Pondicheri 1 Bakeries Indian Flatiron Tenderloin

"We put a lot of thought and love into our cocktails," Ajna Jai, the daughter of the owner, Anita Jaisinghani, proudly shared with me when we sat down for our conversation. And what better way to begin a meal than with a Madras (chili-infused tequila, rum, lime, vanilla, mango and mace), a Maid's Mantra (gin, lime, cucumber, sugar, cilantro and chili), or an E 100 Sour (sherry, lemon, ginger syrup, turmeric and egg white).

Having dined here previously, I knew that not only are the drinks amazing, but so too are their unique Indian dishes. I would have dinner at Pondicheri every week, if given the opportunity. With an emphasis on healthy eating and just the right amount of unique spices, the team behind the open kitchen are continuously experimenting with new ideas, as well as utilizing the recipes from Chef Anita's award-winning restaurant in Houston.

I was stunned to find out from Ajna that Pondicheri was the first tenant in the building in over thirty years. "I picked it and I am very proud of my decision," Ajna revealed to me. Ajna went on to tell me that her mother was contemplating opening a new restaurant in another city, but Ajna was already living in Manhattan, so she was able to convince her mom to let her scout out the perfect location. As an abandoned building, the space needed a lot of work; however, Ajna's vision was to keep it as natural as possible - "to allow the skeleton to be as close to home as I could." Ajna said that they worked to clean up the original tile floors, to design the restaurant around the large, striking columns, and to allow the brick walls to be exposed.

When I asked Ajna how she came to run Pondicheri, she responded matter-of-factly, "It fell into my lap, quite honestly." Ajna had grown up in the business. She was born in Canada, but when the family moved to Texas, her mom - who is originally from India - decided to open the high end restaurant, Indika, and shortly after, a more accessible dining spot, Pondicheri. "In Manhattan, we have created a mix of the two," Ajna said.

Ajna moved to New York in 2010 to pursue a career in acting. When her mom was looking to hire a manager for the new restaurant in 2016, it made perfect sense for Ajna to be this person. The agreement, however, is that if she has an audition or a shoot, then someone else will cover for her, allowing her to pursue her other passion. Despite having chosen to work in two of the most challenging professions in the city, there is no doubt in my mind that this young, beautiful woman will be successful in both careers.

I live close by, and so I constantly walked past the building that I knew would soon house Pondicheri. With eager anticipation, during the summer of 2016, I would knock on the door only to learn it would be a few more days. Initially, the beautiful, vast space offered breakfast and lunch served from the counter placed up front. Enticing eggs, pancakes, home-baked muffins and a variety of specialties were on the Indian-focused menu. It was only a short time later that the team added a full service dinner menu with seating throughout their stunning space.

I have now tried the appetizer, Khandvi, several times - it might be my favorite dish. With its pinwheel shape made with chickpeas and interior made from coconut, cashew, sesame and spices, it has been a real crowd pleaser, not only for me, but, according to Ajna, for many others, too. The roasted beet soup, sporting a creamy texture, was splendid. But it was the two round, lightly fried paneer balls that sat on the side of the bowl that were the show stoppers for me. As I watched the kitchen staff tenderly preparing them, I did not realize that they would accompany the soup. The server suggested that I crush the balls into the bowl so as to give it a bit of texture. It was a great concept, however, I simply wanted to savor each little nugget on its own.

The Thalis platters are not only presented beautifully, but they allow diners to have a few nibbles of a variety of different dishes from the kitchen. This can include the beet soup, crispy okra (always at the top of my list), sweet potato peanut samosa and a variety of other intriguing meat and seafood choices. In addition, there are large plates offered that invite people to share either a vegetable platter or one filled with lamb or seafood.

My strong suggestion is to leave room for dessert. There are a number of scrumptious choices, including a rotating Mithai Tasting of Indian sweets, and my dessert of choice, the spiced chocolate meringue with cinnamon, creme anglaise and a Valrhona chocolate sauce on top.

Ajna was eager to convey to me that at Pondicheri, you can eat Indian food on a regular basis. "It does not have to be a destination." She hopes that people will stop by and splurge on their baked goods, and even an Indian version of fries. "If you are going to eat a cookie, eat it from Pondicheri, it is the best quality," she proclaimed.

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Nobel Printing Inc. 1 Printing and Copying Chelsea Flower District Tenderloin

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“By accident, ” answered Olga Blanco when I asked her how she got her start in the printing business. Her husband started Nobel Printing in 1979, and Olga took over a short while later when he became ill. “I learned and I kept going, ” she smiled, remembering a time when the business was new to her. She, in turn, has taught her son, who works for a printing company in Florida. Olga shared with me that when her son's business decided to use the traditional printing press in an effort to distinguish themselves from others, his knowledge of the machine lead to a promotion. “No one else knows how to use these, ” she gushed, “so they increased his pay. ”Originally from Columbia, Olga journeyed to the States in 1969 at the age of seventeen. Since living here, she has seen a lot of changes, many of which have had an negative impact on her custom printing company. “Everything is digital these days, ” she rationalized, "And everyone thinks they are a designer. ” With so many people in possession of a computer and the means to make their own digital copies, her fears are not unwarranted. Topped off with rising rents, Olga is not sure her business will operate for longer than a few more years. Indeed, she has seen many others pushed out of the neighborhood for similar reasons. “The real estate business is hungry for money, ” she said, shaking her head. Despite the obstacles, Olga remains quite confident in the product, itself. She happily deals solely in custom printing, taking on any job no matter the size and “creating something beautiful. ” When I visited in the summer of 2016, Olga was working on a wedding order of 2000 invites and could not conceal her passion for the project. She showed me her early drafts, pulling out the quality card stock and brushing her fingertips over a soft design that depicted a tree just in bloom. There is no replacement for “that human touch. ”

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Between the Bread 1 Caterers Breakfast Event Planners American Chelsea

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Jon Eisen is not only one of the partners of Between the Bread and its director of strategic growth, but he is also heir to one of the pioneers of the venture, which has delivered sandwiches to office workers since 1979. Ricky Eisen, Jon’s mother and the company’s president - who was born on the outskirts of Tel Aviv - decided to use large-scale catering to bring healthy meals to her clients in a more efficient way. Jon claims that the result was the first catering company in New York City. Ricky’s idea to use only healthy and local ingredients proved to be a pivotal moment in the way catering to corporate clients is done today. In 2013, Ricky put her son in charge of the retail and café side of the business, which up until that point had been secondary to catering. Recognizing the recent popular trend of eating healthy and local, Jon quickly began streamlining the production process, including installing digital cash registers to track customer orders. This lead to a doubling of revenue. His success prompted Ricky to name him partner in 2015. Despite these changes, the core of the business is still the same: using organic, fresh, and seasonal to serve “high quality meals. ” And to hear it from Jon and the head of brand strategy, Victoria Rolandelli, this core seems to resonate well with customers. Between the Bread opened two more locations in October 2015 and has plans to have a total of twelve locations throughout the city. Located in the Chelsea Terminal Warehouse, the 27th Street Between the Bread is in a massive space that was previously an unloading station for trains. In the not-too-distant future, once Hudson Yards is complete, it is Jon's hope that they will become the "new Chelsea Market. "

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Inday 1 Indian Flatiron Tenderloin

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Junoon 1 Indian Brunch Tenderloin Flatiron

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Tourists from India and native New Yorkers, alike, are excited to meet executive chef, Vikas Khanna. He is well regarded in both places for his cookbooks and television appearances. Junoon is an upscale and elegant restaurant. Entering through a grand, statue-filled lobby and reflecting pool, the large main dining area feels almost regal. This makes sense, as the lounge connected to the restaurant is called Patiala — named for an Indian prince famous for his extravagant parties…and it is just as classy as the restaurant, with couch-like swings and a beautiful bar serving fiery cocktails made with spices from Junoon’s very own underground Spice Room. The open kitchen allows visitors to be closer to the chefs, and to whiff the exotic, impeccable dishes they put together. In the short amount of time that we spent at Junoon, we enjoyed piri-piri shrimp served over citrus salad with avocado foam, and paneer gnudi served with sauteed spinach. Both dishes were artfully presented, and were heaven to taste. Inside the kitchen, we observed the chef hand-flatten a roll of naan dough and press it to the inside of one of Junoon’s clay-pot tandoor — watching the dough rise and crisp up in just over a minute’s time was fascinating, almost as good as eating the fresh naan with a drizzle of oil and a dash of salt. The restaurant and bar at Junoon were conceived by restaurateur Rajesh Bhardwaj as a modern take on authentic Indian food from all over his country, and the outcome is certainly impressive.