NYC Dining: The Four Seasons

Four Seasons
99 E 52nd St, New York, NY
(212) 754-9494

Like Tavern on the Green, The 21 Club, The Russian Tea Room, Le Cirque and Lutece (the last three of which are extinct or no longer exist in their original forms) The Four Seasons is one of those legendary institutions that if you’re a person who appreciates the history of fine dining in this country, you have to experience at least once in your lifetime, particularly if you are a New Yorker.

The Four Seasons does not make the top ten lists of most young and progressive New York foodies nowadays, because it’s not serving what could be defined as cutting edge or inventive cuisine. But that doesn’t matter and it’s not what the place is all about, which is focusing on updated versions of the French classics that include items such as foie gras and duckling, and beautiful pieces of fish, seafood and meat. It has a dedicated following from an older generation of diners who appreciate the impeccable service and attention to detail coming out of its massive kitchen, and it’s highly respected by people in the culinary profession who have worked there in the past and have gone on to cook elsewhere or open their own restaurants.

This last weekend I was very fortunate to be the guest of Chef Tom Hurley of Hurley’s Restaurant in Portland, Oregon, and we were treated to a wonderful menu of some of the best things the restaurant had to offer, as well as a look inside perhaps one of the busiest kitchens in the country. While we were having dinner there, the “Pool Room” was filled with a private party for 400 people (some very big names in the entertainment industry) so I couldn’t get shots of it — we dined in the other main dining room, the Grill Room.

The Grill Room at the Four Seasons. The restaurant bar, which features a modernist stalactite dropping from the ceiling designed by Richard Lippold. Architects Mies van der Rohe and Philip Johnson designed the building and the interiors — everything looks as beautiful as it first did when the restaurant opened in 1959.

Click on the “Read the rest of this entry” link for a look inside one of New York’s most legendary restaurants.

The very dapper Julian Niccolini, who co-owns the restaurant with Alex Von Bidder.

A perfect and very potent Cosmopolitan.

Kobe Beef Sashimi with a Ginger Ponzu Sauce. Excellent.

Lobster infused with a perfumy essence of vanilla with braised pork belly. Another wonderful dish.

Simple and yet utterly mind blowingly decadent: Risotto with a very ample amount of white truffle shavings.

Long Island Farmhouse Duck Breast with Crispy Skin and Seared Huson Valley Foie Gras with Cinnamon Baked Apples. The Classic.

Cheesecake with Panna Cotta

A very nice arranged cheese course

Warm Chocolate Cake with Ice Cream

This was a crispy chocolate dessert which I kept under close guard.

Petit Fours

Inside the kitchen with Chef Thomas Hurley and PBS “Daisy Cooks!” host Daisy Martinez.

The man who makes it all happen, Chef Christian Albin. Albin has been with The Four Seasons since 1974, working his way up to from Chef to Chef De Cuisine to taking the helm as Executive Chef in 1990.

A pretty crudite being prepared at the garde manger station.

The end result.

Remember the cheesecake we had for dessert?

A pair of sole sauteeing in butter.

Duck being given the salamander treatment.

Filet Mignon resting.

A big steam kettle. You really only see these at restaurants with huge serving capcities like The Four Seasons or in catering halls.

The kitchen here runs like clockwork, and the servers work closely with the kitchen staff in a highly coordinated fashion.

A pasta dish being tossed on the line.

Finishing touches.

That’s some nice looking pasta.

10 Responses to NYC Dining: The Four Seasons

  1. Sandy says:

    A favorite place of mine, for the architecture as much as for the food.

    The sculpture hanging from the ceiling in the Grill Room is by Richard Lippold, not Philip Johnson. Mies vaan der Rohe designed the exterior of the building, but not the restaurants, which were largely the work of Johnson, albeit with the help of other designers and artists. The Seagram Building and the interior design (but not the “movables”) of the Four Seasons restaurant are designated New York City landmarks.

  2. Thanks Sandy, they don’t include that sort of info on the Four Seasons website or elsewhere. Leave it to an architectual expert to set things right!

  3. Sandy says:

    Oops, I put in an extra “a.” Should be Mies van der Rohe, of course.

  4. Sandy says:

    There used to be, and maybe still is, a guided tour of the restaurant offered to the public on Tuesdays, at 3 p.m.

  5. […] I guess some people who work in Midtown get to eat at the Four Seasons… [Off the Broiler] […]

  6. Dee Fisher says:

    We had the prix fixe lunch at the bar today (a great deal) – the corner seat by the stairs with our back to Park Avenue gave us a great view, and John the bartender’s service kept us happy. Best lunch ever hands down. Julian was great and made us feel like old friends. Get there at noon and spend the rest of the afternoon enjoying great food and the New York power lunch at its finest.

  7. How in the world did you get inside the kitchen of that gorgeous restaurant?
    Dee Fisher is right. Lunch at the bar is the best ever hands down.
    Thanks for a thoroughly enjoyable read.

  8. […] Chef Christian Albin, who died of cancer this last weekend at the age of 61 from cancer. Albin was the long-time Executive Chef of The Four Seasons, pictured here in his marvelous kitchen in October of 2006. […]

  9. […] is owned by CIA-trained chef Steve Christanson, who cut his culinary chops at New York City’s The Four Seasons Restaurant under the late Christian […]

  10. […] Craftsteak’s kitchen is utterly massive. It dwarfs just about that of every professional restaurant kitchen I have ever been in, with the exception of Eleven Madison Park and The Four Seasons. […]

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