It’s Birthday Season!
The subtle segue into August has begun – the days are getting shorter, and you can feel the hint of crisp in the morning air that whispers, “autumn is on its way.” While I am sad to bid farewell to summer (no one will miss it more than me), I look forward to the coming weeks – it’s officially birthday season! Yes, there are birthdays year-round, and spring/summer birthdays are fabulous – but it does seem that an awful lot of us are born between October and February, yes?
This birthday season, I have thus far made appearances at two celebrations – at two very chic venues.
The first is a sleek little place called Summit Bar, tucked away in the East Village between 8th and 9th streets on Avenue C (Loisaida). Just around the corner is the grandiose Plaza Cultural, a surprising jungle of weeping willows and tropical flowers in the midst of the gray concrete and dilapidated deli awnings. Like Plaza Cultural, Summit Bar is a welcome surprise, a little treasure, if you will. Known for its uniquely astounding and original cocktail menu, Summit Bar is a great place to have after hours drinks and appetizers with ten or so of your closest friends (any more than that and you’ll have to spill out into the back garden – but that might not be the worst thing).
I tried the Ground to Glass as my first beverage of the evening. I love red bell peppers, and I actually had just eaten a dinner of sauteed kale and asparagus at home, so I was in that healthy, garden-fresh frame of mind. It was zesty with hickory-smoked salt on the rim and the mixture of tequila and red bell pepper purée – but was a little too robust for my taste. I would definitely order it again, but it’s a bit like having octopus sashimi: you have to be prepared for it.
So I took a cue from the birthday girl and ordered a Charmane’s Star. The description of vodka, cucumber and agave nectar had, at first glance, seemed too sweet for my taste. I was delightfully surprised, however. Sweet it was, indeed, but the cucumber and rhubarb bitters created the perfect balance, and instead of a sickly-sweet fruity cocktail, they provided a fresh, slightly herbal flavor. Needless to say, both of my cocktails that evening were stunning, refreshingly unique and definitely the work of an expert.
I unfortunately misplaced my brain before I left my apartment for Summit Bar, and by the time it hit me, I was already on the 4 train down to Union Square. Fortunately, I was able to snag a few images from the Summit Bar website to give you an inkling into its artistically alcoholic world.
The second venue is located exactly where its name suggests – 44th Street and 10th Avenue. Taking multi-cultural cuisine to new heights, 44 & X boasts a wide array of classy flavors and classic cocktails. Manhattans and martinis dappled the outdoor table we chose that evening. It was one of those ideal New York evenings on the west side where the air was light and fresh and the people walking by on the street had a pleasant, relaxed energy about them. It could have been that it was Friday, it could have been the chic little lanterns shedding faint light on the table, or it could have been the cocktails, but whatever the reason, it made the perfect setting for our meal.
It was, in the words of 44 & X’s marketing team, a little piece of heaven in Hell’s Kitchen.
Subtle, delicate flavors, perfectly-sized portions and a presentation that is as delicious to consume with the eyes as it is for the mouth made for a fabulous dining experience. In anticipation of birthday season, I have attempted to cut back on my spending, and thus couldn’t bring myself to shell out $14 for a burger. So I pried out $30 instead, and went for the sautéed duck breast with sweet potato hash, poached figs and red wine reduction. It was to die for (and I’m pretty sure my wallet did die, just a little). Their menu is on the pricey side, but my taste buds tell me it’s well worth the pretty penny.
Again, I forgot my camera that evening, unfortunately. I promise to keep it glued to my hand from now on to bring you exclusive looks into New York venues from the impossibly wild life of this social butterfly. In the meantime, here are some photos from the NYMag.com slideshow for 44 & X.
And so. We kick off birthday season with a wide spread, from drinks on Avenue C, to dinner on 10th Avenue. This could have become a battle of East vs. West – but they both come out as winners!