Uncorked! In New York Part 3

Robert K. Stephen (CSW)

(NEW YORK, NY) – March 3, 2012: I haven’t mentioned anything about the Hotel Elysée where I am staying. It is very much of a laid back and little bit old fashioned European Hotel. It is neither tired nor well-worn but just that it has been around for a while. The lobby is tiny and rather intimate although a doorman is always present. 

My senior suite is very well appointed with a large living room and the bedroom is also very large. The bathroom is generously apportioned although the “shower power” is a bit anemic! The living room is a real plus though with the obligatory flat screened TV, two chairs, a couch and a writing desk. If you are a hotel for a few days the extra spent on a suite may be well worth it instead of looking at a bed every moment you are in your room.

A distinct entrance hallway gives the room further dignity and charm. The Elysée exudes low key luxury of its own and luxury at an affordable price. It has its own identity. It is a hotel you can quickly call your home when you are in New York. On top of it all it is extremely well located and on a rather peaceful street.

The welcoming water and Leonidis chocolate is an example of the service you receive and thank goodness no one ever knocks on your door to check the mini-bar or ask if you want your room made up. This is but an element of discrete service. There is also a “Club Lounge” on the second floor where a good continental breakfast is served up daily and between 5-8 on Monday through Friday complimentary wine and cheese with light snacks are served. This is either a good way to relax before coming to your room to get ready for your evening out or to have a quick one before heading out for dinner or the theatre.

The Club Lounge is more reminiscent of a club than a lounge with its little library section to the side hooked up with a desktop and a printer. The Club Lounge is elegant, full of rich wood panelling, red carpet, golden wallpaper and a combination of sofas and chairs with small tables. The classical music playing in the background gives more Euro flair. The complimentary wine is passable but I think better value and taste is possible but being a wine writer don’t pay much attention to what I say ( Mondavi Wildrock Canyon Cabernet Sauvignon, Mondavi Willow Springs Chardonnay and some Lunetta Prosecco from a huge exporter to the United States Cavit that rode and still rides the Pinot Grigio tidal wave. (Hotel Elysée, 60 East 54th Street, New York, New York 10022, 212 753.1066).

I would certainly give the Elysée a try. The Senior/Deluxe Suite will cost you $400-$450 and standard deluxes start at $300 if you want to book directly from the hotel..

Not owned or managed by the Hotel Eylsée is the Monkey Bar which is just off the hotel lobby. It is owned by Graydon Carter media mogul, publisher of the Vanity Fair. The Monkey Bar is a high end and expensive bar and restaurant and recent reviews have been positive. You got to love the monkey motifs on the wall in the bar and the glam 1930 motifs on the restaurant walls. You can imagine gangsters and their molls partying here but the reality is that its now more of the after hour well-heeled office crowd at the bar and rich folk in the evening.

The 18 cocktails on the menu by bartender goddess Julie Reiner do beckon you at least for a drink. As for sitting down in their restaurant the reviews are positive but I am getting some very haughty vibes. Sommelier Belinda Chang seems to have disappeared in a management change a few months ago.

I decided to test an elementary principle. This principle is good restaurants produce consistently good food.

Last summer Deux Amis Restaurant wowed me with their Bucky Burger at $12.  So I decided to see if consisitency reigns at Deux Amis. My dining companion, Mr. G had a Bucky Burger with salad and fries ($12) and, as a hard core New Yorker, is used to eating at all manner of New York restaurants and quick to dismiss non-performers, enjoyed the Bucky Burger and fries, although the latter were not as good as his homie Cassis Restaurant and the gin Martini was a bit thin as the gin  had not been in the freezer.

Let me tell you Mr. G likes his martini at temperatures a bit lower than the iceberg that sank the Titanic. In fact if you give a rat’s * about a good martini you know it has to be made from gin or vodka that is from the freezer. I have challenged Mr. G to take me on a martini crawl on my next visit to New York.

My Croque Monsieur is heavy looking for a 12:30 lunch but is light and fluffy and a steal at $12 with the salad and fries! So far over a few years in New York the very traditional Deux Amis packs a solid value added and tasty punch.

There are nine seats at the bar which is at the front of the restaurant and sits on a tiled floor while the small amount of tables are perched a few feet higher on a wooden floor. This is bistro extreme. Am I in Paris or New York?. There are 34 reds and 27 whites by the bottle and 7 wines by the glass titled towards French! The raspberry tart, being consumed for journalistic purposes for dessert is au naturel meaning a bit bitter, smokey and delightful with the vanilla gelato. Gigantic value and gigantic taste.(Deux Amis Restaurant, 356 East 51st Street (Bet 1st and 2nd Avenue, 212.230.1117)

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