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Charlie Palmer Steak

3 East 54th Street
Charlie Palmer Steak 1 American Steakhouses Midtown East

Charlie Palmer has arrived in Manhattan with a vengeance. There is no doubt that his plan was to hit the ground running, and keep on running during the remaining months of 2014. Yes, he had already made a name for himself with Aureole (first on Madison Avenue and now on 42nd Street), but in a matter of minutes he seems to have opened Crimson & Rye, has partnered with the Knickerbocker Hotel, also on 42nd Street, has plans for a restaurant on Third Avenue in the D&D building, and most recently opened Charlie Palmer Steak. It is exhausting just typing this, but I have no doubt that each and every one of his ventures will be a success.

Once home to Rothmann's topnotch steakhouse, Mr. Palmer has decided it is time to bring his own take on the American steak restaurant to New York. The decor has been updated, but it still offers a warm and welcoming atmosphere with incredible food. I can still remember the superb meal that I had in Washington DC when we went with friends to Charlie Palmer a number of years ago; so, it was with great enthusiasm that I made reservations for my family and friends to visit this brand new restaurant on 54th. Our high expectations were met in every way. The food was first-rate, and although I do not indulge in steak, it gave me great pleasure to watch my son and husband savor theirs. But not to worry, I derived tremendous satisfaction from the house salad and a multitude of side dishes that came our way - from a truffle baked potato, mashed potatoes and French fries, to mac and cheese, and always my favorite, creamed spinach - it was an excellent meal.

What ended the evening perfectly was meeting Chef Ryan Lory who stopped by our table to say hello. He told us that he had owned his own bistro on the New Jersey shore, but after Hurricane Sandy found it difficult to regain his momentum. Thus, when Charlie Palmer called, he jumped at the opportunity, and is relishing every moment he gets to spend with this culinary giant.

Charlie Palmer Steak 1 American Steakhouses Midtown East
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More places on 54th Street

Lost Gem
The Neighborhood Playhouse 1 Schools Dance Studios Studios Dance Non Profit Organizations Midtown East

The Neighborhood Playhouse

The Neighborhood Playhouse is both a great community resource and an old-fashioned reminder of the timelessness of great theater. Virtually invisible from the street, the only clue to its existence is a red, unmarked door and a modest sign. Once inside, however, I discovered that this almost one hundred year old building holds within it a proscenium theater, a full-size dance studio, and plenty of dressing rooms and classrooms. What a fascinating tour I was treated to by Emily Duncan, the admissions administrator, where I learned about their history and mission.The lobby, with its shabby elegance, features photos of famous graduates, as well as scenes from plays over the course of the school's history. The top two floors of the building are devoted to a beautiful dance studio with wood floors and soaring ceilings. A lover of dance, I was particularly moved when Emily announced that I was standing in the former domain of dancer and choreographer, Martha Graham, who taught at the Neighborhood Playhouse alongside actor and teacher, Sanford Meisner.I was also enrapt by Christine Cirker, the librarian, who proudly discussed their vast collection of plays and theatre criticism. Incredibly knowledgeable and passionate about the world of theater, she told me that she also teaches classes on script interpretation. Christine went on to explain the playhouse's claim to fame: the Meisner Technique, a method of acting that emphasizes that one should "live truthfully under given imaginary circumstances." Sanford Meisner developed his famous improvisation-based technique at the Playhouse in the mid-1940s, which continues to train actors to this day. It counts among its list of prominent alumni names: Gregory Peck, Robert Duvall and Steve McQueen; and more recently, it has added to its roster, Allison Janney and Chris Noth.The playhouse trains about one hundred students at any given time, seventy-five first-years and twenty-five second-years who have been invited back as a result of a unanimous faculty vote. According to Emily, graduates have an easier time finding work than most aspiring actors due to their alma mater's extensive network of influential writers, directors, and actors. Much of the faculty is closely involved in the theater world, and as Pamela Moller Kareman, the playhouse's executive director, shared, "It's a big leap to become a professional actor; we want people to know that you can do this with your life." And from the time that I spent here, it became apparent that the staff at Neighborhood Playhouse is there to guide and support students every step of the way.

More Steakhouses nearby

Lost Gem
BLT Steak 1 Steakhouses Midtown East

BLT Steak

There are many reasons to dine at BLT Steak, tucked discreetly between The Dorchester and an antique jeweler. Having dined here on varied occasions over the years, I knew visiting with Manhattan Sideways, that we were headed towards something special. As we entered the restaurant, we were greeted warmly by the affable staff and took a seat at one of the dark wood tables. We spoke with John, the Venezuelan maître d', who told us about BLT's secrets for success. "The company feels like family," he said by way of opening, "I've been here for nine years, which is an eternity in the restaurant business." BLT has built a following of regulars who come back repeatedly because they are "infallibly made to feel like they're the only ones in the restaurant." In addition to this impeccable service, the food at BLT is consistently top notch. It is, therefore, not difficult to understand why people keep returning for more. While chatting, the chef prepared a succulent variety of meats, perhaps most famously the enormous Porterhouse steak – a dry-aged masterpiece served with maître d'hOtel butter and a side of roasted garlic. Although meat certainly takes center stage, the restaurant also offers a "sublime" Dover Sole and a Tuna Tartar that, according to John, is the best in the city; "I dare someone to find me a better one," he said. My favorite moment, however, was when the chef presented Yelena, from our team, her first popover. Hailing from Swaziland, she had never encountered this doughy puff of goodness before. I, on the other hand, have had popovers on the top of my list of favorites since I first tried them as a little girl on Long Island. And I can attest to the fact that the ones served at BLT are perfectly prepared.