Head chef Jean Gorges Vongerichten offers a lunch menu, a prix fixe dinner menu, a seasonal tasting menu, and an elaborate dessert menu organized by flavor in order to give you as many dining options as there are streets in NYC. Located on the Upper West Side of Central Park, Jean focuses on a French dining experience that changes with seasonal ingredients.
The ‘Tastes of Summer’ lunch menu will be fleeting as he makes way for the fall changes, but the prix fixe dinners focus on Maine lobster, sea scallops, and a delicious suckling pig. His most famous dish, though, is his sweetbread concoction that is battered and delicately laid over fresh arugula lettuce and pickled peaches. But save room for dessert. With a menu logistically organized with sections of chocolate, cherry, strawberry, seasonal sweets (right now the summer specializes in succulents like frozen apricot parfaits and almond crunch ice cream), and a special list of dessert wines, you’ll find it hard to ever get out of your posh, comfortable seat.
Every Sunday, the Columbus Ave Flea Market sells its wares just a block away from Jean Gorges. Open during the day from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., the flea market is the perfect spot to kill time Jean opens at 11am. Closer still are the Shops at Columbus Circle, a huge shopping mall right there on Columbus Ave that covers all of your designer, jewelry, and gifting needs.
For the late night crowd, Columbus 72, coming back from its first major makeover in forty years, offers up dance floors and lounges with unique musical experiences. Whether your mood is looking for hip-hop or aching for some throwback eighties jams, you can bounce around from room to room and get your ears full of whichever jams you choose. If dancing isn’t your thing, Stand Up NY is only a few more blocks away on 78th. This comedy house boasts stand-up comedians from all over the city, including famous faces like Amy Schumer and Aziz Ansari. For the truly brave one in your group, open mic night is offered weekly from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.
For those where price isn’t a problem, the Masa sushi house is definitely a need-to-eat-before-you-die kind of place. There’s no point paying the $450 minimum if you aren’t going to sit at the bar in front of Chef Masa himself, so don’t bother unless you’re willing to make reservations a month in advance.
If you do get access to the premiere seating, your eyes and your stomach get to enjoy the interactive two-hour performance of live sushi rolling with fresh ingredients and foie gras cooked in a Japanese shabu-shabu pot.
If your wallet is tight, Bar Masa next door offers drinks at fairer prices, fresh sushi, and bento boxes that are delicious, even if they aren’t made right in front of you. Bar Masa is the perfect stop for a special lunch date or birthday as their menu is less than $50 per person.
Located in the Upper West Side, Masa is strategically located next to all of the bars and comedy clubs on Columbus Ave. If you don’t mind venturing a little further to the northern side of Central Park, you can spend the day in the Museum of Natural History off 77th Street exploring rooms of worldly mammals and the special science center with the famous Arthur Rose Hall of Meteorites.
Masa and Bar Masa are open late, closing their doors at 11pm, which you ample time to explore the city at night. If you visited the Museum during the day, then you know you can cut through Central Park at the 79th Street Traverse and head down Madison Ave toward the Bar Pleiades in the Surrey Hotel. This bar and lounge offers a more upscale laid-back vibe for the over-thirty crowd, making it a great stop for after-museum and after-sushi drinks.
Another Upper East Side gem, Per Se offers fine French Cuisine for NYC tourists and locals alike. The dress-coat required dress code and dim, night-life lighting can sometimes make dinner feel like a stage show, but the plates will light up the whole table, especially if you order the nine-course tasting menu.
At nearly $300 per person, these nine-courses will be money well spent after you enjoy oysters and pearls, braised pork, and their famous Tsar Imperial Ossetra Caviar. If you have room, ask to see the dessert menu for a choice of fresh fruit dishes, ice cream, chocolates, and a unique offering of “candies” that will truly make this New York dining experience unforgettable. And like most of these highly-rated restaurants, reservations are required. Per Se offers a mobile reservation option on their website, so you can access their menu and their availability with your smart phone and call ahead to make dinner plans.
While the windows of Per Se overlook the luxuriousness of Central Park, after dinner you should head back a few blocks towards Fifth Ave. The MOMA is a great before-dinner stop, but once the lights go down, head over to the Rockefeller Center and climb your way to the Top of the Rock Observation Deck. Open until midnight, this rooftop view will let you take in the city in all its nighttime glory. Pick out a place, climb down, and check it out.
We recommend the Rum House. Your full stomachs can soak up the delicious drinks from behind the bar, including a Hemingway Daiquiri made with your choice of white wine (prices vary), and your eyes and ears can absorb the live music they have seasonally alternating through their walls.
One of the most diverse and unique places in the world, New York City offers lively entertainment, strong drinks, and fine food. So if you’re ever in the city, have some cash to burn, and are looking for some delicious eats, head over to one of these restaurants for a great experience.