I’m not fond of hotel restaurants or dining establishments with the overly hotel look and feel. South Gate in the Jumeirah Essex House Hotel along Central Park South transcended itself beyond the regular hotel-restaurant look with its glossy modern décor, an impressive all-marble bar and the glass wall showcase of the restaurant’s robust wine list.
There’s even the neighborhood feel to it as one of the maitre’d and a few of the wait staff were familiar as they previously were from Telepan. These were the same ones who tried hard to make their diners happy and satisfied with genuine attentiveness and efficiency.
We dined during the 2nd night of the restaurant’s operation and we’re glad to note that miscues were minimal and inconsequential. Other than serving our appetizers just a bit slightly ahead of the wines that were specifically ordered as our pairing beverage, everything else went smoothly.
Troy, the sommelier, was most helpful by guiding our choices, providing test tastes and enhancing our wine experience with the suggestion of decanting the bottle of Alsatian Riesling which we enjoyed.
I had a delicious appetizer of tenderly-cooked Flash Seared Calamari with a very good lobster-based sauce and a mouse-like side made of cauliflower. My wife had the pan-seared Foie Gras which was good, but, we agreed, not in the same level as the calamari dish.
My entrée of Roasted Cod on a bed of greens, manila clams, cut potatoes and what I think were slices of Portuguese sausages was another fine dish. I was happy to use the provided spoon to finish up on the soup-like liquid at the bottom. Our other entrée, the Roast Chicken on paprika-based sauce was OK, but was not as successful as the fish dish.
The cheese course we ordered, all French, had the taste and appearance to have been carefully and thoughtfully chosen, and our shared dessert of Chocolate Millefleur (sp?) was a very good ending to a fine meal.
Kerry Heffernan made the rounds, complete with personal introduction, while providing his contact information in case we want to relay to him anything else that he can personally work on to make our next dining experience better.
Over the last few years, we’ve found our dining preference veering more and more towards simple neighborhood establishments offering rustic and hearty fares. However, even as this restaurant strikes me as the prototypical New York power dining scene with cutting-edge styled dishes, I did feel comfortable enough with the scene and the food to increase the likelihood of our returning in the future.