The entrance to Sushi By Bou consists of wooden steps leading down to an unmarked doorway adorned with unchecked graffiti. Inside, the Manhattan Sideways team found a space that it is barely larger than one's average bedroom. The décor is an explosive battle between colorful Japanese designs and minimalist, mid-century modern designs. Four barstools sit in front of a counter, behind which works the American-born David Bouhadana. David, himself, is part of the allure: his looks and roguish irreverence evoke the archetype of the wisecracking best man at a wedding. The crisp Japanese quips that he often fires at the grim-faced guest chef working next to him, who often responds with a boisterous laugh, hint that David is as comfortable in that language as he is in English. Indeed, his omnipresent half-smile and conversational, thinking-out-loud tone show him to be truly at home behind the sushi counter. The obvious question is probably how David found himself there wearing a hachimaki headband. He is quick to respond to with a phrase that, coming from anyone else, would seem cliché - “I didn’t choose sushi, sushi chose me. ” In his case, this is simply a statement of fact: on his first day as an eighteen-year-old waiter in Boca Raton, the chef tossed him an apron, proclaiming, “Tonight, you make sushi! ” David found himself suddenly thrust into a new, fast-paced world, one that demanded not only the self-discipline and love of labor required to cope with a rigorous routine but also the drive to push oneself and to constantly improve on yesterday. As it turns out, he had what it took, and he soon found himself on a one-way-trip to Japan. Studying under his sensei’s wing, he was quickly accepted by the local talent as he developed his own techniques and hand movements. His master, whose life was saved by American medicine, gave David a mission along with the tutelage: to repay the west by teaching them about sushi. “Sushi is an educated food, ” he explained to us as he rapidly prepared uni. “The more you know, the more you’ll enjoy it. ” According to David, western appreciation for food cannot compare with that of Asian cultures. “Food is simply more important in Asia, ” he claimed, describing how food in the Far East is in tune with even the turning of the seasons. He calls his somewhat educational approach "Sushi for the People. " It’s not inexpensive, as $50 will earn one an omakase selection, which in this case is a spread of twelve sushi types that David called the "New Basic. " However, David pointed out that compared to similar New York City fare, "it’s a steal, " and it complements the approachability David strives for. He elaborated by telling us that he also carefully selects guest chefs to be welcoming and approachable, deliberately avoiding the "tough angry chef. " He wants customers to feel encouraged to ask questions, which necessitates the intimate design of the restaurant. As for why he chose New York City, David thinks the accepting environment and pervasive mindset of equality will draw the type of person who is open to learning about other cultures. But he also chose the city for what he describes as a “wild, crazy, allure, ” a fast paced testing ground where one can come with nothing but become whoever they want. David chose sushi.
Opened in May of 2014, Tender is adjacent to the Sanctuary Hotel and continues its luxurious vibe, channeling a 1930's feel. The restaurant serves American fare courtesy of executive chef Dale Schnell who has worked in many of Manhattan's hot spots including one of my favorites, Picholine. This trendy spot is located above the soon to open Fox Hole, a lounge reminiscent of a speakeasy with a hidden entryway.
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!