18 December 2007

Porter House New York

10 Columbus Cir., 4th floor
New York, NY 10019

The restaurants at the Time Warner Center have a dual personality. While they include some of Manhattan's top dining places including Per Se and Masa, there still remains some hesitancy that any new restaurant is really anything more than public relations glitz without substance.

So when Porter House New York opened in the former Jean-George ill fate steak house space, there was natural apprehension. Can a steak house that advertises it is more than a steak house really be a fine dining place? Can any top restaurant really serve fine steaks and other meat; also serve fine fish, fowl, and etc. meals?

Well the answers are definite yes, yes, yes.

This is a beautiful restaurant, a professionally run establishment that feels like its been here for years; perhaps decades. The front desk staff and floor manager positions are populated with pros. Additionally the bar area runs like a Swiss watch. The seating areas have adequate space between tables, and many of the tables have great views of Central Park, Columbus Circle, or the Manhattan skyline.

The service staff is outstanding; seasoned professional waiters and enthusiastic bus boys. Wine service is knowledgeable and top notched. The wine list is comprehensive and reflects strong United States regional reds, including some fine Long Island wines (Grapes of Roth Merlot at the top of that list) which are perfect to go with the steaks and meats.

And the food is fantastic. While the steaks (outstanding Porterhouses, Sirloins, Fillets) and other meats are outstanding as expected. the fish and fowl dishes are equally outstanding. All the "sides" (as in any steak house) are ordered separately, but they are great and worthy of your attention.

The price for such perfection is high, but the value is greater.

Porter House - Highly Recommended

17 December 2007


65 Seat 54th Street
New York, NY 10022
212- 751-1555

Even though it has been opened since 1994, we just recently sampled Cellini.

Having known owner and Chef Dino Arpaia from his days at Acqua Pazza, one of our favorite former places in Manhattan before he sold it to his sister Donatella Arpaia to open Anthos, it was nice to see him and many of his former Acqua Pazza staff as we entered this somewhat traditional and somewhat old fashion midtown Italian.

While the decor does not have any modern style or perhaps any real design, the place seems to be perpetually packed both at lunch and dinner. So it must be food and service that brings in all the people.

While service is adequate, it is not outstanding. So it must be the food.

Well that is reasonably questionable. While the menu is reasonably comprehensive, the dishes described on the menu do not stand out from hundreds of other Manhattan Italians. And then when the food is presented, it lacks even the sizzle of the menu description. While not bad, and surely not great, the food is more than acceptable but far from outstanding.

So it must be that the whole is greater the sum of the parts. A convivial environment and acceptable decor, a very present and gregarious chef, decent food and service must be the magic formula.

Cellini - Acceptable

Bar Americain

152 W. 52nd Street
New York, NY, 10019

While Parisian bistros tend to get the acclaim, in fact it is really the brasseries that are the mainstay of not only Parisians but also for Frenchman throughout the cities of France. New York has a few restaurants that serve as the American equivalent of these brasseries, but with advent of Bar Americain, Manhattan now has one that looks and feels like the best of the best.

Having not been at Bar Americain for far too long, on a winter Saturday night we braved the weather for some eagerly anticipated American food from the menu created by Bobby Flay.

Each time we arrive, we are always impressed how the front desk honors reservations; not only an immediate seating, but a table of choice when a special request has been made in advance. Overall the service shines, although we had an interim server who came, disappeared and then was replaced by a pro. Waiters, busboys and floor managers seem to be always available and they have top notched professional style despite a full (actually overflowing) house on a busy Saturday night.

The straightforward menu is to the point, with classic brassiere fare tuned to the best produce and products of America, and the tastes of New Yorkers. The menu is pleasantly short, pure American comfort food with a French brasserie touch. We were impressed on the execution of simple salad and onion soup starters. Flavorful and fresh. For main courses we went with meat, a pork rack and hanger steak. Both were excellent cuts of meat prepared to perfection, and served in a simple but savory manor. An order of fries accompanied the meat.

The wine list is extensive, well chosen but perhaps somewhat overpriced. Not exactly sure why restaurants are over pricing many well known priced wines, other than perhaps this is a place to make up for other places were they can not raise prices. Having said that, there were some reasonable choices including some local Long Island better wines. Given the American nature of Bar Americain it would be nice if they developed a wine list exclusively if US regional wines. There surely are enough wine choices available to satisfy every taste and demand.

After a great start and now over many years of performance this mature restaurant is firing on all cylinders, front desk, kitchen, service and of course the bar. While we had one unexpected glitch in service, apart of that limited fault, the experience was again outstanding and we will be back hopefully in the near future.

Bar Americain - Highly Recommended


Welcome to Martin Chamois' Dine and Wine Notes are initial attempt at creating a food and wine blog.

For the last five years we have been posting restaurant reviews on the New York Magazine's website. However, given that they continue to change their site and seem to continue to have operations and maintenance issues, we have decided to post reviews, comments and opinions here.

We hope you are stimulated by the posting and have comments to share with the food and wine community.

While the blog will focus on the greater New York City food and wine scene, based upon travel we will be posting reviews from the road.

Hope you enjoy.

Martin Chamois