KTCHN was an ideal spot to stop as we were nearing the end of our day of walking the entire length of 42nd Street. Located in The Out NYC hotel, we were able to sit down alongside the massive windows in the bar area, watching people moving along 42nd. A tasty appetizer of quinoa fritters with piquillo pepper aioli was perfect for me as was the hamburger ordered by Manhattan Sideways photographer. Before leaving, we checked out the dining room that is only open in the evening hours, but looks promising for those staying at the hotel, or for dinner before extending the night next door in the hotel's club, XL.
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.
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.
Opened on May 23, 1911 on the site of a former reservoir, this main branch of the New York Public Library is a true wonder of the city. Upon its completion, it was the largest marble structure in the United States, and the classical design elements ensure that it remains as breathtaking now as it was then. In 1965, it became a National Historic Landmark. The Main Reading Room is an enormous hall, with murals and intricate relief work lording overhead and large, open windows allowing for bright sunlight to pour across the books being huddled over. Small exhibitions to art and cultural histories pepper the halls. The entire structure is truly a pleasure to explore, one of the grandest and most wonderful buildings in the entire city, and we spent a pleasant afternoon wandering the halls in a book-drunk daze trying to absorb it all.
Known as the "Center for Social Change, " the Ford Foundation has been committed to helping the world be a better place since 1936. They work diligently to "protect human rights, reform governments, provide education opportunities and create space for artistic creativity and expression. " Without a doubt, one of Manhattan's finest atriums greets visitors. Entering the glass structure from either 42nd or 43rd Street, a world of green awaits. There are trees, plants, a fountain and short paths to wander through. The atrium is a hidden oasis in the middle of the city.
As part of the restoration of Grand Central Terminal in the late '90s, Pershing Square Cafe opened under the Park Avenue viaduct. The fare is American and straightforward, with burgers and chicken pot pies, steaks and fish. The pancakes, served all day, are a big crowd pleaser. Up front, commuters sipping coffee, reading, and chatting while awaiting the next train, inhabit a more cafe-esque area. When speaking with the manager one day, he was proud to tell me that both Friends with Benefits and the Avengers were filmed at Pershing.