Monday, December 23, 2013

Grand Central cuisine

We had just left Radio City and had only enough time for lunch before heading to the airport so thought that one of Grand Central's eateries would be a good thing to do as our hotel was pretty close by.  As we wandered into the main atrium we saw the sign "Cipriani Dolci" on our right and thought it looked pretty nice and chic and probably a good place for a cocktail and a casual lunch.

I think Americans on the whole make very good cocktails.  Better than British bartenders at any rate.  And Cipriani's made very good cocktails indeed -- Viv had a Negroni whilst I settled for a simple vodka martini with olives.  Both were very well executed indeed.

As for the food, I had a lovely home made pasta dish with veal ragout whilst Viv settled for calamari with another light and lovely fish dish.

Terrific location and view over the central hall of the great station.  The service was excellent and the food all round very good indeed.  So good that Viv and I agreed we should go to the big restaurant on 42nd Street next time we're in New York.

Oh yes, the dolci.

Very nice espresso macchiato

Cipriani's Dolci
89 East 42nd Street
New York 10017

Tel: (212) 973-0999

The First

I'd discovered that Delmonico's Restaurant was near to the office where I had a meeting in New York's financial district.  It was on one of those 3D type diorama maps that picked out half a dozen landmarks. I was excited because Delmonico's was in every book about old New York and in every movie or TV show about old New York.  The bigwigs would always end up going to Delmonico's for a steak.

Some old time New York bigwigs

I'd thought it had closed down years ago so this was worth investigating. This is what the current Delmonico's say about themselves:

"Before Delmonico's opened, diners ate at cafes and boarding houses (inns), where the food was simply the food available that day from the farms. Diners had no choice of dishes but ate the food that was served. Delmonico's changed all of that."

Now who doesn't like the sound of that?

But first Viv and I had to get there from our Times Square theatre.  Endless subway journey and thankfully brief stroll down Broad Street to Beaver Street through the blizzard that was dumping snow on New York all day.

It was worth it though.

Delmonico's list of firsts is very lengthy.  I liked the stories of how they'd changed the name of one signature dish -- Chicken a la Keene to Chicken a la King -- as it sounded classier and besides Mr. Keene was a thorough rascal.  The Delmonico brothers also did that to a ship's captain called Captain Wenburg whose lobster favourite became a staple.  Trouble was they fell out over something so banned Wenburg but the clients still demanded the lobster so they changed the name from Wenburg to Newburg which of course is how Lobster Newburg got its name.  So there!

The signature steak is the Delmonico steak which is an aged rib eye.  This is my favourite cut so I had no problem making my classic selection.  Viv chose the special steak -- an aged Porterhouse.  And of course the Caesar Salad to start -- and no, not a Delmonico creation.  It was still very good.

The signature Delmonico Steak
Only trouble was that our table was not out front in the iconic part of the dining room, rather it was through the bar, round the corner and on a table next to a couple of other diners who'd under estimated the size of the dishes and had ordered 4 or 5 sides, so much food in fact that they couldn't fit it all on the table and which they ended up taking home.

Good steak though.  Very tender and delicious.

Delmonico's Restaurant
56 Beaver Street
New York 10004

Tel: (212) 509-1144

Wall Street Chop House

Our meeting was in Broad Street in downtown Manhattan.  Broad Street runs from the very bottom of Manhattan up through what is now the financial district ending at the New York Fed building on the corner of Wall Street -- the other corner of which is the New York Stock Exchange.  After we'd finished Ken suggested we go to lunch.  It was 11.00 am.

"I get in at 7.15," Ken said. "I get hungry about now and so do others so the restaurants open early for us."

OK then so we walked out of Ken's skyscraper to an old 3 storey building Ken said during Superstorm Sandy had been completely flooded out.

"Many of these old buildings housed established businesses that were simply washed away.  They never opened again.  This place though did renovations and re-opened."

This place is Harry's on 97 Pearl Street.

The original Harry is a Greek guy who came to America like many others to seek his fortune, in his case a wealthy business man relative who unfortunately turned out to be a coffee shop counter man.  So Harry had to do it himself.  Ultimately he opened the original Harry's and ran it for 30 years but when his wife died, he closed the doors.  Fortunately his son re-opened and now runs 22 restaurants city wide but old Harry still comes to the original restaurant 6 days a week to greet clients.

Great steakhouse.  Wood paneling, decent hunks of perfectly cooked meat, robust red wine.  Who could ask for more?

OK, its iconic, THE place for Wall Streeters to lunch, drink and dine, and is always jammed.  Because it's good.  Very good.

97 Pearl Street
New York 10004

Tel: (212) 785-9200