BY DWIGHT CASIMERE
by Dwight Casimere
Spring is finally here! Its a terrific time to take a spontaneous weekend trip to the Big Apple to stroll its brownstone lined streets, enjoy a cup of cappuccino at a sidewalk cafe, spend a weekend at a lovely boutique hotel and dine in a fine continental restaurant. There are just as many blossoming trees to be viewed while meandering through many of the city's charming neighborhoods as there are in Georgetown. Contrary to stereotype, there are a number of quiet, cozy areas of the city ticked away along the side streets, where you can find a lovely English-styled hotel with complimentary buffet breakfast and a delightful complimentary evening cocktail with an intimate library and expansive views of the charming surroundings.
Once such place is the Hotel Elysee, on 60 East 54th Street, part of t he Library Hotel Collection. The hotel is as charming as any you'd find on Grosvenor Square, London, complete with elegant vintage-styled furniture of both English and French Provincial design, with exquisite chandeliers and lighting fixtures, fireplaces, baby grand pianos and terraces with stunning views in select rooms and suites. There are no "cookie cutter" rooms. Each has its own distinctive character. A full complimentary breakfast buffet with a selection of fresh pastries, cereals, croissant and various juices, gourmet coffees and teas is a must to start the day. Be prepared to enjoy a short walk to Times Square, Rockefeller Center and all of the other great sights and sounds of midtown that are literally at the Elysee's doorstep. Just a block and a half up the street is the Museum of Modern Art and its exciting collections and exhibits. See the concierge for the latest offerings. Right across the street is one of the most elegant dining settings for a weekend brunch or elegant dinner, Il Gattopardo restaurant in the historic Rockefeller townhouses at 13-15 East 54th. The rerestaurant is located a few steps below street level in the English basement. the sleek dining room extends back to a stunning atrium. The menu and the cuisine are equal to the exquisite decor. Each dish is a masterpiece, with attention to presentation. The food is decidedly Italian with a modern twist on many traditional classics. Start with the Crudo di Branzino, a scrumptious variation on raw, marinated fish with fresh herbs and crunchy garden vegetables for a refreshing start to the meal. Enjoy a crisp Prosecco or one of the delightful white wines from Umbria or the Lombardy region. If you tend toward something a little heavier, the Beef and Veal meatballs wrapped in savory cabbage leaves is a nice, flavorful twist on an old favorite. "Nonna's" meatballs never tasted better! The main event at Il Gattopardo is a real show-stopper; whole pan-roasted Dover Sole, deboned and served table side. The presentation is dramatic and the delicate aromatics of the fish are beyond parallel. Enjoy a selection of contrasting white and red wine blends from Sagrantino or Sicily for a real taste treat. You can't leave Il Gattopardo without saving room for yet another house specialty,the Artisinal Ravioli with wild pheasant, partridge and rebiller cheese in its own sauce. You will not find a more ravishing and soul-satisfying dish anywhere! There's a;ways room for dessert. Have a demi-glass of house made Limoncello with a generous slice of Cossata Siciliana, a delightful traditional custard pie from the Mediterranean coast filled with candied fruit and a mouth-watering caramelized sauce. You'll be glad that you stayed at the Elysee, just a short, much needed walk to dampen down the copious meal or just a few minutes Uber ride away.
For more information visit elyseehotel.com or ilgattopardonyc.com.