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New York brunch

Brunch, Hotels, Hotels - Luxury, New York, Restaurants

Brunch At Asiate – Mandarin Oriental New York

What could be better than spending a lazy Saturday in New York over an indulgent brunch looking out over Central Park?

Asiate at Mandarin Oriental New York has an enviable position, perched on the 35th floor of the Time Warner Center, by Columbus Circle.  The spectacular floor to ceiling views are matched with exquisite food and a tantalising contemporary Asian and American brunch menu.

Arriving a little early, we took some time to wander around the 35th floor of Mandarin Oriental New York and stopped to admire the curved lobby’s stunning Dale Chihuly glass sculpture.  The Lobby Lounge was also buzzing with weekenders enjoying afternoon tea and dim sum bento boxes.

Asiate is an elegant, expansive restaurant whose minimal-luxe design lets the views do the talking.  The large tables feature  comfortable seating and guests can dine overlooking the south-west corner of Central Park by the window, or nestled in an intimate booth to the sides of the room.

While Asiate is all about clean lines with dark wood highlights, the centrepiece of the restaurant is a beautiful silver tree branch sculpture, referencing the trees of Central Park in winter.  Another interesting design point is the wall of wines, including over 1300 bottles.

Chef de Cuisine Angie Berry’s weekly-changing brunch menu features a well-edited selection of seasonal classics with an innovative twist.

We were warmly welcomed by the attentive, friendly staff and swiftly set up with a bottle of chilled still water, a choice of artisan breads and a glass of Champagne.  Asiate’s semi-set menu brunch is a fun concept, serving three courses in smaller tasting portions.  The starter and dessert plates are chosen weekly by Chef Berry and guests can choose two dishes for their main course.

We started with the beautifully-presented Gourmandise Tasting, made up of four bento dishes.  The Cauliflower Veloute with smoked bacon foam and chives was thick, creamy and ever so smooth.  Ahi Tuna Poke, avocado crème and wasabi-sesame tempura was plump and fresh while the Farmhouse Frittata with country sausage, goats cheese and roasted tomatoes was light, bubbly and full of strong flavours.

My favourite bite was the Miso Chilled Shrimp with green papaya and mango salad with ginger dressing, which was succulent, aromatic, well-marinated and so tasty.

Following the Gourmandise Tasting, we enjoyed a refreshing palate-cleanser of home-made Mango Sorbet.

As we ordered only savoury dishes for our main courses, Asiate’s pastry chef kindly sent us a scrumptious Belgian Waffle with berries, whipped vanilla cream and Vermont maple syrup that also features on the menu.  It was a heavenly treat between courses and definitely worth ordering as part of brunch.

For my main course, I went for a duo of Croque Madame with sunny-side-up egg, grilled country ham, red watercress, bechamel sauce and toasted sourdough and Cavatelli with pancetta, mushrooms, parmesan cheese, garden herbs and parmesan broth.

The Croque Madame was deliciously rich and decadent, smothered in thick bechamel.  It was the perfect French classic but with an interesting addition of sun-dried tomato jam spread on the sourdough, giving it a tangy edge.

The Cavatelli was cooked perfectly al dente and was accompanied with chunky, meaty pancetta, silky mushrooms and torn garden herbs.  The parmesan broth was well-seasoned and light and the roughly-cut parmesan finished the dish nicely.

Steven ordered the Grilled NY Steak with market vegetables and the Eggs Benedict BLT with soft-poached egg, pancetta, arugula, heirloom tomatoes and bacon hollandaise.

The sliced medium-cooked steak was tender and nicely charred, served with sauteed courgette and slow-roasted carrot.  The Eggs Benedict BLT was another rich dish with thick pieces of pancetta, lashings of peppery bacon hollandaise and a perfectly-cooked poached egg.

Dessert was a delicious duo of Double Chocolate Crème brûlée and Strawberry Lemon Shortcake – ideal if you find it hard to decide between chocolate and fruit.  The luxurious crème brûlée custard was velvety smooth and made using 64% semi-sweet chocolate and 70% dark chocolate.  The caramelised natural sugar had a thick, crisp crust and was topped with two biscuit curls.

The Strawberry Lemon Shortcake was a lighter affair with infused sponge cake, lemon curd cream, strawberry glaze and wild strawberry sauce.  It was delicate, zesty and light as air – the ideal dessert after an epic brunch.

We finished with a pot of fresh mint tea and lingered a little to soak up the last of the incredible Central Park views.  Before leaving, we were invited to fill a little lime green take-away box with cookies, biscotti and candy, as a sweet souvenir of our visit.  It was a lovely touch, putting the cherry on the top of a fabulous afternoon that ended with a marathon walk around Central Park.

Brunch at Asiate is a wonderful experience that tourists and New Yorkers can delight in equally.  The food is outstanding, the menu is exciting and the small plate concept allows you to sample lots of different tastes and still leave feeling happily full.  I can’t think of anywhere I’d rather spend a lazy weekend afternoon in Manhattan.

Brunch is priced at $54 and speciality cocktails are $19.  For more information and booking, visit: www.mandarinoriental.com

Chérie City was a guest of Mandarin Oriental New York

Photos by Chérie City

Asiate on Urbanspoon

New York, Restaurants

Dinner at Sotto 13 – West Village, New York

Sotto13 is a friendly neighbourhood restaurant that really wowed on my trip to New York this year.  The ‘social Italian’ restaurant has an unexpectedly residential location on the lower floor of a landmark brownstone on a quiet, leafy street in the West Village.

We visited on Friday evening and the restaurant was already buzzing with well-heeled, in-the-know New Yorkers clinking Prosecco glasses and sharing rustic Italian small plates and pizza slices.

The restaurant is expansive with a split-level dining room, designed in earthy olive, espresso and dark wood tones.  We sat at a comfy booth and were greeted warmly by the manager Giuseppe, who made some great recommendations that we were more than happy to try out.

We started with some delicious freshly-baked Focaccia served with a dish of high quality olive oil.  Cocktails at Sotto 13 are a must, so I ordered a refreshing Mango Margerita (all cocktails $12) and Steven went for a strong and classic Sazerac.

To start, we were tempted by the Chickpea Fries, sun-dried tomato pesto ($7).  The moreish fries had a golden, grainy coating and were smooth and creamy on the inside with a hint of aniseed.  The sun-dried tomato pesto dip was deliciously rich, zangy and sweet.

The Garlic Shrimp, rosemary-thyme infused olive oil ($11) came highly-recommended and rightly so.  The plump, succulent shrimps were perfectly cooked and came with a scrumptious garlicky jus that was so tasty we mopped it all up with the focaccia.

Having heard good things about Sotto 13′s wood-fire oven pizzas, we shared a Brussels Sprout Pizza ($16) that was cut into slices for easy sharing.  The thin and crispy base was covered with strongly-flavoured toppings that complemented each other well.  The halved sprouts were nicely charred and scattered among chunky pancetta, rich Fontina and thinly-sliced caramelised red onion.

Our favourite, however, was the wonderful Rigatoni Veal Ragu with Caciocavallo cheese ($16).  The large tubes of al dente pasta were smothered in a slow-cooked, rustic sauce with well-seasoned minced veal and tiny pieces of carrot.  The pasta was comforting and satisfying, plus the portion size was enormous.  This is a dish I’d order again and again if only Sotto 13 was a little closer to home.

For dessert, it had to be the Cannoli – a New York classic that I always try to indulge in when in town.  Each mini cannolo was filled with cool, creamy ricotta and chocolate chips and the dough was light and crisp.

Steven’s Pear Strudel with cinnamon ice cream was heavenly and also presented in small bites, so we could share.  The pear was stewed with raisins and the pastry was fluffy yet crunchy on the outside.

We finished with a round of New Old Fashioned cocktails that were, strong, expertly-mixed and infused with zesty orange.

Sotto 13 is a real hidden gem where you can eat out like a true New Yorker.  The ambiance is stylish yet informal and the staff are so brilliant that you’ll leave the restaurant with a smile.

Next time I visit New York, I can’t wait to spend a lazy Sunday over Sotto 13′s bargainous $25 All-You-Can-Drink Boozy Brunch, including tapas or pizza and unlimited brunch cocktails.  Another fun touch is the DIY Prosecco Bar where you can customise glasses of Prosecco with a tray of juice mixers, toss-ins and liqueurs ($15 per tray).

For more information and booking, visit: www.sotto13.com

Chérie City was a guest of Sotto 13

Photos by Chérie City (interiors by Sotto 13)

Sotto 13 on Urbanspoon

New York, Restaurants

NYC Wish List: Sotto 13

On my trip to New York last year, I indulged in the classic NYC slice, but I regret not seeking out a great place for a thin, crispy gourmet pizza, which has become an emerging restaurant trend in London.

On my list for next time is Sotto 13, a rustic-luxe Italian restaurant serving up authentic wood-fired pizzas and small plates in the West Village.  Opened just a few months ago, Sotto 13 has already been recommended by HuffPo, Marie Claire, Food Network Magazine, Thrillist and pals in the city.

Sotto 13 is conveniently located close to the designer boutiques on Bleecker Street and the Meatpacking District art galleries, so it’s a good address to know for a post-shopping pizza or a lazy weekend brunch.

Prices seem to be reasonable for the location and it’s open every day, with 1am last calls on Thursday to Saturday.  I wish it had been open when we went on a marathon walk around the West Village in the evening without stopping for dinner and ended up at a late-night deli for chicken noodle soup (as great as it was).

The menu features many of my favourite New York-Italian dishes and some inventive combinations worth trying.  For dinner, I’m tempted by the Butternut Squash Cannelloni with brown butter sage, Orecchiette and Spicy Sausage with broccoli rabe, Brussels Sprout pizza (Fontina, Brussels Sprouts, Pancetta, Red Onion), White Bean and Rosemary Crostini and Chickpea Fries.  Visit for the small plate brunch and try Tuscan Eggs, Baked Crispelle, French Toast or a Pear and Gorgonzola Insalate.

Sotto 13 has an impressive selection of Italian wines, but I’m drawn to the mix of classic and signature cocktails such as the Açai-Lychee Martini, Sprig & Vine, White Cosmo and Bourbon Smash.

Where is your favourite place for posh pizza in New York?  Have you tried Sotto 13?

For more information and booking, visit: www.sotto13.com

All photos by Sotto 13