Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Ciao Bella

July 4, 2010

ciobella

Ciao Bella is located at 1640 Second Avenue at 85th Street, and is open for dinner from Monday through Thursday from 5:00 – 12:00 AM, Friday and Saturday 5:00 – 1:00 AM, and Sunday from 5:00 – 11:00 PM, with Sunday brunch from 12:00 – 4:00 PM. Ciao Bella is also open for lunch on weekdays from 12:00 – 3:00 PM. Ciao Bella boasts ample sidewalk and balcony seating on its first and second levels, weather permitting, and its second floor is available for private parties and corporate functions. For more information on private parties and reservations, please call 212-794-9494 or visit www.ciaobellanyc.com.

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Ciao Bella: A Portal to La Dolce Vita

By Nancy Walman

Calling to mind the warmth and sophistication of the Italian spirit is newcomer to the Upper East Side, Ciao Bella, a restaurant specializing in all things Italian chic. The newest addition by Enrico Proietti, the longtime Italian restaurateur who boasts such East Side staples as Per Lei, Baraonda, and Bella Blu, Ciao Bella is a swanky, yet decidedly neighborhood-friendly, addition to a strong portfolio filled with over 30 years of restaurant successes. Now with former Per Lei chef, Fabrizio De Togni, recently taking over the kitchen, the food is being kicked up a notch to match the ultra-chic space and the posh crowd of Upper East Siders filling it.

The space, an airy bi-level locale on the corner of 85th and Second Avenue, boasts a festive and creative atmosphere that makes the perfect backdrop for Chef De Togni’s robustly flavorful food. With large floor to ceiling windows, ample amounts of natural light, and wraparound sidewalk seating, there’s no bad seat in the house. The colors of the decor reflect the restaurant’s energy—vibrant red tones color artfully arranged tiles on the side walls and bar, as well as the restaurant’s signature leather tray ceiling. Eclectic pop art by Warhol and Keith Herring hangs on the walls of both the main dining room and the second floor, which also features space for private parties and romantic balcony seating—all in all, the spacious restaurant and its hospitable staff capture the warmth of the Italian spirit and create the perfect dynamic atmosphere for its standout culinary offerings.

Ciao Bella’s strength lies in the harmonious partnership between owner and chef. Proietti’s desire to let his chefs flourish and explore their creativity has been one of his secrets to success in the past, and Chef De Togni relishes in his creative freedom. With 20 years of experience around the world to fuel him with limitless inspiration, De Togni has the perfect set of tools to hone Proietti’s vision.olive_oil

De Togni’s influences date back to his early youth, when he spent hours admiring his father’s confectionary work at the bakery he owned in the center of Milan. His career took off in the same city: he attended the CFP Vellesana Sondalo Culinary School and secured his first kitchen job as helper at La Greppia before working his way towards a position as Sous Chef of La Tradizionale, a regional fish and seafood restaurant.

De Togni’s professional pursuits then took him on a voyage around the world when he took on the responsibility of launching a branch of the famous Paper Moon in Istanbul, Turkey, a role that would lead him to cook in subsequent Paper Moon kitchens around the world, and eventually leading him to New York City. It was here that De Togni’s talents and Proietti’s entrepreneurial vision met paths; within two years of arriving, De Togni was whipping up signature dishes like Pappardelle Cocoa Duck Ragu that quickly propelled Per Lei to its vast popularity. Now at Ciao Bella, De Togni has used his worldwide experience to develop an unquestionably Classic Italian menu that’s sure to please.

Diners may begin with an array of De Togni’s signature crudis: tuna with avocado, Gaeta olives, and sesame seeds; salmon with avocado and cucumber; and a blue crab and mango ceviche with orange dressing. Carciofi alla Romana, or Pan-Fried “Burnt” Artichokes generously doused in Ciao Bella’s signature olive oil are dangerously addicting—the olive oil is available for purchase at the restaurant, and this dish makes it a real temptation. Those who stick to the classics will be pleasantly surprised by the Tortino di Melanzane alla Parmigiana, a variation of Eggplant Parmigiana served with 18 months aged Parma Ham. A house favorite, it’s the perfect example of how fatty, heavy dishes typically associated with Italian cooking can be lightened up and modernized, providing a perfect balance of sweet and salty.

The list of pastas and primi piatti is plentiful, though each requires extensive work—all pastas are made fresh in house. Risotto Carnaroli comes flavored with gorgonzola rather than parmesan; its strong flavor is perfectly counterbalanced by sweet apple chunks and earthy, spicy green peppercorn. Paccheri al Tonno Fresco, oversized rigatoni with fresh blue fin tuna, Gaeta olives, capers, cherry tomatoes, and fresh herbs, are artfully prepared, while a regular special of Fettucine with Veal Shank dazzles with a non-tomato, non-cream based sauce that is a mysterious as it is satisfying.

Main courses are plentiful and well balanced, including a Saltimbocca Alla Romana, or Veal Scallopini with Parma Ham and sage, all served alongside roasted potatoes and spinach. The health conscious will find great pleasure in the Salmone Scozzese Organico, a grilled organic salmon served with baby bok choy and sweet peppers, all drizzled with a ginger-infused olive oil that adds a perfectly subtle hint of exoticism—it’s a perfect example of a healthy yet robustly flavorful dish. For a real treat, diners can opt for the Carre’d’Agnello, or American rack of Lamb, which is grilled rather roasted and served with eggplant, diced lemon, and a pignoli vinaigrette that lightens up the dish and adds a pop of unexpected flavor.

Dinner at Ciao Bella would not be complete without dessert, and all items are made fresh in house each day. A Millefoglie Espressa comes layered with puff pastry, cream Chantilly, strawberries, and a caramelized Porto wine sauce that adds a layer of sophistication to a comfort classic. The real showstopper is perhaps the simplest dessert—a Carpaccio d’Ananas, or Pineapple Carpaccio, which has been marinated over night with cinnamon and star anise and is served with lemon sorbet. Refreshing, unusual, and puzzlingly simple, it’s a dessert that’s not to be missed.

One of the factors contributing to the standout execution of the food is simply the quality of the ingredients that the restaurant uses on a day to day basis. Ciao Bella does not use purveyors; instead, the ingredients are sourced directly from farmer’s markets multiple times a week, emphasizing freshness and quality over convenience and cost. De Togni also goes out of his way to find unusual ingredients that are little known and difficult to find.

Following the same philosophy is Giorgio Manzio, Ciao Bella’s sommelier and recurring winner of Wine Spectator’s Award of Excellence. He says of the wine program, “We may not carry every Pinot Grigio from Italy, but we make sure we carry all of the best ones,” emphasizing that it’s not how many bottles are in their cellar, but how good they are and what kind of value they provide the customer. A large majority of those bottles are Italian, with many strong choices in the $40 price range (a great bargain), while glasses are available from a wider geographic range in red, white, and champagne varieties. Keen to offer a bargain at any price point, even Manzio’s most high end wines, which range up to $9,000 a bottle, are significantly less expensive than at other restaurants, as Manzio sourced each bottle directly by auction to ensure the best price possible. Manzio’s list is organized cleverly by region rather than varietal—assisting in what he calls “pairing by analogy,” or geographical pairings between wine and food—and earning him another Wine Spectator award in Ciao Bella’s first year.

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Copyright 2009 By Punch In International, All Rights Reserved

Pera

July 4, 2010

 

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“Where Midtown Meets the Mediterranean”

Pera

 

ADDRESS: 303 Madison Avenue (bet.41st & 4nd Streets)

New York, NY 10017

LOCATION: Situated in the epicenter of midtown, a pleasant stroll from Times Square, the Theater District and Rockefeller Center, while just steps from Grand Central Terminal, the New York Public Library and Bryant Park.

WEB SITE: www.peranyc.com

TELEPHONE: (212) 878-6301

PROPRIETOR: Burak Karacam

GENERAL

MANAGER: Daryl Swetz

EXECUTIVE

CHEF: Jason Avery

CO-EXECUTIVE Sezai Celikbas

CHEF:

DÉCOR: Cosmopolitan with a fashionably modern edge, which adroitly avoids any ethnic clichés with elements such as the massive wine rack dominating the northern perimeter. Walnut trimming envelopes the sienna, burnt orange, brown and gold hued palette, showcased on the dramatically striped banquette lining one wall and reflected by eye-catching convex mirrors. A casually swank vibe pervades, enlivened by the always-active open kitchen with its ten-foot long grill framed by a proscenium of hand-made ceramic, green and honey onyx panels. Anchoring the rear of the restaurant, it is balanced by the distinctive zebrawood bar accented with backlit honey onyx. In turn, the bar is paired with an inviting communal table composed of a single slab of exotic enterolobium, a tropical tree that stands 100 feet tall with trunk 10 feet in circumference. A draw at lunch and dinner, the sculpture-like table echoes the restaurant’s genial ambiance.

CUISINE: perra-table Drawing inspiration from the entire Eastern Mediterranean region, there is a focus on Turkish cuisine, considered, one of the world’s three foremost examples of culinary art, along with French and Chinese. The menu showcases regional dishes, particularly those of Adana, one of Turkey’s most vibrant cities celebrated for its special meat and meze preparations. While authenticity is the guiding principle, some Western culinary concepts are integrated. This amalgamation is in the spirit of Turkish food itself, which evolved as a reflection of its origins in a country that served for centuries as the graphical junction of East and West.

Adana Style: An ancient technique practiced in its purist form at few restaurants outside of Turkey, Sezai Celikbas is one its internationally acclaimed masters. It starts with a surgically precise cleaning of a menu of meat cuts, leaving no bone sinew, muscle or organ residue whatsoever. The fat is likewise removed; then it and the meat are hand chopped with a “Pala” – a large, half-moon shaped mincing knife. The two are combined to re-marble the meat at a specific ratio to assure maximum flavor and massaged with a spice mixture.

After marinating for six hours the meat is hand pressed onto two-foot long skewers and grilled. The majority of the fat burns off having imparted its distinct taste characteristics, resulting in kebabs with a sensual, almost velvety mouth feel and a seductively spiced flavor.

SIGNATURE: meze-1

DISHES: (Lamb Adana Above)

Appetizers:Meze” in the Eastern Mediterranean, these savory small plate dishes are typically served in groups – Pera offers 27 different choices:

Beef and Bulghur Tartar “Cig Kofte” – ground beef and spices hand massaged and served on bib lettuce cups

Soujouk Lollipops – spicy Turkish sausage slices on a stick
Eggplant & Tomato Timbale

Fried Artichoke Hearts – with smoked paprika yogurt sauce

Chicken Livers – in pomegranate sauce

Pastirma (air dried beef) Wrapped Feta-Stuffed Dates

Pidettes – fresh baked mini flatbreads – Turkish “pizzas” – with a choice of toppings including spinach & pine nuts and soujouk & kasseri (a sheep’s milk cheese popular in Greece and Turkey)

Salads: Traditionally the concept of salad as entrée or even a side is not embraced in the Eastern Mediterranean. Rather salads are meze. Presenting them on the menu as their own category is an example of Pera’s integration of Western culinary customs.

Pera-Style Tomato & Onion – cubed tomatoes, finely chopped onions and parsley, peeled walnuts in pomegranate-lemon dressing

Grilled Vegetable & Halloumi Cheese (a goat’s and sheep’s milk cheese originally produced in Cyprus) – eggplant, zucchini, tomato and peppers with oregano olive oil and grilled halloumi

Entrees: Lamb Adana – hand-chopped and marinated select cuts of lamb served with house made lavash flatbread and garnishes

 

Oven Roasted Monkfish – grilled calamari, black olives and sea beans

Chicken Brochette – spice fire-roasted tender cubes of marinated chicken

Filet Mignon Medallions – center cut Angus wrapped in pastirma

Sizzling Lamb Minute Steak – a cut innovated by Pera, marinated, served with wild arugula, roasted peppers and Bulgarian feta

Desserts: Shredded Kadaifi “Kunefe” – molten cheese center, honey syrup and kaymak

Baklava – peeled Turkish pistachios and light syrup

Warm Semolina Dome – cinnamon, pine nuts and hidden ice cream

PRODUCTS: Mediterranean Meats-To-Go – a selection of signature meat preparations seasoned and vacuum packed, including lamb and chicken Adana and the feta stuffed lamburger.

AT THE BAR: Classic cocktails with Mediterranean inflection courtesy of fresh fruit purees of apricot, pomegranate and blood oranges. Imaginative signature cocktails such as the Blood Orange Gimlet – Tanqueray Rangpur Gin, Fresh Blood Orange Puree and Lime – and Apricot Margarita – Don Julio Blanco Tequila, Apricot Puree, Agave Nectar and Lime Juice take tasty riffs timeless favorites. The exceptional range of Scotch, including J&B Jet (seldom seen in the U.S.) is complemented by four rakis and two other rare libations, Patxaran – a Spanish sloe berry liqueur and Ursus – a sloe berry vodka particularly popular in the Greek isles during summertime.

Physically the bar area is conducive to gatherings as is the Wine & Meze Afternoons program – choice of three meze and a bottle of wine – for $39, available Monday thru Saturday until 7 p.m.

WINE

PROGRAM: Walls upholstered with wine racks is indicative of its significance. Offering more than 80 selections, including 11 half bottles (another 15 by the glass), the

internationally sourced list is a thoughtful balance of new and old world viniculture, while showcasing a number Greek, Israeli, Lebanese and Turkish wines. The presence of varietals, such as Malbec, Grenache and Sangiovese are testimony to the list’s worldly sensibility, as are high end offerings including: 2004 Arista, Ferrington Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley and 2005 Michel Torino “Chichos,” Malbec / Merlot, Salta, Argentina.

AWARDS: OpenTable Diners’ Choice, Mediterranean
Among Top 5 Newcomers for 2008 Zagat Survey

TimeOut New York Eat Out Awards 2007 – “Best Steak Tartare” for the beef and bulghur meze and “Best Midtown East Restaurant”

HOURS: Lunch: Monday – Friday 11:30 am to 3:30 pm

Bar: Monday – Friday 11:30 am to 10:30 pm

Saturday 5:30 pm to 10:30 pm

Dinner: Monday – Saturday 5:30 pm to 10:30 pm

PRICING: Lunch salads and sandwiches start at $11, with meze from $4 to $11 and entrees $19 to $31.

The Bar Menu offers meze from $4 xxx, entrees and sides $6 to $27, including Pera’s lamburger stuffed with feta, olive and roasted tomato, served on house baked roll with Mediterranean fries and house make pickles shish.

On the Dinner Menu, mezes range from up to $20 ($22 for chef’s sampler for two), salads are $11 to $15, entrees $19 to $45 for The Pera Tradition, chef’s multi-course tasting menu.

Sides are $6 to $11, desserts $8 to $14 for the Mediterranean Cheese Plate – eggplant jam, truffle honey.

Pre-Theater Dinner Menu – three courses at $35, for diners wishing to leave by 7:30.

PRIVATE

FUNCTIONS: A private dining room accommodates up to 28 and is equipped with LCD TV, wireless Internet, conference call capability and dedicated audio system.

The entire restaurant is available for gatherings of as many as 150 seated or 300 standing.

SEATING

CAPACITY: BAR: 14

LOUNGE: 16

COMMUNAL TABLE: 12

DINING ROOM: 90

PRIVATE DINING ROOM: 28

TOTAL: 160

MUSIC: Live classic, world and Latin jazz Saturday evenings from 7:30pm to 10:30pm.

Pera’s custom-mixed CDs of contemporary, vintage and folk stylings from throughout the Eastern Mediterranean.

OFF-SITE

CATERING: Available throughout the tri-state area, casual barbeques to sumptuous wedding feasts.

Pera’s staff will also deliver and set-up for serviced meals for eight or more.

TAKE-OUT: Pera Direct offers favorites from the lunch and dinner menus for pick-up or delivery, packaged in environmentally responsible recycled materials.

CREDIT CARDS: American Express, MasterCard and Visa.

RESERVATIONS: Available. Please call (212) 878-6301 or make reservations through www.opentable.com

Review

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perra-ROOM

By Nancy Walman

Raising the bar for New York’s growing crop of Eastern Mediterranean-centric restaurants, Pera resonates with a singular panache in terms of setting and food. While the former is stylishly contemporary, the latter is steeped in the historic ingredients, traditions and techniques (primarily) of Turkey, infused with New York gustatory flair. With its special focus on grilled meat and seafood, Pera’s can be characterized – again, ambiance and menu – as being akin to the city’s top steakhouses, albeit one with an Eastern Mediterranean sensibility and more moderate pricing.

Rated a “Top 5 Newcomer” by Zagat Survey 2008, Pera Mediterranean Brasserie presents authentic Eastern Mediterranean cuisine, interwoven with some New York gustatory flair, by co-executive chefs, Sezai Celikbas of Istanbul’s internationally renowned Kosebasi and Jason Avery, previously at the former Regent Wall Street hotel. As such, Pera is New York’s first restaurant to offer cuisine firmly rooted in ancient – primarily Turkish – traditions and techniques, which incorporates some Western contemporary culinary trends without compromising the integrity of the food and to do so with panache in a cosmopolitan setting.

Designed by Melissa Brown, Pera’s interior balances warm earth tones and natural materials with the vibrant colors of Mediterranean cuisine. Burnt orange, golden brown and deep green accents, a variety of rich woods – walnut for the walls and exotic zebrawood for the bar – onyx and alabaster panels and ceramic tiles are among the standout design elements. A long communal table sets the stage for larger parties and gatherings. The furniture, also designed by Brown, is similar in spirit to the restaurant’s cuisine – inspired by the East but adapted for New York. Each piece is handcrafted and sits low to the floor, creating a relaxed Eastern aesthetic. Brown effectively lowered the ceiling to make the large, elegant space more intimate by hanging two palas (traditional curved knives, unique to Turkey) made of sheetrock and covered with duchess satin.

The first venture from Burak Karaçam of BK Restaurant Partners, LLC, whose family has owned and operated successful restaurants in Turkey, Pera derives its name from an elegant Istanbul neighborhood that has been a melting pot for many cultures and cuisines since the 17th century. The executive chefs lead a team of specialty cooks from Turkey, collaboratively introducing lesser-known regional dishes and meat preparations to the New York audience. Their menu features more than 25 mezes (small plate appetizers) fashioned to encourage sharing and grilled meats, chicken and seafood, complemented by traditional and modern Mediterranean side dishes, as well as provincial breads baked on-site daily, some à la minute. Vegetarian preferences are addressed by some 24 meze, salad, main course and side dish options.pera-chef1

Signatures mezes include: roasted whipped eggplant dip, soujouk (spiced Turkish beef sausage) lollipops; fabulous fried artichoke hearts and baby sweet peppers; beef and bulghur tartar, lemon-dill marinated sea bass, pastirma (air dried cured beef) wrapped feta-stuffed dates and  wonderful pidettes (mini Turkish flatbreads) topped with a choice of traditional options such as fire-roasted eggplant, ground seasoned lamb or kasseri, the sheep’s milk cheese that is a Greek and Turkish culinary favorite.

The main courses focus on various cuts of delicately marbled meats cooked on a 10-foot open flame grill. Pera’s hand ground lamb and chicken dishes seasoned with proprietary blends of Mediterranean spices are a restaurant hallmark, reflecting Chef Celikbas’s roots in Adana, Turkey known for this singular approach to such preparations.PERRA-MEZZA

The Best Artichokes

Karaçam believes Pera adds another dimension to New York’s culinary landscape by offering a new level of authenticity for Mediterranean cuisine served in a warm, stylish setting. Pera, with its excellent service, distinguished wine list and exception food, is New York’s most inventive Turkish restaurant and rates A Major on The Walman Report.

Copyright 2009 By Punchin International. All Rights Reserved

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Commerce

July 4, 2010

commerce

Commerce

50 Commerce Street

Open for dinner Monday-Saturday from 5:30 to 11pm. Sunday brunch begins on November 9, from 11:00 to 4:00pm. For reservations, call 212-524-2301.

Great Things Come In Small Packages

By Nancy Walman

For those who don’t know it, the quiet, curved street that gently comes to abend at 50 Commerce Street holds a pleasant surprise, a beautiful historic relic of old New York, lovingly restored with a focused attention to detail. For those who knew the address as Blue Mill or Grange Hall, or even those who know it now as Commerce, there are even more pleasant surprises inside: food that continues to live up to expectations, no matter how high the bar is set.

While the atmosphere is purposely casual and convivial, the cuisine is stellar. Yet, it’s not the fussy food one might expect from Chef/Owner Harold Moore, a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America and a veteran of Montrachet, Jean-George’s Mercer Kitchen and Daniel. Instead, Chef Moore and co-owner Tony Zazula (founder and owner of Montrachet) have decided to bring a high level of cooking in an approachable manner to a truly comfortable setting. Through their years of experience, the two owners began to understand what diners today were looking for—a direct and unintimidating dining experience with top-notch food in a comfortable environment and at a reasonable and moderate price.

The menu at Commerce consists of items that are familiar, but not ordinary, and continue to surprise with the brightness and boldness of the flavors, the freshness of the ingredients and the brilliance of the combinations. For example, the fresh marinated hamachi ceviche will brighten your palate with the flavors of yuzu, chili and cilantro.

Even when the dishes are homey, comfort foods, the technique and flavor supersedes the typical preparations. This is a place where everything is done the old-fashioned way. From baking the marvelous varieties of bread in-house (soft pretzels rolls, olive bread, ciabatta, brioche, etc.) to butchering the meat and preparing terrines from scratch, Chef Moore is heavily tied to tradition.

Cooking relies on manual skills, he says, but it ties into memory, too. Every meal at Commerce recalls a memory and a respect for tradition.

The duck and foie gras rillettes terrine with black cherry shallot jam is an unforgettable way to start your meal. The fall vegetable fricassee with truffles and poached egg is almost impossibly delicate.

At Commerce, the focus is on making simple things very well. Hence, the selection of dishes prepared for two evoke comfort food, but elevate it to another level entirely. If possible, go with a group and try either the perfect whole roasted chicken for two served with foie gras bread stuffing and potato mousseline is tender, juicy and delicious or the superb leg of milk fed lamb for two, with a surprising accompaniment of sweet peas and ricotta agnolotti, may be the most tender and delicious lamb you ever tasted (served for 3).

As for the individual entrees, some patrons are already addicted to the spaghetti carbonara with black pepper and coddled egg yolk, while others wouldn’t want to do without the spice roasted lobster with gingerbread and squash. Everyone should be able to find something they like on the Commerce menu. Market specials change weekly, incorporating the freshest seasonal ingredients available.

Desserts are a perfect fit for the menu and the scene. They include a stunning chocolate hazelnut mille feuille with a shiny layer of chocolate on top, with hazelnuts and salty caramel; roasted pineapple cheese cake; familiar desserts to share such as dark chocolate soufflé (with a touch of passion fruit crème anglaise); and a classic apple “tarte tatin” served with a trio of ice creams. And let’s not for get the beautiful cheeses and condiments

Chef Moore serves as mentor to his staff, recreating the experience of how he was trained by Daniel Boulud and other chefs and paying homage to his mentors. Tony Zazula brings over 30 years of experience as a restaurateur to the table with the same fresh enthusiasm he had when he first started out. Zazula oversaw the entire restoration, creating a space that gleams like new while evoking the history of the landmark building. The interior design included installing an original antique Brunswick bar circa 1941, hand-crafted sconces, subway tiling in the bar area, and marble mosaic columns in the dining room, and restoration of the original terrazzo floors. The seating includes booths restored by a carpenter who does theatrical movie sets with chestnut leather, and tables with handmade black walnut wood tops. Recently, two new murals by David Joel in a style reminiscent of Diego Rivera were added to the dining room. They depict the tale of two sisters, “A Common Ground for Sisters’ Story” whose sea captain father bought them the adjoining townhouses across the street from Commerce, with a common garden connecting the two properties in the hope of bringing the feuding sisters together.

Commerce, like Blue Hill, is one of those extraordinary New York restaurants that recall the exuberance and dedication of the perfect Parisian bistro, yet the food is decidedly American, local and pristine. The service is benevolent and the wine list is a joy. A bit hard to find, just tell your taxi to stay on Commerce St. past the Cherry Lane Theater and you’ll be well rewarded.

That’s A Major On The Walman Report. A real must!

Copyright 2009 By Punch In International. All Rights Reserved.

Oak Knoll Wines Continue as Recession Resilient Wines

May 18, 2010
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With both its Unoaked and Barrel Aged Chardonnays

Always a Top Choice In The Price/Quality Ratio

Research from The Nielsen Company: Recession Resilient Alcoholic Beverage Industry Shows Signs of Strain in Tough Economic Times, and the Silicon Valley Bank’s 2009-2010 State of the Wine Industry Report both disclose that wine consumers are purchasing more affordable wines.

Oak Knoll Winery has always offered great value and is a great wine choice  for affordable, everyday-enjoyment reds and whites which perform well.

  • 2008 Oak Knoll Chardonnay Reserve Barrel Select, Willamette Valley ~ Barrel aged (Winemaker Jeff Herinckx’ 25th Anniversary Wine, 185 cases) ~ $19.00
  • 2008 Oak Knoll Chardonnay Unoaked 2008 (1425 cases) ~ $10.00

These are both extreme values that fit perfectly into today’s buying patterns.

According to A.C. Nielsen: “It may seem like the party is over, but due to the economic downturn, it’s probably being held at home, and the hosts may be serving less expensive beer, wine and spirits… more than half (56 percent) of consumers eat dinner at home more often than before the downturn and nearly the same percentage are eating dinner less often at restaurants.”

 

While the Reserve is a fabulous value, we were in awe of the uncorked Chard, with is clean, pure flavor, balance and accessibility. Great with cold roast chicken, shrimp and summer salads.

The Reserve is more complex with a heady nose and subtle fruit. Lovely with seafood, lamb and light cheese.

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Brasserie 1605

May 1, 2010

 

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LOCATION: In the heart of New York’s famed Theater District on Broadway between 48th and 49th, in the “Crossroads of the World” as Times Square is known and at the epicenter of the newly coined “Chocolate Corner,” where two American candy icons – Hershey’s and M&M – converge. Brasserie 1605 is ideally situated for Times Square explorers and the Broadway show bound.

ADDRESS: 1605 Broadway

New York, NY 10019

PHONE: 212-977-4000 ext. 6000

WEB SITE: http://www.manhattan.crowneplaza.com/brasserie-1605.html

CHEF: Christopher Smith

MANAGER: Rosa Abreu

HOURS: Open daily

Breakfast 6:30 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.

Lunch 11:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.

Dinner 4:00 p.m. – 10:30 p.m.

PRICES: Dinner Appetizers $9 to $14

Salads $10 to $17, side and entree portions

Entrees $14 to $32

Sides $6

Desserts $9.50

Lunch Appetizers $9 to $14

Salads $10 to $17, side and entrée portions

Sandwiches $14 to $19

Pizzas $12

Entrees $18 to $32

Sides $6

Desserts $9.50

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Sleekly spacious high backed, white upholstered booths lined up and down the center of the room lend a retro element, while providing privacy for social or business tête à têtes at

                          Brasserie 1605

101 Worldwide

Overlooking Times Square from the lobby level of the Crowne Plaza, the only hotel in the city with a front door actually on Broadway, Brasserie 1605 offers the best seats on the Great White Way. A result of the hotel’s recent $85 million renovation, the restaurant blends retro diner chic with New York style to create an engaging, casually comfortable setting for diners seeking reasonably priced and familiar, yet intriguing, soul-gratifying food intended to satisfy a range of appetites.

Neo-classic American – familiar dishes re-imagined with sophisticated tweaks, some incorporating traces of the Caribbean and Hawaiian influences that are part of Chef Smith’s background. Much of the menu meets the comfort food criteria, of being robust renditions of American regional favorites that tend to make an emotional connection with diners, but have been elevated to address current culinary trends. Witness chicken pot pie made current with organic vegetables, grilled meat loaf dressed up with portobello mushroom sauce and onion rings and chicken and waffles distinguished by maple syrup infused chicken jus.

SIGNATURE DISHES: Appetizers include Braised short rib sliders, fried onions, au jus, toasted brioche bun; absolutely delicious “Firecracker” popcorn shrimp, rice noodles, scallions, chili lime sauce (we could have enjoyed them as a main course) ; steamed vegetables, red coconut curry sauce, bok choy, snow peas, shiitake mushrooms, Napa cabbage, haricots vert, white and green asparagus; Homemade 3 bean chili, cilantro jalapeno cream, brioche croutons.

Our other appetizer favorites were an outstandingly light Spring Pea Soup with lemon zest, crème fraiche and crispy lardons. Spicy Ahi Poke Tartar ahi tuna, sriracha aioli, seaweed, toasted sesame seeds, sweet soy vinaigrette and wonton crisps was also delicious..     .

If your mood turns to Salads, try the CP salad, chef’s salad with romaine, fresh turkey, smoked ham, slow roasted tomatoes, marinated artichokes, chick peas, deviled eggs, gruyere cheese, Applewood bacon, Dijon dressing; Duck confit salad, butternut squash, roasted pecans, roasted fig relish, pomegranate vinaigrette.Or if you like your greens as an entree, OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA         you’ll enjoy Asian Chicken Salad (Pictured Above), marinated chicken breast, baby tomatoes, cucumbers, shredded carrots, red cabbage, Napa cabbage, snow peas, red peppers, soy sesame vinaigrette, and candied pecans.

While a table of appetizers, soups and salads may be the ideal way to go at Brasserie 1605, Entrees are well executed and choices include Spiced Maine scallops, back bean hummus, roasted sunchoke, lemon-tahini butter sauce; Skirt steak, grilled asparagus, rainbow chard, scallions, poblana jasmine rice, adobe sauce Lump crab cakes (Pictured Below),OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA         parsnip and pepper slaw, lobster cream sauce and Braised short ribs, jalapeno-cheddar grits apricot-apple chutney.

Do leave room for Dessert: Ginger and lychee crème bruleé, whipped cream topping, biscotti and a terrific Rum And Mango Bread Pudding warm croissant, rum, mango and vanilla bean bread pudding slathered with bourbon sauce, white chocolate gelato will all please.The WINE PROGRAM: Generous selection of wines-by-the-glass, 20 choices, including five sparkling iterations, representing the most popular varietals. The compact 50-bottle wine list is an ode to American viticulture, with an occasional nod to France, Italy and Spain. Oddly, the best value (listed a the solo blend) is the ever dependable Villa Antinori, 2005. At $49 the bottle, it was soft, approachable and a fine value. Service is accommodating and helpful. 

A sign outside the restaurant aptly states: “The only thing you won’t find on the menu at  Brasserie 1605 is “hotel food.”

Copyright 2010 By Punch In International. All Rights Reserved.

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Benoit

February 14, 2010

Benoit in NY - bistrot vertical (2) @M.PIAZZA

Photo Credit: Copyright Melissa Hom

Benoit

 

OPENING DATE: April 21, 2008

ADDRESS: Benoit
60 West 55th Street, New York, NY 10019
(Between Fifth and Sixth Avenues)

LOCATION: Benoit is located in the former space of the legendary French brasserie La Côte Basque, just steps from the shops along Fifth Avenue, a few blocks from Central Park and the Museum of Modern Art, and minutes from the theatre district.

RESERVATIONS: Reservations are suggested but not required

TELEPHONE: 646.943.7373
FAX: 646.943.7330

EMAIL: bistrot@benoitny.com
WEBSITE: www.benoitny.com

HOURS OF OPERATION:
BISTROT

RESTAURANT: All-day dining, 7 days a week, 102 seats
11:45am to 10:30pm (11:00pm on Fridays and Saturdays)

BAR: 11:45am to 12:00am, 31 seats
Happy Hour ‘Buy one, get one’ from 4:00 to 6:00pm on weekdays

PRIVATE SALONS: Located on the second floor above the restaurant, the salons are comprised of
3 exquisitely designed rooms. Combined they can accommodate 60 guests.They can also be subdivided to host smaller groups and all types of events, according to guests’ needs.

For those guests opting to dine in the luxurious OFFICINE, a stunning 10-seat room set in an antique 19th century pharmacy from Bordeaux, the restaurant offers a specially created menu along with access to Alain Ducasse’s wine cellar.

The CUISINE: Executive Chef & Partner Pierre Schaedelin has created a menu of traditional French bistro cuisine such as pâté en croûte, escargots with garlic and parsley butter, egg mayo at $1 each, pike quenelles, roast chicken with French fries, steak aux poivres, classical French cheeses, to enticing recipes for millefeuille, traditional tarte tatin, and vanilla profiteroles with warm chocolate sauce.

The WINE: Benoit’s wine list features more than 200 selections of white and red references, from small French producers to the best years for California and Bordeaux.

TEAM: 80 associates in total

CHEF-CREATOR: Alain Ducasse

EXECUTIVE CHEF & Partner: Sébastien Rondier BENOIT NY Exec Chef & Parnter Pierre Schaedelin 2@ Melissa HOMPhoto Credit: Copyright Melissa Hom

 

ASSISTANT GENERAL MANAGER: Estelle Lamotte

EXECUTIVE PASTRY CHEF: Jean-Sébastien Magat

SOMMELIER: Arnaud Demas

DIRECTOR OF PRIVATE DINING: Gwendal Goulet
Our Director of Private Dining is delighted to discuss further possible seating options in the private dining salons.
g.goulet@benoitny.com

DESIGN: To preserve tradition, elements from the enchanting Benoit in Paris and details from La Côte Basque have been woven into Benoit in New York’s design. The tableware is also meant to illustrate the balance of tradition and modernity. Several pieces are sourced from around the world, with many signature elements made exclusively for Alain Ducasse.

________________________________________________________

Review By Nancy Walman

BISTROT BENOIT NYC

(Another Success Story)

Benoit in NY Bar (1) @MThe Bar. Photo Credit: Copyright Melissa Hom

Located in the space formerly occupied by La Côte Basque, Manhattan’s Benoit echos Alain Ducasse’s original Benoit in Paris and represents an opportunity to recreate a unique bistro experience within a dynamic urban environment while still preserving the tradition and inviting feel of Benoit in Paris, which first opened its doors in 1912 and became part of the Groupe Alain Ducasse in April 2005 (There is also a Benoit in Tokyo).

The dining room is an airy space, with a ceiling that features a trompe l’oeil blue sky, blonde oak walls, large mirrors set throughout that give the room a sense of textured comfort, cozy red banquettes, and a mix of solid oak and zinc tables. Those who allow their eyes to wander will uncover Chef Ducasse’s private collection of individual miniature liquor bottles and special carafes that are featured in two antique vitrines at the back of the main dining room.To preserve tradition, elements from the original La Côte Basque have been woven into Benoit’s décor, such as the restaurant sconces and chandelier, cartoon medallions reminiscent of early 20th century Paris, and decades-old black and white photographs of patrons dining in the restaurant during years past.

The Cuisine, while classic, is tempered with contemporary touches that are in step with today’s life style such as jumbo lump crab salad, celery/apple remoulade and citrus dressing. Executive chef Sébastien Rondier , a close collaborator of Ducasse since 2000, has composed a menu that respects tradition and technique. The menu’s clever charm is apparent in the dishes many of which are drawn from Benoit’s repertoire of 50 to 100 year old recipes.

The menu features a large variety of à la carte dishes, from appetizers to desserts, as well as a daily listing of specials. Appetizers include such French classics as a dense pâté en croûte, a superb foie gras and poached green asparagus with a mousseline sauce. Entrees offer pike quenelles with a Nantua sauce that are feather-light and not to be missed.

If you have but one entree, share the garlic roasted chicken with French fries L’ami Louis-style (a bargain at $42 for 2). It arrives whole for your inspection and then is beautifully sliced and served family style. The skin is crispy; the meat is moist; the garlic is heavenly. Other options include, steak au poivre with pommes soufflées and such perfect seafood as skate wing meunière, broccoli rabe, lemon, capers and brown butter sauce.

Finish your dinner with classical French cheeses like a selection of Coupole, Saint-Nectaire, Comté, Camembert, Fourme d’Ambert followed by an enticing dessert: millefeuille, vanilla profiteroles with warm chocolate sauce or the traditional tarte tatin. We adored the NOUGAT GLACÉ with pistachio ice-cream and passion fruit.

Benoit’s wine list features more than 200 selections of white and red references, with 65% of the list from the main wine producing regions in France and 35% from the United States. A unique selection of wines by the glass as well as wines from custom-designed carafes will also be available.Service is unpretentious, attentive and bistro-perfect.

Of all the bistros of New York, Benoit gets our vote for true Parisian experience with wonderful food, wines, welcoming service and the stamp of the masters: Alain Ducasse and EXECUTIVE CHEF & Partner: Sébastien Rondier. That’s A Major.

Copyright 2009 By Punchin International®. All Rights Reserved.

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Il Punto

January 31, 2010

punto-logo 507 9th Ave 212-244-0088

http://www.ilpuntoristorante.com/

_____________________________________________________________ By Nancy Walman DSC_0099 RED SNAPPER FILET IN PARCHMENT PAPER As Presented at Il Punto Il Punto is a very high-end Italian restaurant on a very "happening" strip of Ninth Avenue at West 38th Street. Owned by Tony Pecora who has many businesses in the city, the executive chef is Michaela Orsini. Orsini is one of the most versatile Italian chefs in New York. He makes everything in-house from the puffy focaccia to his glorious desserts for which he is known. punto-apt2 Tuna Crudo with Ginger-Mustard Sauce The name means “destination" and a destination it should be. You might walk by the unassuming facade, but in good weather, the restaurant’s French doors open to sidewalk dining. Inside await three cozy, attractive rooms with terracotta floors, a burgundy color scheme and walls flanked with wine racks and hung with colorful pictures. The rooms are cleverly separated by silk-strands of curtains and the lighting is warm and inviting. Start with an excellent house cocktail or cool glass of wine at the welcoming bar with its large urn of flowers guarding one end and a Sicilian wine cart guarding the other. Food is authentically Italian. Many of the ingredients are imported from Italy. But what’s unique about this amazing ristorante is the chef’s range of culinary execution .

Orsini may have a strong presence in the restaurant, but you’ll know his heart is in the kitchen when he dazzles you with three versions of the incredibly delicious Crudo (the Italian version of Sashimi}: Tuna with Ginger-Mustard Sauce, Raw Baby Squid with Frisse and Lemon Dressing and the star, Sliced Baby Octopus with Roasted Peppers and Marinated Eggplant. Setting the tone with such a trendy beginning, chef Orsini then bows to a staple of Italian home cooking: SPONGY AND TENDER STRIPS OF HONEY COMB TRIPE, simmered in CARROTS, CELERY, ROSEMARY, SAGE, ONION, DICED TOMATO AND FRESH GREEN PEAS, a dish so pure that only a gentle sprinkling of Peperoncini (Italian peppers) is needed to bring you as close to Italian-heaven as you’ll get in a Manhattan Italian restaurant. DSC_0064 Pasta Perfect

Of course, what’s an Italian restaurant without pasta. You won’t be disappointed with TIMBALLO, LAYERS OF WIDE RIBBONS PASTA, BECHAMEL SAUCE, MEAT RAGU, AND PARMIGIANO REGGIANO. A sort of fancy Lasagna, our table couldn’t get enough. Also marvelous, with one caveat (request it to the right of al dente, ours was a tad undercooked), PACCHERI AL SUGO DI GUANCIALE or LARGE RIGATONI WITH BEEF CHEEKS, FRESH GROUND TOMATOE AND SPICES was better than any pasta we sampled at many venues that received accolades from the media. There are other unusual pasta options including two we didn’t sample: CONCHIGLIE CON CAVOLFIORI, GAMBERI E BROCCOLI, TINY PASTA SHELLS, CAULIFLOWER, RED ONION, GARLIC, CAPERS, ANCHOVIES, OLIVES, SHRIMP AND BROCCOLI and SPAGHETTI AL PEPERONCINO E PESTO DI CARCIOFI, RED SPAGHETTI WITH ARTICHOKE OLIVE PESTO .

Italian restaurants to us mean antipasti, pasta or risotto, entree and cheese and/or dessert, so you can’t miss such main courses as the much abused POLLO ASSUT ASSUT: CHICKEN PIECES ON THE BONE SAUTEED WITH GARLIC, ROSEMARY, LEMON JUICE AND A SPLASH OF WHITE WINE. Normally dubbed Chicken Scarpiello (perhaps he was the brother-in-law of Sr. Rossini), and prepared incorrectly (off the bone and bludgeoned with sauce), chef Orsini gets it right.

His LOMBATINA AL VINCOTTO or GILLED TENDER RIB VEAL CHOP, RED WINE REDUCTION, DRIZZELED WITH VINCOTTO, SPINKLED BLACK TRUFFLES, MASHED POTATOES AND SPINACH is elegant, while ORGANIC FED TURKEY OSSOBUCO, BRAISED IN FRESH TOMATOES, WHITE WINE AND HERBS SERVED WITH OLIVE LEAF SHAPED PASTA is a deliciously healthy alternative.

Seafood lovers will enjoy both DENTICE AL CARTOCCIO, RED SNAPPER FILET IN PARCHMENT PAPER WITH FRESH HERBS, SNOW PEAS, ZUCCHINI, ROSEMARY, MUSHROOMS AND CHERRY TOMATOES and DSC_0139 CIOPPINO, a creation whose roots lie closer to San Francisco than Italy, but is fresh and delicious just the same with its mélange of RED SNAPPER, STRIPED BASS, MONK FISH,SHRIMPS, MUSSELS, CLAMS, SCALLOPS AND CALAMARI IN AN AROMATIC FISH BROTH.

Finish with the best Tiramisu in town, each layer distinct and light, an outstanding Tartufo Gelato, Italian Cheese cake with strawberries culis, the luscious Miniature Cannolis or the fabulous home-made ice creams. Service is guiding and solicitous and the wine list is user-friendly and well priced.with inexpensive carafes countered by such winners as Cerreto’s sprightly Albarino (priced in the mid-$40s). Don’t expect an empty restaurant. Il Punto, has a loyal local clientele peppered with knowledgeable out-of-towners,in search of a good deal near the theater and Madison Square Garden.(There is a “$30+” Pre and Post Theater Dinner Menu.) Il Punto also happens to be one of Manhattan’s most gratifying Italian restaurants! DSC_0052 The Succulent Veal Chop

Copyright 2010 By Punch In International. All Rights Reserved.

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AL BUSTAN REVIVED FOR 2010

January 31, 2010

Al Bustan

319 East 53rd Street (Between 2nd & 3rd Avenues)

New York, NY 10022;

212-759-5933

Hours: Lunch & Dinnere 7 Days a Week

http://www.albustanny.com/

By Nancy Walman

Popular Lebanese Main Stay Takes Up New Residence in Bigger and Brighter Location

For roughly 20 years, the name Al Bustan went hand in hand with authentic Lebanese food and warm Lebanese hospitality to anyone living in or passing through New York City. With a quaint location on 3rd Avenue between 50th and 51st Streets,

Al Bustan became THE place to find the most elegant Lebanese cuisine. While the original closed last December it was due to Owner and Executive Chef Elias Ghafary wanting to expand his brand into an even larger and more beautiful space. Thankfully for neighbors who have grown accustomed to their presence in the area, Ghafary found a gorgeous two-level space nearby and has reestablished the Al Bustan name back into Manhattan’s culinary landscape. The restaurant recently softly opened to neighbors and passer bys and has now proudly reopened just in time for 2010.  After serving a limited menu without a liquor license during the holidays, they are now open to the public 7 days a week for lunch and dinner and as luck would have it, the license came in just in time to allow them to officially open the first week of the new year.

The clean inviting space is undeniably attractive with its THREE gorgeous fireplaces. With the temperatures continuing to fall and the wind continuing to whirl, perhaps it’s a good time to explore some of the restaurants around town that offer a cozy and warm solution to this nasty winter weather.  One fireplace is in the lounge so diners can quickly warm up as they come in from the cold and the other two are located in the dining room so you can eat your Lebanese fare fireside (is there any better way? )

Gant wood ceiling beams, brick walls of red, white and stucco, pillars coverd in white organdy, lit internally, three chandaliers, one massive one leading down to a party room.  Shibny hard wood floors, spacxious witgh white clocths,.

Whippe of aleppo: karabig halab

 

wine Ksara 2006 ($36), Bordeaux blend.

 

Turenips, julienned, marined  48 hours in in vinegar, salt, garlic  & beet juice.

Ghafary has been with Al Bustan since the beginning and can actually take credit for introducing New York City to high end Lebanese food a couple of decades ago.  With a pedigree from France and having been #1 in his class at the Culinary School of Beirut, Ghafary is an expert on this bountiful cuisine and loves inviting people in to his “home” every night for some traditional Lebanese food such as Mouhamara, walnut, red pepper, garlic, chili pepper and pomegranate molasses; Tabbouleh, parsley, tomato, onion and cracked wheat; and Moussakaa, eggplant simmered with tomato, garlic, onion and olive oil, as well as some unique dishes he has brought to this new location including Kibbeh Lakteen bill Saniya, baked pumpkin and cracked wheat stuffed with spinach and chickpea; Zaatar Salad, fresh wild oregano, onion, lemon juice and olive oil; and Kibbeh Samak Nayeh, tuna tartare blended with jalapeno and onion.

Other outstanding offerings include Labmeh,  Foul Medamas, as well as elegant entrees such as Halibut.

Heralded as the most popular of all the Middle Eastern cuisines, Lebanese fare traditionally consists of fresh vegetables and fruits, poultry, seafood and lamb, the essential flat pita bread that also substitutes as a fork in this culture, and an array of Mediterranean elements such as garlic, lemon, olive oil, cilantro, tomato sauce, among others. This is reflected throughout the menu at Al Bustan in main dishes such as Ghafary’s favorite Samak Tajine, a whole baked fish, usually Red Snapper, topped with a lightly spiced tahini sauce and pine nuts; Kibbeh Lakteen bill Saniyah, baked pumpkin and cracked wheat stuffed with spinach and chickpea; and Habra Nayeh, a lamb filet tartare with spices and garlic paste. Some truly unusual dishes served here include Zaatar Salad, with wild fresh oregano, onion, lemon juice and olive oil; Silek Mahshi, Swiss chard leaves stuffed with rice, tomato, chickpea and lemon; and Chankleesh, spicy cheese, onion and tomato. An assortment of traditional small plates, or Mezze, include Baba Ghannoui, smoked eggplant blended with tahini; Mouhammara, a puree of walnut, red pepper, garlic, cucumber and pomegranate molasses; Tabbouleh, parsley, tomato, onion and cracked wheat; Sujuk, sautéed spicy beef sausages; or Arayess bil Jibneh, toasted pita filled with halloumi cheese.

Aromatic non-alcoholic drinks are a perfect way to start off any meal and will add tranquility to your experience. The Tamarind is a simple concoction of Tamarind syrup and water, while the Jellab is a perfumed drink scented by rose water, incense, carib molasses and floated with pine nuts. The wine list consists mainly of bottles from France, Spain and of course Lebanon, home to the first Middle Eastern winery, Ksara, which was built in 1857.

While Lebanese cuisine had made successful crossovers to cities including London and Paris, it wasn’t until Ghafary came to the US in 1988 and established himself as a restaurateur that this city finally came to know what true refined Lebanese cuisine meant. For this reincarnation Ghafary, the original owner and founder, has carried over some of the original staff such as Chef de Cuisine Refaat Husseini, and has teamed up with new team members including partner, Norman Hobeika, a long stand small business owner who has launched several Lebanese fast food restaurant across the Tri-State area, and part owner Paul Hobeika.

 

Copyright 2010 By Punch In International. All Rights Reserved

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AL BUSTAN

January 23, 2010

al-bustan-int1 

Technorati Tags: ,,

Photo credit: al Bustans

Al Bustan

319 East 53rd Street (Between 2nd & 3rd Avenues)

New York, NY 10022;

212-759-5933

Hours: Lunch & Dinner 7 Days a Week

http://www.albustanny.com/

 

                  ________________________

By Nancy Walman

Popular Lebanese Main Stay Takes Up New Residence in Bigger and Brighter Location

Al Bustan means "The Orchard" in Arabic and for roughly 20 years, the name Al Bustan went hand in hand with authentic Lebanese food and warm Lebanese hospitality to anyone living in or passing through New York City. With a quaint location on 3rd Avenue between 50th and 51st Streets,

Al Bustan became THE place to find the most elegant Lebanese cuisine. While the original closed last December it was due to Owner and Executive Chef Elias Ghafary wanting to expand his brand into an even larger and more beautiful space.

Thankfully for neighbors who have grown accustomed to their presence in the area, Ghafary found a gorgeous two-level space nearby and has reestablished the Al Bustan name back into Manhattan’s culinary landscape.

The clean inviting space is undeniably attractive with its THREE gorgeous fireplaces. With the temperatures continuing to fall and the wind continuing to whirl, perhaps it’s a good time to explore some of the restaurants around town that offer a cozy and warm solution to this nasty winter weather.  One fireplace is in the lounge so diners can quickly warm up as they come in from the cold and the other two are located in  the dining room so you can eat your Lebanese fare fireside at spacious tables, covered with sparkling white cloths,.

Giant wood ceiling beams, brick walls of red, white and stucco and pillars covered in white organdy (lit internally) add to the romantic setting, with its three chandeliers (one massive one leading down to a party room)  and shiny hard wood-floors.

al-bustan-int2

The Elegant Main Dining Room. Photo credit: al Bustans

Aromatic non-alcoholic drinks are a perfect way to start off any meal and will add tranquility to your experience. The Tamarind is a simple concoction of Tamarind syrup and water, while the Jellab is a perfumed drink scented by rose water, incense, carob molasses and floated with pine nuts. The wine list consists mainly of bottles from France, Spain and of course Lebanon, home to the first Middle Eastern winery, Ksara, which was built in 1857 (the red, a Bordeaux blend, is a delight at just $35 the bottle). There is also a full bar offering generous cocktails, poured in lovely glassware.

The stars of any Lebanese restaurant , Meze, wonderful hot and cold appetizers, designed to be shared, including smoky whipped eggplant or chickpeas, divine stuffed grape-leafs,  a choice of three tartars, including lamb with pine nuts and light as air falafel, elevated to new levels, and far from the street food you may have sampled  in lesser kitchens. Four people can order a choice of 18 of these luscious treats, and yummy Lebanese desserts (even the ubiquitous baklava is exceptional) for about $45 a person.

Before ordering, take note of the delicious house-made turnips, coarsely-julienned, marinated  48 hours in in vinegar, salt, garlic and beet juice, which imparts a lovely pink color.

al-bustan-food1

The Mouth watering Meze  Photo Credit Zandy Mangold

Ghafary has been with Al Bustan since the beginning and can actually take credit for introducing New York City to high end Lebanese food a couple of decades ago.  With a pedigree from France and having been #1 in his class at the Culinary School of Beirut, Ghafary is an expert on this bountiful cuisine and loves inviting people in to his “home” every night for some traditional Lebanese food such as Mouhamara, walnut, red pepper, garlic, chili pepper and pomegranate molasses (a personal favorite); Tabbouleh, parsley, tomato, onion and cracked wheat; and Moussakaa, eggplant simmered with tomato, garlic, onion and olive oil, as well as some unique dishes he has brought to this new location including Kibbeh Lakteen bill Saniya, baked pumpkin and cracked wheat stuffed with spinach and chickpea; Zaatar Salad, fresh wild oregano, onion, lemon juice and olive oil; and an updated take: Kibbeh Samak Nayeh, tuna tartare blended with jalapeno and onion.

Other outstanding offerings include classic Lamb Shawarma (paper thin slices of grilled lamb) to grilled Kafta. LabmehFoul Medamas, as well as elegant entrees such as Halibut.

__________________________________________________________________

al-bustan-food2 
Photo Credit Zandy Mangold

While Lebanese cuisine had made successful crossovers to cities including London and Paris, it wasn’t until Ghafary came to the US in 1988 and established himself as a restaurateur that this city finally came to know what true refined Lebanese cuisine meant. Service is not only efficient, but benevolent.

For a welcome change from the more familiar French or Italian cuisine, Al Bustan is a lovely restaurant and in the up-market Lebanese league, as good as it gets.

 

Copyright 2010 By Punch In International. All Rights Reserved

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Grand Central Oyster Bar/Restaurant

January 23, 2010

Oyster Bar Interior 3

Grand Central Oyster Bar Grand Central Terminal
89 E. 42nd St.
New York, NY 10017

Phone: (212) 490-6650
Hours of Operation:
Monday – Friday: 11:30am – 9:30pm
Saturday: 12:00pm – 9:30pm
Payment Options:
AMEX, Carte Blanche, Diners Club, Discover, JCB, MasterCard, Visa
Executive Chef: Sandy Ingber
General Manager Jonathan Young

Dress Code: Casual Dress

A New York landmark with Guastivino tiled vaulted ceilings, two dining rooms, an oyster bar and counter seating. The Oyster Bar has 450 seats for you to choose from.
Dining Style: Casual Dining
Cuisine: Seafood
Neighborhood: Midtown East
Cross Street: Vanderbilt and Lexington
Menu: View menu on restaurant’s website & After This Review
Price: $31 to $50
Website: http://www.oysterbarny.com

Make a Reservation On Open Table
_________________________________________________________

New York’s Grand Dame Of Seafood Restaurants

Review By Nancy WalmanOyster Bar Interior 1

 

Award-winning website, Punchin-dot-com, features the Walman Report and reviews of restaurants, travel, wine and theater. The Grand Central Oyster bar recently celebrated its 95th Anniversary. It Serves over 1,300 patrons daily, eating about 1.8 million shellfish a year. 240 gallons of Manhattan and New England clam chowder prepared daily. The restaurant has rented the 27,00 sq. foot space from the MTA since 1913. The Old World interior with its “Guastavino” tile, lining the vaulted ceiling, retains some stained glass windows.

Oyster Bar Interior 2

There’s a formidable wine list & seafood shines. There are always wonderful seasonal specials like herring, bay scallops and the freshest fish anywhere. And oh those oysters: Ask your waiter to recommend a selection of varieties. Wonderful plates of smoked fish will be returning. For now, The vast menu offers an array of creative and traditional great starters and the signature pan roast is still a minor miracle. Look for specials. Chef Sandy Ingber has a deft hand and all cooking techniques, whether grilling, steaming, poaching or frying are executed skillfully. The French fries may be the best in town. Bay Scallops were sweet as sugar and a better Black Cod would be difficult to find.

Service is friendly and accommodating and don’t skip the rich, cold and gooey desserts (fabulous rice pudding) at The Grand Central Oyster Bar/Restaurant, Lexington Ave. & Vanderbilt Place. That’s a Manhattan Must on The Walman Report. For a free subscription to The Walman Report, visit www dot Punchin dot com on the net.

Copyright 2009 By Punch In International. All Rights Reserved

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