Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Bits & Morsels

Steak tartare at Cipriani.

Cipriani has a clientele that is just a little more Continental, Euro glitz-and-glamour, tycoons and their belles than possibly any other restaurant in New York. On any given night you’re likely to find a crowd who might just as easily be seen in London, Paris, Venice or Roma, along with the Smart Set of the Big Apple. To the residents farther up the Avenue (Fifth), it’s the neighborhood watering hole. To the jetsetters just off the plane from Europe, or the movie stars just in from the Coast, it’s a magnet, a kind of club for the gilt-edged globe-trotters.

Buttery Cipriani rolls.
This kind of high profile popularity is also a magnet for certain food critics looking for some media -- as well as readers’ -- attention. Cips has had its share of them too. But, like most restaurants that are busy and have been around for awhile (like the Michael’s, the Daniel’s, and the Le Cirques of the world), Cips has a solid menu that keeps bringing them back for more.

Harry Cipriani is located in the Sherry Netherland at 781 Fifth Avenue (the original Cipriani is Harry’s Bar in Venice). Dining there is as uplifting an experience as you can have at any restaurant in New York. It's extremely bright and warm; a contrast to many restaurants these days.

Cipriani is not the place to hide out. You will be seen. The staff is attentive and they actually really want to be there. The décor is simple but elegant with yellow walls and the classic Cipriani low tables and chairs.

Harry’s bar in Venice which opened over fifty years ago represents the ultimate in practical Italian Luxury and its influence is felt in all of the Cipriani locations. I say practical because the food and the atmosphere is just that. There are no items on the menu that need decoding. What you see is what you get and it is the best possible version. Even the dinner rolls are top notch.

Desserts anyone?
The Cipriani roll is spiral shaped, slightly sweet (buttery, of course) and when warm, is almost like a croissant. Many food and drink items came out of Harry’s bar, the most famous being the Bellini. Many bartenders try to mess around and alter the Bellini by adding peach liqueurs and other items but nothing is as good as simple white peach puree topped off with the finest Prosecco.

The menu at Cipriani is extensive and it changes twice daily which keeps things as fresh as possible. If you like artichokes, I'd recommend ordering the artichoke salad of thinly sliced artichokes with avocado and Parmesan cheese. Cipriani is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner so you can order everything from ham and cheese sandwiches to risotto and steaks.

The risotto with peas at Cipriani is a real treat. They slow cook the peas in their pods for close to four hours, which keeps the peas perky and pert. For dessert, the chocolate cake and the lemon meringue cake were both flavorful and moist. The only thing better than the food was the company; I was with DPC and JH.
The original Bellini. Beet salad with string beans and goat cheese.
Artichoke and avocado salad. Steak tartar.
Risotto with crispy ham. Risotto with fresh peas.
Grilled Branzino. Broccoli rabe.
Lemon meringue cake. Napoleon cake.
Did you hear about what happened at Wine Spectator? One particular restaurant submitted an application to be considered for the Wine Spectator Award of Excellence. The submission included a cover letter, menu, wine list, and the $250 application fee. This restaurant ended up winning the award. The catch: the restaurant doesn't even exist! [Osteria L'Intrepido]

The dessert business is currently thriving.
People may be eating out less, but they are still ordering desserts and visiting their favorite bakeries. While the economy is hurting, desserts are an affordable luxury that everyone can enjoy. [USA Today]

This is an interesting medical concept.
Dr. David Ores' practice in downtown Manhattan is mainly intended to treat uninsured workers in the restaurant industry. He recently founded the Restaurant Workers’ Health Care Cooperative where restaurant owners pay a monthly fee based on the size of their respective restaurants. When an employee requires medical attention, Dr. Ores uses these fees to subsidize the treatments. This is a step in the right direction. [The Villager]

Until we eat again,
Jordana Z.

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