Archive for the 'Date Spots' Category

30
Nov
07

Rock The Boat In Midtown

Bar 44 and Brasserie 44, the trendy, new bar and restaurant just opened last week in the newly redesigned Royalton Hotel on 44th street between 5th and 6th Avenues.

Walking into the hotel you automatically get the feeling of a swanky boutique hotel in Miami. This shouldn’t cause any major shock value considering it is part of the same family as the Hudson, the Delano, the Mondrian and the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Vegas.

What is unlike these other Mecca’s is that the Royalton is not quite the “hot spot” yet, but this is all a matter of timing. Give it through the holidays, because where else can the Viacom family, the Conde Nast group or most of the major law firms in the city go for large corporate events in that area?

Nowhere, so this almost “club like” new bar and restaurant will book up fast and furiously.

Bar 44, furnished by the same designer that did Lure Fishbar and Lever House, has that same sleek vibe, but there are a few different sections that are kept “private.” Private is a relative term considering the fact there are no doors to close and it’s very easy to sneak in to a section with an open bar for a signature drink on the house.

Bar 44 is a great place to go on a date for a drink in midtown, but if it’s a night where there are a few parties, it definitely can get loud. This was fine for me on the night I went, because MTV’s private party drowned out the screeches the 1 ½ old year girl I was with made when her Elmo hit the floor! I do recommend grabbing a seat by the fire if you can, because it’s clearly the “hot spot” in the place!

As for the restaurant, the food was very good. Have you been to Oceana or Daniel? Well that is where the chef was trained and he brought all of his skills with him to midtown. I do think for the portion size, the prices were a bit on the high end, but remember, this is also a place for corporate expense accounts and business lunches.

The restaurant portion of the lobby has a bit of a boat like feel to it. Like Lure Fishbar, there are large leather banquettes to relax in; rope arches over many of them, and teak wood throughout the restaurant. The staff is young and accommodating and helped the MTV party get drinks, helped the diners pick the best bets from the menu, and even read our little guest part of a story book.

11
Oct
07

A Vacation from Manhattan Conveniently In Manhattan

Take a loved one, take a friend, take a pet or just take yourself, but no matter what, just GO to the Cloisters.

What exactly are the Cloisters? Where are the Cloisters? Why do I keep hearing about them and why would I want to go? Isn’t it such a schlep to get up there? NO!

Hop on the A Train, the M4 or drive up the West Side Highway to 190th St Fort Tryon Park and enjoy a long walk on the Cloisters 4 acres of greenery looking over the Hudson River.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s extension is devoted to the art and architecture of Medieval Europe. There are beautiful gardens to roam, tapestries to observe and glowing stained-glass windows to be entranced by. The actual museum is small and doesn’t take much time to stake out, but it’s worth a small donation to help with the upkeep of the gardens and horticulture.

I would recommend making a day out of it and enjoy a Sunday brunch or dinner one evening at the New Leaf Café. This charming, American café is set in a stone building in the park and although the service is a bit inattentive and slow, sitting outside, under umbrellas, on a patio in the middle of Manhattan is reason enough to take the trek.

Compared to Central Park, the Cloisters may be further away from the center of the city geographically; however, they also mentally take you that much further away than any park below 189th Street.

27
Sep
07

Jinx No Longer – So Share It with Someone Lucky

There are certain addresses in Manhattan that no matter what restaurant opens in place of the last one, it doesn’t work out for one reason or another. For example, the spot on 22nd Street that once was Commune, then Rocco’s (during the failed reality TV show), followed by Caviar and Bananas and eventually, what we call now, Borough Food and Wine. I think certain city locations are just simply jinxed as if the Hope Diamond was buried under their kitchens.

Accademia di Vino, the new venue at 1081 Third Avenue, is one of these bad luck addresses, which, I hope, will break this cursed locality. It’s the “sister” restaurant of Cesca on the Upper West Side and is considered Italian like its older sibling.

There is a full restaurant downstairs with a great private area, but last night we preferred to be more social and sit in the bar upstairs where people can either sit at a long wooden bar or choose to dine at a high table along the windows. The bar menu includes all the Salumis, Paninis, Carpaccios, Tartars, Pizzas, Sushi and salads as the restaurant menu and clearly, as the name implies, there is a vast wine list. It’s not easy finding a good after work bar where you can also share light fare and appetizers and I highly recommend Accademia di Vino, even it means a special trip to the Upper East Side.

Now, only because I promised to share funny escapades, I must share a little incident that occurred. I must admit, the crowd at AdV was a bit mixed. There were old folks, young kin (who I’m not sure were quiet 21), couples, singles and everything in between. This being said, my single girlfriend and I were sitting, sharing some appetizers, drinking some fantastic Montepulciano, when a strange (and I don’t mean because we didn’t know him and he was a strang”er”) man walked by, picked up my friends bread, ate half of it in one bite and put the rest back on her plate.

Now I missed this all occur, but the waitress (who was very sweet despite her butter fingers dropping a tray or two), saw it and gave a questioning stare. The man proceeded to walk away, but my feisty friend decided to throw the remaining bread at his head. After the shock wore off that she actually did this, and a short flick off with his hand, he did leave the bar and we got to finish the rest of our Tartars and Carpaccios in peace!

Like the new auspicious restaurant AdV, my friend and I were fortunate enough to leave with a great buzz, full from delicious food, and had a lot of laughs while there!

Bon Appetite!

24
Sep
07

Before It’s Too Late!

Outdoor dining venues in Manhattan are few and far between.  Not only that, but those facilities that do provide dining by moonlight are so highly sought after, that finding a reservation between 7:30 and 9:30 is like finding a pair of size 7 Jimmy Choo Shoes at the end of a sale at Saks. 

Let me make your last few nights of dining under the stars easier by making three suggestions that will take you away from the lines, frustrations and waits (even with reservations) at Bar Pitti, Barolo, Pastis, Vento and the Boat Basin.  Don’t get me wrong, all great places to eat, be seen and socialize, but wouldn’t you prefer an easier, more relaxed setting?  One that will honor your requests!

Remember, the real goal of eating outside is to wish on a shooting star while you’re comfortable at your table sharing a bottle of wine, not to wish for your reservation to be honored.

First, try Tree on the Lower East Side. As if you planned a picnic for your date, you will dine on picnic tables and choose from a small bistro type selection of foods that are fresh and steadfast. The staff may be a bit slow, but they are knowledgeable about their menu and amiable.  Really, what’s the rush when you’re debating between constellations anyway?  I recommend it as a low key, first date venue where you’re psyched about delicious, unpretentious food and the peace and quiet of New York at its tranquil best.

Second, Trestle on Tenth in Chelsea is a nice escape from heart of the area. It may be a bit more ostentatious than Tree, but not nearly as intimidating as the other venues in and around the area.  Trestle is ideal for any swanky, art gallery type or stylish neighborhood couple.  It has an open and friendly bar in the front, wooden tables and then an open, airy, garden that even neighborhood locals don’t know about. It can be your hidden, little, Chelsea secret. Open for just over a year, this brick walled, yet warm and cozy venue allows for home cooked comfort food in a light and airy way.

Third and finally, Tartine in the West Village. I finally just dealed with the no reservation policy, and waited, and waited and waited, but BOY was worth it. This BYO only sits about 20 inside and 10 outside, while all the others just stand on the sidewalk drooling over the French Bistro like fare that is whizzing by.  The staff is fun and appreciative of those who wait, and although you can’t drink on the street anymore, it’s worth bringing a few bottles along for meal time.  Once you are seated, there’s no rush, so open as many bottles as you bring and don’t get up until they’re gone! Sitting outside on the street is good for tables of two, but anymore than that, you’re better off sitting inside Tartine.  The windows and doors are always open giving even the inside, that outdoor feeling without being able to see the stars.  The food is way above par, but let’s be honest, with Magnolia Bakery just down the road, why  not skip dessert at Tartine, remain outside for a quick walk under the moonlight and satisfy your sweet tooth with a cupcake under the stars.

23
Sep
07

Waverly Inn, I Think Out

I don’t know Graydon Carter, nor do I know his people, his cell phone number or the number of his restaurant that apparently doesn’t deal with plebeians like me anyway. I know the Waverly Inn is somewhere to go and be seen, but to be honest, no one there is going to know who you are, care that your are there or remember you ever even stepped foot in to the place.

Personally, it sounds more like a venue for stress and “Inn-digestion” than a fun scene.

During your meal, you’ll probably be too busy looking around for Gwyneth, Jimmy, Harvey or Graydon himself to pay any attention to the person you went in with and you’ll leave probably frustrated because you never sat, never saw anyone, or wasn’t treated with any form of respect.

From my understanding, the mediocre food is overpriced, not well prepared and served impersonally. Of course this is all hearsay, however, I would rather go somewhere where patrons are respected upon arrival and not meant to wait hours at an overstuffed bar with barely a glimmer of hope that a table will come up before midnight.

I think I’d rather head nearby to Café Cluny or Extra Virgin, where beautiful people go because they are hungry for both great, reliable food and for a good time with no stress involved. Environments that are easy to get along in, get good service and food at and be able to mingle with those who surround you, without staring over their shoulders to see who “MAY” be behind them.




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