Friday, November 9, 2007

Dine with Confidence--Madison Square Park

Eat! Eat! Eat! You're way too thin!

The Flatiron Partnership BID ( has sent me a lovely full color e-mail all about food.

It seems seven new restaurants have lit their ovens in the Madison Square neighborhood in recent months, and they all sound divine.

Philip Massound’s ilili (it means “tell me” in Lebanese), on Fifth between 27th and 28th, offers such delicacies as duck shawarma with pomegranate molasses, fig and green onion, and steak tartar with burghul, red onion and mint.

“With its soft amber lighting and candlelight, walls paneled in cedar and copper, and red and burgundy leather chairs, ilili is designed to evoke the ambience of a Mediterranean sunset,” the e-mail says.

Pomegranate molasses! Yum! Reserve at 212-683-2929.

Primehouse New York has opened on Park South at 27th, and I will NOT repeat the dreadlful pun that’s in the e-mail regarding this event. But I will tell you it says the main attraction is the beef, which is “aged in an on-premises, custom-built room tiled in Himalayan rocksalt” (mere Catskill rocksalt would never do).

There is also an extensive raw bar, seafood and something called Unrack of Lamb. Call 212-824-2600 to steak your claim (oh, dear—I did tell you after all! Sorry! Hope it didn’t ruin your appetite).

The space on Broadway once occupied by the long and well-beloved Mayrose (Broadway and 21st) now houses Lunetta, an iteration of the Lunetta in Boerum Hill.

Homestyle Italian cooking includes “Flying Pig” porchetta and lentils, meatballs in toasted garlic and tomato sauce, crisp cod served with fennel and citrus salad, and on and on. Call 212-533-3663 and pigs will fly.

Chef/owner Alex Urena has reopened the Spanish restaurant on East 28th (Park & Madison) that originally carried his name. It’s now called Pamplona, my e-mail reports.

It’s less expensive now, but Urena worked for years with David Bouley, and that sort of thing doesn’t wear off.

So there’s paella with rabbit and bomba rice, gazpacho with shrimp and goat cheese, as well as several Basque-inspired dishes and some classic tapas. 212-213-2328.

Then, for lighter fare and takeout, there’s Jim & Della on 23rd just east of Park. Sandwiches, wraps, grilled panini, quesadillas, plus hot entrees, soups, salads and desserts.

The offerings sound a lot like those of Pax, on the northeast corner of 23rd and Park.
I’m looking forward to checking out which place is better.

Jim & Della, however, also offers a catering menu with everything from cold cuts to filet mignon. 212-777-3266.

Hale & Hearty Soups will soon open at 40 East 23, and since this will be its 20th location in New York, I don’t have to tell you what it’s all about. However, the new branch will be the only one to offer breakfast (pastries, not health-food stuff) and a larger choice of desserts. 212-533-8800.

The seventh gastronomic adventure is Aspen, with—wait for it—a Colorado-themed menu, which means bison sliders, pan-fried brook trout tacos, black Angus flatiron steak, etc., etc., plus other entrees like wild salmon with beluga lentils and beets.
Find them all on 22nd between Fifth and Sixth. 212-645-5040.

AND—if you feel sufficiently guilty—and you should!—when the hungry and homeless people sitting on the benches that circle the park are watching you as you trundle off to sample pomegranate molasses and other delights, call Neal Flowerman, Volunteer Coordinator for the New York City Coalition Against Hunger.

The Coalition reports that one out of every six New Yorkers lives in a “food insecure” household. Call 212-825-0028 or e-mail to find out how you can help.

Having spent many hours volunteering at the Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen (9th and 28th, 212-807-6821, ask for Clyde), I can tell you there is no more rewarding experience than putting a tray with a hot dinner on it in the hands of a hungry person who would not be eating otherwise. Try it. You’ll see.

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