I was looking for a fancy dinner to immerse myself in a truly uplifting NYC experience, and share that with a good friend who is always there for me, and who appreciates the finer details offered by a celebrity chef. Le Pavillon NYC fit the bill in more ways than one, so we headed up to Midtown to get close-up the new building we had been admiring on the ever-changing NYC skyline.
The architects truly took advantage of the location of this building. At the entry, a 4-sided bar fronts Grand Central Terminal’s splendor, where you can admire the roadway which threads through the upper part (which always reminds me of something you would see in Europe), the pedestrian-friendly planters on Vanderbilt Ave, and a wonderfully framed Chrysler building. The soaring windows take it all in, under a stunning blown-glass chandelier, by artist Andy Paiko, whose mastery of glass blowing is mind blowing! The light both dominates and blends into city scenery perfectly.
When we arrived there were 5 people at the Maitre’d stand, dressed impeccably, and ready to assist. We were led to our table down a fully landscaped path, that immediately removed the idea you were in the middle of the hustle and bustle of 42nd Street. Full sized olive trees are interspersed with a myriad of bushes and ferns, which are kept vibrant by a below floor watering system. (Our server mentioned that they would be replacing the olive trees, so we await what comes next.) As the evening went on and the sky darkened, the uplighting of the foliage in the space and the city lights outside made things even more dazzling and dramatic.
Our tasty dinner began with a veggie amuse, a slice of squash sitting in a neon, yellow pepper puree. A sign of great things to come. Right, the dining room seen from the bar.
I love how they applied the lemon peel to the edge of the glass, I thought I had seen it all. The drink featured Cognac and ginger flavors, and was topped with Champagne. Not at all sweet, and very light. Right, I am happy to be surrounded by such beauty. Note the wood-decked wall behind me with its irregular placement. Feels musical.
A view of the bar in daylight. Right, the Vodka cocktail was fruity and refreshing, and housed an extra large ice cube.
Of course, being French, the bread service was exquisite. These soft and warm wheat baguettes and slices were accompanied by a mini pyramid of perfectly soft butter. I am still thinking of this! Right, a view of the space in the back, as the day faded into night.
Choose the gorgeous stairway, made of a unique green marble, instead of the elevator for a grand entrance. Right, this dish was highly recommended and truly enjoyed. Huitre “Vanderbilt” are John’s River oysters poached in chowder, and topped in gratinées, hazelnut, and a parsley-seaweed crust.
This wine fit the bill for all our dishes, and was not TOO expensive (after all we were treating ourselves). Right, I could eat this every day, all summer. It was an explosion of flavors, with the creamy soup and crab nicely complementing each other. The Vichyssoise Crabe Royal: celtuce (a kind of celery/asparagus lettuce) and leek vichyssoise, Norwegian king crab, purple potato, and lemon verbena.
Bob’s entree: the Flétan Shitake: a halibut in Martha’s Vineyard shiitake consommé (which was poured at the table), served with cabbage and barley. Right, the city lights add more drama to the space. The dining area is kept intimate by the floating ceiling and sheer curtain.
A detail of the wood-paneled wall. The inconsistencies in the spacing adds to the appeal. Note the oversized table for larger parties. Right, Saint Jacques Cerises: kataifi (an Asian noodle) crusted sea scallops, served with freekeh, fava beans, black sesame, and sauce montmorency (a cherry, fruit-based sauce).
Since summer corn is in full seasonal swing, we opted for this side dish. Sublime. Right, the path that led to our table is flanked by thriving greenery. The plantscaping in this space beautifully added to the ambiance and feeling of calm.
The third course proved to stand up to the rest. I had the Noisette Chocolat: a milk chocolate crémeux, praline croustillant, hazelnut nougatine. It had a salty-caramel kick, which added a nice contrast to the creamy chocolate mousse and cookie. I’d go back just for this little treat. Right, a focus on the magnificent chandelier over the bar.
It’s always nice to get a gift from the kitchen. The cream puffs alone would have made a nice end to the meal. Right, Bob opted for the Rhubarbe Vanille which had hibiscus poached rhubarb, a vanilla chantilly, and timut meringue.
We lingered for a nightcap at the bar to take in the soaring 57-foot ceilings, the view of Grand Central—and the Chrysler building just coming to light.
FYI: also in this building, on the 91st-93rd floors, is Summit One Vanderbilt, an immersive cultural experience (see our post about the current exhibit) with tremendous views.
Le Pavillon, 1 Vanderbilt Ave (at 42nd Street), across from Grand Central Terminal