What better way is there to spend a milestone birthday than in New York City? To make it even more fabulous, we were at the Gansevoort Hotel in the trendy Meatpacking District. On our first night in NYC, Diva #1, Sweet Pea and Vegan Vixen met Bellatrix and the other 4 girls in their hotel room. We brought supplies to make dirty gin martinis and Diva #1 ran in and whipped up 8 in two minutes, and then 8 more ten minutes later, and then more…. We laughed, took pictures and awaited Whitey who was flying in from Montreal for Bellatrix’s 30th birthday weekend. Her flight was delayed, so we moved our reservation and kept drinking in the meanwhile. Once Whitey showed up, she found us all tipsy, chugged some straight gin to catch up and off we went downstairs to The Chester.
It is no simple feat getting a reservation for nine in NYC’s Meatpacking District on a Friday night. Thankfully, Bellatrix was staying at the Gansevoort Hotel, so getting into The Chester, their new American style restaurant, was not a problem. Posh, low lit, with phenomenal service, we felt like a group of queens being entertained by courtiers as we were ushered to our long table, brought our wine, and spoiled to death.
We enjoyed a delicious Franco Amoroso Barolo wine that was flowing all night long and planned the rest of our weekend in the Big Apple. There were so many delicious appetizers to choose from like candied bacon, devilled eggs with blue cheese and Maryland lump crab cake. In the end Diva #1, Sweet Pea and Vegan Vixen chose to order together and avoid meat for the sake of our dear friend. To be honest The Chester had a lot of delicious seafood options so this was not a problem at all!
We started with the burrata flatbread that we shared with Whitey. The flatbread was fresh, crispy on the outside and soft on the inside; it was topped with basil, tomatoes and of course, burrata cheese. This was a fairly large portion with plenty of cheese. The flatbread was grilled and cut in squares with toppings on every piece. We really enjoyed it and shared some with Bellatrix and the other girls. Considering that we had met most of those girls just that day, a few of them just once before, we were already digging into each other’s plates! We were an ethnic group who loves to eat, oh and Whitey, our Canadian friend.
After the burrata flatbread, we opted for the Chilean seabass skewers. We know what you’re thinking, Chilean seabass is an endangered species and it shouldn’t be served at restaurants. We have heard it all before and as much as this is a concern….it makes for one heavenly fish. Diva#1 did not divulge this little piece of information to Vegan Vixen, since her love of animals may have moved Chilean seabass to the “don’t eat” list as opposed to the “yum I love fish” list. Three skewers of grilled Chilean seabass arrived full of flavour and topped with sesame seeds. Diva #1 still prefers her Chilean seabass topped with steak spice as opposed to The Chester’s more Asian style sauce, but it was tasty nonetheless. Their cucumber salad left much to be desired and the presentation of the dish was a little sloppy.
Next we ordered an American staple, the Chester mac & cheese as a side dish. Creamy and satisfying it was as expected, nothing particularly wowed us or stood out but nothing was particularly off about the dish. It came in a cast iron pot and the portion was very generous for the price, and for the fact that it was a side dish. Of course, Diva#1 saw oysters on the menu, so she had to order them too. They came with a delightful tabasco mignonette that really added a kick. It was a cross between the usual red wine vinegar and onion topping, with tabasco. The oysters were meaty and delicious, and as always, Diva #1 wanted more.
Our last appetizer was the tuna tartare. Bellatrix also ordered this for herself and she still raves about it. Fresh red tuna, another fish nearing endangerment, mixed with an olive salad creates this delicious appetizer. Why are all the delicious fish becoming endangered? There were plenty of crostini and the tuna was very interestingly coupled with the olive salad, a different combination that we had not yet tasted. It wasn’t a huge appetizer but it wasn’t expensive either and our raw fix was satisfied.
We decided to share a main since we ate so many little appetizers and of course at this point we had filled up on magnificent Barolo wine. We ordered the jumbo shrimp with orzo and sundried tomatoes. This was a delicious dish! Our only complaint was that it was spicy, and though we are not averse to spice, it was spicy enough that it should have been mentioned on the menu. Poor little Sweet Pea needed an extra bottle of wine to cool her mouth while enjoying the dish: she drank a whole bottle of wine on her own! The jumbo shrimp came whole in their shell, head and all, which may deter the faint of heart, since they do look gruesome, but it only made us hungrier. The shrimp were seasoned very well and the orzo was perfectly cooked but the sauce was more liquidy than saucy. All in all, the taste of the dish was superb and something that you do not frequently see on menus.
Bellatrix was craving a burger and the Chester burger was delicious. Made with American cheese, B&B pickles and Pat’s blend of meat and spices, Diva #1 stole a bite and craved another. And no we don’t know who Pat is but he is swell! I guess it isn’t surprising that the best place to get a good ol’ American burger is in the US at a gourmet American restaurant. We ate some of her fries that were golden and very fresh, and drunkenly toasted her birthday since that Friday was in fact the exact day of her 30th. We all planned where we would spend each other’s 30th birthdays, some of us were turning 30 sooner than others, and reminisced about good times spent at fun restaurants back home in Montreal. Diva#1 and Vegan Vixen are only two weeks apart which means they will be turning 30 together…and oh what a party that will be!
Poor Whitey sticks to her chicken and beef white-person-diet without any fish or seafood, raw meat or anything weird. Her definition of what qualifies as weird food is rather long; just when we think we have the list figured out, she adds to it. She likes cheese (thank god) but not eggs, mushrooms are so-so, some vegetables are delightful, others a curse, nothing raw, nothing from under the sea, etc… she makes Vegan Vixen look easy! She decided to order the roasted chicken with garlic, lemon and herbs. The chicken was meh! But I mean … it is roasted chicken…we weren’t expecting much else. The buttermilk mashed potatoes were divine and we helped her polish them off but the chicken was mediocre. t sucks when your side dish is better than your main but at least they gave a generous portion of buttermilk mash to compensate.
One of the girls ordered the better chicken option, the buttermilk fried chicken. A big portion of crispy chicken served with black pepper buttermilk biscuits and a side of ham hock gravy made for a large plate of American goodness. The chicken’s skin was perfectly crisp and the meat succulent. Toss on some gravy and your heart would skip a beat both because of the grams of fat that you just consumed and in delight because it was so damn good. Whitey lived in the southern US so she is not easily impressed by deep fried chicken; on the other hand, this was loads more impressive than the mediocre roasted chicken that she had in front of her.
Diva#1 wanted to surprise Bellatrix with dessert, so she snuck off under the guise of going to the washroom to ask the waiter to bring her some cake while we all sang Happy Birthday. Now Bellatrix has earned her warmhearted name for being a bitch, so as Diva#1 went off she loudly yelled how “Diva#1 never goes to the bathroom, where is she going?” Apparently Diva #1 has earned herself a very strange reputation… Nonetheless we managed to get two desserts for Bellatrix, a chocolate brownie and tequila vanilla cupcakes with lime icing. The chocolate walnut brownie was fudgy and delicious, especially when topped with a ball of vanilla ice cream. The winner of the night remains the three mini tequila vanilla cupcakes with refreshing lime icing. Although she was on to Diva #1, Bellatrix was pleased with all the love that she received on her birthday.
At the end of the night we decided to roam around the Meatpacking District and visit the bars that we have heard so much about. We first stopped at the famous Buddakan. Sadly, we did not have a chance to dine here as they are known for their popular Szechuan cuisine. At least we snuck in for a drink and to see their amazing décor. Unfortunately, the restaurant was empty so we did not stay long but it was a treat to see. Everyone says the food is fabulous so on our next trip to NY we will have to come here for dinner!
Rambo had recommended Tao downtown, in the Maritime Hotel, that specializes in Asian food. Once again we were too full from The Chester to try any of their food but we came here for a drink and stayed much longer than planned. Tao was very impressive, huge like Buddakan and expertly decorated with massive statues. We enjoyed a few drinks on their comfortable lounge chairs; the ambiance was great and it made us want to return for dinner. Both Buddakan and Tao are restaurants with a fun nightlife; the Divas aren’t big on clubbing, but a nice lounge-bar-like ambiance after dinner is our type of atmosphere.
We left the majestc Tao downtown quite happy with our night and our experience of the surrounding bars around the Chester, where we went for dinner.We ended our night back. Somehow our night didn’t end and we ended up bak in the Gansevoort Hotel, this time on their famous rooftop bar overlooking the city. Correction, we thought we were going to the Gans to get Whitey’s things and go to bed… but Whitey somehow tricked us into going to the rooftop bar to dance the night away. She still thinks we weren’t that drunk that night… but she isn’t usually so rosy cheeked and bouncing around with fever. We had had more than our fair share
Plunge Rooftop Bar and Lounge offers a beautiful 360 degree panoramic view of NYC and the Hudson River either from within the bar or on its lavish balcony. It boasts a heated outdoor rooftop pool with underwater lights that is open all year round; sadly we came late at 3 am (or too early in the morning) to enjoy the pool. Bellatrix and Vegan Vixen were not interested in stripping down for a swim, but Sweet Pea, Whitey and Diva #1 would have jumped in in a heartbeat. The bar was fun; we danced a lot and even got yelled at by the bouncer for dancing on the table outside …apparently that isn’t done in New York. Oops! We spoke to a bunch of people, danced with others, all eager men of course but we had good times nonetheless. Diva #1 even got into an argument with an American Greek who didn’t speak Greek or have any Greek affiliations except “opoulos” at the end of his last name. At this point she yelled at him for being too watered down to call himself Greek, he disagreed, and she was too drunk to let it go. Classy….ella ré. Zeus would be proud!
By this time we were dead tired, there were significantly fewer of us as some had retired to their rooms, but of course Bellatrix, Sweet Pea, Vegan Vixen, Whitey and Diva #1 were still going strong. We walked into the dark room of four sleeping girls, yelled obnoxiously, all while asking if they were asleep, and went off into the night, leaving Bellatrix to deal with their bad moods. We aren’t sure what time NYC bars close because everything was still roaring at 4 am when we decided to go back to our hotel. Diva #1 wishes that she lived in this city that never sleeps, since she is the girl who is always awake. Whitey wanted to party on but we tucked her into bed after we all soaked our weary feet in the room’s bathtub; after a day of walking everywhere, and a night of dancing. We bid you adieu New York City, the Divas love you!
Our Rating: Splendid
Tagged: 18 Ninth Avenue, 9th, 9th Ave, American, Bar, Buddakan, Burger, Burrata, Burrata Flatbread, Candied Bacon, Chelsea, Chester, Chicken, Chilean Seabass, Cocktails, Crab Cake, Devilled Eggs, Downtown, Fried Chicken, Gansevoort, Gansevoort Hotel, Hudson River, Lamb Chili, Late Night, Lobster Cobb Salad, Manhattan, Maritime Hotel, Meatpacking, Meatpacking District, Montauk Pearl Oysters, New York, New York City, NYC, NYC restaurant, Orzo, oysters, Plunge, Plunge Rooftop Bar and Lounge, Reservations Needed, Rooftop, Rooftop bar, Short Rib Pot Roast, Shrimp, Skirt Steak, Splendid, Steak, Tao, Tao Downtown, The Chester, The Chester Gansevoort Hotel, The Chester Meatpacking, The Chester New York, The Chester NYC, Tuna Tartare, USA, wine