The Palm Court in the Plaza Hotel in New York

April 5, 2008


I’ve been to Europe. I’ve been to Asia. The finest hotel that i’ve ever known (and know) is the Plaza. The name does not bring into mind, various town squares in Latin American countries, where the name is derived, but one hotel, perfectly positioned in the most opulent area of Manhattan, sandwiched between the world’s most famous shopping district and its most famous park.

This describes the Plaza Hotel, where I stayed during my vacation to New York (LINK TO ARTICLE ON PLAZA HERE)!!!


The Palm Court inside the Plaza Hotel has been famed for its afternoon tea which has been around since its inception. The Palm Court today serves breakfast, lunch, dinner, saturday and sunday brunch and of course afternoon tea. This restaurant is led by French chef Didier Virot, and offers a unique (yet not too unique) meal.

When I arrived to New York, I had previously made reservations, but had shown up wearing a collegiate sweatshirt and jeans. I walked up to the hostess, told her my situation and she said “oh its no problem” and seated me instantly. I had to wait a while for the food to be served after I ordered, but it was worth it. The potatoes were good, but not great; but the french toast was probably the best i’ve ever had.

The stained glass ceiling, which was destroyed by Conrad Hilton in the 40’s to make room for air conditioning equipment has been replaced, but with one difference. The stained glass ceiling has no natural sunlight. It uses a group of lights that mimic daylight and change reflecting the time and strength of outside light.

Mixed Fruit Drink ($12)

Brioche French Toast with Hawaiian Gold Pineapple and Passionfruit Caramel Sauce ($26)

Golden Roasted Potatoes ($14)

Two Eggs with Applewood Smoked Bacon and Golden Roasted Potatoes ($26)

The Palm Court
The Plaza Hotel
Fifth Avenue at Central Park South (E. 59th street)
New York City
(212) 759-3000 (ask for Palm Court)
Open: Breakfast (Daily): 6:30am-11:30am, Brunch (Sat & Sun): 11:30am-2:00pm, Lunch (Mon-Fri): 11:30am-2pm, Afternoon Tea (Daily): 2pm-5pm, Dinner (Daily): 6pm-10pm


Peter Luger Steakhouse in New York

April 5, 2008

Without a doubt, my favorite restaurant in New York. My favorite restaurant in the world. If you go to New York and you do not go here, you are missing out, and if you are from New York, and you’ve never been there, you should leave and never come back.

Peter Luger steakhouse opened in 1887 as “Carl Luger’s Café, Billiards and Bowling Alley” began in the mostly German Brooklyn neighborhood of Williamsburg. Since it has been around for 120 years, they must be doing something right? Right? Rated the best steakhouse in New York by Zagats for 24 years running, awarded a James Beard award, and given 3 stars from the Grey Lady (New York Times), this is the best restaurant in New York, if not the world. Yes, I said 3 stars, I know Frank Bruni knocked it down to two, but what does he know anyway?

This restaurant definitely does not have a scene like some other midtown restaurants where people talk in hushed voices and the lighting is so low, you could be eating someone else’s food. Not at Peter Lugers, the patrons here sometimes sing songs and laugh without restraint while the overhead brass chandeliers make the room bright, declared unbearably bright by some, but perfect for me. Especially if you tend to photograph your food.

Being the most popular steakhouse in New York, you have to call at least 3 weeks ahead, and more if you want a holiday or a weekend. If you want to get there, pick up a taxi at a hotel, because some taxi drivers don’t want to drive to Brooklyn as it is too far away, even though it is required by law to drive to any of the five boroughs. It will take half an hour to forty-five minutes and will cost about $30-45 dollars, but it will be definitely worth it. You might have to wait 30 minutes to an hour depending on the size of your group, as diners tend to stick around after their food has been served and taken away.

Do not believe the rumor of the rude, stern waiter, as when I went there, each waiter and server was just as friendly as the one before. They tend not to give menus to locals (trust me, they can tell) and they usually give them to non-locals and tourists. The waiters are mostly professional European waiters, who almost never make mistakes.

Do not order the fish, go for the porterhouse, called the “steak for ____.” You must start with Canadian Bacon, actually cured pork belly, follow that with a Caesar salad or sliced tomato and onions, get German potatoes as a side for your steak and end with dessert. The steak sauce is not that good as it is just ketchup mixed with horseradish and lemon. It tastes like a weak cocktail sauce.

The bread basket was amazing, as the large brown speckled rolls in the front were onion rolls. They are bread wrapped around diced onions… amazing.

Slice of Canadian Bacon ($2.95)

Caesar Salad ($9.95), was fresh, crisp, just how a Caesar salad should be.

Steak for Two ($83.90), the steak sizzling in a mixture of its own juices and butter.

When your steak is brought out, the plate is heated to 400f in the 1800f broiler so that the steak does not cool when you are eating it. If you want a picture you have to tell your waiter because he will instantly flip over a small plate to put the steak dish onto an angle to pool the drippings and then pull the already-sliced steak apart.

The steak after the waiter took a few pieces off

German Fried Potatoes for two ($10.95)

The “Holy Cow” Sundae, the ice cream was just Haagen Daz (which is good), but the Schlag (whipped cream) made it perfect.

When you go to Lugers, bring cash because the only credit card that is accepted is the Peter Luger credit card, which can only be used at… you guessed it… Peter Luger. Don’t go the clones: Blair Perrone, Wolfgang’s, Ben & Jack’s and if you do, try the original one.

Ask for a plate of “schlag”- its whipped cream, they make it. I hate whipped cream, but I love theirs.

Peter Luger
178 Broadway
Brooklyn, NY, 11211
(718) 387-7400
Open: Mon-Thu: 11:45am-9:45pm, Fri-Sat: 11:45am-10:45pm, Sun: 12:45-9:45pm

Matchbooks: Yes, but you have to ask for them

Burger Joint at Le Parker Meridien hotel in New York

April 5, 2008

Set behind ceiling high curtains in the lobby of the sophisticated but not snooty Le Parker Meridien Hotel on E. 57th street, lurks a burger-hawking greasy spoon that stands in huge comparison to Norma’s, the power breakfast capital who sells a $1000 caviar frittata. You can get a burger here for $6.50, which is $13.50 less than the $20 room-service burger. You can find the link on their website, but you’d be hard pressed to find so, as it is only a small lower case ‘burger’ on the restaurant page.

The neon sign placed behind the floor to ceiling curtain draws you in with a tempting neon sign…

Every website says that it is a secret, but the secret is out. When I was there, I heard no American voices, only British, Spanish, German and Japanese. Its probably because I came at about 2pm, that I missed the Midtown lunch rush, but it still surprised me that there were this many non-Americans, and that this place is called a secret.

The inside of the restaurant is wood-paneled and white-washed brick, in huge contrast to the marble and mirror lobby of the hotel which it calls home. The wood panels are covered in “old” band posters, while the brick is covered in graffiti. Yes, it says “Ashton Kutcher rules” on the wall. Hopefully, management takes care of that.

There are few seats in the restaurant, but many patrons, many of them Europeans who like to talk and chat after they eat, so you have to look out for a seat and then pounce for it. Otherwise, you wait.

Hamburger $6.50

The orders are taken quickly, and then passed along on a clothesline, and the grill, which actually uses flames imparts a chargrilled taste unlike burgers made without it.

Anatomy of a Hamburger

French Fries ($3)

In conclusion, this place is good and worth it if you are in this area of town, but even though it was awarded “Best Midtown Brunch” by Zagats in 2008, there are still better lunches around, with less people. And when you’re finished, get up and let someone else have a seat. Or you could call in your order, pick it up and sit down without having to wait, but whats the fun in that.

Burger Joint
Le Parker Meridien Hotel
118 W. 57th Street (southwest corner of Sixth Avenue and W. 57th street)
New York City
Open: Sunday-Thursday: 11:30am-11:30pm, Friday & Saturday: 11:30am-midnight

The Four Seasons in New York (restaurant, not hotel)

April 5, 2008

The Four Seasons restaurant is located on E. 52nd street and Park Avenue in the Seagram Building, an Internationalist masterpiece designed by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and Philip Johnson. It is known less for its food and more for being the place where the power lunch was created.

The interior, which was also designed by van der Rohe and Johnson, has remained virtually unchanged since it was created along with the building in 1959 and the interior of the restaurant has been designated as a landmark by the New York City Landmarks Preservation Committee in 1989. The design is very JFK-era, and this is the restaurant where Marilyn Monroe famously sung “Happy Birthday, Mr. President”.

The restaurant has two rooms: the Pool Room and the Grill Room. The Pool Room, is the room most often referenced to when talking about the Four Seasons, as it is the most photographed. As its name denotes, there is a large reflecting pool in the center of the restaurant, flanked by four potted trees. The Grill Room, is the famed haunt of the business community as they can meet to conduct business without any fancy trees or reflecting pools to distract the dealmaking.

When I went in March, it was before a theatre show, so we arrived at 6pm and as I expected, the clientele was gray-haired and quite aged. I noticed that most of them were remarking at how the restaurant has not changed since they were younger. I overheard one lady mention that she had dined here for every “season” (they change the menu four times a year, for each season) since it opened. Thats over 192 times.

Its very hard to tell whom are the waiters and whom are the diners, as the waiters all wear black suits, just like most of the diners. You can tell the difference, as the waiters wear red ties, that have little Four Seasons trees on them, or you can just remember who took your order. Do that right, and you won’t ask the wrong person twice like I did.

In ordering, the menu had many seasonal offerings, but had a few hold-overs from other seasons such as the Farmhouse Duck ($55) and the Short Ribs ($45). I asked the waiter which would be the best thing to order, and he told me that the Farmhouse Duck had been on the menu since he had been working there, so if it has been on there for that long, something must be right. So I got it. I wanted to have the Chilled Seafood as an appetizer, but in mentioning the specials, he mentioned Florida Stone Crab Claws, so I chose those instead. I guess Steven Schwarzman of Blackstone, must have came in and requested them.

The Florida Stone Crab claws were not as juicy as other crab claws that I have had, but they were meaty and the vegetable salad that is positioned behind them was good and made up for the crab claws short comings.

The timeless Long Island Farmhouse Duck ($55) is brought out whole to a cart near your table and is cut and sliced in half for two persons. The duck was the best duck that I have ever experienced, and that if you ever get anything at the Four Seasons, you should get the duck.

After being masterly cut and sliced tableside, the duck is presented to your table complete with juices and Cara Cara oranges, which were delicious and are just plain oranges. Nothing special, but it gives a good contrast to the duck.

Chocolate Pot de Creme ($15)

For dessert, which was necessary, I chose the Chocolate Pot de Creme ($15), a cold dish filled with chocolate custard, which was quite thick, so I ordered a dish of Vanilla Ice Crem ($15), to cut the density of the Chocolate Custard. It worked out perfect.

Vanilla Ice Cream ($15)

In closing, the Four Seasons is not the restaurant for a hip young clientele, but a restaurant that you would bring your parents (or grandparents) to relive another era, or a client to show him the glories of New York. But I still recommend it. Oh, and don’t miss the Picasso in the lobby. If you can’t find it, ask one of the staff, they’ll gladly point you towards it.

The Four Seasons
Seagram Building
99 E. 52nd Street (southwest corner of Park & E. 52nd)
New York City
Open: Mon-Fri, noon-2:15pm, 5pm-9:30pm; Sat, 5pm-11:30pm; Sun, closed
Matchbooks: Yes, but you must ask for them.

Werner’s Restaurant in Baltimore

February 17, 2008

Decades old diners often pride themselves as where your fathers ate, Werner’s can pride itself as where your grandfather ate. Werner’s Restaurant, located on E. Redwood street between Calvert and South streets has been a staple of the Financial District in Baltimore, where Redwood street was referred to as “The Wall Street of the South.” Operating since 1950, it was originally opened by the Kloetzi family who immigrated here from Switzerland. The Vickers Building where Werner’s is located was built in 1904, and sits across from the Mercantile Safe Deposit and Trust Building which itself was built in 1886. Werner’s is open for breakfast and lunch on Mondays through Friday from 7am to 2pm.

Rib Eye steak sandwich $9 (comes with 2 vegetables)

The Rib Eye steak sandwich with the bun facing upwards. (The bun was excellent)

Even though the average meal with entrée, sides and drink usually only comes out to about $10, it still remains a popular lunch spot among lawyers, financial-types, politicians, construction workers and tourists. You may have noticed it before in The Wire, where Mayor Carcetti and many other politicians and police officers meet. Even though the glitzy Inner Harbor and even glitzier Harbor East, attracts office workers for lunch, Werner’s still stays strong and I hope it operates for another fifty years.

Werner’s Menu (side 1)

Werner’s Menu (side 2)

Werner’s Restaurant
231 E. Redwood Street (located between Calvert and South streets)
Baltimore, MD 21202
Monday-Friday: 7am-2pm
Credit accepted: American Express, Mastercard, Discover Card, debit cards

HarborEast in Baltimore Part Two

January 29, 2008

Page two of the HarborEast photography set

Courtyard Marriott hotel

Looking north down Exeter Street from Lancaster street

Cinghiale Restaurant (Northern Italian) on Exeter and Lancaster Streets in HarborEast

Spinnaker Bay building on Exeter and Lancaster streets

Another shot of the Spinnaker Bay building

Spinnaker Bay and 1000 Lancaster Street (on right); 1000 Lancaster Street, contains The Charleston restaurant

Spinnaker Bay and 1000 Lancaster Street buildings

The Eden apartment building on South Eden street bounded by Lancaster and Aliceanna streets

1000 Lancaster Street

The Charleston Restaurant on 1000 Lancaster Street

Looking west down Lancaster Street with 1000 Lancaster Street in the foreground with the Eden Apartments in the background

The Baltimore Civil War museum located in an old railroad station

Looking east on Fleet Street with the Baltimore Civil War museum and 800 Aliceanna street

800 Aliceanna Street

HarborEast in Baltimore Part One

January 29, 2008

The HarborEast development was a brainchild of H&S Properties and Streuver Bros. Eccles Rouse. It was designed to bring revitalization and gentrification to an area southeast of the Inner Harbor, one block across from Little Italy and a few blocks west of Fells Point.

The Marriott Waterfront Hotel on Aliceanna Street in HarborEast. The only accomodations at this point in HarborEast are either Marriotts (Waterfront (pictured), Courtyard) or Hiltons (Garden Inn, Homewood Suites). However, in a year or two, a Four Seasons condominium/hotel will be constructed bringing in luxury accomodations to the area.

A shot of the Marriott Waterfront hotel from Little Italy

A shot of the Marriott Waterfront Hotel with the Legg Mason/Four Seasons construction lot

720 Aliceanna Street building with the Marriott Waterfront Hotel in the background, 720 Aliceanna street contains above ground parking, and three restaurants: Fleming’s steakhouse, Roy’s Hawaiian Fusion restaurant, and James Joyce bar

Fleming’s steakhouse located on the ground floor of 720 Aliceanna Street, it is connected to the Marriott Waterfront Hotel by an above ground walkway and also contains two other restaurants: Roy’s Hawaiian Fusion and James Joyce as well as parking

800 Aliceanna Street containing two hotels: Hilton Garden Inn and Homewood Suites as well as many condominiums

800 Aliceanna Street building with a Haagen Daz on the ground floor as well as a Landmark Theatres movie theatre

The Oceanaire Restaurant located on the bottom floor of the Spinnaker Bay condominium building

The Marriott Waterfront entrance on the left side with 800 Aliceanna Street and Spinnaker Bay in the background

800 Aliceanna Street from Little Italy

Down Aliceanna street west

800 Aliceanna street on the left, and Courtyard Marriott/1000 Aliceanna street on the right

The Harborview Condominium Building and Ritz-Carlton Residences

The Ritz-Carlton Residences located across from HarborEast on the western side of the Inner Harbor

The Intercontinental HarborCourt Hotel, is the only 5-star hotel in Baltimore until the Four Seasons is built is located on the other side (west) of the Inner Harbor