Sure you could head over to the DELMONICO’S known as “America’s First Restaurant”, and still operated by the same family since 1837… after all they take credit for inventing eggs benedict, lobster Newburg (who knew?) and of course the Delmonico steak.
Heck, Katz’ Delicatessen has stood over on Hudson Street since 1888 and the pastrami is an icon of its own.
Or that ever so humble Sicilian spot Ferdinando’s Focacceria which has been operating on Columbia street since 1904. Specialties include fist size fried rice balls, pasta alla sarde, a panelle sandwich ( wedges of fried chickpea flour cake smothered in ricotta, on a roll) YUM!
But nothing tops the iconic Four Seasons Restaurant. Credited with introducing seasonally-changing menus to America, The Four Seasons opened in 1959. It was designed by Modern architects Philip Johnson and Mies van der Rohe and serves dishes that inspired the New York Times to rave, “one bite is enough to make you moan.”
An only-in-Manhattan phenomenon that offers two public dining rooms, The Four Seasons is a favorite of locals and critics who appreciate culinary classics and innovative seasonal dishes.
The Pool Room is airy and romantic and serves an a la carte menu of what New York Magazine called “surprisingly adventurous new flavors and marvelous pairings,” as well as the deal-of-the-decade $59 three-course menu that changes seasonally to satisfy any palate.
Known for its legendary power lunch, the Grill Room is more masculine with luminous French walnut-paneled walls and soaring two-story windows. It features an unfussy menu of Maryland crabmeat cakes, burgers, perfectly grilled fish, impressive rack of lamb and the filet of bison that GQ Magazine gave its “dish of the year” award.
The Art of the Deal
Since the day it opened its doors, the Four Seasons has exhibited continuously changing galleries of Modern Art, including this Picasso stage curtain from a 1919 French production of the ballet “Le Tricorne.” Over the years, these galleries have included artworks by Andy Warhol, Frank Stella, Jackson Pollock, Helen Frankenthaler, Robert Rauschenberg and Joán Miró.
Of particular interest recently is the story of Mark Rothko who, when the restaurant was designed, was invited to create a series of paintings for the dining rooms. It was, at the time, the largest commission ever offered to a Modern artist. These paintings and Rothko’s “malicious intentions” were recently the subject of the Tony Award winning play Red.
Design Elements of the Four Seasons
Built on the philosophy that less is more, the Four Seasons was designed by Philip Johnson and Mies van der Rohe, two of history’s most celebrated architects.
Every element of the restaurant’s design, from the chairs and shimmering chain curtains to the glassware and utensils, was created to celebrate the ultimate in International Style.
Today more than 100 of these elements are part of the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art.
As the new owners of the building take over and the Four Season journey comes to an end…the gavel has come down this week and the whole place has been auctioned off right down to the ashtrays ($10,000). From the NY Times (July 27th) the full details of the 15 hour auction including one famous bidder who had to be there… Martha Stewart was coveting the bronze-topped Saarinen Tulip tables. And they all came to witness history, and design titans like Philip Johnson, van der Rohe, Eero Saarinen and Garth and Ada Louise Huxtable… it was the end of an era.
Holly Peterson tell it best, and has the photos to prove it all happened here… in her great blog she titles you’ll never eat lunch in this place again. I feel like I should be sitting Shiva and I only dined there once.
Several items at the last min were withheld from the auction… for future generations there will reportedly be a reconstruction of a “Four Seasons” period room at the MET in NY. Stay tuned!