Keens Chophouse/Steakhouse, New York City, 5/19/18

exterior
exterior

Keens Chophouse is a large, dark place with closely set tables and the low ceiling is covered with old smoking pipes.  The dark walls are covered with photos, plaques and other stuff.  There is no music in the background but so many people are jammed in there talking you wouldn’t notice.  Tables had white clothes and napkins.   It has a clubby feel, with lots of tourists and groups of people celebrating something.  Service is friendly, efficient and helpful and the pacing of the meal was great.   Continue reading

Eleven Madison Park (update), New York City, 5/19/18

exterior
exterior

It’s been several years since we visited Eleven Madison Park, a 3 star Michelin, because their focus seemed to shift to an emphasis on theater over taste.  Recent reviews indicated that there had been a new change in philosophy and I agree that that is the case.  There’s a lot more taste and less gimmick to their meal.  It’s not all gone but what’s left is okay because underneath is a foundation of flavor.  Also they re-did the dining room about 4 months ago and it is brighter with much more comfortable seating in a rich blue velvet.  They changed the bar set up also, so the staff no longer line up on the wall and watch your every move, which I found off-putting.  There is some nice background music, high ceilings and lovely large flower arrangements to enhance your experience.  Tables have good space between them and are set with fine linens.  Service is friendly and not too formal but very attentive, now without being intrusive.  It is an 8 course tasting menu only with choices on several of the courses (same at lunch and dinner).  There are no supplements but they do offer wine pairings and do give you a printed version of your menu when you are through.  The pacing and portion control of the menu are very good.   Continue reading

Atera, New York City, 5/18/18

entrance
entrance

Atera is made up of 12 seats at a u-shaped bar surrounding an open kitchen.  There is an additional table in the back for a group of 6.  Chef Ronny Emborg was in the kitchen with several other chefs but most of the interaction is with the service staff who are a delightful bunch.  The chefs presented and described the dishes but the kitchen doesn’t have much banter.   Lots of good smells greet you when you enter the room as well as old rock music and lowered lighting.  Wood walls and ceiling are matched with dark curtains – all of which help dampen sound – give the room a cozy yet elegant feel.  There is very little noise in the room and conversations tended to be hushed and private throughout the evening.   It is a surprise tasting menu only, a copy of which is given to you when you leave.   Two seatings are offered every night at this 2 star Michelin restaurant which nicely scales the portion sizes of the 18 course menu.   Continue reading

The Grill, New York City, 5/18/18

entrance
entrance

The Grill is in the Seagram Building in the space previously occupied by the Four Seasons Restaurant.  It is a large second floor room surrounded by windows covered with sheer curtains and beautiful wood walls.  The brown of the wood is matched by the carpet and reddish tinted brown upholstery of the seating.  Some of the seating is on low sofa like benches matched with comfortable chairs on the other side of the table.  Waitstaff are formally dressed and nicely spaced tables are draped with heavy white clothes.  It all contributes to an elegant clubby feel.  A beautiful display of fruits, flowers, cakes and vegetables covered a table at the entry.  The menu is not huge but does offer a couple special items at lunch, but otherwise offers many things that are available for dinner.  Everything is very high quality with a price to match.  Service was excellent, friendly and helpful.  It is worth a trip just to see the room but the food is also wonderful.  They offer an extensive selection of cocktails and do a good job with them.   Continue reading

Momofuku Ko (update), New York City, 5/5/18

entrance
entrance

It’s been a couple years since Frankie and I visited Ko, a 2 Star Michelin restaurant and they are still a place worth a visit if you’re in town.   A few cosmetic changes include the entry now being a different door so that you enter into a segregated bar area and then walk through to the dining room.  Still a large U-shaped bar around an open kitchen. The glassed in cabinets on one side seemed fuller, holding lots of aging meats and vegetables. Fairly loud rock music plays in the background and service is friendly and helpful, but there is limited interaction with the cooking staff.  No menu is given for the surprise tasting that all guests have, but one is presented at the end of the meal. They nicely offer a warm wet cloth before you start your meal which is thoughtful as several first bites are finger food.   Continue reading

Raoul’s Restaurant, New York City, 5/5/18

exterior
exterior

Raoul’s is a medium sized place that is filled with interesting things and closely packed tables.  In the back room there are some booth seats and the walls are filled with photos and paintings.  In the front room there is a good sized bar with stools as well as some small tables that take advantage of bench seating.  The lighting is pretty dark, the ceiling is tin, jazzy music is in the background and the tables are covered in white clothes.  There are windows to the street but it doesn’t add much natural light.  It has the cozy look and feel of a place that’s been there a long time.  Service was relaxed, helpful and friendly.  They made you feel really welcome to be there.  It is a fairly small menu with some specials posted on a blackboard way in the back.   Continue reading

Blue Hill at Stone Barns, Pocantico Hills, 5/4/18

entrance
entrance

Blue Hill at Stone Barns is located about a 20 minute train ride and 10 minute taxi ride from NYC.  Blue Hill opened this location in 2004 based on the satellite operation in the Village of NYC (one star) that opened in 2000.  It is a surprise tasting menu only and we were told that it does vary between tables.  No written menu is provided at dinner but they promised to email me one which they actually did, however it didn’t contain a lot of detail, which you will see at the end of this article.   The large dining room had a barrel vaulted ceiling, well spaced tables and a massive table of flowers in the center of the room.  On one end of the room is a huge mural that about spans the width of room.  It was originally a dining room for the Rockefeller family in the 1920’s.  This building was where the cows were kept. Lighting is nice at the beginning when much natural light pours into the room but as the evening wears on the candle only lighting makes photography difficult.  The portion control is good but the pacing is uneven.   Continue reading