New York City may be roaring back to life after the standstill in the wake of the pandemic, but Midtown Manhattan is still somewhat behind.
In earlier times, this area was the heart of the city – businesses, tourism, Broadway and of course restaurants and bars – was a constant reminder of why we love this urban metropolis that never sleeps. Since Broadway is not ready to return until September, the tourism metal is going back, and most businesses are working remotely until the fall, all you have to do in Midtown is eat out.
What used to be the hardest reservations to score in the city can now be obtained relatively easily. Where else in the world can you eat at several Michelin-starred restaurants such as Le Bernardin, Aquavit, The Modern and more, all within a few blocks apart and all without the hassle of hearing “We only have 5pm or 10pm , or try again next month. ”
One of the brightest places in the neighborhood’s dining landscape is the new hit IRIS, from the famous Michelin-starred chef John Fraser. In normal times, this delicious Mediterranean place would instantly become a hot ticket reservation with a long waiting list to boot. In fact, it’s well on its way to getting there- in recent weeks it’s been quite a jockey sport to snag a table in the best hours.
Fraser, for the unknown, is a French laundry salon behind the restaurants Dovetail, Nix, The Loyal, 701West and the newly opened North Fork Table in Southold, New York. With IRIS, he has added Aegean-inspired to his repertoire.
The 5000 square meter IRIS, which draws from Fraser’s Greek heritage and travels through Turkey, is an elegant place with high ceilings, light wooden floors, sand-colored tables and leather seats and a glamorous, long bar. Contemporary art hangs throughout the room.
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The food is simply prepared so that the high quality ingredients in the dishes can really shine. Starters include mezze (the roasted eggplant dip with raisins and pine nuts is a must), raw seafood like the excellent swordfish tartare with pistachios and pickled frescoes and flatbread in Turkish style, such as squash flower with goat cheese.
More hearty options from the menu in the middle of the table and main courses include grilled squid with candied kumquats, a quail kebab with sage butter and an Aegean stew with poached sea bass, lobster and mussels in a seafood broth with a deep, rich flavor.
A tip for fishing fans: you can not come here and not order the pristine whole fish for two. The dorade, the sea bass and the turbot – all from Spain – are artificially filleted at the table and presented with flavor enhancers such as caper vinaigrette that accompanies the dorade.
In true Mediterranean style, every item on Fraser’s menu is designed to be shared.
Dessert and drinks are also remarkable: pastry chef Adriana Adorno Davila is tasked with getting the sweet end to your meal, which includes fried cardamom donuts with pomegranate molasses and sesame and pistachio baklava with honey syrup. The creative cocktail menu from beverage director Rob Krueger includes Troy Melon with vodka, cantaloupe, tarragon and dill, and for islanders there is an extensive list from Amy Racine that spans the globe but focuses on Mediterranean varieties.
Fraser says that opening IRIS has been both a personal dream and a professional adventure for “The food, the wines, the cocktails and my team all serve as such inspiration and I could not be more excited to be where we are as a restaurant right now, ”he says. Of all the neighborhoods I have had restaurants in, Midtown has surprised me the most. “It’s the heart of the city and seems to be returning to its usual, busy self.”
Let’s all make a toast to it.