Happy Hour Haven: Bierhaus
Midtown East happy hour revelers go for beer and brats at the new Bierhaus.
March 24, 2011
For some white-collar workers, it’s the little things that get them through the day. But when a free cup of coffee and a tropical beach screensaver aren’t enough, there’s always happy hour.
Employees in Midtown East have found a new respite for just that in Bierhaus (712 Third Ave., 646-580-2437), conveniently located three blocks from Grand Central Station. Come 5 PM, men in dress shirts and women in pencil skirts flock to the two-story, Bavarian-style bar and restaurant to be served by waiters and waitresses in lederhosen and dirndls.
In the spirit of Oktoberfest, Bierhaus offers a full-service bar with 24 taps and six varieties of Hofbräu beer. The lunch and dinner menu consists of traditional German fare, such as a bratwurst and pepper sandwich, goulash and a bigger-than-your-face Bierhaus pretzel.
Schnitzel- and stein-wielding patrons always seem to find a place to sit at one of the long communal tables (Bierhaus has seating for 150 people). Large windows and a glass ceiling provide lots of light, and an open door, 50-foot balcony overlooks Third Avenue and a line of people waiting below.
Since its opening on March 10, which included a traditional keg-tapping and a performance by the German-American festival band Alpine Squeeze, Bierhaus has quickly become a popular after-work hangout. Modeled after the original Hofbräuhaus, it’s safe to say Paul O’Connor and partners have successfully brought a taste of Munich to Midtown.
First Look: Michel Cluizel's New Treats
The French chocolatier debuts three new sweets, made with old-world perfectionism.
March 23, 2011
A selection of chocolates at Michel Cluizel
Ah, to be French. To forget about world domination and devote your country’s wealth and talent to the finer things … wine, fashion, and of course, chocolate. Michel Cluizel carries on this grand national tradition with a family-run company that has made fine chocolates since 1948. The elite mom-and-pop shop has an outpost on Fifth Avenue near Rockefeller Center, with a mother shop on the Rue Saint-Honoré in Paris and workshops in Normandy.
Recently, the company’s namesake made an appearance at the diminutive Fifth Avenue boutique with his son, CEO Marc Cluizel, who translated his père’s remarks into English and beamed with Gallic pride at the release of three new Michel Cluizel creations.
The tasting began with the Paradoxe, a salt caramel—yes, a salt caramel, a confection so trendy it’s practically the jeggings of the dessert world. But Cluizel’s comes wrapped in milk chocolate that’s engineered with extra-high doses of both cocoa and milk, for a flavor that has the richness of dark chocolate with the creaminess that milk chocolate lovers crave. Some very impressive R&D went into that concoction, and it tastes magnifique.
The Mille Lieues, a rum ganache in milk chocolate, is as far from American-style icky-sticky rum balls as Catherine Deneuve is from Britney Spears, with a base of black rum that tastes smooth, not sharp, but still heady and decadent like a spiked dessert should.
The Zestine, an almond and hazelnut praliné with lemon zest in dark chocolate, was accompanied by Marc Cluizel’s long, effusive dissertation about proper preparation of the praliné—when to add the nuts (at the beginning), what to grind with (stone, never metal) and other minutia. The mind reels. So do the taste buds, in a good way.
Le Bernardin and other fine restaurants use Michel Cluizel chocolates in their desserts on account of their extremely high quality and range of flavors. And their Fifth Avenue shop sells dozens of treats, all of which share the same national obsession with perfection. 584 Fifth Ave., 646-415-9126
Burger Debut: Gotham Bar & Grill
Chef Alfred Portale inspires a juicy new burger.
March 11, 2011
Playing to his love for DeBragga’s 28-day dry-aged steak, Gotham Bar & Grill chef Alfred Portale introduces the Gotham dry-aged burger ($22): an impressive behemoth with an 80/20 lean to fat ratio. Leftover bits and trimmings from the restaurant’s steak butchery served as the inspiration for the burger. “The end piece, the aged fat, about four inches of the strip loin—all of the amazing pieces—were going to waste [and] I realized these could be elements of the most incredible burger,” says Portale. The patty, made from aged fat, dry-aged sirloin and ground chuck hangar steak, is served on a housemade roll with oozy Italian black-truffle cheese, tomato confit, roasted garlic aioli and pickles. Here’s to leftovers. 12 E. 12th St., 212-620-4020
New Bar: Mulberry Project
When it comes to Mulberry Project, half the battle is finding it.
March 10, 2011
When it comes to exclusive bars, to say you’ve been is equal to bragging that you were able to get in. But when it comes to Mulberry Project, you’re not only bragging that you got in—you’re bragging that you were able to find it.
Hidden beneath a handbag shop in il cuore of Little Italy, Mulberry Project is marked only by the bouncers outside. Try to stop by when they’re not there, and join a throng of lost, late-night traffic that has the speakeasy’s neighbors braced for random door-buzzing.
Visiting Mulberry Project is like being let in on a secret. Behind the red front door is an intimate cocktail lounge with dim lighting and low ceilings. Curved black leather banquets surround tables full of model types, whose bottles of Champagne chill in wide, shallow bowls of ice. Black lamps hang over the bar, made from what look like metal drain grates. Black and red graffiti provide the backdrop, with backlit shelves holding rows of liquor bottles.
Don’t even think about ordering a vodka soda at the bar. Bartenders lean in close to find out what you like, what you don’t like and what you’re in the mood for, and make custom cocktails from there. After asking for something clean and not too sweet using rum, one patron left the bar sipping happily on a concoction of rum with honeydew melon and cucumber.
It should come as no surprise that the bartenders at Mulberry Project are able to create game-changing cocktails on the fly, given their résumés. They hail from nightlife leaders like Milk and Honey, Top of The Standard (formerly Boom Boom Room) and Goldbar. Are all great NYC bars hard to find? In this case, yes. 149 Mulberry St., 646-448-4536
photograph by Katie Sokoler
In celebration of International Women’s Day, Ladies United for the Preservation of Endangered Cocktails hosts an event.
March 07, 2011
Cocktails, cheeses, chocolates and a cause worth toasting to: It all comes together at the second annual Whisky and Women Unite event hosted by the NYC chapter of Ladies United for the Preservation of Endangered Cocktails (LUPEC). In honor of International Women’s Day—celebrated worldwide on March 8—Compass Box Whisky Co., founding partner Astor Center and LUPEC invite all women to enjoy a spirited night with the city’s finest female mixologists. Indulge in artisinal cheeses and chocolate pairings courtesy of Rachel Zoe Insler, founder of Bespoke Chocolates, and a local female fromagier.
Lynette Marrero, LUPEC’s NYC chapter president and bartender at Peels, brings whisky to the fore with a menu of eight exceptional cocktails made with Compass Box Scotch whisky. Each ticket ($85 per person) includes the eight cocktails: four named in honor of iconic New York women, two matched with Bespoke Chocolates and two paired with artisanal cheeses. And as a bonus, 30 percent of all ticket sales will be donated to Bottomless Closet NYC, a nonprofit organization that helps disadvantaged women become self sufficient through comprehensive programming and support.
For a night in, Marrero suggests exploring whiskey by experimenting with seasonal fruits, herbs, aromatics and artisinal jams to find the right notes for pairings. “As women get older, their palettes become more sensitive and sophisticated,” she explains. “Pairing sweet and savory flavors like caramel with Scotch margaritas would be ideal to play around with.” Try one of the two cocktail recipes below.
Purchase tickets at astorcenternyc.com
COURTESY OF ERIN WILLIAMS, CREATIVE DIRECTOR AND MIXOLOGIST, HUSH COCKTAILS INC.
1.5 oz Compass Box Spice Tree
½ oz Compass Box Orangerie
1 bar spoon fig preserves
2 dashes Schmeby Highland Heather bitters
Orange twist for garnish
Coupe glass (rinsed with Compass Box Peat Monster)
Shake all ingredients. Pour into a coup glass rinsed with Compass Box Peat Monster. Top with Champagne. Garnish with an orange twist.
Pairing Suggestion: The Alice Paul is delicious paired with Gouda cheese.
COURTESY OF YAEL VENGROFF OF PAINKILLER
¾ oz Spice Tree
¾ oz house-made coconut milk
¾ oz Plymouth Gin
¾ oz Brizzard White crème de cacao
Nutmeg for garnish
Shake all ingredients. Serve in a highball glass. Garnish with nutmeg.
A Spirited Evening
The release of a 50-year single-malt Scotch gets a fabulous fête at Jean Georges.
March 02, 2011
Iuzzini prepares the night's dessert fare
In a city obsessed with youth, it feels mildly subversive to spend an evening celebrating the virtues of age—confidence, complexity, richness. Yet these happen to be the virtues of fine whiskey, and sipping a 50-year-old Scotch is a proper schooling in what young whippersnappers are missing. Adding dessert to the proceedings in a city that’s also fixated on thinness—well, that’s practically deviant. And spectacularly decadent, as the lucky souls who attended the recent launch party for Highland Park’s 50-year-old, single-malt Scotch ($17,500) at the restaurant Jean Georges can attest.
Jean George’s pastry chef, Johnny Iuzzini, who’s handsome mug might be familiar from his stint on Top Chef, Just Desserts, created a series of exquisite (sometimes eccentric) dessert tasting plates, the first paired with Highland Park’s 25-year expression, the next with its 30-year expression, climaxing with the 50-year single malt. The desserts played off Highland Park’s tasting notes, with touches of dark chocolate, coriander, figs and toffee, in confections that showed off Iuzzini’s imagination and technical mastery. Some of the best were a remarkable burnt orange ice cream that melded smoky with cool, and a delicate puff of caramelized honey that looked like a sea sponge and tasted like heaven.
The accompanying drams shared Highland Park’s signature smoky and sweet character, with opening notes of honey and orange giving way to tobacco, cloves and a long spicy finish. The more mature expressions became progressively complex and rewarding, and the 50-year delivered an uncommonly rich, multilayered experience—as befits a spirit that’s ripened in sherry casks for half a century.
Though it’s not as famous as some high-end distilleries, Highland Park (established in 1798 in Orkney, Scotland) has quietly built a reputation for excellence among connoisseurs, winning gold medals for its 18- and 25-year-old single malts and the title “Best New Whiskey Release” for its 40-year. The 50-year is an extremely limited edition of 275 bottles, with only five available in the US this year. The bottle’s sterling silver decoration, created by Scottish jewelry designer Maeve Gillies, signals its status as a collector’s item, to be enjoyed at the most special occasions. The fête at Jean Georges qualified as one
La Petite Maison heats up the Midtown culinary scene.
February 28, 2011
You might expect any restaurant that inhabits the Rockefeller Townhouses to have a somber, hallowed-ground sort of tone; but La Petite Maison, the first US installment of Nicole Rubi’s celebrated Nice eatery, instead opts for an energetic, modern vibe. Consulting chef Alain Allegretti, who likewise hails from the sun-burnished Provençal town, has crafted a menu featuring modern interpretations of mouth-watering seaside classics, such as fried zucchini-blossom beignets or black tagliolini with shrimp, sea scallops and serrano peppers. An accent on tasting menus drives the notion that this is a place to meet and mingle. French architect Cyril Durand Behar’s modernist look starts with a sleek bar that’s sure to be a hit with the Midtown business set, while dining rooms on the two floors are dominated with painted photographs of Twiggy and Isabelle Adjani. Far from stuffy, La Petite Maison adds a dose of Euro-inspired fun to Fifth Avenue’s offerings. 13–15 W. 54th St.; 212-616-9931
Lavo's Lounge Leader
Jayma Cardoso keeps things running smoothly at Lavo and beyond.
February 14, 2011
FROM LEFT: Gold Bar, Lavo
New York City has always had a beloved nightlife den mother. We’ve seen Elaine Kaufman, Régine Zylberberg and Amy Sacco—and now Jayma Cardoso joins their ranks.
As co-owner of Lavo with Noah Tepperberg and Marc Packer, the Brazilian charmer helped Heidi Klum host her annual Halloween party with Kim Kardashian, and the venue welcomed a cavalcade of models for the Victoria’s Secret fashion show afterparty.
“I’m friends with a lot of the Brazilian models,” Cardoso explains. “I hosted Alessandra Ambrosio’s birthday party at the former Cain Estate in Sag Harbor with Ana Beatriz [Barros]. They’re just normal girls.”
Her clubs Surf Lodge in Montauk and Gold Bar have hosted the likes of Julianne Moore, Ralph Lauren, Beyoncé and Jay-Z, and Penélope Cruz and Javier Bardem. She’s a BFF of successful gents including money guru Jim Chanos and chef Eric Ripert, who has held private birthday dinners for her at Le Bernardin. “A lot of them become good friends,” she says. “I know their children. I spend Christmas with some.”
So what makes Cardoso float like fine cream while other sultry nightlife beauties sink? “I’ve never really dated a guest,” she insists. “The minute it doesn’t go well, you lose a client. And I treat the venue like my home. If you showed up at my house, I’d make you tea and take your coat. And I do that in a club.”
Neapolitan Pizza at Donatella
Donatella Arpaia brings a bit of Naples to Chelsea.
February 04, 2011
Like its four-inch heel clad, Lamborghini-driving owner, Donatella—the latest from restaurateur Donatella Arpaia—makes an impression. The eatery gives off a rustic old-world vibe that transports diners from Chelsea to the coast of central Italy.
Upon entrance, Donatella's gilded brick oven, hand-built by Stefano Ferrara using materials sourced from Mount Vesuvius, issues forth the tantalizing aroma of authentic pizza Napolitana. Before stepping up to Ferrara’s glittering oven, executive chef Jarett Appell studied under pizzaiolo Enzo Coccia (of the famed Pizzeria La Notizia) to hone his pizza making skills.
|Donatella's hangover pizza|
Appell’s Neapolitan technique and Ferrara’s five ton brick oven produce a heavenly pizza Margherita, as well as brunch favorites like the sausage, lardo and egg topped hangover pizza.
Sweet offerings like the Nutella French toast and ricotta pancakes are expectedly delicious. But the most pleasant surprise is the homemade sfogliatelle, a rare and seldom done right treasure. “[It was] my biggest challenge and triumph,” Arpaia says. “It’s an extremely difficult pastry to make, and we had been working on the recipe for months until finally perfecting it.” 184 8th Ave., 212-493-5150
RBC’s New Pour-Over Coffee Bar
Coffee gets serious at RBC NYC in Tribeca.
February 03, 2011
A selection of brewing equipment at RBC; an excellent cup of coffee
Pour over (or by-the-cup) brewing is picking up steam among science-minded NYC baristas. French presses sit in dark corners while sleek Japanese funnels seep aromatic brews into beaker-like pitchers resting on digital scales.
Heeding the trend, Tribeca coffee shop RBC NYC—known for its $20,000 Slayer espresso machine—recently beefed up its coffee program with a new pour-over coffee bar. At the core of RBC’s tricked out coffee lab is the Über Boiler, an ultra-precise water spigot that’s programmable within .1 degree Celsius (so scientific). According to coffee director Cora Lambert, no other café in the city is using the Über Boiler for pour-over coffee. We stopped by the shop for a look at Lambert’s new toys (all but the Über Boiler are sold at RBC) and got a lesson in three pleasingly potent pour-over methods.
HARIO WOODNECK SOFT POT
RBC’s most-popular new pour-over method, the woodneck ($60) is a cousin of the Latin American “sock” style drip and uses a flannel filter that yields a heavy bodied, syrupy brew. Cora and her team don’t recommend adding milk or sugar to a woodneck brew.
HARIO V60 DRIPPER
The V60’s ($25) spiral ridges create turbulence that allows grounds to fully expand for a complex and aromatic brew. The V60 is available in glass and plastic (Lambert prefers glass) and works with both paper and cloth filters.
The Aeropress ($32) is surprisingly easy to use (“dummy proof,” one barista says), takes about a minute to brew and goes to work right on top of your mug. Hot water and grounds are pumped through a thin paper filter for a clear, clean brew with zero sediment.