03 June 2008

More Eastern Pennsylvania Dining and Wine Tasting

About 90 miles and 90-120 minutes by I-80/I-84 West of Manhattan is Milford, PA, located near the New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania meeting point along the Delaware River. Milford has hosted New Yorkers since the mid-1800’s as a summer retreat. While not in the same league as the Hamptons, or even the Hudson River Valley, nonetheless this town and this far Eastern Region of the Poconos has the arts, shops and most importantly the dinning places to merit a visit. While there are many casual places in Milford and in adjacent villages, there is only one top place:

The Delmonico Room
Hotel Fauchere
401 Broad Street
Milford, PA 18337

Since 1852 the Hotel Fauchere has been a remote outpost of Manhattan. Louis Fauchere, the chef at Delmonico’s in New York, opened the hotel as a seasonal get away place for the rich and art savvy. The current hotel was built in 1880 and restored in recent years to exquisite standards when it reopened on 2006. In 2007 it was listed on the Hot List by Conde Nast Traveler.

The casual bar/café Bar Louis is in the basement has a contemporary Manhattan style, serving lighter dishes such a Sushi Pizza which get rave reviews.

On the main level is the beautiful Delmonico Room, the formal dining room is composed of two beautifully appointed main rooms and a light, bright and the equally delightful adjoining porch dinning room. Chef Michael Glatz is a James Beard Foundation honoree, and his menu is composed of contemporary classics featuring primarily local products.

Dinner is a fixed price three course meal, priced based upon the main course selected. We sampled a variety of dishes from contemporary antipasti, local greens salad and lightly breaded sweetbreads as starters. All were composed of the finest ingredients and most were well prepared. Mains included a wonderful Delmonico steak, rack of local lamb (both prepared as ordered) and regional bass. Again great products prepared to high, if perhaps not the highest standards. Desserts were well made and permitted a variety of choices.

The wine list was quite good for a Pennsylvania restaurant, and the prices were moderately high. We selected a wonderful Cambria Katherine’s Vineyard Chardonnay. Wine service was professional.

Overall all front desk and wait service was professional and friendly.

The Delmonico Room - Recommended

29 May 2008

Casual Dinning on the East End

One of the pleasures of summer on the East End is having lunch at a casual place, which offers interesting and occasionally outstanding meals. Here are notes from some places where we recently have had lunch.

Jamesport Country Kitchen
1601 Main Road
Jamesport, NY 11947

Located directly on Main Road in Jamesport, this buttercup yellow house/inn offers the informed diner a wonderful meal and an opportunity to sample local North Fork wine.

The simple dining rooms are crisp and clean and reflect the sparse but satisfying food served in a pleasant country environment. Service is not only pleasant, but quite professional.

The menu features American classics and modern American interpretations of international classic, all prepared with the best ingredients and with attention to details. Go simple and you will not be disappointed.

The Country Kitchen features all local wines at reasonable prices, maybe due in part to the fact that the table next to yours may be occupied by a local winemaker or winery owner. Go local, ask for a recommendation and you will be pleased.

Jamesport Country Kitchen – Highly Recommended

Dune Road
Hampton Bays, NY 11946

A large seafood restaurant located on a fishing marina, overlooking the inlet between the Atlantic Ocean and Shinnecock Bay shouts in flashing neon “Tourist Trap.”

But Oakland’s is anything but a tourist place. It is a excellent Seafood/American restaurant professionally managed with a kitchen that prepares first class American food.

In addition to the outstanding location, the New England Lighthouse designed restaurant features a large inviting bar area, a huge dining room, with panoramic windows on three sides, and a large outdoor deck and tiki bar.

The American/Seafood menu features local seafood. Frequent nightly specials include the Lobster Bash, a true New England clam/lobster bake of chowder, shrimp, clams or mussels, cob of corn and 1 ½ lb lobster.

The limited wine list is priced incredibly low. Many local wines are featured.

The wait service is surprisingly good despite many local high school students serving as the waiter/runners.

Oakland’s – Highly Recommended

Dockers Waterside Restaurant & Marina
94 Dune Road
East Quogue, NY 11942

The only East Quogue restaurant on the barrier island, Docker’s is a great place to sit outside, overlook the Shinnecock Bay and enjoy a simple American or Seafood lunch.

The beach shack décor is perfect for the location and the menu is perfect for what one seeks at such a place. Preparation by the kitchen varies between good/very good/excellent. Nonetheless, the food is always decent to very good, served in a polite and friendly manner.

A limited wine list is matched to the food and waterside environment.

Dockers – Recommended

Modern Snack Bar
628 Main Road
Aquebogue, NY 11931

The Modern Snack Bar is the iconic building featured recently in a Toyota television commercial. It is also a relic of a different era, which is played to the nines by the staff dressed in 50’s waitress outfits.

The menu is composed of American classic and a few German influence dishes such as sauerbraten. The food is prepared in a very 50’s style, over cooked and occasionally over sauced. While far from the highest level of quality or preparation, the food is very satisfying.

Wine is served, but this is not a food and wine place. Stick to soft drinks and beer.

Service is friendly and acceptable.

Modern Snack Bar - Acceptable

Cutchogue Diner
Main Road
Cutchogue, NY 11935

A historic landmark 1930's diner is located in the middle of Chutchogue, which is almost a museum in that it has more historical character than functionality.

While the architectural value is high the food value is marginal. The menu is traditional American. The kitchen, frequently one short order cook, prepares marginal food composed of quality local indigents. Prices are surprisingly high.

Local North Fork wine is served, but the selections limited.

Service is adequate.

Cutchogue Diner - Acceptable

23 Main Street
Sag Harbor, NY 11963

For years Sen in Sag Harbor was the place for sushi on the East End. The Japanese minimalist place located near the wharf area in lower Sag Harbor had the design, service and most importantly the fresh sushi that made is a destination location.

Apparently recent ownership and management changes have transformed Sen into at best a mediocre sushi place.

A recent lunch was composed of old and over cooked Endame, and some of the worst sashimi and sushi we have ever been served. The preparation was amateurish, the rice was not sticky rice and the overall composition was awful.

And as bad as the food was, the service was worst.

The limited wine list is grossly over priced.

Sen - Unacceptbale

More East End Long Island Fine Dinning

With the Summer Season here, we would like to provide our dinning notes on our most recent dinning experiences around the East End over the past few weeks.

The 1770 House Restaurant & Inn
143 Main Street
East Hampton, NY 11937

The name "The 1770 House" alone raises concerns this is one of those classical colonial American dinning places that populate New England and the Middle Atlantic states, and the appearance along Main Street in East Hampton re-enforces the stereotype that the dinning will be acceptable but not memorable.

However, once one steps inside the traditional/colonial architecture derived dinning room of The 1770 House, one realizes this is in fact one of the top restaurants one can experience anywhere.

The front staff is 100% professional, the dinning room is well laid out, the chairs and seating at the tables is comfortable. The lighting is perfect and sets a relaxed/romantic mood. The stemware, plate and silverware are first class, which sets a perfect mood for great food, wine and service. And that is exactly what one receives at The 1770 House.

The menu is composed of modern American/International cuisine, featuring local products whenever they are available. Salads use locally grown greens. Oysters on the half shell featured Peconic Pride oysters that can challenge the best world class oysters for flavor, meatiness, and texture. Main courses feature local fish, duck, and meats. The kitchen executes with near perfection. The combination of composition, ingredients, and preparation of the dishes result in a wonderful meal in a beautiful setting.

The wine list is comprehensive, featuring excellent examples of local, American, New World and European wines. Wine service is professional.

Overall the wait service is world class, and remarkable for an East End restaurant.

The 1770 House Restaurant & Inn - Highly Recommended

Plaza Cafe
61 Hill Street
Southampton, NY 11968

This hidden away restaurant with an entrance in the back of a nondescript building off a small street, is a truly a hidden gem.

The interior is somewhat neutral and nondescript with limited interior design features other than the height of the room which is impressive. The overall design is not offensive and perhaps even romantic due to a large and functional fireplace that warms the room on a cool or cold night.

The modern American menu feature local products, prepared in most satisfying ways. The menu is dominated by seafood, most of it local. While the prices tend towards the high end, during the week there are fixed priced menus that are great values, and allow a diner to sample some of the kitchen's more interesting dishes.

The wine list features American wines, including a limited number of Long Island wines. Prices are slightly higher than at comparable places, but overall the wine list is acceptable.

Service while earnest, it is not up to the high level of the food, and some management attention to service is warranted.

Plaza Cafe - Recommended

Inn Spot on the Bay
32 Lighthouse Road
Hampton Bays, NY 11946

The location of Inn Spot directly on the Shinnecock Bay just before the Ponoquogue Bridge from the mainland to the barrier island, makes it one of the most perfect places to enjoy the beauty of the East End.

The sparse New England decor matches the panoramic views from both the dinning room and porch areas, and adds to the nautical feel.

Like many East End places the service is marginal at best and sometimes far worse than that, at least based upon a recent dinning experience. While well meaning the service execution at our last meal was amateurish and occasionally down right infuriating.

The menu is modern American, with emphasis on seafood and local products. Unfortunately not all the products seem to be of the highest quality or freshness. And the execution of kitchen under the direction of a co-owner and chef is spotty. Not all preparations are first class. The recent meal had a number of lows; poor selection of oysters on the half -shell, over sauced local duck, and a very over sauced fillet Mignon.

Wine selection is limited, eclectic, fairly priced and quite acceptable.

Inn Spot on the Bay - Acceptable

755 Montauk Highway
Water Mill, NY 11976

Other than its yellow paint, Robert's would be a somewhat undistinguished saltbox located on the Eastside of Water Mill directly on Montauk Highway. The charming decor of this country inn type restaurant and garden makes an inviting environment.

The front desk was professional and willing to accommodate our reservation request.

Unfortunately based upon a very recent meal, the kitchen has lost not one recipe but all recipes. The Italian influenced menu promises far more than we experienced. Salads were sad affairs unceremoniously dropped on bowls. Pasta dishes were composed of ill prepared pasta mismatched with other ingredients and sauces that defy recognition.

Even more unfortunate is the fact that the Hamptons’ crowd that dines at the latest trendy places keeps Robert’s alive, whereas in Manhattan it would not survive a month.

The high priced wine list was acceptable.

Service while friendly, perhaps too friendly, was marginally acceptable.

We rarely have dined at a place we would not return to for at least one more opportunity for it to redeem itself, but Robert’s is not worth a return visit.

Robert's - Unacceptable

23 April 2008

Adour - Alain Ducasse

St. Regis Hotel
2 E 55th Street
New York, NY 10022

After less than memorable (actually memorable but not in a positive way) earlier meals at Alain Ducasse restaurants in Europe, Hong Kong and in New York, but after we read the positive critics reviews of Adour we decided to give it a try. Having been the previous week at L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon we had a perfect point of comparison.

The David Rockwell designed room is neither overly attractive nor unattractive. It is just neutral and makes the best of a somewhat awkward space at the St. Regis Hotel. The wine storage cabinets throughout the dining area are impressive, but do they really make this a premier dining space? The close rectangular table arrangements for twos is also more mainstream restaurant rather than the well placed and well suited round tables at fine dining places such as Daniel or Jean-George

The start was shaky as our reservation request was not honored, but after a polite reminder, we were seated at an acceptable table. The wait service was professional, but far short of expectations of a top restaurant.

Wine service was at best odd. First the sommelier seemed confused when we asked for a recommendation of a Pouilly Fuisse and he recommended a Pouilly Fume. Then when we selected a well priced Chassagne-Montrechet after briefly showing the bottle, the sommelier did not open the bottle within visible sight, did not show the cork, and then put the wine in a decanter – the first time in my life a French white was placed in a decanter. It was weird at best. But when the wine was not routinely served during dinner and the sommelier later tipped the decanter to get the last drop of the wine as he cleared the decanter, the wine service went from weird to just plain bad service.

And service did not improve when the wrong first courses were placed in front of us. After we started sliding the plates across the table the head waiter chastised the busser but never apologized for this major fault. Not anything one expects at a top restaurant.

So the setting for the food was strained before we had our first taste (we will discount the bread sticks presented as some weird pseudo amuse-bouche). Our first courses of sweetbreads and gnocchi while acceptable paled in comparison to comparable dishes at L'Atelier. Same for our mains of chicken and pork, both of which lacked any fine cuisine sizzle.

While some may find the food at Adour fine and some may even accept the food as finest French gourmet cuisine, to us it is merely acceptable.

Adour - Alain Ducasse – Acceptable.

15 April 2008

L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon

The Four Seasons Hotel
57 E 57th Street
New York , NY

Having dined at various Joel Rubuchon places in Paris over the years, when L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon opened nearly two years ago at The Four Seasons Hotel we were first in line to get a reservation. But given the initial hype and way too much attitude it had at that time, it took a long time to really want to dine there for a meal to savor.

When we learned Rubuchon would be in New York for a week in April, which he does at least twice a year, we booked a reservation at the counter. And while there are tables, the counter is really the only place to sit to really experience the L'Atelier experience, be it in Manhattan or Paris. The 20 counter seats surround three sides of the open kitchen area, and provide an intimate insight into French haute cuisine preparations. While the remainder of the dining area is pleasant the grand scale of the I M Pei designed hotel open space is a bit overwhelming, as is the sameness of the dining area to the entrance area to the dining room and the adjacent bar.

While food is the reason to come to L'Atelier, the service makes it all that more enjoyable. General Manager and chief sommelier Stephane Colling runs a tight ship. At the counter the waiters are always within close proximity and they provide outstanding service, as do the bussers who make each course presentation a special event, multiple times per meal.

The outstanding modern cuisine is best enjoyed via ordering the small plates, which diners can mix and match to create the meal of their own design. There are so many highlights it is difficult to recommend any one over the others. Rouchon's signature langoustine dish is prepared to perfection, sweetbreads are heavenly and the steak tartare is memorable.

We were fortunate that not only Joel Robuchon was in the kitchen and the dining area during our latest meal, but his two top Parisian chefs (Philippe Braun and Eric Bouchenoire) were overseeing the kitchen. Braun who oversees L’Atelier in Paris is lively and spontaneous as is his cooking, while Bouchenoire is intense and committed to the finest preparations as he demonstrates at La Table Joel Robuchon. With these three top chefs in the kitchen, the New York kitchen was performing at its absolute best.

The wine list developed by Colling is first class containing hidden treasures, including wines from small boutique French wineries that are unknown outside France. If you are unsure, check with Colling and he will guide you to a perfect wine. Further his wine pairings are well selected and served.

L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon - Highly Recommended

05 April 2008


236 Fifth Avenue
New York , NY 10001

After being open almost six months, the modern Lebanese restaurant Ilili is demonstrating it is one of the finer places in all of Manhattan.

Located in a dismal part of Fifth Avenue between 27th and 28th Street north of Madison Park and Flatiron, Ilili is as much an oasis as any place in the Middle East. The large restaurant is on two levels, with the main level being the preferred location, although all dining areas are acceptable. The main dining area is divided by wooden panels between the lower bar area, and high ceiling large table section in the center and a more intimate two top table section. The overall decor is composed of rich wood, candle lighting which in an unexpected way creates a certain Arabian Nights feel.

The menu appears to be traditional Lebanese cuisine, but on close examination the ingredients indicate a modern twist to classical dishes. By encouraging diners to select small dishes (tapas style) two diners can compose a wonderful meal by combining six small dishes. Selections are varied including vegetable dishes, seafood dishes, and meat dishes. Terrific dishes include incredible Brussels sprouts, octopus cru, perfect black cod with incredible seasoning, spicy shrimp, lamb chops, lamb kabobs and duck or lamb shawarma.

The service staff is excellent, knowledgeable and efficient. While some early reviews of the service may have been accurate, the current service staff is outstanding.

The wine list while small is perfectly matched to the Lebanese cuisine. In part because the owner/chef is related to the Massoud's of Paumanok Vineyards of Long Island, both Long Island and Californian wines are featured. We had the excellent Paumanok Chardonnay which was perfectly matched to our most recent meal. Wine service was professional.

This is truly an outstanding restaurant, doing for Lebanese food what Anthos is trying to do for Greek cuisine, but doing it far better and much loser prices.

Ilili - Highly Recommended

04 April 2008

Eastern Pennsylvania Dining and Wine Tasting

We travel to eastern Pennsylvania frequently to visit family, go outlet shopping and attend events at the colleges. Until recently, the area was not a fine dining destination by Manhattan standards. But with the recent migration of greater numbers of New York City region people to the area, and at least until recently improving economic growth, the area is developing a few fine places that stand up to highest quality and performance standards. The Bethlehem area seems particularly strong and here are two of our favorites:

Bolete - Resturant and Inn
1740 Seidersville Road
Bethlehem, PA 18015

On the south side of the Lehigh mountain range just outside Bethlehem is one of the most attractive sections of the Lehigh Valley. Seiderville road which runs east to west from Hellertown to Allentown for the most part is a beautiful winding country road. At a rather unfortunate and non-scenic intersection of the road is the charming old stone house/country inn recently renamed Bolete (Latin for wild mushroom). Owned and operated by Lee Chizmar and Erin Shea, this young couple has brought a fine sense of dining and style to what otherwise would be a rather ordinary place.

Erin Shea runs the front of the house and is a friendly and charming hostess. Erin also handles the promotion and maintains a lively restaurant website. The decor is country modern, and it is clear there was more inspiration here than money in the interior design and redecorating budget. Nonetheless, the atmosphere of the dining rooms is simple, clean and perfectly well suited with the building's architectural bones. The dining room is bright for lunch and seductively illuminated for evening dining.

Chizmar is the chef and runs a kitchen that uses local produce when available, changes the menu daily and executes contemporary American meals that are overall outstanding. As is the case in many places, the simpler the dish the better the execution and performance. Chizmar has a weakness to over complicate some dishes and the results are mixed. While the seafood dishes are very good, our experience has indicated the kitchen does meats and fowl better than fish.

The wine list suffers as do all Pennsylvania restaurants from restrictions placed upon them to obtain wine through the state wine distribution system. Nonetheless, the list is acceptable, but surprisingly the wines are priced quite high.

Service is very friendly and mostly very good. Professional and competent waiters make the experience enjoyable and the limited support staff are especially good.

We are pleased to see that a young couple can elevate the dining standards of the area and that the local diners as well as out-of-towners can enjoy a wonderful meal in a pleasant setting.

Update: Bolete has been selected by Conde Nast Traveler as one of the top new spots in the world for 2008. Wow that is a major accomplishment.

Bolete - Recommended

Blue Grillhouse - Wine Bar
4431 Easton Avenue
Bethlehem PA 18020

On the eastern side of Bethlehem on one of the nondescript roads leading towards Easton, is a large dining facility with a formal restaurant which for the last five years has been named the Blue Grillhouse - Wine Bar, which it shares with the catering/event facility Candlelight (the original name had been Candleight Inn for both places). While the place has all the warning signals of a very commercial dining business that serves mediocre food, the Blue Grillhouse is in fact a top notch steakhouse/chophouse with one of finer wine collections in Pennsylvania.

The large restaurant is inviting despite the dark wood decor and the various partitioned dining areas. Always illuminated by candles, the place has a much more inviting appeal than most steakhouse and chophouses. Reception and wait service is consistently very good.

This is a place to go for meat - steaks and chops, but it also does a very good job on simply prepared seafood. Dishes are large and while expensive, represent very good value. Any simply prepared steak, chop of fish will be 100% satisfying.

What really separates Blue Grillhouse is the wine list containing over 200 bottles of well selected wines. With severe restrictions in Pennsylvania for restaurants to develop a top caliber wine list and cellar, Blue Grillhouse does an outstanding job. Prices are also good values.

Blue Grillhouse - Wine bar - Recommended

A Voce

41 Madison Avenue
New York , NY 10010

The Gramercy/Flatiron area has an abundant number of top restaurants. And the block between 24th and 26th on Madison has three top places; Eleven Madison Park, Tabla and A Voce.

A Voce is a modern Italian/American place that provides fine dining in a modern environment. The relatively large dining room with a wall of glass facing 26th Street is pure Italian modern design. The simple stark design while stylish imparts zero warmth and comfort. Tables are lined in rigid rows which adds to the style but results in a cafeteria like feeling.

Fortunately the menu and execution of the of Chef Andrew Carmellini's kitchen is so excellent the environment is secondary. Based upon classic Italian cuisine, the kitchen transforms the dishes into contemporary cuisine that reflects its Italian origins, but also has modern American and fresh local ingredients that transforms the food into a very high level of modern cuisine. Appetizers are generous, pasta course are light and satisfying and mains - particularly seafood - are spectacular. Expect to pay premium prices for such excellently prepared meals.

The wine list is first class, featuring a full array of Italian selections, priced fairly. The Wine Spectator Award of Excellence is richly deserved.

The only failing at A Voce is the service. Reception while honoring reservations has a bit of an attitude, the wait staff is disinterested in serving and runners/busboys are not nearly as professional at other top places. This is an area that needs immediate attention and in our mind lowers our overall appreciation of the dining experience.

A Voce - Recommended

27 March 2008

East End Long Island Spring Dining and Wine Tasting

Spring arrives late in the East End of Long Island. To stimulate dining interest, the Hamptons Restaurant Week that starts 30 March allows diners to select tasting menus at reduced prices. We reported on a number our East End favorites in January, and below we provide a few more excellent choices and one acceptable choice:

North Fork Table & Inn
57225 Main Road
Southold, NY 11971

Executive Chef Gerry Hayden, formerly of Aureole, and his wife, Claudia Fleming, formerly of Gramercy Tavern and their partners, Mike and Mary Mraz (also of Gramercy Tavern) have turned this Southold country inn into a fine dining destination.

The contemporary update of the inn provides an open dining area, which has traditional links in wood details and lighting, but provides a comfortable contemporary dining experience.

The menu is also contemporary American, composed of many local ingredients and all of the highest quality. Chef Hayden has taken lessons learned in earlier kitchens and transformed them into his own style which earns rave reviews from both diners and critics.

The relatively short wine list is excellent and composed of interesting domestic and international choices at all price points. Many local Long Island wines are featured and complement the local food products. We selected the Clovis Point Merlot, an excellent example of what can be accomplished in making a high quality wine from the local merlot varietal.

Overall the North Fork Table & Inn is a great choice and worth the drive to Southold regardless of the time of year.

North Fork Table & Inn - Highly Recommended

Stone Creek Inn
405 Montauk Highway
East Quogue, NY 11942

Located on a large lot on a relatively nondescript section of the Montauk Highway between East Quogue and Hampton Bays, this country inn provides exactly the right balance of comfort and style. The entertaining bar area greets diners before being seated in either the smaller front room/porch area or in the larger main dining room which is further along the entrance hallway. While quite different, both rooms have advantages, and both are perfect places to enjoy a wonderful meal.

Chef/Owner Christian Mir's menu is composed of both American and Mediterranean influenced cuisines, executed to nearly perfection by a talented kitchen. Choices include local seafood and Long Island duck, quality meats, as well as local produce when in season.

The wine list is comprehensive with excellent domestic choices and many Long Island winery top tier wines. We tend to go with the Wolffer Chardonnay or Merlot, both of which are quality wines made in the Long Island style (less oak) and both being very good values.

Service tends to change with the season, due to the changes in staff as well as the number of diners. Nonetheless, service is always professional and never really bad as some places unfortunately are on the East End.

We have never had a bad meal and/or bad service after many visits. Rather, we have many memorable meals and some outstanding service. We look forward to each return visit.

Stone Creek Inn - Highly Recommended

Olde Speonk Inn
190 Montauk Highway
Speonk, NY 11972

Just west of Westhampton is the hamlet of Speonk, one of the last locations that may be considered a part of the Hamptons. A roadside inn was renovated within the last two years and is now the Olde Speonk Inn. While the interior design is not nearly as stylish as either the North Fork Table & Inn or the Stone Creek Inn, nonetheless the interior is comfortable in a non-threatening way. Windows on two sides of the essentially one main dining room make it light and airy during the day and sparkling at night.

While the restaurant promotes itself as featuring classic American cuisine, it is only so if classic American cuisine consists of largely Italian and other European influenced dishes. The bigger problem is the chef/kitchen seem to have no focus on what is either on the menu or how it is prepared. While the food itself is made from high quality, fresh and frequently local ingredients, the execution is muddled. Stick to simple steaks, poultry or seafood, and avoid any special preparations as they are far from special.

The service by both waiters and runner/busboys is real amateurish and not even close to the better dining places on the East End. Further the managers, many from Tiderunners in Hampton Bays, seem to care less about the dining room than the bar, which appears to be the profit center.

The wine list is mostly composed of unknown Italian and other European wines and an odd collection of domestic and local wines. Selections of poor varietals, poor wineries and poor vintages are the hallmark of the wine list.

Olde Speonk Inn - Acceptable


34 E 61st Street
New York, NY, 10065

Aureole has become a Manhattan institution over the past twenty years. This Upper East Side townhouse restaurant burst upon the scene when Charlie Palmer elevated American cuisine to the levels previously reserved for French and occasionally Italian cuisine. This elegant place has evolved and after a period of "attitude", it has reclaimed its hold on both a high level of service, and very friendly service. Reservations are honored and special requests become an opportunity for the staff to excel.

The prix fixed menu is expensive, but the value is well worth the steep fee. Menu choices are varied and interesting, including seafood, poultry and meats (and vegetarian if you ask). The execution by the kitchen is outstanding. First courses are as large as most mains. And mains are also somewhat over sized, but nonetheless totally satisfying. Desserts are equally large and equally outstanding.

The wine list is long, interesting and while priced high, also has some outstanding values. Interestingly the list is dominated by European wines and not nearly as many American wine choices as we would like to see from such a great American restaurant. We discussed the lack of quality American wines with the wine director and he expressed an interest to strengthen the domestic content of the list.

Aureole will relocate to the new Bank of America building across from Bryant Park, and will have three separate sections; fine dining room, casual dining room and private dining room, to address the fact that a high level of fine American dining is becoming more and more challenging. So if you want to experience true elegance, reserve soon and be prepared for a wonderful dining experience.

Aureole - Highly Recommended