GILT: Guilty Pleasures of The Dining Duo

The New York Palace Hotel
455 Madison Avenue at 50th street
New York, NY 10022
Tel: (212) 888-7000
Fax: (212) 303-6000

As you enter the dining room you seem to be transported to a 19th century mansion and you are actually are. One can envision how the super affluent of the 1880’s felt while being served by a cadre of eager servants, but the fare, naturally, is very 2010.

We had heard that for the second year in a row that Gilt, the acclaimed restaurant at the New York Palace Hotel had been awarded two stars from the Michelin Guide. Just to put that into perspective, this is hardly a very common occurrence anywhere, and there are only a total of 42 starred establishments in its New York edition, with only seven restaurants holding a 2 star rating. So we had to try it for ourselves, and it more than delivered the goods on every imaginable level.
Ascending the grand staircase in the Palace Hotel, expectations were high as we entered the almost indescribable atmosphere of the Gilt bar and restaurant. We can’t remember the time that we were carried away to a time and place so rich, so opulent, that it nearly took our breath away. Arriving at a fashionable 8:30 pm, the bar outside the dining room was in full swing with a handsome crowd filling the place. Elaborate frescos and friezes surrounded the room up incredibly high, whilst wild Picasso-like wall coverings created a discordant cubist separation around the bar.
Passing through it, we arrived at the Maitre D’ podium, and then were quickly ushered into the next room to our table. Once the old living and dining room of the Villard Mansions built during the Gilded Age of the nineteenth century, the enormous volume didn’t even mildly eclipse the intimacy and fantasy of being hosted by one of New York’s wealthiest of families. This room was once the receiving room of the mansion. The classic interiors represent an interpretation of the Roman High Renaissance style, combined with the modern design of Patrick Jouin.
Richly carved English Oak walls climbed upwards to magnificent beams and hand-painted ceilings, all of which are adorned with mosaic in varied patterns, while the walls are effaced with Mexican marble inlaid with Siena marble. The fireplace at one end glowed warmly, casting a flush that matched the enchanting lighting. Every table in the room seemed to have its own special features, resulting in the unusual characteristic of being satisfied wherever we might be seated. Even though the room was completely full with diners, we didn’t at all feel like anyone was on top of us.
The menu looked luxurious, but as we are apt to do, we asked the chef to bring us a five-course tasting menu of his choosing. Chef Justin Bugle, formerly from Alma de Cuba and Striped Bass (from the Buddakhan empire), along with the keen oversight of the food and beverage Director Stephane LaCroix (great hair) and wine Director Patrick Cappiello (amazingly knowledgeable), both of whom were happy to oblige our requests as it gave them the opportunity to perform their magic, and magic it was.
We started with the Duck Confit, which was served with chicken liver, pickled Blueberries and sunchokes. Patrick set the mood with some Brut Rose champagne by Guy Charlemagne, and it was a perfect way to soak up the New York atmosphere of richesse and elegance. The chicken liver was buttery soft and accented the dish.
It wasn’t at all a fluke that we happened on another fabulous dish, the North Atlantic Fluke, which the Chef served with Green Apple, beetroot, juniper and a touch of dill. Michael loves a fine Riesling, and so we paired this dish with the Scharzhofberger Kesselstatt Riesling, adding perfect to perfection. This dish couldn’t have been any tastier.
Also of special note (a difficult task since truly everything was sensational), was the Mangalitsa Pork, which was served with cabbage, oyster, apple and for the season, chestnut.  The pork was divine, and we savored every morsel of it as its tenderness melted in our mouths.

Thanks to the Kobler Family from the Russian River Valley in our home state Calilfornia, we sipped on the Pax (2007) and it was just the right pairing for this dish.
Although the eating orgy seemed like it would never end, we continued to stuff ourselves with the finale of deserts; Scott fell madly for the vanilla Panna Cotta that was accompanied by a Mandarin orange sorbet and Sablee crunch,
while Michael savored his last remnants of a chocolate peanut butter cup sided with raspberry and Concord grape gelee (and yes, it was Michael's birthday).
As we relaxed and let the experience ruminate, we noticed the multi-lingual invocations of hospitality in the friezes around the room that encouraged the guests to “eat, drink and be merry” and that is certainly what we did for this extraordinary evening. Don’t leave New York without this experience.

New York Snippets – What else is HOT in New York City

Minetta Tavern
113 MacDougal St., New York, NY 10012 212-475-3850

Minetta offers loads of atmosphere for Sunday brunch. Once a New York speakeasy, everything’s been preserved the way it was back in the day. Sunday is not as crowded as Wednesday or Thursday nights and you can start with the scrumptious Latkes ($22) with smoked salmon and hollandaise sauce that makes the Jewish emigrants of the lower east side turn in their graves.
Follow it with their famous Black Label burger featuring dry aged beef ($26). And no charge for the heart attack after. We must say we’ve determined the best way to judge a burger is how it tastes a few hours later, and this was a winner.

Per Se
10 Columbus Circle, New York, NY (212) 823-9335
It has become a tradition to celebrate Michael’s birthday at Per Se with our dear friend Bonnie. We will not break this tradition unless Per Se breaks us first. The Dining Duo thinks this is the BEST RESTAURANT in the world, but we include the caveat that we haven’t yet been to Fat Duck in London or Noma in Copenhagen, so we’ll let you know if it’s true when we try those. If you’re up to spending your rent for lunch, it cannot be missed. The standout dish was clearly the white truffle risotto--and just take a gander at the quantity of mouth-watering white truffles:
We survived eleven courses, three bottles of wine and over four hours of dining, and came out smiling once again. Say hello to Estelle, the beautiful manager extraordinaire, while James provides stellar service. Run, don’t walk, but first make your reservation way in advance.

Eleven Madison Park
11 Madison Avenue, New York, NY (212) 889-0905 ‎
This beautiful restaurant has been getting superb reviews, which makes it very difficult to get a table. Excuse us, but we don’t get the hoopla. It was good but other than the gorgeous room and impeccable service, the dishes did not excite us. We did love the unique looking menu, though, which gave you choices like “meat” or “fish”, and left the rest up to the Chef.
Of course, that seemed to be part of the problem as well. Go once and enjoy the atmosphere.

142 West 65th Street, New York, NY 10023 (212) 359 6500
Wow. What a sleek, new standout in New York. Jonathan Benno, former chef from Per Se and Paolo Novello, former manager of Per Se, partnered with the Patina Group to create drama and tasty food. Reasonably priced and architecturally cutting-edge, it is a must go. Fresh seafood and pastas will make this a star in the New York restaurant galaxy.

Peter Lugar Steak House
178 Broadway
Brooklyn, NY
(718) 387-7400
What is a trip to New York without stopping at the institution called Peter Luger’s. It’s been there since the late 1800’s and will probably be there after our grandchildren’s grandchildren eat there. Maybe even after the nuclear holocaust when the cockroaches eat there. Bonnie and I had a perfect lunch; we split their classic burger and a small single steak with their delicious hand cut fries (add Luger’s steak sauce to your steak) and we got away for $80, which is not bad when you throw in drinks, tax and tip. This spot is always perfect and should not be missed if you’re into meat.

New York City is the perfect long weekend getaway--or make it week, but don't miss eating your way around one of the most exciting cities on the Planet!

Posted by The Dining Duo | 8:28 PM | , , , , , , , | 0 comments »

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