A staycation in Manhattan


| vschneps@queenscourier.com |

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My children: (l. - r.) Josh, Tracey, Elizabeth, Samantha and Spencer at the Bar Mitzvah.

It was a weekend that is always my favorite, staying for a few nights in Manhattan, the greatest tourist destination in the world! I was there to celebrate my Stu’s grandnephew Alec Easton’s Bar Mitzvah and stayed at the W hotel on Lexington Avenue, just across the street from the Waldorf Astoria.

On Friday night an old friend, Miriam Silverberg, invited me to dinner at Paname restaurant. I thought I’d take a taxi from my hotel but it was six o’clock and the swarms of taxis were all full. So fortunately, I had sneakers on and I began the walk uptown. I was in awe of the wall-to-wall people on the streets and the busy bar crowds overflowing onto Third Avenue. Crossing the street was an adventure, making my way through the throngs of tourists and businesspeople emptying onto the streets.

My dark chocolate dessert was a work of art.

Paname’s French cuisine (1068 Second Ave. at the corner of 56th Street, 212-207-3737) has been at this location only one year and is owned by Bernard Ros, who has been a leader and mentor in his field for decades. He’s traveled around the world helping restaurateurs establish their own places and now, after owning several other restaurants, has established himself near Bloomingdale’s, across the street from an enormously large mixed use building going up across the street.

The charming 50-seat location adorned with built-in banquettes and dark wooden candlelit tables had a bar in the rear that was filled with patrons having dinner and watching the TV hanging above the bar.

The crab cakes were a treat to the eye and palate.

The chef owner has put together an eclectic menu featuring a wide selection of fish and meat. To begin, we were given a small, tasty bite of a grilled Roquefort cheese in a pastry shell.
My appetizer was a perfectly cooked crab cake, lightly stir-fried and beautifully presented. My friends had the grilled octopus and an asparagus salad. There is a prix fixe menu that I think is a real bargain for $35. It is a four-course meal with quality entrees from salmon to meats.

For my main course I chose a grilled veal chop in a light brown mushroom sauce. It was juicy, thick-cut and prepared to my medium rare request. It was accompanied by an assortment of vegetables and smooth, silky mashed potatoes. We also sampled a tuna presented like a gift with a dramatic crust around it. The creative chef is also a pastry chef, so each dish is a delight to the taste and the eye. No meal is complete here without dessert. Since I love chocolate, the chef recommended the chocolate mousse or dark chocolate cake. Just say dark chocolate and I’m in! It, too, was a treat to the eye and palate.

My friends had a crispy apple tart and a fruit and cheese platter. A sweet ending to a delightful dining experience.

The Eastons at the evening Bar Mitzah celebration.

The next morning I was off to hear Alec read from the Torah and become a bar mitzvah — officially in the eyes of the Jewish faith a man. But as the rabbi said at the end of the ceremony, Alec was a mensch, meaning a fine man already. And I can vouch for that. He is a caring, loving young man who is fast with hugs and kisses and kind words. The services were followed by a buffet lunch of fishes and salads.

After the party, since my stepson Jon and his fiancee Hilary were also staying at the W hotel, I asked them to join me on a taxi ride to the LIC Flea market near the Midtown Tunnel.

So off we went and I was so happy to be there to see many of our old vendors and meet the new ones this season.

We spent a few fun-filled hours browsing through the aisles of food and jewelry and clothing and vintage goods. Fortunately there was a green cab at the corner of 46th Avenue and Fifth Street, where the market is located, to take us back to Manhattan.

On the way back, my friend Rhona Silver told me about Gale Grant, a Manhattan family-owned store chock-full of counters of colorful costume jewelry. It was fun to meet the owner, Richard Gould, who with his wife has run the mecca of faux jewels for decades. But we couldn’t linger too long because we needed to get back to the W in preparation of the evening party to celebrate Alec’s bar mitzvah.

It was a bonus that I had all my children with me to share in the joy of the night.