24 October 2013

La Mediterranee NYC – good food, comfortable ambiance, jazz

My wife and I arrived in New York on a Thursday afternoon. We were looking forward to a long weekend of good food and jazz music. We did our typical prep for our trip, looking up restaurants in the neighborhood of our hotel (Omni Berkshire Place, Midtown East) and checking menus and online ratings.

For our first night, anticipating that we would be tired from traveling and not yet very familiar with our locale, we picked a restaurant that also had music. La Mediterranee was a 6-block walk from the hotel. We liked the menu (French bistro) and on Thursday nights, in addition to the house piano player (French and American standards), they also have another guest combo. DSC00544

Because we had had a late lunch, we delayed our reservation until 8:30. We arrived in time for the last few minutes of the house pianist’s performance. Sipping a cocktail and listening to him, we could tell that he really enjoyed performing. He played with intensity and enthusiasm that was easily conveyed to the diners. We were disappointed when he closed his book at 9 p.m.

While the guest combo set up, we ordered our food.

One of the things my wife and I both liked about our past trips to France was the fixed price menus that offer a three-course meal. That is one of the options at La Mediterranee, and that’s what my wife decided to order. She started with the French onion soup, which was very rich, and she enjoyed it very much. Her entrée was pistachio crusted salmon, which also was delicious. For dessert, she ordered mixed berries with cream.

I decided I wanted the beef Bourguignon for my entrée. It was offered on the fixed price menu. But the salad I wanted was not. So I decided to order off the ala carte menu. I started with a goat cheese salad with pistachios, tomatoes and orange segments. Excellent. My entrée was very flavorful and fork-tender. I was very pleased by the meal. Lucky me, my wife shared some of her dessert.

The guest combo that started playing shortly after 9 was great. We liked them so much that we asked where they would be playing the next night. (In the end, we didn’t go listen to them, but kind of regretted it.) They quit playing at 11, maybe a little early for our preference; we would have happily ordered more drinks and stayed until midnight. But not bad for a Thursday in an unfamiliar city after a day of travel.

As the evening came to an end, we struck up a conversation with the diners sitting at the next table. They were a brother and sister and their 90+ year old mother. They all were having as much fun as we were. They told us that they are regulars at La Mediteranee and really appreciate the hospitality of the owner-host. We could tell that the restaurant, perhaps not on the radar screen of the city’s Foodie scene, had an intensely loyal clientele.

It was our favorite restaurant of our visit to New York.

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