Rise, Balthazar, Le Bernadin, Gotham, Peter Lugar
Ate our way silly through NYC last weekend.
Rise Bar is the best tourist bar EVER. Had cocktails on the extremely windy bar overlooking the Statue of Liberty then moved inside to eat almost everything on the bar menu (we had a fun group). Of particular note were the Kobe Beef kebabs and the Italian meat appetizer tray. Very pricey but the scene was worth it - great music and a really good buzz in the crowd.
Balthazar for brunch was perfect. We had reservations at 10 and were happy to have had them. Excellent people watching. My stepson had a steak with frites - perfectly cooked and with a yummy herbed butter. My friend had the chicken on risotto which was unique and she assured me, very tasty. I had the wild mushroom and asparagus with scrambled eggs in a puff pastry shell. I loved everything but the shell. The atmosphere is really happening - a true New Yorky feel. Even down to the bathroom attendant. You could probably find something to satisfy anyone here.
Le Bernadin was sublime. Very upscale, very special. We had the chef's tasting menu - course after course of divine seafood for most of us, non-shellfish for one of us. Everyone had a favorite dish. I was partial to the thin little cracker with foie gras, completely sheathed in a fine layer of salmon, a bit of lemon juice and olive oil and chives. Utterly decadent. I don't think there is a better place to eat in the world. Also the sommelier was very kind and picked out excellent wines. I usually drink decent stuff, but after the white burgundy, I thought, "what have I been doing all this time?"
Had a brunch ($20) buffet at Ulysses on Stone Street in the financial district which i thought was an excellent value - omelet station, salads, bacon, oysters, bloody mary. The dessert selection was unbelievably good - had a little mousse cake with a fabulous ganache. The setting is unusual to me - a little serpentine cobbled street with lots of small restaurants and bars. Not crowded.
Went to Gotham that night. Man oh man is the food good here too. Not quite as much as an event as Le B. but beautifully decorated space, great service and a more american menu. Had a wonderful gazpacho and a pasta with wild mushrooms. Others at our table had meats. Once again, no one had anything to grouch about. I would have thought this place would have been busier, with attitude, but it was a wonderful surprise to have it to ourselves at the end of the night.
Then there's Peter Lugar. Probably not spelling it right. It is in Brooklyn, not a big trip. Yup, it is casual and yup it is brightly lit and Bavarian brewhouse-like. But oh boy those steaks. We all found the appetizers and the salads to be more than adequate unlike some of the reviews I've read. But the steak! If you like steak at all, stay away from here unless you can get here once a week to satisfy the crave. I am not a big steak eater and even I was a convert - ate so much that it has been 2 days since I felt like eating anything else.
New York is truly the best and we are so grateful that we got to try so much. Everytime we go, though, we swear we'll stay longer and eat more.