Food + Drink / Insights

Pennsylvania 6 Brings Meaty Bar Bites to Midtown

The new restaurant is a sophisticated take on a sports bar, but that’s not a bad thing.

June 04, 2013


Smack-dab in the middle of foot-traffic central, the Midtown/Madison Square Garden area seldom seems ideal for a quiet dinner. With its mix of bar bites and savory entrees, recently opened Pennsylvania 6—taking nominal inspiration from the nearby Pennsylvania Hotel’s old phone number (6-5000)—is hoping to stand out in the overcrowded neighborhood.

The restaurant shares its name with an old jazz song performed by the Glenn Miller Orchestra; it’s clear that the intent here is to infuse the tired Midtown bar scene with a bit of older-world glamour and new American cuisine.

It’s still a bar, to be sure—more than a fair share of TVs hang above diners’ heads, but it’s obvious that owner Chris Coco is trying to straddle the line between the sophistication of the nearby NoMad neighborhood and Midtown mania. And while the restaurant is a bit overcrowded on game nights (the Garden is just a block away, after all), its clean lines, wood paneling, matte black tiled floor, and striking red leather banquettes make it clear this is a spot for more than just pregame festivities

Executive chef Humberto Leon’s appetizers are the restaurant’s vision in action—when was the last time you saw dry-aged beef carpaccio with violet mustard or roasted bone marrow on a bar menu? The raw bar is more conventional, featuring a nice selection of oysters from both coasts and impressive jumbo shrimp that live up to their name. And the beef buns aren’t quite as spicy as advertised, but the black pepper-sauced meat is pretty noteworthy regardless.

As mains go, the dry-aged sirloin’s crust crunches satisfyingly around a still-juicy and well-cooked inside. On the surf side, pan-roasted monkfish osso buco sits atop a thick, earthy bed of maitake mushrooms, butternut squash, and asparagus with a tangy cider broth that melds perfectly with the (admittedly slightly “over”) fish that sits atop it. Surprisingly enough, the best bite on the menu might be the bánh mì—a light take on the Vietnamese sandwich with yummy pork, fresh veggies, and a sweet aioli between slices of buttery-crunchy baguette, served with truffle, Parmesan, and rosemary fries. Yes, it’s a sandwich and fries, but there’s enough sophistication to it—and the space in general—to overlook the extra noise. 132 W. 31st St., 212-727-3666




New Documentary Goes Behind the Bar

Hey Bartender tells the bartender's story in the era of the craft cocktail.

May 23, 2013

Chances are, you have a favorite watering hole in New York City where your bartender-turned-mixologist not only knows your name, but your specialty cocktail of choice. Ever wonder what life is like behind the bar? A new documentary by award-winning director Douglas Tirola explores just that.

Featuring commentary by nightlife and dining legends like Graydon Carter, Danny Meyer, Frank Pellegrino (Rao's), and Amy Sacco, Hey Bartender (4th Row Films) follows two bartenders trying to achieve their dreams through bartending: former marine Steve Schneider (of New York's Employees Only), and Steve "Carpi" Carpentieri—who buys his hometown corner bar and struggles to keep the business alive.

So in an era of the craft cocktail, what is bartending all about? "Being a bartender is increasingly seen as a craft, the same way people now look at chefs," says director Tirola. "Someone who is creative and has a knowledge of ingredients and how to put them together. Right at this moment in New York City, the rest of the country, and even the world there are so many interesting things happening for bartenders and the craft of making cocktails."

Certainly, the bar business has evolved in recent years, and according to Tirola, one change that many patrons find surprising is that "most people getting into bartending today see it as a career, not just something to do in between jobs." But with all of the pursuits of modern mixologists ("creating new drinks, creating products like bitters and bar tools, and even in some cases, their own spirits"), bartending has become a "lifetime career choice," says Tirola. 

Also, the filmmaker explains, although "bartenders are also a very tight-knit community, socializing, and having lunch," many bartenders also take their training and business development very seriously. They attend, he says, such seminars as the one held by independent, family-owned distiller William Grant & Sons, which was shot for Hey Bartender, and in which bartenders were taught by brand ambassadors, distillers, and other experts about the history and uses for gin and whiskey.

"I think for most people it's hard to imagine bartenders going to high level seminars the way Wall Street types take classes after work at Columbia Business School, but that is exactly what this is. The level of knowledge and skill that bartenders put into every drink is the greatest sign of where the craft is today."

Hey Bartender opens June 7th, Village East Cinema, 189 Second Ave., 212-529-6998


Jamaican Juice in Downtown New York

Melvin's Juice Box serves fresh juice, shakes, and wheatgrass shots at Miss Lily's.

May 15, 2013

With summer just around the corner, thoughts turn to sunshine and refreshing warm weather libations. Enter Miss Lily's, downtown Manhattan's beloved Jamaican diner. Inspired by Caribbean beach shacks (with a fun music and great Jamaican food) the restaurant has recently expanded and opened a variety shop, and bakery, and Melvin's Juice Box, which is helmed by Melvin Major Jr., who has more than 20 years of experience in the art of juicing. His totally organic menu of fresh juices and shakes include Jamaican-inspired delights like the Caribbean Coco shake, made with coconut, two choices of fruit, and wheatgrass. Other popular coolers include the Strawberry Riddim shake (apple, banana, strawberry), the Jamaican Green juice (kale, apple, lemon, ginger, celery) and the Rise-Up (wheatgrass, pineapple, apple, bee pollen, strawberry, banana). There are also simple juices, protein shakes, and several varieties of wheatgrass shots. 132 West Houston St., 646-588-5375




Slideshow: The New York Culinary Experience

Behind the scenes at the annual culinary camp for foodies.

May 07, 2013

A veritable pantheon of New York City chefs assembled for the fifth annual New York Culinary Experience this past weekend. The two-day event, hosted by New York magazine and The International Culinary Center (ICC), gave participants the chance to cook with 35 food world heavyweights (Masaharu Morimoto and Jean-Georges Vongerichten among them). A portion of the proceeds from the event supported The Future Chefs scholarship, an ICC program that provides funding for students wishing to pursue their dream of attending culinary school.




Grown-Up Grilled Cheese

New York chefs reinvent the cafeteria classic for National Grilled Cheese Day.

April 12, 2013

Beer Cheese, Oaxaca, and Tomato Grilled Cheese at Rogue & Cannon 

From Antica Pesa chef Simone Panella’s deep-fried mozzarella and anchovy sandwich to Bagatelle NY chef Romuald Jung’s beef short rib grilled cheese, these gourmet riffs on a childhood classic are worth a try this National Grilled Cheese Day.  

Short Rib Grilled Cheese  
Recipe by executive chef Romuald Jung, Bagatelle NY

2 slices Pullman loaf white bread
2 ounces smoked mozzarella, sliced
4 pieces tomato confit
1 four-ounce slice beef short rib
2  ounces canola oil

Layer mozzarella, beef short rib, and tomato confit between two slices of bread. Heat a non-stick pan with canola oil and sear until golden brown.

Mozzarella in Carrozza
Chef Simone Panella, Antica Pesa

2 slices pan brioche or sandwich bread
Sliced mozzarella
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
1/2 cup flour
2 eggs, beaten
Anchovies, chopped

Combine mozzarella and anchovies into a sandwich and dip in egg, flour, and again in egg. Cover with breadcrumbs and fry in hot canola oil at 360 degrees until golden brown.

Beer Cheese, Oaxaca, and Tomato Grilled Cheese
Chef Adam Slamon, Rogue & Canon

2 slices Pullman sourdough bread
1/2 cup cheddar beer cheese*
1/2 cup shredded Oaxaca cheese  
2 oven-dried tomatoes**
2 tablespoons mayonnaise

On one slice of bread, layer tomatoes and beer cheese. On the other slice, layer Oaxaca cheese and beer cheese. Sandwich together and smear exterior with mayonnaise. Sear in frying pan on low heat until golden brown. Finish in the oven at 350 degrees until cheese is completely melted.

*For the cheddar beer cheese: In a medium sauce pot, melt two tablespoons butter and whisk in two tablespoons flour. Add one tablespoon mustard powder, two tablespoons Worcestershire sauce, and one bottle dark beer. Reduce heat and slowly add one pound shredded aged cheddar cheese. Stir until combined.

**For the oven-dried tomatoes: Using a small knife, cut an X into the top of each tomato. Place tomatoes in a boiling pot of water for 30 seconds. Remove tomatoes from water and place in an ice bath to cool. Remove skin, beginning at the X, and cut into four wedges. Bake wedges at 250 degrees for about two hours.  




Ichabod’s Channels Rustic New York

The Irving Place resto nods to a book by the street’s namesake with a fresh, country theme.

April 05, 2013

The interior of Ichabod's restaurant in Union Square.
The interior of Ichabod's is decorated to look like a rustic upstate New York farm.

New Union Square eatery Ichabod’s pays homage to its Irving Place address, and subsequently, the street’s namesake writer, Washington Irving. The restaurant particularly plays on The Legend of Sleepy Hollow’s protagonist, Ichabod Crane, bringing the book’s late 18th-century “country setting”—at that time Westchester County, if not everything above the modern-day Union Square area, was widely considered the wild—to life in a cozy 40-seat space ornamented with rustic trappings like simple tables and chairs, exposed wooden ceiling beams fashioned from raw and reclaimed wood, and low lighting by way of candles.

The theme applies to the food, too, its seasonal menu filled with upscale twists on American classics. For current starters, executive chef Matthew Etchemendy serves up of-the-moment kale in a salad alongside pickled cranberries and walnuts, drizzled in hot cider vinaigrette. A cold bar is a different way to begin your meal, featuring choices from oysters to crab Louie to clams, and beyond. Yet another option is the share plates, with standouts like savory-sweet squash dumplings, served with lightly truffled chestnuts, sage, and sherry butter; and marrow bone with Cabernet jelly and pickles. Entrees comprise duck leg, skirt steak, brook trout, scallops, and roast chicken—all with farm-fresh accompaniments. Dessert is especially relevant to the rustic New York feel, including a campfire-inspired ice cream dish, served in a mason jar with melted marshmallows, roasted peanuts, pretzels, and caramel sauce.

Cocktails by Jeremy Strawn of Mulberry Project take on a similar country-focused perspective by creatively fusing in fresh produce. For something strong that deceivingly doesn’t taste so, try the Volstead, with vodka, elderflower liquer, lemon, strawberry, and prosecco; or the Depth Charge, a combination of tequilla blanco, lime, Cointreau, Dolin Blanc vermouth, and watermelon. The Bramble offers a sweeter sip, with a simple mix of gin and lemon juice that comes served with housemade berry jam on top. To really round out your experience, order beers or wines that hail from around New York state: a Captain Lawrence or Ommegang brew, or a glass of vino from McCall Vineyards. 15 Irving Pl., 212-777-5102




Wise Men Restyles the Steakhouse

A fashionable take on steak and martinis arrives on the Bowery.

April 04, 2013

The first Western-style steakhouse in New York’s Chinatown is the eponymous inspiration for Wise Men, a cool new martini bar and steakhouse on the Bowery. And the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree: The 1960s predecessor was the family business of Christina Chin, one of the fashionable co-owners of the recently opened Wise Men.    

In total there are three women behind Wise Men. A noted fashion stylist, Chin is also the creative director of S Magazine; co-owner Danielle Levitt is a portrait photographer; and the third “wise woman,” Caroleyn Ng, is a hospitality industry veteran whose experience in concept nightclubs extends from New York to South Beach. But the design of Wise Men is wholly New York, with a dark setting, mural tile floor, and plenty of retro nods to ’70s Chinatown, thanks to a design by sculptor and set designer Andy Harman.

Open for dinner, drinks, and late-night dining, the neighborhood hangout features signature cocktails and a menu of small plates. Steakhouse staples range from a bavette steak with “Wise Men steak sauce” to lamb chops with mint pesto to stuffed cremini mushrooms, and there’s also a patty melt, fried clam strips, and crab toast for late-night appetites. House cocktails include the Classic French 75 (cognac, lemon, and prosecco), the Vesper (Bulldog gin, vodka, Lillet Blanc, and orange zest), and the Sazerac (Old Overholt Rye, absinthe, and Peychaud's Bitters). 355 Bowery, 646-590-4244




Pearl & Ash: Global Dining on the Bowery

A slideshow tour of the worldly new small plates eatery.

March 25, 2013

Downtown’s newest and most buzzed-about dining destination is Pearl & Ash, a modern and globally-inspired small plates restaurant helmed by executive chef Richard Kuo. The menu, which is broken down into categories like "Raw" and "Sugar," highlights chef Kuo’s past culinary experiences and travels. Most recently, Kuo manned the kitchen at the wildly popular Brooklyn pop-up Frej, and he has also cooked at Corton. 



A Brunch Party at Day & Night

An ultra-exclusive brunch event in the MPD is the perfect prelude to a Saturday night.

March 15, 2013

Brunch usually conjures up images of lazy weekend mornings/afternoons spent quietly sipping a caffeinated beverage and recovering from the previous evening. Turn your perception of brunch around with Day & Night at the Highline Ballroom, brought to you by Dual Groupe founders Daniel and Derek Koch. The concept was founded in 2008, but came to its current location in late 2012. Day & Night now runs weekly on Saturdays (2-7 pm) and turns brunch into a bona fide party with world-famous DJs, spinning disco balls, pulsating colored lights, and on-stage dancers.

The stylish crowd enters through an unmarked door down a side street in the Meatpacking District, where the only tip-off that a party is happening is a line, bouncers, and a velvet rope. Once inside, expect white tablecloths, purple upholstery, and silver furniture set against black walls and floors (all the better to enhance the scene). Tables tend toward large parties, and the flaming bottles sent to various groups call out to celebrations: birthdays, bachelorette parties, or just toasts to the weekend.

Although Day & Night could make a covetable party out of its ambiance alone, the new food and drink additions from chef Erik Blauberg are decadent and well executed. For starters, sample the imported burrata, wood-smoked salmon with guacamole, or an array of salads that feature everything from sliced filet mignon to roasted fingerling potatoes. Newly launched mains of note include a Maine lobster salad on a brioche bun served with homemade fries; or the steak signature et oeufs, an elegant combination of breakfast and lunch with blackened tenderloin, organic poached eggs, truffle fries, and black truffle mayonnaise. Other items to try: tuna tartare, Cajun blackened chicken breast, or fried calamari with sumptuous chipotle dip and truffle mayonnaise.

Aside from an extensive bottle service that offers premium Champagne, wine, and spirits, guests can now choose from a list of carefully concocted cocktails. Savor a twist on the usual sangria with The No. 1 English Sangria, comprised of Pimms No. 1, 10 Cane Rum, Cointreau, and topped with red wine and fresh seasonal fruit. Those looking for their caffeine fix can find it an unusual way: the Orange Blossom Tea mixes Makers Mark Bourbon, orange and black tea, and fresh lemon, then tops it all off with orange blossom essence. But every guest should try the signature Day & Night with Belvedere Vodka, ginger, fresh lime, and dark rum molasses.

Whatever you order, and whichever renowned DJ is spinning, this party atmosphere is the perfect opening act to a luxurious night on the town. Reservations can be made by calling 212-201-1222 or emailing 431 W. 16th St., Meatpacking District

—Cait Rohan


Nightcaps for New York Power Players

Made with edible gold, caviar, and truffles, these cocktails are filthy rich and delicious.

March 06, 2013

The Russian Tea Room's Cavatini  

A Voce beverage director Olivier Flosse and his mixology team have crafted a new signature cocktail in the Tartufo Speciale ($33). Starting with house-infused black truffle vermouth, the drink is concocted with 10-year aged bourbon, black truffle syrup, and bourbon-honey-pickled black truffles. Half of the martini glass is rimmed with white truffle honey to provide a sweet and savory sip. 10 Columbus Circle, 212-823-2523; 41 Madison Ave., 212-545-8555

Using top shelf Patron Platinum tequila (produced from hand-selected blue agave plants, triple distilled, and retailing for approximately $200 per bottle), S Prime crafts its Platinum Margarita ($48). Executive chef Joel Reiss keeps the flavor crisp and pure with a mix of Patron Platinum, fresh lime juice, and agave nectar. The drink is served in a martini glass rimmed with salt. 35-15 36th St., Long Island City, 718-707-0660

The Russian Team Room serves the ultimate vodka martini for caviar lovers, The Cavitini ($25). Fit for a tsar, the cocktail is made with Imperial Vodka (distilled eight times and proofed with glacial water), ten grams of hackleback caviar, and olives. Served dry and chilled, it’s the perfect end (or start) to a fabulous New York night. 150 W. 57th St., 212-581-7100

Nestled in the St. Regis New York, King Cole Bar serves decadent drinks in a stylish, sophisticated setting. While you can choose from an assortment of Bloody Marys, the most luxurious drink on the menu is undoubtedly The King’s Passion ($29). The drink combines Champagne rosé, Grand Marnier 150 (a bottle of which will cost you $220), and passion fruit juice. 2 E. 55th St., 212-339-6721

As if Mr. Trump would have it any other way, gold is king at The World Bar in the Trump World Tower. Its $50 World Cocktail packs Rémy Martin XO (aged at least 21 years), the French aperitif Pineau des Charantes, fresh grape and lemon juices, a dash of bitters, Veuve Clicquot Champagne, and 23k edible liquid gold. 845 United Nations Plaza, 212-935-9361 

—Dalene Rovenstine

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