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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

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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.

South Steel SJO March AD copy

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First opened in 1960, it is one of the oldest French restaurants in the city. The current owners, the Bruno family, took possession in 1982. You can find such details on the back of the menu, where there is a list of frequently asked questions about the restaurant. Among others, “Why is the bartender so scary looking?” is a standout. (He’s one of the owners and is into goth in a major way.)

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The front of the menu reads like a breath of French air, with classics like boeuf bourguignon, ris de veau, coq au vin, and coquilles St. Jacques among others. My companion and I started with a pate maison of pork and duck liver, served with cornichons and aspic. And escargots, plump snails in herbed butter.

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I chose cassoulet for my entree, which had duck confit, lamb and sausage baked with the white beans.

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My dinner guest chose the confit de canard, moist duck with impossibly crispy skin served with fries.

The space is small and cramped but comfortable, and the staff is friendly and welcoming. Because of its location, it’s a good choice for pre-theater dining.

Il Cantinori
This Italian on E. 10th Street is sumptuously decorated with large sprays of flowers towering over white clothed tables in the dramatically lit room.

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The food, unfortunately, was fairly pedestrian. The fritto misto was nicely done, crispy and ungreasy. Papparedelle all buttera, with peas and a small crumble of sausage, was just ok.

There’s better Italian food to be found in the city. Website.


NYC23 pastis
A return visit, this time for breakfast. Had a wonderful croque madame, but service flagged a bit from past visits here.

Park Avenue Tavern/Rosa Mexicano
I told you about my experience at Park Avenue Tavern here. And I’ll tell you about another New York restaurant that has recently opened in Orlando, Rosa Mexicano, soon.

Market 57

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The James Beard Foundation opened this project at Pier 57 just days before I arrived, and it still has the look of being a work in project. It features a small number of food stalls and focuses on serving as an incubator space for new businesses.

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It also has a space called Platform that will host occasional dinners and classes. 

The Nines

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Found this elegant little piano lounge on Great Jones Street at Lafayette. Plush, very red, with a pianist who sets a classy tone.

Hotel Chelsea
Ironically, the Nines was about one block from the hotel I’ve been staying in for the past several years, The Bowery. This time, however, we decided to give the recently renovated Hotel Chelsea a try.

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Hotel Chelsea has a fabled, and at times tawdry, past. It has been home to Bob Dylan, Robert Mapplethorpe, Janis Joplin and many others. Arthur Miller wrote at least two of his plays while living there. Of course, all of the famous people lived there before they were famous because it was affordable.

Now it has been renovated into a four-star hotel. We had a lovely suite on the sixth floor. The accommodations were similar to Bowery, a five-star property, though it lacked some of the niceties that extra star brings. (Though for a few hundred dollars less per night I can turn down my own bed linens.)

Still, I’ll stay here again. Especially for the location: W. 23d Street between 7th and 8th Avenues, with two subway lines – the 1 on 7th and the C and E on 8th – just steps away.

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“Some Like It Hot” is pure joy, a fun, old-style musical that had me grinning from start to end.

“Parade” was a disappointment. Although it’s always lovely to hear Ben Platt sing, the production is a dog. We had seats in the fourth row, center orchestra, and missed a lot of the action because it took place on a raised platform, which also obscured the many projections on the back wall. Kudos to the people who had seats in the mezzanine.

“The Coast Starlight” at Lincoln Center’s Mitzi E. Newhouse Theater (just below where “Camelot” is apparently bombing every night) is an interesting one-act play about six passengers on a train that runs overnight along the west coast. Good acting, good staging (also takes place on a platform but not one that’s raised over the audience’s heads) and an intriguing story.

Pre- and post-theater drinks

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Don’t Tell Mama

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