About twice a year, New York City holds its official Restaurant Week. This year’s one starts at the end of January; but mine got a head start.
The idea behind Restaurant Week is to encourage and enable folks like me to go to those “in” restaurants. You know the ones I mean. Zagat’s top 20; the ones breathlessly written about in the pages of New York magazine and the New York Observer; the ones at which the price tabs soar and almost every dinner table seats some kind of petit celebrity.
Okay, okay, that’s a little overstated, but suffice to say this is a list of some of the city’s posher dining establishments, and you can eat at them for $20.12 for lunch and $35.00 for dinner for a prix fixe menu. (There is always a logic to the pricing, such as $20.04 for the year 2004; $20.12 is the price this time around as a promotion for New York’s Olympic bid.)
You can read more about the genuine Restaurant Week here. But to read about my personal soiree in the heights of gourmet delights, you’ll simply have to read on.
Truth be told, my restaurant week probably spanned more like 10-days; 10 days of nothing but gastronomic delights, sometimes three times a day.
In that period, I count a delightful dinner at Amuse, an establishment that, as the New York Times put it, has “elevated the status of the amuse-bouche and designed an entire menu around small tastes,doing away with the appetizer-entree dichotomy.” As someone who not infrequently orders back-to-back appetizers for my meal, I was greatly amused.
Then came an evening out with a small group of friends — turophiles and oenophiles all (yes, yes, that’s cheese and wine smarta**ses… interestingly, oenophile also means ‘grape nut’!)
Where better than to spend it than at Artisanal (top right), “mecca for cheese lovers”, where the wine was generously poured, the cheese was passionately presented and consumed and a great time was had altogether. (P.S. The Mac and cheese is to die for, as is the cassoulet!)
If the pants were getting tight after these two outings, there was more to come… shortly after leaving Artisanal, in fact. It arrived, stunningly presented, in the form of a trio of desserts at The Manhattan Ocean Club (“arguably New York’s top seafood house”), preluded by accompanied by an exceptional red and accompanied by a delightful dessert wine. (middle right)
Next on the menu, as it were, was dinner at Esca, Mario Batalli’s seafood restaurant that won a James Beard best chef award in 2004. Of course we started with the crudo tasting (although for my part, the raw innards of sea anemones is strickly for the seagulls, and I believe they love it!) All else was delightful, delicious and demanding of some serious time in the gym.
But I didn’t get to the gym because there was yet more to enjoy at V Steakhouse, Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s newest at Time Warner Centre. This is where we lunched, in an insanely wonderful decor environment of ruby red surfaces, gold curlicued trees and to-die-for park views.
The cherry on top came that evening, a dining extravaganza at Eleven Madison Park (bottom right). The Gayot guide comments, “Any grand Art-Deco restaurant with 35-foot high windows overlooking Madison Park would have a shot at being a hit, but stir in Danny Meyer, of Gramercy Tavern and Union Square Caf