I chose what is one of my all time favorite restaurants to kick off my QNYGF series, The Four Seasons. Having dined there on many, many occasions over the years from my childhood through adulthood, it somehow feels like an old friend. While the outside world is moving at an incredibly fast pace it is nice to have a respite in a microcosm that seems not to change over the years. Walking into the restaurant is just like the first time I set foot in the restaurant.
When one arrives at the restaurant a doorman quickly opens the door and ushers you inside. The lower-level lobby features the men’s and women’s lounges, coat check, and a modest sitting area. You then traverse a staircase up to famous Grill Room and bar area where the maître d’ is waiting to check you in. He writes your table on a slip of paper and hands it to someone who escorts you about half-way down the corridor, connecting the Grill and Pool rooms who then passes it to another, in front of a massive Picasso tapestry, to bring you to your table.
When one enters the Pool Room you cannot help but be struck by the simplified elegance that has essentially remained unchanged over the years. A calming reflecting pool in the centerpiece flanked on its four corners with palm trees (for the summer season). Throughout the remaining seasons the trees change to reflect the appropriate season. The room is surrounded by vast, towering windows covered in beaded drapes that allow one to see outside but also move with the air currents in the room making for a truly magical experience.
The restaurant was busy, which was a good thing to see. We did have to wait a bit before our team of waiters and captain came over (a large table was just ordering next to us when we arrived) but our team was quick to apologize and the evening quickly got underway with our drink orders, a plate of goat cheese encrusted in pastry in blue cheese sauce and a sampling of red and yellow grape tomatoes were offered as an amuse bouche. The bread basket was also presented and included tiny delicate croissants, plain and olive-filled rolls. Apparently the tomatoes were a substitution for another option that they had run out of. Fine with me, a healthy gluten free nibble is always appreciated.
There were two menu options this evening: a special three course prix-fixe (a very good deal) in honor of their 50th anniversary and their traditional a la carte menu. Both my partner and I partner decided to go the a la carte route. There were options that he wanted not otherwise available. As for my choosing the al a carte option, given both my shellfish and gluten allergies there were not enough options on the prix-fixe (though there were some).
The cocktails of the evening were Martinis and Ciroc and tonic – and they were extremely well prepared. After explaining my food allergies to the captain, initially I thought he did not grasp the gluten one but after a few moments he began to feverishly scribble notes on his pad to present to the chef. Not only that, he came up with thoughtful suggestions and alternatives to ensure that I would have a worry-free meal. Shellfish allergy is an easy one, gluten not so much. The captain handled all my allergies without making a big deal ensuring that I would be able to focus on enjoying the evening.
So what was on the menu? I had the Rosi Prosciutto, Black Mission Figs and Balsamico to start followed by Pepper-Seared Skillet Steak with Vidalia Confit (sans the Merlot sauce – though other sauce options were quickly offered) and rounded the evening out with a sampling of their home made ice creams. My partner started with the Flatiron Steak, Tatsoi and Hen of the Woods salad with a Sesame Dressing followed by the Double Lamb Chops, Summer Beans, and Baby Chard. To finish the meal he indulged in a Bing Cherry Crumble with fromage blanc ice cream. The traditional plate of sweets was also presented with coffee and had a very nice selection of cookies and truffles, so again there was even a gluten free option for me.
With dessert I have a marvelous glass of Sauternes while my partner had a glass of vintage port. During dessert I popped down to the Men’s Lounge only to find when I returned that our captain had re-filled our after dinner drinks on the house – I was most definitely feeling no pain by the time the meal had ended.