“When there’s a thunderstorm, it’s really cool, ” Dylan, Hi-Bar’s bartender told us as we sat atop the 6 Columbus hotel. We could see what he meant: the cozy rooftop bar, with its view of Columbus Circle and its warm décor would feel like a small, safe eye of a storm when the retractable screens were shut during bad weather. The bar, which is part of the Bromberg Brothers' array of New York restaurants and is supplied by Blue Ribbon Sushi Bar & Grill downstairs, is a popular spot for locals. Dylan said that he gets a lot of regulars, especially from the Time Warner building across the street. He enjoys getting to see customers meet, return, become friends…and sometimes more. “There are a lot of affairs, ” he said with a cheeky grin. With its view of the city and its intimate yet festive atmosphere, I could imagine having a wonderful party up on the thirteenth floor. With the lanterns glowing, strings of light glittering overhead, and moonlight bouncing off the distressed wood tabletops, what could be wrong with this vision? Before having even tried the food, I knew that Hi-Bar was a hidden gem. Chefs from downstairs brought up a sushi platter and a grilled lamb chop. I always get a kick out of listening to both Olivia and Tom describe the foods that they are sampling. On this particular day, they were amazed by the five different textures represented on the plate of sushi, including a young sea eel and a Tazmanian Fluke, which had a surface like scales. The Blue Ribbon specialty roll, with little dollops of caviar on top, contained lobster and shiso, an Asian herb that tastes vaguely like a cross between basil and mint. In a dish off to the side, scallop sashimi was cut in thin slivers, with the salty lips of the scallop in a cute cucumber cup. Switching gears, they then devoured the lamb chop, sitting on a bed of sweet potato squash, and cooked to perfection. While they tasted the dishes, and pronounced the platter “some of the most flavorful sushi, ” they had experienced, Dylan whipped up a few of the specialty cocktails. He mixed together a Lychee martini, made with the Japanese liquor shochu instead of vodka or gin, and a Yuzu Margarita, which was mellowed by a touch of honey. Once again, Olivia and Tom were smiling. The Grapefruit Hi, also made with shochu, was so refreshing it seemed wetter that water, and the Hummingbird, made with St. Germaine, was topped with a Yama Moto, a type of Japanese mountain peach. As we were getting ready to leave the Hi-Bar’s happy nook, Dylan informed us that he had grown up on Blue Ribbon. “I’ve been coming to their restaurants since I was five years old. They have been the same for years – so many restaurants change, but I can rely on Blue Ribbon. ” Dylan went on to say that he continues to eat at their now nineteen eateries - which he stated is a "small company" - whenever he has the opportunity.
The delectable assortment of French pastries was only the beginning of the excitement for me when I first visited Eclair Bakery. Getting to observe and speak with owner Stephane Pourrez, as he was preparing pastries, macarons, croissants and, of course, a variety of eclairs made the experience very special. An alumnus of Ferrandi, the French School of Culinary Arts in Paris, Pourrez worked in New York for a year as a pastry chef before he fulfilled his "childhood dream" of opening his own bakery. No matter what time I chose to pop in, I always found others sipping on their cafe au lait, and mingling with fellow French natives.
At Coffee Project NY, coffee-themed cocktails and high-quality java brewed with a mixologist’s eye are the stars of the menu. The concept was created by co-owners and founders Chi Sum Ngai and Kaleena Teoh in 2015, and has since expanded to having several other locations across the five boroughs. “We are very excited to be part of Hell’s Kitchen! ” Ngai said, adding, “In the opening of this new location we hope to create a community gathering space while sharing our passion for coffee with the neighborhood. ” “I’m a bit of a coffee snob and [Coffee Project] delivers on very good quality coffee, ” shared Paul David, a Hell’s Kitchen local. “I also really like the environment — the seating isn’t too crowded and it’s really peaceful. ”One of the shop’s innovative specialty beverages is its deconstructed late, which manager Jed Baxter said evokes a multi-sensory experience. In addition to deconstructed lates, Coffee Project offers classic lattes (complete with intricate latte art), classic pour-over brews, and teas. The cocktail menu includes drinks such as spiked Irish Coffee made with Teeling Whiskey and the brand’s own Teeling-blend beans. This story was adapted from the W42ST article, "Brew-tiful Transformation: Coffee Project Opens at Ikebana Zen with Day-to-Night Caffeinated Creations! ”