Piano music plays softly in the background. The room is dimly lit, accenting the floor to ceiling windows that overlook the dusk Manhattan skyline. Mulling about are the musings of people from all walks of life, sneaking bites of cheese in between swirling ruby colored droplets in crystal goblets. Chic women with high cheekbones and no makeup offer to walk you through the fruit of their vineyard’s labor, while men with questionable dental hygiene smile and courteously offer a taste to ‘le mademoiselle’. Classy, polished, and utterly European, the event organized by Le Grand Cercle des Vins de Bordeaux, a fledgling new union uniting both Left and Right Bank winemakers, put forth a wonderful evening glorifying the hearty elegance of French wines.
Au Za’atar is a unique French Lebanese restaurant on the corner of Avenue A and 13th Street in the East Village. The fusion of these two countries’ delicious cuisines was enough to peak our interest, and their extensive menu really sealed the deal. A true family-run restaurant on a busy East Village street, we opted for outdoor seating to enjoy people watching and the great weather, but the inside was divine too. Covered in wood, with romantic lighting and a sizable bar, in the colder months we would certainly enjoy dining indoors. We would also recommend this spot for large parties, as there is space to push tables together, and this would truly be the best way to experience all the appetizers on Au Za’atars menu.
“Why did you choose to include this on your menu?”
“...because I like it!”
This simple conversation with Alessandro Bandini, wine director at Da Marcella Taverna (142 W. Houston Street), encompasses the intimate style and atmosphere of this restaurant more than any lengthy description could. By dining at this establishment, one is able to step away from the constant rush of New York City to find him- or herself transported to a comfortable, relaxed setting where the goal is to offer a quality meal to be savored and enjoyed. Removing the aspect of fine or, dare we say, pretentious dining, there are no egos to be found. Here, all guests become family.
Replacing the legendary celeb hangout Elaine’s, The Writing Room has had a lot to prove in its short life. It’s a testament to how stellar the new restaurant is, from its intimate décor to its hearty modern American menu, that it has already won a following from Elaine’s old fan club.
Now the Writing Room will double their goodwill as they double their happy hour.
For Spring, the Writing Room is opening its doors at 4pm, and will offer a 20% off happy hour from 4-6pm and after 10pm from Monday to Saturday. From 4-5pm there will be a limited menu, but for all other hours the full menu has 20% knocked off.
In an increasingly alienated, gentrified city, real community events are becoming harder to come by. This past Wednesday, though, we came upon that rare beast: a real community event that managed to be both fun and authentic.
Taste of Fifth brought together 40 restaurants from Park Slope’s Fifth Avenue at the iconic Grand Prospect Hall. A gigantic gold-gilted, ornately decorated hall housed a totally sold-out crowd, and as soon as you walked through the doors you recognized the familiar, communal air of the event. A jazz band from local school MS51 played on a raised stage, and Brooklynites young and old milled around and chatted amiably.
If you’ve looked outside recently, you already know that spring has sprung (fingers crossed, no jinxes), and with the blooms on the trees and the warming weather, a number of food festivals celebrating the best of NYC are also fast approaching.
One of the most exciting among them is Queens Taste, the Queens Economic Development Corporation/Queens Tourism Council’s annual foodie blowout. Queens, the largest of the five boroughs, is also one of the most diverse, and Queens Taste exists to highlight what that diversity lends to the Queens culinary scene. In honor of the event’s 11th anniversary and the globe-spanning nature of Queens’ many communities, this year’s theme is the World’s Fair. That means World Fair memorabilia, decorations, and guest veterans of the 1964 World Fair, which took place in Q-Town itself.
With twenty to forty different available botanicals, vermouth is not just some simple martini ingredient - especially if it's vermouth from the Channing Daughters Winery in Long Island. In its debut first year, each of the five variations of Channing Daughters' vermouth were unique to the seasons from which the included botanicals were harvested. The VerVino Vermouth's ability to woo the palate is attributed to its complex set of flavors that expand on an already intricate palate of wine-based flavors.
All next week, the Belgian chocolatiers at Neuhaus will teach classes on how to best decorate and enjoy chocolate eggs. And all this time you never realized you were doing it wrong! Neuhaus will provide each guest with a hand-made chocolate egg, which they can decorate with gianduja, a luxury hazelnut paste, and fill with one of Neuhaus' famous pralines, including black currant, coffee, and fleur de sel.
Guests will also be invited to learn about the history of Neuhaus, and then taste some of their best-selling chocolates. Bubbly will also be provided to wash down the delectables. Those who fall in love with the products can also pick up their many Easter-themed packages at a discount.
What: Egg Decorating at Neuhaus
When: Wednesday, April 16th, Thursday, April 17th, and Friday, April 18th from 7-9pm, and Saturday, April 19th from 12-2pm
Where: Neuhaus, 500 Madison Ave., New York, NY
Reincarnation may not be limited to people and animals; it seems that the late West Village Indian restaurant and bar, Surya, has come to new life in the Upper West Side as Savoury. Chef and owner Lala Sharma (New Dehli's Bukhara, Mughlai, New York’s Surya, and Swagat) opened the doors to Savory at the beginning of April, offering delicately balanced sauces and well-planned ingredient preparation.
Portions are filling and prices affordable with entrees from $16-19. In a neighborhood offering a good amount of vegan and vegetarian cuisine, Savoury includes vegetarian, vegan, and carnivorous options.
General Assembly, the Flatiron restaurant that recently took the place of Hurricane Club, quickly earned some buzz over its inventive cocktails with jalapeno ice cubes and its wide selection of crudité and dip. Well, they're finally expanding their upscale-hearty French-American dining into your lunch hour.
The expanded menu will include a juice selection just as inventive as their cocktails, including a Jalapeno Limeade and a Tom Palmer with black tea and lemon foam. And for those trying to squeeze in some high-end dining on their lunch hour, take a look at the Assembly Lunch, a three-course selection for $32, which includes a crudité and dip or salad, an entrée, and an ice cream or éclair to go.
Toqueville, the Union Square restaurant that focuses on greenmarket fresh ingredients, has a three-course prix-fixe brunch for $68. The menu has a wide variety of dishes in modern preparations with superb ingredients, and it includes such diverse options as grits, sashimi and guinea hen.
1 E 15th St., New York, NY