Talkin’ New York
From enjoying sushi suppers to lunching in gritty neighbourhoods, chef Daniel Boulud is a seasoned hand when it comes to staking out the Big Apple's dining spots.
In New York, it’s very hard for an eatery to be in the business for 50 years. If you can last that long, you are a mark of excellence. La Grenouille, located in midtown Manhattan, is one such establishment. It’s a beautiful, cosy restaurant, and I go there whenever I’m in the mood for French classics. I enjoy the fish dumplings or quenelles, the sautéed frog legs, and calf liver sautéed with vinegar and shallots.
For modern French, I will head to the three-Michelin starred Le Bernardin, where I let chef Eric Ripert decide what to cook for me. A few of Ripert’s signatures include poached skate with oysters, with Brussels sprouts, bacon mignonette and Dijon mustard sherry emulsion; and red wine-braised short ribs with winter vegetables, wild mushrooms and parsnip purée.
The very talented British chef, Paul Liebrandt, also does interesting, modern interpretations of French food at Corton on West Broadway. The menu offers up to 10 courses, and I was impressed with a foie gras and eel terrine he did. While his dishes may be complex and unconventional, there is a lot of focus on emphasising the flavours of the ingredients, and I think the food is up there with the best in New York.
I don’t eat French whenever I go out, though. I love Barbuto, an Italian American brasserie on Washington Street, for its roast chicken. The fowl is roasted in a traditional wood-fired oven, and smashed potatoes are thrown into the fire to lend a delicious aroma to the chicken. The chef, Jonathan Waxman, is known for combining European cooking with American food.
Another American favourite of mine is The Four Seasons Restaurant, which is not related to the hotel chain. The remarkable and grand interior of the restaurant—designed by the famous architect Philip Johnson—hasn’t changed since the establishment opened in 1959. I always start with the crab cake, which is made the old-fashioned way (the meat is first seasoned, bread crumbed, and baked in an oven), before moving on to the buffalo steak. (The owner of the Seagram Building, where the restaurant is located, had a buffalo ranch in Virginia, and the chefs still continue to get their meat from the farm.) My meal then ends with a delightful strawberry cotton candy. The place is really an institution in New York: many of the city’s most powerful people come for their power lunches everyday.