Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Early bird

Taking shelter from the rain. Photo: JH.
Wednesday, August 16, 2017.  A rainy day, yesterday in New York with temperatures in the mid-70s and some humidity pushing Real Feel up a few degrees.

Last night Michael McCarty invited us to join him for dinner at the new Four Seasons restaurant in the famous old Four Seasons restaurant in the Seagram’s Building. This the newly opened restaurant which has now been divided in two — The Grill and The Pool Room. Both were very busy last night (a Tuesday night in August). We met at 5:30 in The Grill. Early for dinner but Michael needed to get back to his restaurant for the dinner hour, but by 6 it was full up.
The Grill last night at 5:30. It would fill up within the hour.
It’s the same room — because it’s landmarked and cannot be altered. But it’s not the same restaurant beginning with the atmosphere. There’s music in the bar (which was busy). I don’t know what the music was, something contemporary but too loud for the room.

The dress code is relaxed. Jackets not required, or ties. So you saw very few of either. Shorts not acceptable. Whereas this was long the restaurant where the high mucky-mucks and VIPs of the city could be seen lunching or dining in the Grill Room, looking like the billion dollars their fortunes added up to, well suited up in their bespoke suits and ties. Last night’s crowd was more relaxed, much more — jeans and polo shirt casual if you wish; relaxed, a generation younger.

Despite the dress, you could assume the clientele were well-heeled because as Gael Greene herself acknowledged in her rave review this week, it is “another expensive restaurant” in New York.
The ordering begins: Steak and anchovy tartare.
Tuna Ravigote.
Dining with Michael is a trip in itself. He loves restaurants, he loves food, he’s fascinated with the history of the menu and he can tell you all about the cooking so nothing is lost on him. We went over the menu as a group. The guests were Robin Wolf, who is the banquets director at Michael’s, and a foodie (and a very enterprising cook); Kyung Up Lim, the chef at Michael’s, Steve Millington, Michael’s GM, along with Me, the picky customer, and Michael, who I believe will try anything because he is an authentic connoisseur.

So the choices were varied. I began with the Avocado Crab Louis because I like avocado any time. When it arrived, I couldn’t see the avocado (it was cut in very small pieces) but it was FANTASTIC and frankly I hated giving up a bit of it for others to try (although I did of course).
Avocado Crab Louis.
Wild mushroom omelette prepared tableside.
Pasta à la presse.
After that I had the Spring Chicken a La Queen. Again, it was extraordinary, just incredibly tasty. Everyone at the table was raving after a taste of it. Again, because of the dinner, we were all sharing everything – have a few bites and pass it on for everyone else to share. And so, we were feasting on the above mentioned along with the Triple Lamb Chops, the Prime Rib, the Dover Sole with Horseradish Meunière, the Pasta à la Presse, the Chilled Crustacean (oysters), the Goose Terrine with figs and olives, the larded Squab, Cottage Fries, Buttered Dumplings, along with cocktails and wines (Rosé over here). All (except the drinks) was passed around, and all was unanimously agreed to be excellent.
Spring Chicken à la Queen.
The Prime Rib.
A summer corn fricassee of sorts.
 Zucchini baked with onions.
Triple Lamb Chops, curried flavors, mint jelly.
Dover Sole with horseradish Meunière.
Michael explained that this menu is new because it is a revival of the kind of “Continental” menus that were found in New York in the 1920s, '30s and '40s, before the arrival of the French restaurants. So the Dover sole can be ordered in three different varieties along with the old-time classics like peach flambé, lobster Newburg, Mock Turtle soup, and the pasta a la press, which is a helping of pasta flavored with bacon fat and the juices of a duck squashed in a silver press. Even the bread basket with the Parker House Rolls with scallion butter were so good -- almost sweet -- that I could have eaten them all night. Then when it came time for desserts we probably ordered everything on the menu including the minty, fluffy grasshopper Charlotte and the banana eclairs served with a whipped-cream tasting of coconuts.

This is all the work of chef Mario Carbone and his partners in the Major Food Group, chef Rich Torrisi and financial backer Jeff Zalaznick. Their restaurants including Dirty French, Carone, Santina, and Sadelle’s.
Banana éclairs.
German chocolate cake.
Raspberry/pistachio tart with cream.
The Grasshopper Charlotte.
We were seated on the upper level of the Grill Room, a kind of terrace overlooking the center of the room and the bar beyond. Conversation was lively because it was about the food and the room and the look and the noise and the food and the food.

Michael and his wife live mainly in Malibu in a house in the hills overlooking the beach. I was telling him how much I loved living out there, more than anyplace else that I’ve ever lived, but that my treasure here in New York was my terrace — my easy access to the outdoors at all times. Michael told me he and Kim keep an apartment not far from his restaurant in the 50s and he too has a terrace, much larger than mine, where he grows lots of plants as well as grapevines he is cultivating. Out in Malibu he has three acres of vineyards growing around the house, guest houses, pool, and tennis court. So to make it more at home in New York he has his little terrace vineyard.
Michael McCarty's Manhattan terrace with his budding grape arbor ...
The view from Michael's terrace looking east.
Before we left the restaurant, we walked over to the Pool Room where it was much quieter — not a few men in suits and women more dressed. The menu is different and they’ve turned the private dining room into a bar room overlooking the pool room. All very busy.

A great night in New York.
The bar in the new Pool Room.
A view of the bar as we were leaving.
The gang at the end of the feast: Kyung Up Lim, DPC, Robin Wolf, Steve Millington, and Michael McCarty.
East 52nd Street at 8:20 p.m.

Contact DPC here.