Absolute Perfection: Majorelle
It’s time for she who is Desperately Seeking Paris to say au revoir, if only for a few months. Summer draws nigh and with the temperature rising we New Yorkers have moved out of the winter doldrums and into the summertime highs, all in the course of a week.
The damage to the plantings on the terrace this winter was dreadfully sad to see. Two magnificent Japanese maples, for twenty years the glory of the garden, are weeks behind schedule, and it’s hard to believe that the wisteria that gaily clambered over a six foot long pergola last summer will even set a bud. It's as dead as one of the terra cotta pavers underfoot. Fortunately, the gardeners came by this week to install the summertime annuals, which added immediate color to my patch of blue sky and brought good cheer to all who chanced to see them.
Another spot of good cheer this week was a return visit to Majorelle, where we enjoyed a fabulous meal. It was a perfect evening from start to finish. When you enter Majorelle, snug within the Lowell Hotel, there’s a small reception area and a few steps leading to Jacques, the cozy dimly-lit bar where they have been having rosé Thursdays all month long. In the entrance-way was a spectacular floral display. Indeed, wherever we looked there was yet another equally dazzling arrangement. Walk through the bar and you will find yourself in the stunning dining room.
Bon soir Madame, Bon soir Monsieur
We had scarcely been seated when our friends arrived, and we all settled in for a fabulous repast. (If you want the full story about Majorelle--perhaps you'd like to know the origin of the name or read more about the menu, click the hyperlink. The website itself is downright gorgeous.)
A bonus when dining with friends is that you usually get to see a greater variety of dishes, but that evening the oyster and endive salad was enjoyed by one and all, and for the main course, three out of four went with the Acacia Honey-glazed duck with dates and wild rice. I chose the soft-shell crabs, all the better to mark the season, and I was not disappointed in the least. We each went our own way when it came to selecting a dessert. Choices included a blueberry clafoutis, a souffle, peach Melba, sorbets and a granita made with shaved ice flavored with the exotic lychee. The last was mine, a light and lovely ending to an immensely satisfying dinner. The dinner menu is prix fixe at $110 per person.
Swing into Summer!
As we were swinging into summer that evening, other guests were happily ensconced in the small garden room. No matter where you sat, by eight o'clock every table was spoken for. Can't wait to go back. Maybe for lunch when they have a $40 special, with two courses.
Another sure sign that summer had arrived greeted me Saturday morning after I walked around the reservoir in Central Park. Exiting at Fifth Avenue and 90th Street, the cafe belonging to the beautiful Church of Heavenly Rest was doing a booming brunch business, a server taking names for those willing to wait for a sidewalk table. And there were many.
For years, museums have been reinventing themselves by adding dining facilities, lectures and concerts. Now churches are doing the same. And Heavenly Rest has not only had found the formula for a successful cafe, but is sponsoring an art show, May-June that features the works of local artists and holding a neighborhood block party on Tuesday, June 12th from 6-9 PM, the week of the annual Museum Mile Festival. There will be live jazz, participatory art, food, drinks, face painting, and a silent auction. All welcome!
Instead of waiting, I crossed over to Cooper Hewitt, the Smithsonian Design Museum featuring textiles. The museum boasts a tranquil landscaped garden with tables and umbrellas that's open to the public. Operated by Taralucci E Vino, an enterprise with more than a half-dozen outposts scattered around Manhattan, the small cafe serves great Italian coffee and pastries and has a quinoa salad that's a bargain at six dollars. Cooper Union underwent a fabulous renovation a year or so ago and there are many amusing exhibits. For example in one room housing wallpaper samples, it's possible to select a wallpaper, click a module, and see the pattern projected on all the walls. Love it or hate it, you can change it with a flick of the wrist! In step with The Church of Heavenly Rest, Cooper Union will be having a garden party on Wednesday, June 13th, and you're invited.
Wherever you are this summer, be it in the mountains or at the seashore, at home or away, may life be good to you. Have you made summer plans? Hope to see you back here after Labor Day when I'll have the coffee ready. Jusqu'à ce qu'on se revoie...