Food for thought: Where to eat in New York
Writing this whilst on a juice detox would under normal circumstances test my will power and self-restraint. Luckily, I am being detained in a very ‘luxurious prison’ where getting that exotic Mediterranean salad or indulgent brunch is barred, so writing about delicious New York food is a bit of a trial! While remembering the gastronomic delights I experienced in the city I will try to pretend I am eating them again in this different kind of paradise. As with any trip or day in the life of me, I will lead you from breakfast to lunch to dinner so you can see the sights or go to meetings without having to figure out where to eat afterwards…
Breakfast: The Regency Bar & Grill, Loews Regency, Upper East Side
Despite the pouring rain on this Tuesday morning in New York, the wonderful image I had in my mind of breakfast at the Loews Regency was still intact. On any given weekday morning, between 7am and 10am, Park Avenue is lined with a collection of immaculate shiny black cars waiting to collect the clientele of the Regency Bar & Grill. Inside, the tables are overflowing with the movers and shakers from the worlds of Wall Street, entertainment, media and politics – Anna Wintour is said to be a regular here before her day at Vogue begins.
The breakfast here has an interesting history, beginning in the mid-70s during New York City’s financial crisis when Bob Tisch, founder of the Loews Regency, invited the City’s business and political leaders to his Park Avenue hotel for breakfast before their working day started. They spent the time discussing ways to help the City recover from bankruptcy. Acknowledging the significance of the participants, Mr. Tisch used the term “Power Breakfasts” to describe the early morning meetings, which forever changed how business was done in New York.
Sitting at my table, I was surprised how close I was to the neighbouring table, but the proximity allowed me to experience a volatile discussion which erupted alongside me – the pair were almost yelling at each other about the financial benefits resulting from Trump’s presidential victory. There is nothing discreet about this location, it is unashamedly a place where the powerful gather to self-publicize and self-promote, but not in a discreet way! This is definitely eating with entertainment.
The gourmet offerings at this establishment, like the diners, are of course superb. The Eggs Royale I ordered was delicious, with the muffin and salmon topped with a very generous amount of caviar. Truly a meal for Kings and Queens. This is the place to come for wonderful food, and maybe some eavesdropping!
Breakfast: The Shop, Andaz 5th Avenue, Midtown
If you are based in the centre of the City, or rising early to hit the famous 5th Avenue shopping streets, The Shop at Andaz 5th Avenue is not a window to miss. Located near Grand Central Station on the corner of 41st and 5th, these pre-war apartment residences create a perfect atmosphere for intimate dining. For those wishing to find fresh and seasonal food, the menu features dishes made with ingredients from some of the best purveyors of fine food in New York City. Other produce is sourced from local farms such as field greens, wild arugula, heirloom tomatoes, chicken and pork.
A fresh fruit bowl, before my avocado on toast, came with a delightful selection of pears, berries, melon and pineapple. Tucking into this sweet, succulent and local produce made me appreciate the restaurant’s sustainability standards despite the industry’s ferocious competition in a City such as New York. The tide is changing, diners no longer want fast food for breakfast, they also want fresh, local produce to get the real taste of the place being visited.
The food is simple and delicious: it is exactly want you want from a breakfast, something healthy and nutritious, topped off with an almond cappuccino, to set you up for the day, before storming the shops for exchange rate bargains and the next big thing.
Brunch: Chalk Point Kitchen, SoHo
In the heart of SoHo, at 527 Broome Street, resides Chalk Point Kitchen, a 60 seat ‘market-to-table’ eatery owned by Lower East Side restaurateur, Matt Levine and his indieFORK team. 18 months on from the launch, Chef Rebecca Weitzman embodies the ethos of the restaurant being totally committed to ‘farm-to-table’, sustainable practices, while spearheading the creation, direction and design of the menu of Chalk Point Kitchen. Her passion for locally sourced produce brings a fresh and ever-changing menu to SoHo. The establishment pays homage to the history of the location, with exclusively sourced ingredients from the Tri-State Area – you really are getting New York on a plate.
The restaurant has a slightly rustic atmosphere, which is quirky, eccentric, and exactly what I love. The staff, led by the wonderful and charming Georges Florus, were delightful and recommended a gastronomic treat, convincing me that carrots were a worthwhile side order at $15! Begrudgingly I took the advice with a large amount of scepticism…how wrong was I! – I never appreciated that the meagre carrot could become such a divine delicacy. The creamy honey glaze with feta clouding carrots the orange was just incredible. Trust me you will never taste carrots like it. Besides this superb dish, I had avocado with lots of spicy sauce, perfect for health, boosting metabolism, and I could eat that smooth green texture all day long – I think I definitely contribute to the rise in avocado sales!
This is an all-day diner at its best, delicious food with great taste… and a little secret downstairs there is a bar where you can sip superfood cocktails all night long, that really is the yin and yang of New York nightlife.
Lunch: Beer & Buns, Midtown
You can’t go to New York without munching on a burger or two, but now so many restaurant chains are also in my home city, London that I have already tried most of them. I wanted to experience something different, and taste New York’s luxury burger. The place to go for this is Pan-Asian burger restaurant, Beer & Buns at The Court, St Giles Hotel.
The menu is inspired by Chef Wisit Panpinyo (affectionately called Chef Nok by his colleagues), who was originally from Thailand. Chef Nok’s burgers and sliders reveal his remarkable inventiveness by combining the rich flavors of Thailand and South East Asia with the finest beef, using Western culinary techniques. Chef Nok and the culinary team at Beer & Buns have also paired the dishes with refreshing craft beers and cocktails to provide a truly fulfilling experience in the heart of Midtown. For the ultimate treat, try the B&B Indulgence Burger, for $250 per person, which comes with house speciality wagyu beef, sautéed foie gras, fresh truffles and caviar served on a toasted brioche bun. For me, this burger reflects the cosmopolitan nature of the City, full of colour, flavour and vibrancy. Put this on your New York bucket list to get the supreme taste of the City.
Dinner: Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steak House
Opening more than 20 years ago, Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steak House has maintained its ethos to embody the rich tradition of the classic American steakhouse, with its impeccable chef-driven cuisine, extensive award-winning wine list and unparalleled hospitality. The cornerstone of Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steak House menu is aged USDA Prime Beef. The restaurant serves only the best hand-cut steaks, chops and fresh seafood, including Australian cold-water lobster tails – mouth-watering dishes to excite the taste buds as soon as you set foot into the grand 3-storey building.
I have been lucky enough to dine in some of London’s best steak and fish restaurants, and so my expectations were high. The Sesame-Seared Tuna I chose for my main course was incredible; it was lightly but perfectly seared, while the soy ginger glaze and wasabi cream gave it an explosion of sweet, spicy and zingy flavour. Another dish you cannot miss is the Jumbo Lump Crab Cake with Cajun Lobster Sauce – the waiter told me that it was the best in New York. As its website suggests, Del Frisco’s produces some of the most ‘mouthwatering appetizers, flavourful side dishes and irresistible desserts’ – and I certainly can’t disagree!
This really is American food at its best – huge plates, delicious ingredients, cooked to perfection. After your Rockefeller visit or Broadway show, be sure to continue the evening in this stunning, energetic atmosphere, perfect for everyone to enjoy. Just remember to toast with The VIP cocktail!