Well, you didn’t expect us to starve during the storms, did you?
Lies I tell myself while it’s sneeting, that odious weather condition between sleet and snow: “I’m burning more calories in the cold.” “No one can see how fat I am under this puffer anyway.” “Well, I hardly ever eat dessert…”
Seven memorable meals (not counting that awesome Le Coq Rico brunch), the usual go-back-to’s and a couple of new additions;
First, a fun lunch at Friedmans, a casual cafe with a gluten-free focus. We were headed out to explore the construction progress at Hudson Yards when the lunch whistle blew. It’s kind of a dining wasteland over there at the moment so Friedman’s is a sight for sore palates on 10th Avenue at 35th St., just a few blocks from the Javits Center. I had a terrific Chopped Chicken Shawarma salad and the one non-gluten item on the menu, matzoh ball soup. Among the best I’ve ever tasted and a definite go-back-to place.
Second, we went upscale for a happy return visit to Café Boulud. And, surprise! Chef Boulud was in the house that day! He didn’t stop by our table so this photo is grainy with distance, but he lingered quite awhile at the tables where all the diners were speaking French. Café Boulud is one of the most welcoming restaurants we’ve been to in the city; we could tell by observing Chef Boulud that the hospitality there starts at the top.
I will walk across the Park in any storm for their kale salad with kumquats:
And they were serving an inspired passionfruit tart with the Prix Fixe lunch that day:
Third, another warm welcome on a day I was dining solo for lunch. It can go either way at a fine restaurant when you show up alone. Sometimes you are scuttled to an out-of-the-way table as a pariah; sometimes you are “adopted” by the staff and fussed over as if you were a long-awaited prodigal. Lucky for me it was the latter at La Goulue, recently reopened on the UES after an eight-year hiatus. I’ve been searching for the perfect UES bistro ever since the precipitous shuttering of L’Absinthe a few years back and this is it. Great location just past Madison on 61st Street, and the Duck Confit was divine:
Fourth, our standby Grand Central Terminal stalwart, Cipriani Dolce. The grandeur of Grand Central. The breadsticks. The pasta. The Sancerre in a little pitcher. That meringue cake!
Fifth, a very special evening at Vaucluse. So very Upper East Side. But not uncomfortably formal. Such a beautiful space at Park Avenue and 63rd:
Lamb chops don’t photograph well, but they were spectacular:
Sixth, a memorable Prix Fixe lunch at Gramercy Tavern. Memorable for the lovely time I spent with my friend, Lori, and for the absolutely dreadful weather that day! But you’d never know because it’s always springtime inside Gramercy Tavern:
These warm biscuits made it so much easier to thaw out our fingers from the cold:
Then there was the Scallop Ceviche:
And this mushroom concoction:
Course after course after course (including succulent duck breast and a beet sherbet palate cleanser!) with a scrumptious finale of vanilla ice cream, caramel, chocolate and sea salt. Remember that lie about hardly ever eating dessert? But who could say no to this?
Seventh, but hardly least, our favorite standby, Nougatine. When the weather outside is frightful, we just go next door. It felt like winter but their brunch menu is currently all about spring. The fresh pea soup with is not to be missed!
Nor is the poppyseed-crusted salmon with crunch quinoa salad and roasted carrots:
One of my favorite amusements in NYC is reading the sidewalk chalkboards. There was a strangely prescient one this trip. It read: “I wanted to lose 10 lbs this year. Only 13 to go.” That pretty much sums it up. That, and the realization that there is something all too familiar about that Botero sculpture in Time-Warner Center. Back to crackers and water in California…