“I went cold turkey and quit after my last performance in my home town in 1986,” Sarah Faust recollected. A precocious musician, Sarah was five when she played in her first recital and had become an accomplished classical-ly-trained concert pianist by her mid-twenties. When her parents bought her a “fairly new" Steinway, Sarah instantly concluded that “the piano had many problems, as did all of the Steinways from that particular period. It wasn't what it used to be."
Thus began the search for the perfect piano. Sarah looked at older Steinways and discovered that these “had a soul.” She purchased one, had some work done on it, and deter-mined that she had found her musical match. What began as a hobby eventually grew into a full-fledged business run by Sarah and her husband. They were living in Manhattan with their two young children when she recognized that there was a demand for old Steinways. As she continued to restore the pianos, “the money was fast, and from our perspective back then, it was a lot.” By the time they moved to the suburbs, they had a thriving business. “Every year it grew and grew — we started owning the business, but then it began owning us.”
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.