Tag Archives: cuisine

The New Black: NOIR NYC exudes a 1930s supper club vibe with modern touches

28 Jul

NOIR, the upscale restaurant and nightclub that opened in the old Nikki Beach space in June, hearkens back to its early 20th-century origins, first as an opera house and later as a speakeasy. The design attempts to recreate the old-school glamour of Sinatra’s hey day with tile flooring, marble staircase, dark wood banisters and leather banquettes. The elegant dining room takes up the first floor, while the glitzy lounge area comprises the second story.

The bar program features $220-to-$300 punch bowls that contain 20 servings and a premium spirits cart offering top-shelf Cognac and whiskies, including Scotch, which can be pour over a signature Macallan ice sphere.

The drinks menu highlights handcrafted cocktails ($15) developed by award-winning mixologist and beverage director Adam DelGiudice, who previously worked at the Florida Room in Miami’s South Beach. The list features twists on classics and original concoctions, including the Manhattan En Noir, made with rye whiskey, vermouth, Port, Grand Marnier and bitters, and the Five Point Sour, mixing Domaine de Canton ginger liqueur, applejack, lemon juice and a float of red wine. NOIR also offers an extensive wine list.

I started with the Garden Variety, which blends vodka, muddled strawberries and basil, balsamic vinegar, lime juice and white pepper. The cocktail perfectly balances the fresh fruitiness of the strawberries with the acidic tang of the lime juice and vinegar. Plus, the basil and pepper exude herbal and spicy aromas.

I also tried the sweet and floral Lavender Aviation, made with gin, maraschino liqueur, lemon juice and house-made lavender syrup, as well as the tart and refreshing Ghost of Mary Pickford, comprising light rum, lime and pineapple juices, and house-made grenadine.

The cuisine—from Michelin-starred chef Jean-Yves Schillinger—combines American and French elements. Items include salmon and arugula flatbread pizza, Kobe beef sliders, red snapper with Asian sauce, and salmon, tuna and steak tartares, the last of which is topped with raw quail yolk.

NOIR is definitely the place to take a date, meet colleagues for drinks or host an extravagant birthday party in Midtown. Whatever the occasion, it’s sure to impress.

© 2012 Amber Drea and New York Drinkie. Unauthorized use or duplication of images and text without express and written permission is strictly prohibited. Excerpts may be quoted, provided that clear credit is given to Amber Drea and New York Drinkie with links directing to the original content.

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Cuatro Kappou: Four at Yotel offers fresh Latin- and Asian-influenced fare

13 Jun

Chef Richard Sandoval, whose properties include Zengo, Pampano and El Centro, joined forces with the futuristic British hotel chain Yotel to launch a new multi-faceted concept in the hospitality brand’s New York City location, and I got the chance to preview the venue before its grand opening this week. Occupying the fourth floor of the hotel, Four comprises DohYo Restaurant, the outdoor Terrace and the Club Lounge. The entire space is dominated by sleek, white décor with Yotel’s signature purple accents, and the food and cocktails combine global flavors with a focus on Latin and Asian cuisine.
My friend Christina and I started on the Terrace, which features gorgeous views of the city, especially when the setting sun casts pink and orange hues across the western sky. I tried the Strawberry-Lychee Mojito, made with light rum, fresh strawberry purée, fresh lychee juice, and muddled lime and mint. The drink had a bright taste and a good balance of sweet and tart.
Christina chose the Blueberry-Shiso Caipirinha, mixing cachaça, fresh blueberry purée, torn shiso leaves and lime wedges muddled with raw brown sugar. The smoky spirit and aromatic herb complemented the cocktail’s fruity flavor.
Then we moved inside to sample a series of small plates from DohYo’s menu. The restaurant features Japanese-style seating at long, communal tables in the center, with tables and chairs encompassing the perimeter. The first item to arrive was the Seared Tuna Causa, which plays on the traditional Peruvian dish. A spicy mix of chopped fish, shallot, cilantro, capers and hard-boiled egg topped a mound of mashed purple potato that looked like Play-Doh, but tasted great.
Next, we got the Pozole Miso Soup, a take on the Columbian stew with a Japanese twist. The savory broth contained puréed tofu, salty seaweed, mildly hot gaujillo chili and starchy hominy kernals. The shredded red cabbage gave it extra texture and freshness.
The soup was followed by the Crunchy Shrimp, a spicy appetizer of tiny prawns doused in a lemon sake aïoli and sprinkled with sesame seeds, scallion and masago. It’s perfect bar food elevated to Sandoval elegance.
At this point, we were ready for another round of drinks. Christina ordered the Mango-Ginger Martini, blending vodka, mango purée, elderflower liqueur and muddled ginger. The mango flavor overpowered the subtle ginger, but it was a tasty cocktail nonetheless.
I opted for the Spicy Pepino Margarita, made with silver Tequila, sliced cucumber, serrano-citrus sour mix and pequin chili salt. The vegetal drink served as a refreshing palate cleanser.
The parade of plates continued with the Halibut Slider, which featured a piece of light yet firm fish topped with a breaded, fried tomato and a morita chili rémoulade sauce, served on a buttery bun. The sandwich is a less-greasy alternative to the usual ground-beef version.
The Black Cod was drizzled with a teriyaki-balsamic reduction and paired with briny pickled artichokes. Cooked to perfection, the delicate, flaky fish melted in my mouth.
Arriving at the same time as the cod, the Chinese Eggplant nicely complemented the fish with its flavors of sweet miso, peppery red chili, fresh diced tomato and chopped mint.
The final course before dessert was the Colorado Lamb Leg, a pulled pile of slow-roasted lamb topped with a creamy cucumber yogurt, which added some much-needed moisture to the well-cooked meat. The accompanying roasted potatoes and caramelized onions rounded out the hearty dish.
We ended the meal with a trio of desserts: a tangy Yuzu Strawberry Tart with lemongrass sorbet and angel food cake; a smoky chipotle Chocolate Cheesecake with blackberries; and a warm Hummingbird Toffee Cake, made with pineapple and banana, topped with sweet anise ice cream. All three were delicious and not too rich.
Located near Times Square in Hell’s Kitchen, Four at Yotel will definitely attract its fair share of tourists, but the nightlife and dining aspects may appeal to Manhattan residents looking for a trendy, tropical escape in the city. The Terrace features private cabanas that come with bottles of vodka or Tequila and fresh juices for mixing. Beer is available in 2-liter growlers, and a selection of signature cocktails—including the Passion Plantation Punch, Peach & Bourbon Tea and Sake Sangria—can be ordered by the pitcher, making it easy to party in style.

© Amber Drea and New York Drinkie, 2011. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of images and text without express and written permission is strictly prohibited. Excerpts may be used, provided that clear credit is given to Amber Drea and New York Drinkie with links directing to the original content.

Brief Relief: A place to relax in Midtown Manhattan

19 Mar

After a long week in the office, I treated myself to some stiff drinks and tasty bites at Respite, a restaurant and bar that opened on East 50th Street last fall. It’s hard to find a classy yet cozy lounge that’s not overrun with businessmen and frat-boy types in bustling Midtown. On a Friday night, the crowd comprised a good mix of regulars from the neighborhood and couples on dates.

I started with a WhistlePig Manhattan, mixing WhistlePig Straight Rye whiskey from Vermont, Barbadillo dry oloroso Sherry, Carpano Antica sweet vermouth and simple syrup. The smooth rye mixed the nutty Sherry made for a very easy-drinking cocktail.

For an appetizer, I tried a duo of raw seafood. The chilled oyster floated in Sriracha mignonette and basil caviar, topped with a tiny scoop of mango sorbet. It was briny, sweet and spicy all at once. The scallop ceviche, served in a spoon with papaya-ginger purée, pickled butternut squash, jicama and macadamia nuts, was bright and crunchy.

The bar at Respite focuses on boutique spirits, with a heavy emphasis on gin and rums—don’t expect to find any flavored vodkas here—and the cocktail list features both classic and contemporary concoctions, with a daily special using seasonal ingredients like blood orange.

New head bartender Sam Davis has recently added a slew of spring cocktails to the menu to complement signature mainstays like the Scurvy Bastard, created by man-of-all-trades Edward Kennelly. It’s a tangy blend of gin, hibiscus lemonade and St-Germain elderflower liqueur. They’re also experimenting with spherical ice containing orchids and other garnishes.

My next course comprised butternut squash soup with a chesnut-ricotta agnolotti, pepitas, golden raisins and shallots, paired with Sly Fox 113 IPA, which is brewed in Pennsylvania. The spicy, savory soup, with bursts of sweetness from the raisins, evoked the Middle East, and the floral bitterness of the beer contrasted the soup’s richness.

I followed that up with a Thyme Out off the new spring cocktail list. The drink mixes Bootlegger vodka from New York’s Prohibition Distillery, St-Germain, muddled thyme and mint, and fresh lime and grapefruit juices, garnished with a lime wheel and thyme sprig. It was nicely balanced and aromatic.

The cuisine at Respite draws from all parts of the world, fusing a variety of Asian, Mexican and Mediterranean flavors. House specials include the Berkshire pork belly with seared foie gras, caramelized pickled ramps and macadamia rice crepe and the rice-encrusted snapper with peekytoe crab, kalonji-stuffed Poblano pepper and yellow curry. I opted for the lamb pita slider with caramelized onions, pickled carrots and tzatziki, a Greek cucumber-yogurt sauce. The soft pita, crunchy carrots and juicy lamb burger worked perfectly together, and the accompanying house-made taro root chips were crispy and lightly salted.

I finished my meal with another new drink, the Blueberry Hill, made with Cold River vodka from Maine Distilleries, bruised blueberries and mint, and fresh lemon juice, garnished with a skewer of sugar-coated blueberries.

The refreshing and fragrant cocktail paired nicely with the coconut marscapone panna cotta served atop a Champagne-poached Asian pear medallion, swimming a saffron-lemongrass broth speckled with basil caviar. The sweet and creamy dessert was a delicious denouement.

With an eclectic array of drinks and dishes and a soothing atmosphere, escaping to Respite could definitely become a habit.

© Amber Drea and New York Drinkie, 2011. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of images and text without express and written permission is strictly prohibited. Excerpts may be used, provided that clear credit is given to Amber Drea and New York Drinkie with links directing to the original content.