Located beneath a rental apartment building lies Gotham West Market, a space that is home to a variety of food vendors and a kitchen supply store. The restaurants offer a good variety ranging from American fare to Mexican, Spanish, Japanese, and, of course, a coffee shop.
The interior is spacious with large windows flooding the concrete floors with light. Although only in their infant stages, crowds have already been seeking them out, where both on the weekends and after business hours the Market comes to life. I have enjoyed stopping by here both with friends on a bike ride, or while walking with the Manhattan Sideways interns. On one occasion, the students tried the albondigas (lamb meatballs) from El Colmado, a Spanish eatery, and watched, enthusiastically, as the chef prepared the bone marrow brulee at Cannibal for us to sample and photograph. This dish was certainly a first for Maria and Lauren, and they marveled at how the plate was so beautifully presented with the bone marrow served in the bone on a long plate with two pieces of toast and some greens on the side. They were giggling as they scooped the bone marrow onto the bread and topped it with the lettuce. And as we get ready to launch 45th Street, Choza Taqueria is getting ready to open. In 2017, we were able to return to sample their tacos and tamales.
Gotham West Market has made Hell's Kitchen a dining destination, offering something suitable for every palette and time of day. The Market offers Hell's Kitchen residents – especially those living right upstairs – a great place to come together and enjoy some of New York's notable cuisine.
On a bright afternoon, I gazed through the windows and marveled at this fairly new restaurant. I was enchanted by the decor and had a sense that this was going to be special. I made reservations for four on a weekend evening and had not only a fabulous meal, but also an overall enjoyable experience. White brick, black chairs, and a glowing wooden bar make stepping into Bea feel a bit like going back in time. The dining room features an upright piano and a projector showing black-and-white movies on the wall. Ranging from spinach tagliatelle to pork dumplings, the menu has a variety of dishes, and our group tried many of them. Beginning with tomato soup and the house made ricotta served on toasted bread with rosemary honey and sea salt, we moved on to a pear salad, the spicy lamb meatballs, a mushroom pizza, the English muffin burger and the steak and tomatoes. Enough for everyone to indulge and to walk away feeling very satisfied and ready to be entertained by the outstanding performance, Satchmo, in the Westside Theatre next door. By the time we were leaving, the bar scene had picked up considerably, as many were ordering Bea's playfully named specialty cocktails, such as the "Lavender Monk” and the "Bitter Duchess. ” There is no doubt that this is a restaurant that I will tell many about and continue to frequent myself.
Mediterranean tapas and other specialties complement an extensive wine list from around the world. Wine Escape was opened in 2012 by a Turkish woman, Humeyra Kocak, who had worked in banking for almost twenty-five years and then decided to follow her passion. She and her husband, Dilaver, joined forces with Azman Dayakli, former owner of Turks & Frogs on 11th Street and present owner of the Drunken Horse. The quaint space is small but comfortable, lit by lazily hanging lights. As we chatted with Mike, the bartender, a regular customer walked by and held court from outside the window, answering Mike's questions about her mom in the hospital. Many places claim to be a neighborhood spot, but here the proof is in the pudding... or perhaps in the pinot.
Only in New York can one hear stories of a couple where one grew up on 44th Street, they met in a bar on 43rd, and now have opened their own tiny, but very special bar on 48th. Suzy Darling and Joe Witham are an adorable and, might I add, very talented pair. Suzy trained with Alvin Ailey as a teenager, went on to become a Rockette for eight years, was a back up singer to Bruce Springsteen, and a dancer with Houston Ballet. And while Suzy was strutting across the stage, Joe was singing opera in Oregon, and today, when not at Pocket Bar, he is the captain at a fine restaurant in Manhattan. When I asked how long they had been open, Suzy smiled broadly and responded, "87 days! " In less than three months (they opened at the end of May, 2014), this dynamic duo has managed to spread the word on the street and around town, bringing in many to share in their super friendly, 300 square feet of intimate space. There are no TVs, as Suzy's goal was to make her bar "a nice place for women. " She did not want to be a sports bar but rather as her gay friends suggest, "They opened a gay bar for straight people, but, of course, all are welcome. " The concept is to be an escape from the city and partake in a glass of wine on tap from a boutique vineyard or a beer, both under $10. On any given night, there will be Hot Pockets filled with pepperoni pizza, four cheeses or meatball mozzarella being served. And when I was chatting with Suzy, a new friend in the neighborhood popped in having just returned from a fishing expedition and dropped off some for Suzy to expand her pocket line up - this time with ceviche. Needless to say, she was thrilled and commented, once again, on what a welcoming community she has found.
Nxt Room is intimate and cozy with its painted brick walls, intricately tiled hearth, and shelves of colorful mezcals and whiskey bottles. Victor Medina, the owner of Villanueva, La Pulperia, and Nxt Room, designed the space to feel like visiting a friend’s home for cocktails and conversation, with a little bit of history and learning mixed in. “We kept this space purposely small, ” Medina said. “If you grab a drink or book a tasting here, we want it to feel intimate and friendly. ” Veteran bartender Daniel Villanueva’s mission is simple — create a space dedicated to education and appreciation of the different flavor profiles and origins of mezcal cocktails, added to an equally thoughtful approach to the understanding of whiskey’s complex varieties. “Most people already know about tequila, but they don’t know much about mezcal — which is not just one product, but a huge category of liquor in itself, ” Villanueva said. “Unlike tequila, every mezcal is made from different agave plants, which can be aged anywhere from five or six years to two decades — accounting for the differences in taste and in price from tequila. ”Villanueva has long been preparing for this moment. Working with the La Pulperia team for almost a decade as the general manager for both its previous W46th and present W44th street locations, he’s now thrilled to expand his reach by leading a new program next door. “I’m excited to introduce a completely new concept, ” he said. The small-plate, limited-seating format of the menu (currently featuring six mezcal-based and six whiskey-based cocktails) allows Villanueva to constantly tweak and experiment with new pairings. “We’re going to try new things — for example, here we’re going to pair one of our mezcal cocktails with sushi. We’ll pair another with ceviche. We want every item on the menu to work with every spirit — for both whiskey and mezcal, " Villanueva explained. "When you cure mezcal, you have to be careful in your construction. The idea is to make sure that you can always taste the spirit itself. "Through constant experimentation, he’s worked out exactly which flavors embody the perfect cocktail — one of Nxt Room’s signature beverages features a mezcal made with pomegranate, passion fruit, and burnt orange: “A perfect marriage, ” added Villanueva. This story was adapted from the W42ST article, "Mezcal and Whiskey Raise the Spirits at Hole-in-the-Wall Cocktail Bar NxtRoom. "
Añejo serves up dishes to be paired with one of the eighty different bottles of tequila and mezcal that embrace Mexican cuisine from a fresh perspective. While sipping one of their custom drinks, it was delightful to watch patrons engaging in conversation outdoors along 47th Street with the cheerful sounds of kids playing in the background. As we sampled some of the small plates, we spoke with Ricky Camacho, the Chef de Cuisine. He explained to us that Añejo does not seek to be a traditional Mexican restaurant – instead, it aims to play upon those elements, ingredients, and components that are distinctly Mexican, making dishes that are new but feel familiar. "The menu is modern but approachable. "A bite of the Ahi Tuna Ceviche illustrated Ricky's point to Maria, a Manhattan Sideways team member. She explained to me that while ceviche is generally considered a Peruvian dish (the country that she is from), the flavors of the jalapeño and playful tang of the yuzu orange broth made it clear that this ceviche was in a league all its own. The flavors do not presume to be traditional nor is that the restaurant's goal; they are at once authentic but innovative. Anejo's Executive Chef and former Top Chef contender, Angelo Sosa, has developed a great reputation since opening in 2012. Ricky was quite pleased to tell us that Angelo and four other Top Chef alumni served a four-course dinner at Añejo to raise money for Sandy relief. Angelo's fundraising efforts and resolve to help the victims of Hurricane Sandy shows how intertwined small businesses and the community they serve can be.
Paul Stuart's flagship location commands the southwest corner of Madison Avenue, a 60, 000 square foot retail space dedicated to fine menswear. Established in 1938 by haberdasher Ralph Ostrove - and named after his son - Paul Stuart is committed to revitalizing and updating the classic American style. Continuing on with the family tradition, CEO, Michael Ostrove, explains that Paul Stuart is "an American interpretation of its Anglo roots, " those that stretch to London's famous Savile Row.
Beer Culture opened in the summer of 2013, offering beer, cider, whiskey, and bottled sodas. Customers can come in to pick up a bottle – or growler - of beer to take home, or grab a seat at the bar to chat with the friendly staff while noshing on some charcuterie. The record player behind the bar is usually going and if the owner, Matt Gebhard, and bar manager, Peter Malfatti, are around, they are bound to strike up a conversation and offer to guide patrons through their extensive beer selection. The beers are organized by region. The first door of their huge, glass-front fridge is full of beers from New York State, while the second is full of east coast beers, and the third and fourth is full of central and west coast beers. A bit further back into the room is their international fridge, proudly boasting selections from the UK, France, and three shelves worth of Belgian beers. For patrons who just want a nice, cold, familiar beer, grandpa's fridge is the place to go. Customers often mistake the old Kelvinator across from the bar as a prop and are always surprised when they open it up and realize that it works and that they recognize all of the brands inside of it. Matt included grandpa's fridge because he thinks that there is a place for all beers (except lite ones, which are not sold on the Beer Culture premises) and that some brands hold emotional value for customers. True to its name, the beers in the old Kelvinator are those that Matt had seen in his own grandfather's fridge growing up. Matt's first true exposure to beer and its culture was during a year he spent studying abroad in Belgium. When he came back home to upstate NY, Matt was nineteen and decided to pursue his newfound passion by working in a local Belgian brewery. He remained here for a few years until he met Peter, his future bar manager, who was living in Rochester, NY. Before opening their own place, Matt came to Manhattan and worked in a Belgian bar in Midtown. Although he enjoyed it, Matt told us that he wanted to do things his own way and fulfill his vision of what a bar should be. The bar that these two terrific guys opened is one that is dedicated to the simple, comfortable and unpretentious beverage that they adore. Nestled between Eighth and Ninth Avenue in a residential part of 45th Street, Beer Culture, is a hybrid bar and bottle shop offering its customers over 500 different types of beer. Although at the time of this write-up, Beer Culture had been around for less than a year, both Matt and Peter already feel like part of the block. As Matt stated, "We pride ourselves in being an establishment of beer nerds, not beer snobs. "
After eleven years in her Noho location, Executive Chef and Food Network star Alex Guarnaschelli opened Butter in the Cassa Hotel, a Midtown twin to her well-known restaurant. Shaped by Guarnaschelli's own travels and time spent working abroad, the attractive dark wood restaurant with comfortable booth seating, is American but with the requisite global touches and ingredients expected of fine dining. When Chef Guarnaschelli isn't filming, she is in the kitchen, on the line, adding her fine touch into every aspect of the cooking. As members of her staff shared with us, Alex is dedicated to bringing fresh and simple ingredients together in beautifully crafted dishes. On a rare and special night out with just my husband and daughter, I could not pass up the opportunity to bring my butter-loving girl to this dining experience. Since she has always considered the dairy treat to be its own food group, I had the highest hopes for the meal - particularly the bread basket - which did not disappoint. The warm Pullman-style rolls with the house-made butters (a plain with a hint of sour cream for richness, and an herb that was light and lovely) were out of this world. All three of us agreed we could leave satisfied just from that - and a spicy cocktail, of course (the Ghost Margarita) But we powered ahead sharing the burrata salad. The creamy burrata with garden-fresh tomatoes was divine and the ribeye steaks that my husband and daughter ordered were cooked perfectly and sat atop smashed purple potatoes. And, as a vegetarian, I always keep an eye out for restaurants working to develop unique, hearty main courses. The charred coconut milk-soaked cauliflower was much appreciated. We finished things off, in case one thought we had already indulged ourselves sufficiently, with the raspberry beignets accompanied by a vanilla dipping sauce. If the name of this restaurant alone does not have one's mouth watering, I am sure that it is now!