New York Notes: Chez Napoleon, Park Avenue Tavern, Market 57, piano bars, cocktails, and the Hotel Chelsea

Written By Scott Joseph On April 24, 2023

NYC23 window

Here are some notes from a recent visit to New York.

Chez Napoleon
One you’re inside this tiny Midtown cafe you’d swear you were in the heart of Paris. When I left I half expected to walk out onto Rue des Archives instead of W. 50th Street.


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New York City Redux

Written By Scott Joseph On January 6, 2022

NYCTour skyline

The first Winter Flavors of New York, the food tour I hosted with Art In Voyage last month, is in the history books, and I’m already looking forward to next year’s trip.

The tour was Dec. 8 though 11 and we packed a lot into those four days. And we had a terrific group – 12 of us in all – most from Central Florida with one of the members joining us from Utah. They were a game group, up for just about anything, which is good because New York City – and Covid-caused closures – threw a few curves at us.

But here’s what we managed to do:


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Notes from New York: Le Coucou, Le Bernardin, Covina, Sweet Chick, White Oak Tavern and Artichoke Pizza

Written By Scott Joseph On February 17, 2017

Some notes on the dining adventures during some recent visits to New York.

Coucou taper

Le Coucou

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Note From New York: Harry & Ida’s for Outstanding Pastrami

Written By Scott Joseph On November 30, 2015

Harry and Ida pastrami

NEW YORK — “Who wants to try some pastrami?”

The young woman asked the question to no one in particular, but since there were only four of us present in the small shop, we all figured she was talking to us. And yes, we all wanted to try some.

We were in Harry & Ida’s, a small market and deli on Avenue A in New York’s East Village. We’d been drawn there looking for anchovies that New York magazine had described as “prosciutto of the sea” in its recent food issue. The call to taste the pastrami came while we were looking over the shelves of canned fish.

When I saw the large chunks of pastrami, I thought that the young woman wasn’t too clever to give away more than a morsel, but she knew exactly what she was doing. She knew that once we took a bite, we’d be hooked. I gladly plopped down the money for a whole sandwich.

Harry and IdaI’ve had many pastrami sandwiches in many New York delicatessens, including the legendary Katz’s, just a few blocks from here, and the now-gone Stage Deli on 7th Avenue in Midtown. This one beat them all. The meat was remarkably succulent but not in a fatty sort of way, most likely from the steam finish. It had a wonderful smoky note, and the peppery seasonings on the crust were excellent. I had only expected to eat a couple of bites and save the rest for a late night, after-theater snack, but I devoured the entire sandwich while standing at the counter in the front window. (There is no seating — for a comparison to the size and setup of the place, think the original Black Bean Deli in Winter Park.)

Next time — and there will certainly be a next time — I’ll request a bit less dill on the topping, but everything else, including the fresh roll, made this a great sandwich. And the low-key friendliness of the young staff (words seldom used to described the other delis in town) made it all the more pleasant.

Haven’t tried the anchovies I bought yet. I’ll get back to you.

Harry & Ida’s is at 189 Avenue A, New York. The phone number is 646-864-0967.

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Notes from New York Part 2: Ai Fiori, Zero Otto Nove, and Da Gennero

Written By Scott Joseph On January 15, 2015

fiori charger

Notes from New York, Part 1, included reviews of Chef’s Club by Food & Wine, Gato, Boulton & Watt, and SixtyFive Lounge at the Rainbow Room.

The big “blowout” meal was at Ai Fiori at Langham Place hotel. Part of the Altamarea Group, Ai Fiori is chef/owner Michael White’s to Italian and French Riviera cuisine. (The name means among the flowers in Italian.)

The restaurant is on the hotel’s second level, overlooking Fifth Avenue, and has a modernly upscale decor — not an exposed brick in sight. It’s quiet, subdued, and very comfortable.

The menu is decidedly Italian, but while there might be recognizable names, don’t expect familiar presentations. The item under the Pasta e Risotto heading called Spaghetti, for example, features blue crab, lemon, bottarga (a fish roe) and chilies. Not your typical plate of pasta.


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Notes from New York: Chef’s Club by Food & Wine, Gato, Boulton & Watt, and SixtyFive Lounge at the Rainbow Room

Written By Scott Joseph On January 12, 2015

Rainbow Room skyThe view from SixtyFive Lounge at the Rainbow Room at 30 Rock.

This trip to New York turned out to have a slight Italian bent, with a visit to the high end Ai Fiori and impromptu meals in two separate Little Italys.

But our first dinner was a late one Christmas night at the cumbersomely named Chef’s Club by Food & Wine. The restaurant, located in the Puck Building on the corner of Houston and Mulberry, is one of those great New York spaces that is at once old and modern. It has rustic brick walls and ceiling with a modern bar on one side and a state of the art gleaming kitchen on the other. The concept here is to showcase the “best new chefs” from Food & Wine magazine.

chefs club dining

The chef in charge on the night we visited was Didier Elena, and he couldn’t have communicated his disdain at having to work on Christmas more than if he went to each table and told the guests to get out. Instead, he just walked around and sneered, and at one point I saw him leaning on an unoccupied table next to the kitchen browsing through his smartphone, something he no doubt would have fired any of his staff for doing.


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Betony, A Fine Dining Must in New York

Written By Scott Joseph On September 23, 2014

Betony InteriorPhoto: Betony

It was serendipitous but entirely appropriate that I dined at Betony, a restaurant in midtown Manhattan, on the day that I did. On that very evening, on the other side of the country, Hubert Keller was conducting his final dinner service at Fleur de Lis. The meal that I had at that San Francisco restaurant is among the most memorable I’ve had. Now I can add the dinner at Betony to that list.

Betony, which opened in spring of 2013, is a project of several refugees of the estimable Eleven Madison Park, including executive chef Bryce Shuman and Eamon Rockey, Betony’s general manager. Shuman, who was Eleven Madison Park’s executive sous chef, has created an intriguing menu that is presented in an understated and austere way.

Betony lobsterTubular lobster rolls.

The description of the lobster roll hors d’oeuvre, for example, gives no clue that this is not a Boston harbor kind of roll. Instead it features a cigar-shaped tube with a sort of lobster cream filling. Perfectly cylindrical, no oozing lobster salad, but loads of flavor.


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Notes from New York: Becco, Alder and Tavern on the Green

Written By Scott Joseph On June 2, 2014

Alder eggsPastrami hash and “poached egg” at Alder.

Dining in New York’s theater district is always a dicey proposition. There are too many chains in Times Square and too many tourist trap operations that go low on quality and high on prices. There are some good places to eat on the designated Restaurant Row, 46th Street west of 8th Avenue, but they tend to be on the pricey side. So what a pleasant surprise was Becco, a modest Italian restaurant with a Bastianich ownership (Lidia and her son Joe).


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Notes from New York

Written By Scott Joseph On January 2, 2013

standardTop of the Standard, overlooking Manhattan.

Anyone who knows me knows that New York is one of my favorite destinations. I’ve lost actual count, but I’m guessing I’ve visited there more than 70 times in the past 20 years. So when I tell you that the trip I just completed was one of the best, especially from a culinary standpoint, you’ll know that it was really good.

One of the highlights was a new place in the West Village called Cocotte. I learned about it because it is owned by a fellow I had encountered on my first visit to Buvette, another Village favorite. Raphael Latrache was the server who first greeted me at Buvette, and his conviviality mixed with food and wine knowledge made an impact. So when I returned to Buvette and found him missing, I asked about him. That’s when I found out about Cocotte.


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Written By Scott Joseph On July 27, 2011

Buvette_exteriorI have a new favorite in New York. It’s called Buvette, a French term for refreshment, and a spur-of-the-moment meal there turned into one of the most refreshing meal experiences I’ve had in a very long time. And I use the word experience because it was the sum of all the parts that made this so enjoyable.

Buvette is one of those places that you might not know about unless you’ve heard it from a friend or a friend of a friend. Indeed, you could pass by its West Village storefront and not even notice a restaurant inside. So I begin by thanking a friend for suggesting I seek it out. Walking inside, one finds an atmosphere that combines the best of a French cafe and a typical New York neighborhood boite. It calls itself a gastroteque, which offers as much guidance as gastropub.


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