Saturday, June 22, 2013

NYC: Top Notch Restaurants

Yes, I know, I am a bit of a foodie, and sometimes feel like I am always traveling for a good meal. So when I was in New York City with my mom, it gave me the perfect excuse to take her out to some places that I always wanted to try. First up is Le Bernardin. I had read about Eric Ripert for years, and always had seen him as one of the great chefs in the US. I was thrilled to learn that my fiancĂ© had arranged for a table at Eric's restaurant. 

We went for lunch, so it was less formal then dinner might be. The restaurant itself felt fairly formal, the staff very proper and the salutations kind, yet not overbearing.  Upon seating, the sommelier greeting our table to discussing champagnes available, and then returned to discuss the wine pairing for the tasting menu that we had selected. A very affable and knowledgeable staff is always a good first impression for me. 

The restaurant was filled with businessmen and women as well as the elite social crowd of New York City. The tasting menu did not disappoint. I opted for the monkfish because I felt like if anyone were to create this ugly fish into a masterpiece it would be Eric Ripert. True to his reputation, he delivered.

Everything from start to finish was impeccable, especially the tableside visit from the chef himself. The slightly bashful and always intriguing Chef Ripert happily greeted us to ask how everything was. The obvious answer: outstanding!

If you have a little cash to spare and want a top notch experience, don't miss Le Bernardin. You will not be disappointed. (Le Bernardin, 155 W. 51st St.)

Another one of my favorite restaurants is Apiary. I found Apiary when I was reading up on Scott Bryan, the former chef of three-star, Veritas. He has always been one of the chefs I followed because not only is he an interesting guy, but is known to be a no nonsense chef who cooks with his head down and takes an ordinary dish and turns it into something completely outside of the box (You can read about him in Anthony Bourdain's "Kitchen Confidential" in the chapter 'Life of Bryan'). I'm not talking about Wiley Dufresne outside of the box, as in cooking with dry ice and turning calves liver into caviar. I'm talking about outside of the box in a way that you can truly appreciate (and get your belly full) - The kind of food you can't believe you had never thought of before, the simple foods that you can no longer think of in a different way now - only Scott Bryan's way.

Apiary is a non-pretentious modern restaurant tucked into 3rd Avenue, near the theater district. It's tasteful modern decorations go well with the less formal & more down-to-earth staff.

We opted for the chef's tasting menu and chef Bryan sent out several intermezzos for us to try between courses. The endearing chef came out to chat with my mom and I and it was such a treat. Scott's a little shy, but super sweet. My mom mentioned a tattoo that was half showing under the sleeve of his chef coat, and he nearly talked her into heading to Jersey after work to get some ink. Funny guy!

All the talk of the chef; I don't want to leave out the food. Great tasting menu, reasonably priced, I would even say it was a steal. I sent several people there afterwords and they have also thought it was a great deal for the money, especially with the pedigree of the chef preparing it! (Apiary, 60 3rd Ave.)

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