With some of the best views over Central Park and New York with cuisine to match, the Mandarin Oriental’s Asiate restaurant is a true New York culinary success.
When your ears pop in the lift on the way up to a restaurant, you know the evening ahead is going to be an assault on the senses. Found on no less than the 35th floor of New York’s Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Columbus Circle, you’re so high up the view doesn’t even hit you at first. All you can see is sky. Asiate’s next door bar seems to be unrelentingly busy with an after-work crowd, as does Asiate itself. Even the odd stereotypical American with only one voice setting of maximum volume can’t put you off the view that awaits around the corner.
Once past the glass fronted wine cabinets and semi-private booths, we are seated at the best table of the house by the floor to ceiling window that gives the most panoramic views. Not only is the apparent forest of Central Park directly below, the CNN tower’s signage is at eye height. We can even see into the bedrooms of Donald Trump’s hotel across the road.
The problem in a restaurant with such outstanding views is that someone has to take on the unenviable task of creating a menu to match. This task has gone to chef Toni Robertson, who has not only risen to the challenge, but excelled at it too.
A small snack to accompany our glass of Moet Chandon and Fiji Water comes in the form of morsels of brioche with gruyere, spinach and cayenne. Cheesy, peppery and cloud-like, this is an apt way to start from such dizzying heights.
Before the fun really begins, if it hasn’t already, an amuse bouche of a ‘blueberry bubble’ that bursts in your mouth is served. The starter comes in the form of Hawaiian blue prawns, scallops and heart of palm in a coconut broth. Sea-like, exotic and homely all at once, it’s a triumph for Chef Robertson. Soon after comes the main course and one of Asiate’s most popular dishes – Branzino, wild mushrooms and baby artichokes with a port wine reduction. The meatiness of the mushrooms goes perfectly with the rich port yet complements the light flavours of the fish. Unexpected, but oh so right. Paired with the sommelier matched wines that are both knowledgeably and intelligently chosen and communicated, Asiate can’t seem to go far wrong.
Dessert this time is a chocolate soufflé, praline ice cream with a chocolate chilli orange juice. Totally outrageous and too filling given the mammoth meal that comes before, there is nevertheless no other option but to eat the lot.
The prix fixe menu comes in at $90 per head – not the cheapest meal you’ll eat in New York but not the priciest either. With impeccable quality, service and views that will be forever imprinted in your brain, it’s a meal you won’t regret.
Asiate: The Hungry Nomad verdict
Best bit: Sampling some of the most carefully concocted cuisines in New York while supping champagne and overlooking the apparent rainforest that is actually Central Park. Concrete jungle where dreams are made of…
Worst bit: The near-side view that gives you an up-close-and-personal insight into some hotel rooms at the Donald Trump International Hotel next door. Why is it that you can’t help but look in these situations? Oh, and the dessert served in a shot glass served with a spoon too large to fit in. Schoolboy error.
Our ideal menu for two (prix fixe, $90 per head):
Hawaiian Blue Prawns, served with a scallop, heart of palm and coconut broth
Peaky Toe Crab Risotto, served with black truffle and Parmesan cheese
Branzino, served with wild mushrooms, baby artichokes and a port wine reduction
Wagyu beef tenderloin, served with smoked potato puree and yuzu koshou – $15 supplement
Chocolate soufflé, served with praline ice cream and a chocolate chilli orange juice
Two glasses of champagne – $25 each
Three glasses of sommelier matched wines each – $16 per glass
TOTAL: $341 (approximately £215), plus service
a: 80 Columbus Circle at 60th Street, New York, 10023, USA
t: +1 (212) 805 8800