Land Two If By Sea
If I were to read Chef Colt Taylor’s techniques and cooking interests, like some culinary matchmaker’s profile it would have been a first blind date worthy of a second go. Chef Taylor is head chef of One if by Land, Two if by Sea restaurant in the laid back Chelsea district of Manhattan. As explained on the website, Taylor’s mother, Melissa Barbieri, is a fantastic fresco painter from Connecticut (I do love the arts) and is well traveled (hello? I love travel!). He learned his technique from chefs around the Western globe, from Austria to Miami and in the end favoured French cuisine above all.
Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t a French restaurant and doesn’t pretend to be but the technique is there. The tone of the atmosphere is set by the wall murals/frescoes (perhaps done by Barbieri, his mother?) and the dark wood which both call to mind a sort of Anglo Saxon/ Beowulf tavern with a lot of cozy charm. The dinning room and bar are dark, lit by chandeliers that appear to be floating at times.
There are gorgeous stained glass windows that emit shades of blue amongst golden candle light upon the tables. We were seated up the stairs above the chandeliers with a view of the dinning room below. The only natural light available to the restaurant was where we sat and revealed a rooftop garden. A perfect meal in Chelsea!
50,000 square feet of cheese, cured meats, seafood, pizza, pasta, bread, wine, cooking utensils, books, olive oils, face care and the list goes on at Eataly on 5th Ave, Manhattan. When you first enter the massive building it is an overwhelming experience trying to decide where you should go and what you should try first.
And would you believe that one of the best things we tried was olive oil?
Yup, an olive oil tasting and we didn’t even need to ask for it! A representative saw us shopping for olive oils and balsamic vinegars and offered us an impromptu olive oil tasting. The good stuff!
Eataly was the brainchild of Oscar Farinetti who, in 2007 in Turin, opened a 30,000 square foot interactive shopping centre where you can eat, drink and learn about Italian food all while experiencing an open market. Now, with the help of Mario Batali, (my favourite) Lidia Bastianich and her son Joe Bastianich, you can find Eataly in Japan, Las Vegas, New York and, of course, Italy, as well as many other cities in the world!
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