“It’s criminal not to pursue your passion. You’re happier and it makes everyone around you happier. “ That is the discovery Maya, owner of Bon-Vivant, made after giving up her seventeen year career in finance to pursue a dream. First she took a sabbatical to take pastry classes and explore interests that were not fitting into her twelve hour workdays. During her time away, Maya stumbled upon two well kept secrets: “You need not separate work from what you love for one, and two, there really is a need for quality. Too often corners are cut to get the job done, but it’s so important never to sacrifice quality.”
After exploring, taking different baking classes and studying at Le Cordon Bleu, Maya came back to New York, quit her corporate job and partnered with Ashish, a friend and prior colleague, to create Bon Vivant. A sanctuary from the daily hustle and bustle, the café is a place where the petit fours are made from the finest ingredients sourced from around the world, and paired with equally exotic coffees and teas. Their delicate cakes are admired for their beauty and savored for their incredible taste.
The name Bon Vivant comes from a French term for a person who enjoys the finer things in life. Or, as Ashish declated, "Shortly translated it means the good life." Through following their own passion, this is exactly what they have created for themselves and what their steady stream of customers.
Beautifully decorated for the holiday season, Bistro Vendome was still abuzz with chatter when the Manhattan Sideways team stopped by at the tail end of lunch hour to meet with the delightful owner, Virginie Petiteau. Although she and her husband Pascal, who is the executive chef, hail from Brittany, France, they met in New York, where they both worked at Jubilee, a French restaurant on First Avenue. After fifteen years there, Virginie said they felt ready to open their own place. She told us that it was great to already have a base of customers in the area that knew and supported them when they opened Bistro Vendome in 2010. And she was pleased to tell us that they have maintained a loyal clientele ever since. As Virginie put it: "Some people who come here saw me when I was pregnant, and now my daughter is fourteen."Pascal started working at high-end French restaurants in France at an early age. After coming to New York, he decided to focus on more casual French food. In 2014, he was inducted as Master Chef in Mątres Cuisiniers de France, a prestigious organization aiming "to preserve and spread the French culinary arts, encourage training in cuisine, and assist professional development." An unusual occurrence continued to happen as we resumed our walking on 58th, as so many other businesses told us that they eat at Bistro Vendome on a regular basis because the food was as traditionally French as one could hope for in Manhattan.
Trendy, immense, packed at any hour and serving intriguing Pan-Asian food, Tao has been a sensation on 58th since opening its doors in 2000. Stepping inside, one cannot help but immediately feel transported to a different world. The interior design is exceptionally meticulous with beautiful calligraphy scrolls adorning the high ceilings, and a sixteen foot massive Buddha sculpture taking center stage down below. Despite the frenetic atmosphere, I have found Tao to be a fun restaurant to dine with friends and to enjoy an excellent meal.