Monthly Archives: December 2012

How to Have an Awesome Times Square New Year’s Eve

by Jeannette, Director of International Sales

tsq The first time I saw Times Square on New Year’s Eve was from Central Park South as I scurried to connect to N train from the 1 line at Columbus Circle. Times Square station had long shut down to make way for the masses of people lining up to celebrate the Millennium at the Crossroads of the World. It was 5pm and the crowd was to 57th Street and I looked down and thought to myself, nothing in the world would make me ever want to be part of the debacle which is Times Square on December 31st!

Fast forward to 2003,  2 career changes later, now head concierge at the Crowne Plaza Manhattan Times Square, I am now literally living and breathing Times Square for 50 hours week. The Starbucks with the line out the door knows my name and order, the deli with the overpriced Matzah Ball soup know I like 2 packs of saltines with the $8 cup of soup and the ladies at the Thai walk up nail place know I have exactly 17 minutes before I have to rush back to my job and make peoples’ New Years dreams come true.

And how do I do that? I let them in on the little known secrets on how to celebrate in Times Square. I start with my diagram of the Square. Each block represents 1 hour, which is approximately how long is take NYPD to herd you like cattle into blockaded squares each holding about 100 people.   The Square begins filling up around 12pm so those lucky ones that are up front, have been waiting for 12 hours to get that coveted spot.

timessquare1Some people say bring crossword puzzles, drink water sparingly and make sure to have sandwich on hand!   I say run unless you want to be cold, hungry and possibly soiled.

So what do I tell people when the ask where to spend their New Years in Times Square?

There are countless restaurants on the side streets leading up the main event. A reservation at one of these gets you coveted NYPD pass giving you a reason to be loitering about. Try getting a spot on 47th or 46 on the east side, and you might catch a glimpse of the concerts in Duffy Square.  Most of the restaurants have loose policy when it comes to toasting the New Year so if you are lucky, you just mind find yourself wandering into Times Square just after the ball drop with a glass of champagne with confetti in your hair as the revelers are running to the toilets and subways to get out of Dodge!

standrewsThis year’s event features performances by Taylor Swift and Carly Rae Jepsen and my top pick has to be St Andrews on West 46th.  There multi level party features open bar and different dining options so come midnight look for me, reveling in 46th Street with my glass of cheer in hand! You can call me directly at 646-867-8253 if you want to join in the festivities.




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La Villette: Classic French cuisine in the West Village

by Louise, Director of Operations

Greenwich Village is not lacking in restaurants. In fact, it is fairly overwhelming to make even a simple food choice, whether you’re looking for pizza, a bagel, or an ice cream cone – the sheer volume of options can leave even the hungriest visitor feeling a bit lost. When you’re looking for a nice, relaxed sit-down meal it can be even tougher.

Allow me to narrow it down for you: next time you find yourself in the West Village, you’ll want to check out La Villette. This newcomer to the Village restaurant scene occupies a cozy, beautifully lit space at 10 Downing Street filled with rich reds and clean whites. The warm ambience is complemented nicely and unexpectedly by lively, pulsing music that is remarkably unobstrusive despite being not unlike the style you’d hear in a club.

We were warmly greeted by charismatic owner of La Villette, Angelo Peruzzi, upon our arrival and led to a fantastic table that offered a view of the whole restaurant and the floor to ceiling windows looking out on 6th avenue. We started with a couple of the restaurant’s signature cocktails – refreshing, invigorating and expertly-crafted – while we pondered the menu and discussed how many of the enticing selections we could dare to try in one sitting.

lavillette1For our first course, Chef Christophe Bonnegrace brought us one of his signature dishes: Le Poireaux Vinagrette Janick (slow braised leeks with mustard vinagrette). The presentation of this dish is simple, clean and elegant, and the flavors match. It’s the perfect way to whet the appetite and start off a wonderful meal. Next, out came a selection of seafood, all expertly prepared (unsurprising considering Chef Bonnegrace’s upbringing in Provence). The tiger shrimp with lemon and cayenne pepper was particularly fantastic – the shrimp perfectly tender and the cayenne offering exactly the right amount of spice to make the flavors pop without overwhelming our palates. Dishes like these always make me particularly joyful – a few simplavillette2le ingredients are all you really need to make magic happen, and many chefs tend to forget that.

Next up was a selection of house-made charcuterie. The pate de campagne was incredibly delicate for a country-style pate, and the foie gras terrine made my day, especially when I paired its rich lushness with the perfectly sweet fig compote that arrived along with it. I could have eaten several of these terrines, and I’m sure I will when I visit aglavillette3ain in the future.

For our entrees, we sampled two of La Villette’s signature dishes – La Lapin a La Moutarde (braised mustard rabbit with green olives) and a cajun-rubbed chicken breast served with french fries and a side of beurre blanc, poured over the chicken tableside. The rabbit was tender supple with wonderful flavor, complemented beautifully by the accompanying mustard sauce. This is a classic dish in Provence, but one that many Americans may never have tried. If you haven’t had rabbit, logo_la-villette-brasseriethis is the way to try it for the first time. There is no doubt that Chef Bonnegrace knows how to highlight its natural deliciousness that is really unlike any other meat. The chicken could be considered a fairly mainstream dish, but the addition of the beurre blanc really sends it over the top, taming the cajun spice and bringing out the chicken’s underlying sweetness.

But oh – we were far from done with our meal as of course, you can’t dine at a French brasserie without dessert. Two French classics were presented to us – a simple but perfect crème brulee (nothing irks me more than when chefs add unnecessary flavoring to crème brulee, as it is absolutely perfect in its essence) and a gorgeous apple tart, the puff pastry crust perfectly crisp and supple without a hint of toughness. By this point we were well into happy food delirium, but when our server mentioned cheese I just couldn’t say no. Cheese lavillette4is a serious weakness for me, and based on the impeccable selections we’d seen so far I had a good feeling that this would be a cheese plate worth sticking around for, and I was absolutely right. The board features five phenomenal French cheeses, with portions much more generous than what you often see (another pet peeve of mine).  We lingered over the plate and a final glass of wine for a long time, already so sated but knowing we weren’t going anywhere until that cheese was gone.

As we prepared to leave, we noted with little surprise that four and a half hours had passed since we’d arrived. That’s just the kind of place La Villette is – you can get lost in the food and ambience for ages, barely aware that the time is passing. So be careful if you have theater tickets, or better yet – make your reservation when you don’t have anywhere else to be, take off your watch, turn off your phone and enjoy.

Want to try out La Villette for yourself? Feel free to contact me for your preferred reservation!

Check out La Villette’s amazing New Year’s Eve menus below!

La Villette’s New Year’s Eve menu – 5-6:45 PM seating

La Villette’s New Year’s Eve menu – 7-8:45 PM seating

La Villette’s New Year’s Eve menu – 9-11:45 PM seating

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A perfect family dinner at Alfredo of Rome

by Tara, New York Guest Concierge

SAMSUNGBefore our trip to the Radio City Music Hall Christmas Spectacular, my friend, her mother and daughter, my aunt and I went to dine at Alfredo of Rome. Despite being a little late for our reservation (gotta love NYC traffic!) the hostess was very courteous and sat us right away. It was very busy for a Friday night in the city, as Rockefeller Center at Christmastime is bound to be, but we were greeted and had our order taken fairly quickly. My friend and my aunt split the Pailiard di Pollo with spinach and potatoes (They are both light eaters, and the entrée was enough for both of them and even to share some with me!), her mother had the Insalata Riccia (which I will be ordering on my next visit!), and I had the Trittica di Pasta. Her daughter is a picky eater, but they were able to accommodate us with penne and marinara.

SAMSUNGWhile waiting for our entrees we were given a bread basket with 2 dipping sauces, my favorite was the sweet chili (not too sweet and not too hot!) and my friend absolutely loved the tapenade. No sooner did we finish the bread when the entrees arrived (maybe 10 minutes!) Everything was delicious, and the portions were generous which made for some fun family style sharing. The chicken was delicious and juicy and the salad was perfectly seasoned and dressed. I got to enjoy their famous fettuccine alfredo, along with tasty veal ravioli and lasagna with a creamy cheese filling.

For dessert we ordered the tiramisu (my favorite) and the profiteroles which take 10-15 minutes to prepare, but the wait is worth it! The profiteroles came covered with a hazelnut sauce which, as a Nutella fan, I was very happy with. It was my friend’s mother’s birthday so we were also treated to a slice of chocolate cake with a candle (she was very surprised!) Her daughter was even given a complementary dish of vanilla gelato that was creamy and sweet.

alfredo3The manager is an absolute delight, visiting our table often, checking on how we were enjoying everything and even telling us about the man who makes the vanilla gelato! The waitress also kept an eye on the time because she knew we had to get to Radio City for the show, which I was grateful for because I had almost lost track of time. Everyone in my group had an enjoyable time; my friend was particularly happy because her mother had had such a good time and even finished her entire entrée (which she usually never does!) After going out to different restaurants and leaving disappointed, it has become difficult for them to eat out together, so she was happy to go to a place that her mother enjoyed. Needless to say, we would like to return during our next family outing to the city!

Did Tara’s review make you hungry? E-mail for your preferred Alfredo of Rome reservations!

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