I am a huge fan of Todd English - I have never had a disappointing meal in any of his restaurants both in Manhattan and other cities. Believe it or not, once I discovered CaVa, I returned four different times in only a few weeks, with the sole intention of ordering the Carpaccio de Betteraves. Just on the splendid presentation alone, I became an immediate fan. Then working my way through the red beet carpaccio, field greens and pistachio-goat cheese with a white balsamic vinaigrette, I was in heaven... but wait, there was a surprise underneath. It was a panisse, a fried chickpea flour disc that was similar to the cherry on top of a Sundae, although in a reverse presentation. Located in the Intercontinental, CaVa is by no means a typical hotel restaurant. The brasserie is stunning with a large bar, comfortable booths and an excellent menu for any meal of the day.
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. "
Velvet the color of cranberries glides across the chairs and banquettes, and a red carpet leads to a prodigious portrait of the illustrious Lillie Langtry. A tribute to this quintessential celebrity, Lillie's Victorian Establishment is a restaurant and bar that rewinds time. Genuine photos, antiques, and political cartoons line the walls highlighted by stained glass from Milan, a four-hundred-year-old clock, and decorative carvings from Ireland. This historic collection commemorates the life of Lillie, an actress from the British Isle of Jersey who came to New York in the late nineteenth century to become a Broadway star.
I can attest to the immediate success of Carmine's on the Upper West Side of Manhattan in the early nineties as my family and friends stood on the lines to get in on a number of occasions. Owner Artie Cutler's concept of serving large, family-style portions to guests, in a warm, friendly atmosphere connected with diners immediately. It did not take Mr. Cutler long to realize that he had a success on his hands and that it was time for expansion. In 1992, the theater district had another hit in Times Square, in the form of a grand, traditional Italian restaurant.
Teddy Roosevelt, Amelia Earhart, and Charles Lindberg are among the noteworthy clients that E. B. Meyorwitz & Dell has been crafting “made-to-measure” frames for since 1875. Today, be it in their New York, London or Paris shops, one can still be fitted for a pair of the same classy, high quality spectacles.
Manuel Uzhca's story reads like a fairytale. He came to New York from Ecuador when he was seventeen with absolutely nothing to his name and spent time as a dishwasher in a number of restaurants. He met Jean-Claude Baker when both were working at Pronto, an Italian restaurant on the Upper East Side. In 2011, Jean-Claude offered Manuel the position of manager at Chez Josephine — little did Manuel know that only four years later, the restaurant would belong to him. Manuel still recalls the day that Jean-Claude asked him to bring in his passport. Confused by his request, Manuel chose not to comply. Jean-Claude teased Manuel by saying, “If you don't bring your passport, that means you don't want my restaurant. ” The next day, still perplexed, Manuel presented his passport. Jean-Claude marched the two of them to the bank and added Manuel's name to his account, giving him permission to sign checks for the restaurant. Shortly after, Jean-Claude announced that he was retiring, but Manuel did not take him seriously. Jean-Claude then told him that he was leaving and insisted, “I won't be back. ” Jean-Claude proceeded to his attorney's office, changed his will, and went off to the Hamptons. He called Manuel to make sure that everything was in order at the restaurant, and then, very sadly, Jean-Claude took his own life. “I did not believe I owned the place, not even when they showed me the will, ” Manuel declared. Jean-Claude was the last of the children adopted into singer-dancer Josephine Baker’s “Rainbow Tribe, ” created with a mission of racial harmony. He lived and performed with her for a time before making his way to New York and eventually opening this restaurant. It quickly became a haven for Broadway clientele, known for its charming and colorful ambiance as much as its haute cuisine. Since taking over in 2015, Manuel has continued running this famed French restaurant exactly how Jean-Claude left it — paying homage to Josephine Baker, who captured the Parisian imagination in the 1920s and did not let go for decades.
Jose Meirelles began Le Marais (its name connoting the well-known Jewish enclave in Paris) in 1995 after being urged by a friend to consider opening up a kosher steakhouse. "There weren't any at the time" Jose told us in his thick Portuguese accent, "especially in Midtown - my friend thought that this would bring some new excitement to the kosher world. "Jose and his butcher, Dominique Courbe, seem like an odd couple to have a kosher restaurant as neither is Jewish. Preparing to open an upscale kosher eatery that did not serve pork or seafood, and prepared particular cuts of meat became "an interesting challenge" to Jose after his first brasserie's success, Les Halles, on Park avenue. And, while Dominique Courbe learned his trade from his father, Meirelles never set out to be a chef/owner. Beginning his career as a banker in Portugal, Meirelles realized his passion for cooking after taking a yearlong sabbatical in America and being forced to work at odd jobs in between traveling. Soon thereafter, he enrolled at the French Culinary Institute, here in Manhattan, where he further honed his craft before opening Les Halles in the 1990s. A butcher shop fills the front of Le Marais, welcoming new customers with its glass case of aged kosher cuts. Expanding its role in kosher dining, Le Marais offers a meat selection separate from the restaurant itself. This focus on the quality of the meat continues into the kitchen, where Meirelles prepares dishes with simplicity. Jose recommends the steak-frites as representative of the restaurant's culture - skillfully prepared without unnecessary complication. As his slogan reads: "A rare steak house well done. "
“We do not try to be trendy. We are here for the long run, and that has always been a success for us, ” said Paul Denamiel, the owner and chef of Le Rivage, a veritable institution on Restaurant Row. His father, Marcel, opened the restaurant with a vision for transporting patrons to his childhood home in the south of France. Marcel was raised in a centuries-old house in a secluded village within the Pyrenees mountains. His mother undoubtedly sowed the seeds of his culinary passion, as she did all of her cooking in their hearth, with a traditional cauldron, grill, and bread oven placed over the wood fire. “Everything she produced for the table, she had a hand in nurturing and growing, ” Paul said, explaining that his grandmother kept her own rabbits, pigs, and chickens and maintained an extensive garden. Paul himself was able to indulge in this idyllic lifestyle and be inspired by her expertise, as his father made a point of closing Le Rivage once a year to take the family on a month-long sojourn to France. “A lot of my recipes are aimed at recapturing the flavors that my grandmother introduced me to. ” Consequently, Paul describes his bistro’s cuisine as “French comfort food, ” which includes a rich boeuf bourguignon, coq au vin, and a simple ratatouille. It seemed inevitable that Paul would become a chef, not only due to his grandmother’s influence, but because all of his family members wound up in the food business. His father had several restaurants in New York, his mother had a creperie upstate, and most of his relatives had their own eateries in the U. S. “This was bred into me. ” As such, when Marcel was looking for a successor to lead Le Rivage, Paul, who had an “intensive education” in traditional French cuisine, was the natural choice. “My job was to bring in new recipes while staying true to the terms of the classic French style, from the food, to the decor, to the music. ”After decades of devotion to his businesses, Marcel continues to visit Le Rivage, as well as several other French establishments for which he is a landlord. “My father always said the restaurant came first. That is how you build a legacy, because the restaurant will be there long after we are not. ”
Although we did not dine at Pergola, we had the pleasure of speaking to some of the long-time staff members who were eager to share the history of this simple, quiet French gem. Having celebrated their fiftieth anniversary in 2013, Christian, the son of the original owners, continues serving his guests in the same style that his parents envisioned when they opened in 1963. Jacques and Marie Ponsolle came to New York from their village in the French Pyrenees and were able to recognize their dream in Pergola Des Artistes. The restaurant reflects their passion for their homeland in both the decor and the menu options. Despite its proximity to the theater district, and the many tourists who wander in for a good French meal, I think what impressed me the most was the continuous flow of diners coming in at lunch hour who told me that they have been eating here for decades and would not think of going anywhere else!
One would not think, walking into Gleason’s Tavern, that one were in the middle of Times Square. The Manhattan Sideways team were quite surprised to find Gleason’s to be a welcomed reprieve from flashing neon lights and electronic billboards. Gleason’s is a traditional bar that serves breakfast, as well as pub fare for both lunch and dinner, and craft cocktails. The bar is intimate, with an event space in the back that can accommodate a small party. The bar is the fourth establishment from owners Mike Droney, Tom Cames, and Colm McGuickian. Unlike their other bars, Punch Restaurant, Wined Up Wine Bar, and Cassidys, Gleason’s is not known for specialized food or signature cocktails. As Tom says, “A cheeseburger is a cheeseburger and a beer is a beer, but it's the people that make a bar. "The owners worked in tandem with the newly opened Shocard Hotel, which is adjacent to Gleason’s, to bring this project into fruition. Black and white photographs of classic New York City line the walls, transporting visitors back to a different age that people today only get to experience in movies or stories. When Tom, Mike, and Colm were deciding on this location for their new bar, they could not resist being a part of a project to restore aspects of vintage 1970s Manhattan. According to Tom, “It takes you back a bit to old seventies Times Square, but with a new day twist. ” Both the hotel and Gleason's want to reestablish what has been lost in the Times Square community. Tom mentioned that the bar in the center of the room was built to be a noticeably lengthy fifty feet long so that customers from around the globe can more easily communicate. The staff is friendly and eager to talk when someone new walks through the door: Everyone is a part of the mission to make Gleason’s a place that anyone can call theirs. The bartender on duty, Chris Trindade, attested to the laid back feel as he poured an Negroni. “You want to work somewhere you want to invite friends to. ”And the people are exactly why Tom loves being in the restaurant industry. For him, the personalities coming into the bar are what will make a place successful or not. Businessmen in the area, Broadway cast members looking for a place to unwind, and men sneaking away from families for a drink during the Aladdin intermission are all what give their bar its particular character. No matter who comes in, Tom is happy to start chatting with customers to find out their story and what brings them to what is, in his opinion, the center of the universe.