Saturday, January 2, 2016

New York - A three-star last day

Like all good things, our trip came to a close on Saturday.  But our flights were late enough that we still had the bulk of the day to play -- and play we did!

Nicole, a good friend of mine from Kennedy Center days, recently moved from DC to New York, so we began our day by meeting up with Nicole and her boyfriend, Bruce, for breakfast in the Rubinstein Atrium at Lincoln Center.  It was good to catch up and learn about what they're doing:  Nicole is head of development at the Park Avenue Armory, which sounds like a super interesting performance venue (she told us of a show that involves sheep and blimps that may warrant a trip later in the spring).  Bruce is an economist at the World Bank and the UN, currently working in Geneva.

We parted ways -- Nicole and Bruce to make some returns at West Elm; the three of us to find Trump Hotel at Columbus Circle.

The appeal wasn't the Trump brand, but rather Jean-Georges, the three-Michelin-starred restaurant nestled at the base:  We had a reservation for lunch!

I've always been puzzled why Michelin's "stars" look more like flowers.
This was our first three-star experience, and we were very excited.  The dining room was elegant and minimal, all white and gold, with the only color coming from a stand of deep red amaryllis in the middle.  Dress code forbad jeans and sneakers; jackets were optional before 6pm.

Our server handed us menus and invited us to construct our own tasting menus from the options listed.  We each chose three items and a dessert.

Three amuse bouches: a ceviche, shredded brussels sprouts, and spicy miso soup
Sea urchin with yuzu and jalapeño on black toast
Foie gras brûlée with dried sour cherries, candied pistachios and white port gelee
Crispy confit of suckling pig with rutabaga pudding and smoked bacon marmalade
Left to right: (1) hazelnut milk chocolate millefeuille, (2) warm chocolate cake vanilla bean ice cream, and
 (3) white chocolate ice cream yuzu sorbet
Closing treats: passionfruit jellies, hazelnut macarons, assorted dark chocolate cremes
Restaurants win stars based on a number of different factors, including the taste of the food, the comfort of the experience, and the quality of the service.  In this case, it was clear the emphasis was on comfort and taste.  

The room was lofty and felt spacious (there was none of the crowding we had felt at other places) and oh, so quiet!  Even at capacity, the sound level in the room never rose above a low murmur, which meant that I could speak in my inside voice the entire time and never once needed to strain to hear what Justin or Amanda were saying.  

As for the food, it was incredible.  The portions sizes were just right, the plating gorgeous, and the textures and tastes beautifully combined.  It was a reflection on the philosophy of the restaurant that the servers, when they checked on us, never once asked "How is your meal" but always "How are you enjoying the flavors?"  It was the flavors that mattered most.  

(And of course the service was excellent; I guess I've been spoiled by restaurants that greet me by name and manage to avoid traffic jams at reception even during the peak dining hours.)

We left the restaurant with full tummies and happy hearts (as the Puerto Ricans would say) and decided to give the Met Museum another try.  Fortunately it was open and the lines weren't too long.  

We decided to prioritize two exhibits:  First, the Costume Institute's temporary exhibition showcasing the fashion of Countess Jacqueline de Ribes.  There were some exquisite pieces, and a sense that the fabulously rich and glamorous live in a different world than I.

I love the simplicity of this dress, and the detail of the train tied up at the shoulders
If I were a woman, I 
de Ribes threw insane costume parties.  This one was for an Arabian Nights themed party.
She said she expected lots of bare tummies and arms, so she went with fur to stand out.

The next focus was the modern wing.  Justin, in particular, wanted to see that section, so we made our way across the museum to soak up the Jasper Johns, Giacometti, and Chuck Close.

Chuck Close does giant portraits in a sort of impressionist/pointillist style
When viewed up close, it's a wonder he's able to get the image to emerge so clearly!

The metaphorical clock began to strike midnight, and it was time for us to leave the ball.  We hailed a cab, collected our luggage from the hotel, and hopped on the subway to the airport.  We bid Amanda farewell at the Delta terminal, and Justin and I made our way to the American gates.

As we rose into the night sky, we had a glorious view of Manhattan below.  So strange to think that such a giant, exciting world could fit on such a small island.

We're looking down from the north -- that rectangle in the middle is Central Park
Good night, Manhattan!  Until next time . . . .

1 comment:

Constantine said...

I was simply amazed at the architecture of this absolutely beautiful venue!! The environment was unbelievable. I was fortunate enough to visit event venues Chicago like these, we found awesome things one after another after another.