- Theresa Downs
New York, New York....Wine By Appointment Discovers The Big Apple
Wine By Appointment was lucky enough to spend time in New York City (largely Manhattan) during early Spring and Summer last year. We had an amazing time, sampling the local fare, visiting some truly inspirational wine bars and taking in the sites. Some of our favorites…
Russian Tea Room
Everyone visiting New York should include the iconic Russian Tea Room on their must-see list. For over ninety-one years, the Russian Tea Room has graced the West side of Manhattan (150 W 57th Street now) and been the place to go for celebrities, locals and tourists alike. The striking décor is breath-taking from the eye catching red leather banquets to the 24-carat gold ceiling and amazing works of art that cover the walls. Despite it’s over the top ambiance, It is surprisingly cozy, and the perfect place to stop in for a cup of tea for respite from the brisk New York chilly spring, or, to sample their amazing borscht in the opulent atmosphere. It’s a real treat and harks back to another time in New York City history…
Going in a totally different direction, literally, we trekked over to the East Village for a visit to Rosemary’s at 18th Greenwich Avenue. Featuring Italian cuisine in a modern setting with a relaxed casual vibe, we enjoyed glasses of some of our favorite Italian wines while munching our way through the spectacular olives. We experienced the melt-in-your-mouth “Roast Chicken For Two” entree and highly recommend it…well worth the wait. Truly, Rosemary’s was an exceptional delight.
Empire Steak House
Sometimes, there’s nothing like a good steak and Empire Steak House amply delivers. Great traditional fare in absolutely the quintessential New York restaurant. A lot of fun for uninhibited meat consumption! We went to the West Side restaurant (257 W 54th Street), which is just a hop to the Theater District.
Trattoria Dell'Arte located at 900 7th Avenue, New York, New York is a gem featuring an extensive antipasta bar, along with great pasta and salad dishes. What’s almost as captivating, is the interior walls of the restaurant decorated with over-sized sculptures and drawings with a wall gallery of famous Italian noses. Designed to inspire interesting dinner conversation!
Brasserie Cognac is fun!! Even though you know you’re sitting in Mid-town Manhattan (963 Lexington Avenue), somehow you feel you’re sitting in a café in St. Germain district in Paris. Serving traditional brasserie fare, it’s a delightful way to spend an evening if you’re pining for France…or even if you’re not. The escargot is particularly great!
In the mood for drink after work or after a hard day of siteseeing? PJ Clark’s can accommodate any one’s thirst. PJ Clark’s has a number of locations in Manhattan (we went to the 250 Vesey Street location). Very popular, the restaurant offers an amazing raw bar with terrific oyster and fries. Be prepared for a little jostling (it is very popular but well worth facing the crowds).
Probably the pinnacle of our trip in Manhattan was our dinner at Le Bernardin at 155 51st West Street . Starting off with a sublime martini in the exquisite lounge, we moved shortly to the main dining room to enjoy the Prix Fix menu with wine pairing….lobster, oyster, crab, scallops…it was truly a memorable evening.
Benoit is one of my favorite restaurants in the world, let alone New York. The restaurant is located at 60 W. 55th Street in Manhattan. With a warm and inviting atmosphere, guests can sample the restaurant’s amazing bistro dishes. An acclaimed Alain Decasse restaurant, it manages to satisfy the cravings of the most fervent Francophile. The wine list is amazing too. This is one restaurant that we put on our list for each New York visit.
And, last but certainly not least in my litany of terrific New York restaurants, is La Grenouille, located at 3 E. 52nd Street in Manhattan, La Grenouille is the epitome of elegant dining. Diners are treated to French delights while gazing at the most beautiful flower and plant creations. The bar is cozy and welcoming for a pre or post dinner drink. This is our special occasion restaurant, and it never fails to thoroughly enchant and delight.
We had the opportunity to visit some amazing wine bars, because, of course, we’re all about wine.
Morrell Wine Bar
Morrell Wine Bar is an institution, featuring an amazing collection of wine. Originally a wine store, it moved after 67 years to its current location at 1 Rockefeller Plaza. Drop in to sample over 75 different wines available by the glass. A wonderful opportunity to be adventuresome and sample wines you’re never heard of or know little about.
The Monkey Bar
Once I read about the Monkey Bar, I knew we’d have to pay a visit. Steeped in a rich history, the Monkey Bar opened during the Great Depression attracting the theatrical crowd with its bawdy piano acts and copious amounts of booze. Think Ava Gardner and Tallulah Bankhead and Tennessee Williams. Located in the Hotel Elysee on East 54th Street between Madison and Park Avenue, it’s an easy stop after a busy afternoon of shopping. Featuring an elegant, but unpretentious décor with an amazing mural depicting scenes of yesteryear, you can order a Manhattan and almost hear Frank Sinatra crooning in the background. We had pasta and burgers, which would be hard to beat anyplace. It was a really fun way to soak up a little of the past.
Sofia Wine Bar
We also paid a visit to Sofia Wine Bar, now one of my must-visit places when planning a trip to New York. Located at 242 E50th Street #A, the small but incredibly charming restaurant features pizza and more difficult to get Italian wine. We’re not big pizza lovers, but the Margherita pizza soon had us reconsidering our pizza stance. Amazingly fresh with a super crisp crust… together with a glass of Brunello made the evening complete.
Corkbuzz Wine Studio
Corkbuzz Wine Studio should be on every sommelier’s list to visit. While they have a number of different locations throughout Manhattan, we visited their flagship store at 13 E 13th Street (Union Square). This is a place where I’d definitely take wine classes. All types of wine are available (even blind tasting flights) with helpful staff to make excellent suggestions depending on your palate. Definitely worth at least one visit.
Flute Champagne Bar
If you like bubbles, and frankly, who doesn’t, Flute Champagne Bar will have the perfect glass to satisfy your cravings. Located at 205 W. 54th Street, it’s a place to stop off for a quick flute before the theater or afterwards, to savor a glass of sparkling at your leisure. Featuring sparkling from various locale’s, it’s a fun place to relax before or after dinner.
Aldo Sohm Wine Bar
Serious wine drinkers must pay a visit to Aldo Sohm Wine Bar located at 151 West 51st Street, across the way from Le Bernadin. Patrons have over 40 different wines to choose by the glass to pair with delicious small bites. Very casual, relaxed atmosphere (although very popular), it is definitely worth a stop.
So this concludes our musings about the many wonderful moments we had in New York last year making us very eager for a return trip.