This Fall, an abundance of brand new high-end eateries have arrived in Manhattan including Verōnika, in the Flatiron District, six new restaurants in Jean Georges’ Tin Building on Pier 17, and Zaytinya, at the Ritz Carlton New York Nomad.
Verōnika, one of New York City’s most elegant new restaurants, calls itself “eclectic European with a rock and roll edge.” Located on the second floor of the Fotografiska Museum on Park Avenue South at 22nd Street, the new dining facility is housed in a former church mission house.
Stained-glass windows from the 1800s surround the trendy bar and restaurant, though the ambience is anything but church-like (the only thing Verōnika has in common with a church is that it is not noisy – you can have a real conversation, because the tables aren’t jammed together). Triple-tiered chandeliers hang from twenty-foot-high ceilings and the Roman and Williams-designed space includes plushy velvet furniture.
Free matches at the entrance, labeled “Feast for the Eyes,” include matches engraved with DECADENT, SHAMELESS, CHIC EXQUISITE, INDULGENT, and SENSUAL, meaning you know you’re in for something unusual. The menu cover is a photograph by German photographer Ellen Von Unwerth, known for her erotic images.
The restaurant is named after Verōnika, the patron saint of photography, appropriate not just because the restaurant is housed in Fotografiska, but its walls display rotating photography installations in connection with the museum. The food and drinks are equally photo-worthy, including one the best espresso martinis in Manhattan.
Order the tuna and uni tartare (Big Eye, Blue Fin, Yellow Fin and tea-smoked tomatoes), and a waiter will mix the ingredients at the table, similar to the way guacamole is mixed. Who needs bread when Verōnika serves delicious mini-popovers and a plate of raw vegetables with dipping sauce. As an appetizer, the salt baked beets with hazelnut cheese, blackberries and Red Vein Sorrel is a winner, though there are many other winning items from which to choose.
Main courses include everything from schnitzels to pasture-raised steaks and fresh fish such as Faroe Island Salmon. I chose the whole red snapper with a side of seasonal greens: peas, Fiddle Heads and asparagus. Delicious.
Fulton Fish Co.
Located in the former Fulton Fish Market, super star chef, Jean-Georges Vongerichten has just opened his ambitious new project: the Tin Building, a 53,000 square-foot sprawling culinary destination which was formerly South Street Seaport’s Fulton Street Market. Under the shadow of the Brooklyn Bridge, the two-story building offers multiple restaurants with open kitchens, innovative retail concepts, and an impeccably stocked central market with locally sourced ingredients.
There are six full-service dining venues for every taste: The House of the Red Pearl (Chinese-inspired fine-dining); T. Brasserie (French brasserie); The Frenchman’s Dough (freshly made pizzas and pastas); Seeds & Weeds (artisanal plant-based eatery), Shikku (Japanese sushi and sake) and Fulton Fish Co. (seafood dining counter restaurant with a raw bar). It’s hard to choose as I like every type of food, but I decided on Fulton Fish Co. in honor of the original market which was opened exactly 100 years ago on this spot.
Fulton Fish Co. is not your typical counter eatery. There is a Raw Bar with small and large plates. A fresh crab the size of a large cantaloupe sat on the table, and I tried a few succulent claws, perhaps the best crab I’ve tasted.
I couldn’t resist the three-tiered platter of sashimi on ice, fresh shrimp from the Gulf of Mexico, razor clams from Massachusetts, New Brunswick oysters, and little neck clams from Cape Cod.
Each item had its own magical dipping sauce, and every bite was perfect.
I followed this with fresh lemon crusted Hake from Montauk (served with its head intact, but it had been completely deboned). Mouth-watering. I followed this with Fish & Chips with tartare sauce and lemon, and trust me, no one in the U.K. ever made fish & chips this special and unique.
The two chefs behind the counter: Jumin Bae, the Executive Chef from Seoul, whose father was a fisherman, and Patrick Mccullough, from Pittsburgh who moved here to be surrounded by great chefs, made suggestions and served each course, explaining where the seafood came from and how they had prepared it.
And what would a meal be without dessert? How about strawberry shortcake, which I paired, thanks to my waiter’s suggestion, with Camille Saves Bouzy Grand Cru Extra Brut.
“Zaytinya” in Turkish, means olive oil, and it’s an appropriate name for Zaytinya at The Ritz-Carlton New York, Nomad whose innovative mezze menu is inspired by Turkish, Greek and Lebanese cuisines. Just walking into the place will make your jaw drop, as it is one of the most innovatively-designed spaces in New York City, by internationally acclaimed architect, Rafael Viñoly.
Just as innovate is the menu, under the direction of the four Michelin starred James Beard Award-winning chef, José Andrés, a pioneer of Spanish tapas in the U.S. José Andrés is also the founder of World Central Kitchen, which has served more than 100 million meals to people in need.
The menu cover is a quote by José Andrés: “Food is about interacting with ingredients. If you talk to them, they will always tell you a story.” This Spanish chef must be hoarse from so much talking, because his food tells enough stories for a full-length novel.
The selections begin with spreads of various kinds of hommus, baba ghannouge and tzatziki. As everything looked delicious, I relied on the judgement of my passionate-about-food waitress, Ellie. She suggested Labneh, a Lebanese strained yogurt with Middle Eastern spices, sesame seeds, wild thyme, and tangy, tart sumac, one of the Middle East’s most important spices. Eaten with hot puffy Turkish bread, the Labneh was the creamiest, cheesiest yogurt I’ve ever tasted.
Next, I tried the Seared Halloumi, a cured cheese with dates, pomegranate, citrus, mint and pistachio. I’ve never had a more perfect dish. Next, I tried Zaytinya’s Brussel sprouts, cooked with coriander seed, barberries, and garlic yogurt. Perfect.
I followed this with Bantihian Bil Laban: crispy eggplant, garlic yogurt, Turmeric apricots, roasted walnuts and mint, an extraordinary burst of flavors and textures. And how could I resist Octopus Santorini, grilled Mediterranean melt-in-your-mouth octopus with marinated onions, capers and yellow split pea pure. Almost too good. Finally, Shish Taouk, a grilled chicken skewer with sumac, onions, garlic toum, and grilled tomatoes, which my dining partner perfectly described as “a delicious chicken fajita on steroids.”
For dessert, I chose Greek yogurt with Muscat-soaked apricots, pistachios, and vanilla yogurt cream, the perfect dessert to cap off an extraordinary meal.
I will return to Zaytinya because there are 41 other items which I haven’t yet tried, but which I know will be equally delicious. Actually, I will all return to return to Verōnika and Fulton Fish Co as well, because they also were perfect. I would award each of these three restaurants five Michelin stars, if such a thing existed; and I strongly suggest you try them all, while you can still get a reservation.