I had the wonderful opportunity to accompany one of my clients on her business trip to New York City this past weekend. The purpose of my trip was to enjoy the culinary scene in the city. Based on the snugness of my pants this morning, I’d say the trip was a complete success. I won’t bore you with everything I did in between meals, but will give you a quick summary of my restaurant experiences. This blog could be much more detailed and lengthy, but I’ve got a rock band arriving to stay with us for a couple days and I need to get things in order here and start cooking for them.
We arrived in NYC on Saturday evening and, after quickly freshening up at our hotel, headed out to Red Cat. We were all hungry and eager to eat at this highly recommended restaurant.
We started out with the Zucchini Sauté with toasted almonds and Pecorino. I was told to order this signature dish and to be prepared to dream of it for days. Wow, I certainly could eat this over and over again. We also ordered the Tempura Green Beans, which were perfectly battered and accompanied by a spicy mustard sauce, a Hamachi tartare special they had that evening, and the Soft Lettuce Salad. It was all delicious.
For our entrees, I ordered the Atlantic Hake (confit artichokes, picholines, red lentils), and my companions ordered the Crispy Skin Salmon (potato puree, spicy mushrooms, cilantro, pesillade), the All Natural Chicken (arugula, radish, grilled lemon, salsa verde), and a side of herbed french fries. We all decided that the hake was the best entree at the table. The chicken was the only plate with anything remaining on it as we contemplated dessert. I rarely order chicken when I go out to eat, as I deem it to be the “safe but not memorable” option on menus. I convinced my friends not to order chicken again for the remainder of our trip.
Our server recommended the Pistachio Semifreddo with hot fudge and a creme fraiche brownie. His eyes rolled back in his head as he described it and so we decided we needed to just share one. While the presentation was fabulous, we each had one or two little bites and decided it just wasn’t “all that.” Our driver was going to show us the sights after dinner, so we ordered cappuccinos, and our server brought us complimentary house-made truffles. The truffles were fantastic with the cappuccino and a terrific end to an outstanding meal.
I would highly recommend Red Cat. The service was impeccable and the food was delicious.
Sunday’s lunch took us to Beau Marchais. Our driver had made us reservations and told us that this was something we just had to experience and that it was “THE place to be on a Sunday afternoon.” As we entered the restaurant, the party was just getting started. True to the description on their website, Sunday Brunch is a French Riviera inspired “party brunch like no other.” The DJ was mixing up lively, loud music, the champagne was flowing, the costumed servers were happy, perhaps a little mischievous behind their makeup, and the predominantly young crowd was quite jovial.
We ordered the Tartare de Boeuf as an appetizer. Lunch was La Salade du Jardin, L’Omelette Du Jour, Le Croque Madame, and I had Le Beau Burger. The lighting in the restaurant kept changing colors and, at time I took the picture, was pink.
My friends had to return to the convention, so we didn’t stick around to dance and party. This was a fun restaurant for Sunday Brunch. No one at our table ooooohed or ahhhhhed over their meal. As we were finishing our meal, the restaurant was completely full, the music was even louder, and the hoola hoops were hooping on hips.
Sunday evening we had reservations at Catch. Even with our reservation we had about a 30 minute wait in the bar area, but it was well worth the wait. We started with the Hellfire Roll (Spicy Tuna two-ways, Pear, Balsamic) and the Hamachi Tartare. One Hellfire Roll wasn’t enough for my friends, so they ordered a second. For me, the Hellfire Roll was a bit heavy on the smoky flavor, but they thought it was the best sushi they’ve eaten. They shared some Grilled Shrimp with Lemon-Herb Olive Oil, Alaskan King Crab and Parmesan-Truffle Fries. I ordered the Sautéed Snapper with Lobster Mash, Truffle and Lemon Brown Butter. There was not one speck of food or sauce left on my plate, or any of the plates at the table for that matter. I’m not a huge crab fan, so I didn’t try the crab. The shrimp was rather boring to me, but it IS listed as “Simply Cooked” on the menu, so it lived up to it’s name.
I’ll just skip ahead and tell you that we loved Catch so much that my client decided to cancel our reservations for Le Cirque on Monday night and make reservations to return to Catch. (I was a little bit sad because Le Cirque had come highly recommended, but my dinner Monday evening made me very happy.) On Monday we started with two Hellfire Rolls and the Salmon Belly Carpaccio. The girls ordered the Crispy Whole Snapper to share. I ordered the Herb Roasted Branzino with Creamy Vegetable Bazmati (rich and creamy, similar to a risotto, but not as loose), and our driver (who we talked into joining us for dinner) had the snapper I’d eaten the night before. Again, not a speck of food remained on our plates, only the bones of the snapper.
We ended up getting room service for breakfast each morning so we could eat, hit the gym in the hotel and then get started with the day. And really, the view during breakfast was spectacular, so I didn’t feel like I was missing out on going out first thing in the morning. (New York Palace Towers)
Back to Monday. Monday morning after dropping the girls off at their convention, I went to Eataly. If you are in NYC (or Chicago) you HAVE to go to Eataly. The concept is amazing. You need to visit their website and read their Manifesto. From the moment I stepped through the front door, I was just in love. I won’t spend too much time here going into everything to sample in Eataly. Go there. Walk through completely to begin with and then start again at the very beginning and begin sampling. Plan on eating a few meals in the various “restaurants” in Eataly. I wished I’d had more time there.
From Eataly, I went very quickly into Little Italy and sampled a gelato from Ferrara Bakery and Cafe. (Okay, I won’t lie….I had two gelatos from here. How can you just try one flavor?!)
After a quick drive through Little Italy (where I commented that I needed a couple weeks just here to try all the amazing little restaurants) we went to pick up my traveling companions and zipped over to Balthazar, where we started with the soup du jour, creamy carrot and ginger. Our entrees were: Sauteed Skate with French breakfast radish, fava beans, macron almonds and spring onion soubise; Pan-Roasted Organic Salmon with sautéed asparagus, morels, new potatoes and ramp beurre blanc (my meal); and Roasted New England Cod with English peas, mint and baby carrots. When my salmon came out I was a little shocked at the bright green ramp beurre blanc, but my mouth was doing a happy dance once I tasted it. The line to get into Balthazar was out the door. Definitely not the place to go if you are in a hurry, and, as with most restaurants in NYC, you should make a reservation well in advance.
Our last meal out in NYC was such an incredible disappointment that I hate to even discuss or remember the meal. We were craving Thai food, so our driver spoke with one of his concierge buddies and made us a reservation at Kin Shop. Reviews on social media were all positive, so we said, “Yes.” We arrived and there was only one other table of guests in the restaurant. Our driver said he didn’t like that it was empty and offered to take us elsewhere, but we were hungry and short on time, so we went in. Our server seemed “put off” by our presence and her recommendations were lackluster. As a review dating back to 2010 in the NY Times stated, “Kin Shop is notionally a Thai restaurant. But it isn’t a Thai restaurant, really. Kin Shop is instead an American restaurant that serves food prepared using Thai flavors.” We walked in expecting one thing and it was so far away from those expectations that we left very disappointed.
We stopped into Just Salad after checking out of the hotel to get something to eat on the flight home. What a terrific concept for fast, healthy meals to go.
I needed more time in NYC. I wanted to throw myself down on the ground and have a temper tantrum, claim squatter’s rights on the hotel room, move in with our driver, anything to not leave NYC so soon. Of course I missed my family and wanted to return to them… sigh. (I did so much sighing I thought they were going to toss me out of the car in the Lincoln Tunnel on the way to the airport.)
I’ll be back soon.