Kick Off 2013 With a Killer Meal

Sure, the holidays came and you ate, and drank, and ate again, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t indulge on the last night of 2012. What better way to go out with a bang, than with a feast to ring in the New Year. 

Celebrate with South American flare at La Mar Cebichería Peruana, where the swank Peruvian eatery hosts a New Year’s Eve pisco party. For $40, slug pisco sours from the open bar in the upstairs lounge from 7pm to 2am, and dance to the live DJ. If you want to go for a ceviche-laden, four-course dinner, $135 gets you that, and the open bar.

For a French-themed New Year’s, the West Village brasserie La Villette offers four-course ranging from $49 to $185, depending if you want the early dinner seating or the Champaign fueled 9pm seating. Either way, you get lobster and scallop tartare, foie gras terrine, house-made tagliatelle with truffles, and filet mignon. They have an all-night liquor license so the party doesn’t end until 8am.

You can also get French in Brooklyn at the Vinegar Hill House. There, $80 gets you a four-course meal with choices including blood sausage with apple, wild boar with chestnut puree, pear salad with truffle, and crepes. For $100, you can have a Champaign toast and late dinner—DUMBO style. 

Carnivores rejoice, at Back Forty West you can get a meat-laden table with four-courses done family-style for $75. Try the 12-hour smoked lamb shoulder, cowboy steak, and whole baked sea bass.

If Thai is how you want to ring in the New Year, Harold Dieterle’s Kin Shop has an $85, three-course tasting menu with options including seared diver sea scallops with Szechuan peppercorns, braised beef short ribs with curry, and butter poached lobster with kaffir lime buerre blanc. Drinks not included.

Starting at $95, you can dine on a six or eight-course Mexican tasting menu at Empellon Cocina. Feast on chef Alex Stupak’s smoked chicken with Earl Grey mayonnaise and caviar or wild Norwegian Steelhead trout with mezcal butter, and be glad you can celebrate the New Year every year, and not just when the Mayans calendar claims it’s an important date.

Finally, for some party with your dinner, Swine in the West Village is hosting a glam rock and hair metal bash from 10:30 to 2am. The party features an open bar with era-appropriate punches, hors d’oeuvres, and a buffet. Naturally, pork will be the main star of the menu.

Peruvians Come Out: La Mar Opens Patio

Summer has officially begun at restaurateur Gaston Acurio’s upscale Peruvian restaurant La Mar Cebicheria Peruana in the Flatiron. Starting tomorrow, no longer do you have to dine in the sleek cavern of what once was Danny Meyer’s Tabla, because starting tomorrow they have an outdoor patio.

“Peruvian food is ideal for outdoor dining,” said Victoriano Lopez,the executive chef at La Mar NYC. “Sitting on our patio and enjoying cebiche and a refreshing pisco sour while overlooking the park, well, we hope this experience transcends people to Peru in some way.”

You might not feel like you are dining alfresco in Lima, but outdoor eating in New York City isn’t something to scoff at, and neither is this restaurant. Acurio opened La Mar in September 2011 on the premise of bringing class to what many people see as a cheap cuisine. I interviewed the restaurateur last year and he said, “Some, they think Peruvian food has to be really cheap or fried, and doesn’t have the same value as those other [cuisines]. But, we use the best ingredients you can find in the world, pay the same salaries that are paid in great restaurants, and we are in a great location that is expensive to be in. We aren’t just cheap food.”

A year since I spoke to Acurio, Peruvian food still hasn’t gotten the notoriety he has sought, but it’s not because the food isn’t excellent. The cebiches at La Mar are top notch and perfect for the hot weather.  “We hope to showcase our cuisine to New Yorkers and visitors alike with classic Peruvian dishes like cebiche, anticuchos, lomo saltado, and more,” said Lopez. “And we aim to deliver the same warm and generous spirit that’s present at Gaston’s restaurants around the world.”

Along with the new patio, La Mar will offer fresh menu items including baraca chalaca, a rock shrimp cebiche served with oysters, mussels, scallops, and a fish of the day; whole fish cebiches, either grilled or fried; and seasonal salads made with local ingredients and quinoa. At least now, with the new patio, people can really see what La Mar is doing.

Taste of the Nation Charity Event Draws New York’s Best Local Chefs, Feeds Kids

Last night the charity Share Our Strength hosted Taste of the Nation, their annual culinary fundraiser as a means to help end childhood hunger. “We are here tonight because there are 16 million American kids who struggle with hunger,” said co-founder Debbie Shore. Since 1988 the foundation has hosted these yearly events in 30 plus cities and raised over $75 million, and frankly, given the number of top named chefs, bartenders, and restaurants that volunteer their time and ingredients, the organization makes donating money easy.

In New York this year, the two-story, four-room space at 82 Mercer was filled with delectable bites including: Old school Lobster Thermidor served by chef Aaron Bashy of The Water Club; the infamous fois gras and jelly doughnuts made by the boys at Do or Dine; a fluke cebiche from La Mar’s smiley chef Victoriano Lopez (plus his translator); and an amazing razor clam and fennel dish from Ai Fiori.

On the high-end-low-end spectrum guest were forced to ingest the comforting pickled beef tongue by the gang at Mile End, slices of a six-food wedge salad sandwich by chef Joe Dobias of JoeDough, and the most amazing savory cotton candy being whipped up by the adorable Amanda Cohen of Dirt Candy. Oh the tragedy.

To wash all these treats down Eben Freeman shook up a delectable Melagrana Sour for Osteria Morini, Jeff Bell from the clandestine bar PDT poured a smoked cardamom-infused Mariner cocktail, and Employees Only whipped up a blackberry vodka drink. Hands down the most exciting drink being made came in the form of Booker and Dax’s Hendrick’s Rose, a sweet, fizzy cocktail that smoked.

Amid all the opulence, we can’t forget the real reason Taste of the Nation is held. After all, most people don’t think of American kids going hungry and in a place where many of us throw food away every day, it’s tragic that about one in five children in this country don’t get enough to eat. As the organization continues to fight this cause, they continue to give something to raise a glass of smoking pink bubbles to and I hope to see them again next year.