VOLANTE With an endless list of must-try Manhattan dining destinations, there are a handful that truly stand out where gourmet cuisine and lavish settings await, writes Lola Cristall
Courtesy La Grande Boucherie
Walking into a vast space with two distinct dining rooms evoke separate personalities under one roof: a formal setting and a more casual space. The Group Hospitality’s Emil Stefkov presents La Grande Boucherie (www.boucherieus.com) in New York, luring a crowd of curious diners into a two-storey setting with mosaic flooring, intricately designed glass ceilings, as well as a grandiose arch passageway. Located in the north–south corridor in midtown Manhattan, one of the discreet six-block long alleyways, also uniquely known as 6½th Avenue, the expansive restaurant occupies a little more than half a block, fit for up to 600 people. Velvet ropes lead the way into an immersive space with a brasserie reminiscent of a European scene with a handful of servers, bartenders and sommeliers welcoming a crowd while hurriedly assisting diners.
The launch of La Grande Boucherie was a considerably attentive and rigorous project. Guests are invited to delve behind the scenes into the evolution of the monumental launch in Making La Grande Boucherie, an A9NY Studio documentary, taking viewers on an intimate architectural trip into the thought processes and meticulousness in creating a majestic atmosphere reminiscent of the Belle Époque. Designed by Julien Legeard of the Prestige Group, La Grande Boucherie is both an experience for the eyes and a trip for the senses.
Courtesy La Grande Boucherie
A three-tiered seafood platter, freshly shucked oysters, a traditional French onion soup with delectably melted gruyère cheese and crisp croutons, a tuna and citrus salad, a steak tartare with quail egg, a selection of dry signature meats with an array of sauces, or an oven-roasted branzino with a delicate touch of basil saffron virgin sauce. Each dish is thoroughly thought out and planned, combining taste, flavours and magnificent aroma.
Desserts include their classic crème brûlée, a rich chocolate tart as well as their fresh baked mini-madeleine cakes enriched with butter.
The Dominick Hotel in downtown Manhattan welcomes guests into an elegant and distinct culinary experience at the Vestry (www.vestrynyc.com), a one Michelin star destination. Highly talented and visionary chef Shaun Hergatt creates supremely creative dishes with touches of Asian flair and Italian delight. From the Ritz–Carlton in Sydney, NSW to the chef-de-cuisine at the Ritz–Carlton in New York, he landed at the Setai in Miami as executive chef before venturing out on his own projects and unveiling his ultimate innovative culinary expression.
The quaint and elegant location includes intimate booths, an opulent bar and an overall hospitable ambiance. The tomato coconut soup with shrimp is smooth and delicate with a milky flavour; similarly the spring garlic soup is as buttery and delectable with tones of parsley and quinoa. The Atlantic salmon is accompanied by wakame seaweed and koji sauce, a pungent grain-based marinade that is mainly used for seafood and poultry. For a slightly more subtle yet enhanced flavour, the local black bream is presented with a delicate touch of cilantro pesto and accompanied by a green yuzu kosho-ginger sauce as well as chickweed, green sprouts with immense flavours. For a touch of sweet, the navel orange dessert combines seedless and lighter satsuma mandarin with the bold labour of blood orange to present a mousse with a hint of fruit coulis.
The Vestry also offers a range of cocktails, wines and sakes with a sommelier and bartender prepared to present guests with their desired drinks.
Near the Baccarat Hotel’s entrance in midtown New York, a new door welcomes guests into a culinary escape where traditional Japanese cuisine, with a modern spin, is revealed at the acclaimed Taru (www.tarunyc.com). Taru, translated as a vessel where sake, whiskey and shochu are aged to preserve delectable tastes over time, honours tradition while applying a dash of contemporary twist.
Along with the main dining room, a separate room, Kotaru, invites guests to enjoy executive chef Anthony Inn’s precise culinary creativity while partaking in a fulfilling and delightful culinary experience. Lotus root, edamame, spinach and hijiki seaweed is marinated in a sesame sauce. A cherrywood smoked octopus with nori, hijiki seaweed balanced with hints of apples contains profound bursts of flavours. Each dish explores various tastes including the yamaimo daikon salad that combines radishes with myoga, Japanese ginger, as well as a delicate tang of honey. A grilled whole mackerel with miso, shiso and lemon conveys pungency and a buttery texture. The simplest of ingredients, a whole roasted cauliflower with a goma (sesame) sauce and karasumi (salted mullet roe), provides an explosion of intense textures making is a lovely side dish. The mushroom-kamameshi, fresh-milled Japanese rice, is stirred and served fresh amongst guests to accompany any fish, meat or vegetarian dish. To balance the taste, crunchy pickled vegetables are also served.
The array of offered ingredients primarily derive from Japan, including their selection of fish and grated wasabi.
High-quality ingredients ensure supreme consistencies, textures and tastes. From appetizers to main courses, an endless list of maki, sushi, temaki, nigiri and sashimi are also available, including sea urchin sashimi, salmon nigiri, cucumber maki as well as a rice bowl with a selection of raw fish (taru chirashi don).
From savoury delights to satisfying sweets the hojicha crème caramel bursts with slight bitter notes of tea.
A bit of a Californian escape is unveiled at Monterey (www.montereybrasserie.com) in midtown New York. A two-storey American brasserie, fit to welcome up to 200 guests, its open kitchen, high ceilings and an elongated bar space make a perfect backdrop for celebrations, intimate gatherings or a delectable dining escape.
Dudi Sasson and Simon Oren bring an adventurous and delectable hotspot to the city where the freshest of ingredients, the most hospitable service and an eye-catching ambiance awaits. Culinary Institute of America-trained executive chef James Tracey brings his in-depth experience from the kitchens of craft, Starr Restaurants, and the acclaimed Gramercy Tavern, obtaining his inspiration from local farms and seasonal ingredients.
An extensive raw bar offers Hokkaido scallops with a dollop of fresh ossetra caviar, little neck clams, freshly shucked oysters or uncured tuna tartare with a hint of tomato, a dash of ginger cucumber, crisp vidalia onion and avocado offers a lovely starter before delving into the following courses. For an absolute crustacean delight, the grande plateau with a variety of options including tuna crudo, whole lobster and shrimp is the perfect party starter.
Breads are just as much a celebration with two distinct options available: a puffed sesame lavache with a well seasoned carrot tahini as an accompaniment or the comté and onion bread that tastes almost like a savoury brioche with a hint of cheese and onion, working beautifully well with a chive crème fraîche. Barbecue prawns, in a New Orleans fashion, add a slight touch of spice for an appetizing al-fresco delight; a variety of salads is available including their castelfranco with radicchio, figs and pear with a drizzle of aged sherry vinaigrette.
Main courses range from fish, prime steaks and prime rib with a variety of sauces bordelaise to accentuate the principle ingredients in each dish. Handmade pastas, al dente style, are also available, including a porcini lasagna in a black truffle fonduta or a spaghetti carbonara with an egg yolk to refine the profound taste in the dish.
Monterey’s dessert selections are a feast on their own: the banana foster, served table-side, offers banana caramelized in a sugary rum sauce with candied pecans and a dollop of ice cream; the chocolate soufflé with a grand mariner anglaise is an intense cocoa escape; while the ricotta beignets are simple with a burst of cinnamon and vanilla sugar.
We continue the international gourmet trip and arrive at Goa (www.goa-nyc.com) in Tribeca. Guests are greeted by artist Ankon Mitra’s artwork The Dance of the Peacocks and an æsthetically appealing tree, reminiscent of the century-old banyan in Arambol, Goa, standing tall in the middle of the passageway. The discreet entrance leads guests into a larger and spacious dining room and bar. Restaurateur and chef Hernant Bhagwani offers Goanese flavours and delectable offerings with specifically curated drinks to accompany the array of dishes. Goa is a state located in western India, on the coast of the Arabian Sea, with beautifully sandy beaches and vast rivers surrounding it.
With the Goanese backdrop, the extensive menu offers a range of breads, fritters and rice influenced by the spectacular Indian destination. The paneer bao contributes to the sweet and spicy concept with steamed buns that are generously filled with mango paneer and topped with a sriracha aioli. The Goan-style slaw is a wholesome rendition of coleslaw mixing 16 ingredients together along with green chili and salted star fruit to present a tantalizing dish with a burst of flavours. For a grilled option, a Japanese eggplant is nicely charred and topped with a brush of tamarind sauce to emphasize an exceptional taste. A range of curries are offered with either prawn, fish, pork or lobster and served with a bowl of basmati rice that soaks up the profoundly bold and flavourful base. The fragrant rice subdues the piquant flavours enriched in the broth.
From Canada to New York City, Chef Hernant unveils the serene and captivating state of Goa through an exclusive trip for the senses. •
Lola Cristall is Paris editor of Lucire.
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