We writers are always looking for the next big thing. When we visit somewhere, we’re always pursuing the hot new restaurants. Before the New York Wine Experience, however, when my wife and I came a few days early and stayed with a friend and caught some musical events and Broadway shows, we decided to revisit some old favorites.
First stop was Accademia di Vino, an East Side spot that makes a wonderful bowl of bavetti cacio e pepe, a sort of spaghetti dressed simply with olive oil, pecorino cheese and lots of ground pepper. Usually when we go there, someone orders one “for the table” and I get a taste. This time I wanted a bowl of my own, for my dinner. It was heaven, and a good start on the week, especially with a nice Nero d’Avola from the solid Italian list.
Next night, before hearing Wynton Marsalais and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra have their way with Duke Ellington’s music, we hit Porter House for dinner downstairs in the Time Warner Center. The five of us shared a big platter of seafood with Delamotte Champagne NV and divided a porterhouse steak for two and a bone-in rib steak five ways, the perfect apportioning of meat for a main course. Betz La Serenne 2005, a Washington Syrah, did a riff on the steaks worthy of Marsalis on Ellington.
For a more casual dinner, we met some friends at the new location of an old West Side favorite, Kefi. The Greek restaurant hit the mark with perfectly grilled branzino and juicy lemon-roasted chicken, preceded by a terrific pita bread appetizer with yogurt and other savory dips. We even found a pleasant Greek wine to drink with it all.
Before seeing a matinee performance of God of Carnage, the dark comedy starring James Gandolfini, Marcia Gay Harden, Jeff Daniels and Hope Davis, we lunched at The Modern. Danny Meyer’s sleek restaurant at the Museum of Modern Art has been wowing them for several years. On a friend’s advice, we sat in the Bar Room, which is more casual and somewhat less costly. Chef Gabriel Kreuther’s bar menu may be more casual than the dining room menu, but I loved the finesse behind such dishes as “Slow Poached Farm Egg ‘In a Jar’ with Maine lobster, salsify and sea urchin froth.” We drank a bottle of Modern’s own Edelzwicker 2008, a blend of Riesling, Gewürztraminer and Pinot Gris made in Yarra Valley by R Wines for the restaurant in consultation with sommelier Belinda Chang. Dry and spicy, it was lovely with the egg dish, and everything else for that matter.
While tasting through wines brought by the Australian winegrower Roman Bratasiuk of Clarendon Hills, Eleven Madison Park served up a great lunch that might rank as the best deal in Manhattan. Chef Daniel Humm, on my scorecard up there with the best in town, offers two courses at lunch for $28. I had a poached egg with truffles and farro (what a week for farm-fresh eggs!) for a first course and roasted venison for an entrée. Dessert was extra, and worth it. I can still taste the pear tart. Yum.
Accademia di Vino
1081 Third Ave.
10 Columbus Circle
505 Columbus Ave.
9 West 53rd St.
Eleven Madison Park
11 Madison Ave.
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