A quick trip to the “Big City” gave us a chance to try a new hotel and several restaurants. The hotel is the remodeled Helmsley Palace which is where I took my daughter 21 years ago on an “American Girl” special. (The dolls are still a huge hit and the redone hotel still has a special package for the child and her doll so it is worth going for that alone.) Now it is called the New York Palace and is not as grand as it used to be, but there are glimpses of Leona’s old touches – a few over-the-top statues and decorations still appear in some of the public places. The older staff who have been there since her time are friendly, warm, and very helpful. The younger staff is stiff and aloof with a few exceptions.
The hotel has no restaurant – only a café for breakfast sandwiches, pastries, and a few salads. Supposedly a restaurant will open at some point in the future but there is no date certain as of now. A long term doorman kindly guided me next door to Maloney & Porcelli, a local steak house. Vinnie, the bartender, was fantastic – friendly, helpful and very efficient. The décor is very interesting and Vinnie said no one knew the reason behind any of it – the wall of English fox hunt prints, the giant ram standing above the bar, the pair of brass eagles perched on two pillars, the bronze fish floating above a corner of the dining area. The place seats 200 and by 1 p.m. on a Tuesday, it was packed. Of the 200 seats, only 5 were occupied by women. It definitely was a “guys” hangout. The food reflected that with large portions and lots of meat. I had the chicken parmigiana – which was served all by itself with no vegetables or pasta – and which could have fed 4 easily. It was excellent! If you are in the neighborhood of 50th and Madison, go there and sit at the bar and listen to thirty-something men discuss their girlfriend problems and favorite sex magazines and try not to laugh. It’s perfect entertainment.
For dinner, we went to Sushi Ann on 51st Street. Small, elegant Japanese décor with exquisite service made it worth the visit. Combined with excellent Sake selection and perfectly prepared sushi and sashimi, it is a must if you love that food. It is expensive but it is worth it. If you want a nice combination, ask them to make you a mixed platter for two including some shellfish. Worth every dime!
As a parting meal before hopping on the Acela, we went to The Modern. This is one of my favorite places in midtown and it is still a “hot” place in town. If you want an elegant meal on white tablecloths, make a reservation. If you want to have a great people watching time, eat at the wonderful bar. The bartenders are not only friendly but very knowledgeable about the eclectic and excellent menu. Our choices were a broccoli soup that was garnished with finely shredded fried onions and a little pasta almost like couscous and then the shrimp fritters of which I could have had five orders but restrained myself. And, of course, if you have time to spare, you can wander into MOMA and bask in the art.
A great getaway from D.C. in the winter!