New York’s vital ingredient

This article was also published in the Financial Times.   Joe Bastianich, with whom chef Mario Batali has opened over 20 restaurants in New York, Las Vegas and Singapore – and they now have their sights set on opening in Hong Kong – was in typically feisty mood after lunch at Esca, their seafood restaurant on W 43rd Street. ‘I still believe New York is the dining capital of the world, that you can get the best of whatever style of food you want to eat here. It’s like London…






New York breakfasts

This article was also published in the Financial Times.   Over breakfast with friends at Maialino in the Gramercy Park Hotel, New York, I became aware of two emerging social phenomena in the city. The first, and more depressing, was evinced by a queue of young people that formed in front of the restaurant’s large windows facing what is surely the city’s prettiest park and was soon about 100-strong. The explanation, I discovered, was that the hotel was interviewing for new staff. The more appetising fact was our friends’ observation…






Dining in the Time Warner building

Dining in the Time Warner building – 2004 The five long heralded restaurants opening in the Time Warner building at Columbus Circle, New York have sharply divided the city’s other restaurateurs and not just for the most obvious reason that they do not appear to have been invited to the party. One camp is vociferously shouting foul, claiming that the obvious financial inducements that have persuaded Thomas Keller and Masa Takayama from California, Charlie Trotter from Chicago and the seemingly ubiquitous Jean-Georges Vongerichten and Gray Kunz into the fourth floor…






Steak, Italian and Ice Cream in New York

Steak, Italian and Ice Cream in New York – 2005 The only consolation for standing in the slow-moving queue towards Immigration at New York’s JFK airport recently was watching other parents being harangued by their teenage children about their forthcoming shopping spree with the pound currently so strong against the dollar. In the likely event that this may continue for some time, here are three restaurants with unique charms for those eating out with their families. The New York steakhouse Those diehards who still swear by Peter Luger across the…






Eating out on a Sunday

Eating out on a Sunday – 2002 At first glance it seemed to be business as usual in the dining room at The Square in Mayfair. The customers were having a good time; the waiting staff were bustling about with wine bottles, decanters and trays of intricate food and there was the buzz of a busy, well organised restaurant. But there were a couple of tell-tale signs that this evening was out of the ordinary. Firstly, we had arrived earlier than usual at 19.30 to meet friends who were already…






Cru, Blue Hill and beyond Manhattan

Cru, Blue Hill and beyond Manhattan – 2006 As we bustled down Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue to catch the 4.35pm train from Grand Central Station to Tarrytown up the Hudson Valley, I had no idea that the Rockefeller name would feature quite so prominently throughout our evening. Initially, on our right was the imposing Rockefeller Centre while at the end of the half hour train journey followed by a ten minute taxi ride out into the country that looked magnificent in the late autumn sunshine was Stone Barns, an 88 acre…






The Modern and where to buy wine in New York

The Modern and where to buy wine in New York – 2005 New York’s foremost restaurateurs are responding to the almost frenetic demand for reservations in their current establishments by expanding in their own very different ways. Drew Nieporent, whose Myriad Restaurant Group manages 13 different restaurants including Nobu New York and London, has just opened Crush, a classy new wine shop on E57th Street, as he sees sales of wine, particularly fine wine, continue to soar in his restaurants. He will open an even bigger Nobu in mid-town in…






Per Se

Per Se – 2005 As soon as I handed in my coat to the receptionist at Thomas Keller’s overrated and extremely expensive Per Se in New York’s Time Warner building I could see that I had made a mistake. Right by her desk was a large floral display in which most of the tulips were bedraggled and on their last legs, in a similar condition to the floral display I subsequently saw in the centre of the dining room. At this supposed level of excellence and at these prices, attention…






Monkey Bar and Le Caprice NY

Monkey Bar and Le Caprice NY – 2009 In New York six months ago, Chris Corbin and Jeremy King from The Wolseley in London joined forces with Graydon Carter, editor of Vanity Fair, to re-open The Monkey Bar in the Elysée Hotel, a restaurant that first saw the light of day in 1936. Last month, and only six blocks away on the city’s chic Upper East Side, Caprice Holdings, the company that Corbin and King created but subsequently sold, has just opened Le Caprice as part of the Pierre Hotel…






Picholine and others

Picholine and others – 2001 It was to be our last meal in New York and I wanted something slightly different. Not brash and noisy as at Cafe Luxembourg or Jaya, an inexpensive Malaysian restaurant in Chinatown, or a great value bistro such as Jarnac, however good and enjoyable they had been, but somewhere slightly gentler, a restaurant that would ease us all back into a European frame of mind. Picholine was the obvious choice. Since it opened in 1993 Terrance Brennan’s restaurant, situated between the Lincoln Centre and Central…