THE SEA FIRE GRILL, Supreme New Midtown Seafood

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158 East 48th Street, NYC, (btw 3rd & Lexington Avenues)

Phone: 212-935-3785

Capacity: Main Dining Room: 75 First Dining Room: 45 Bar: 30 / Lounge: 15 Wine Cellar/Basement Private Dining Room: 30 Private Dining Room: 18 Hours: Lunch: Monday – Friday, 11:30am – 3:30pm Dinner: Daily, 4:30pm – 10:45pm Credit Cards: American Express, Visa, MasterCard, Discover, Diners Club Website: www. theseafiregrill.com Social Media: www.facebook.com/TheSeaFireGrill www.twitter.com/ TheSeaFireGrill

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sea fire grill

Here is the best luxury seafood restaurant to open in Manhattan in ages.

Owned/Operated: Benjamin Steakhouse Chef: Ted Pryor produces Contemporary American Seafood Signature Dishes with flair, like an elegant Lobster Bisque, Jumbo Lump Crab Cakes, Pan Roasted Scallops, Organic Scottish Salmon, Alaskan King Crab Legs, and the famous SFG Surf & Turf, that will make you a convert. The chef has a solid hand and keeps the cuisine contemporary, but not silly or pretentious.

Signature Cocktail include: Fleur Garnis (gin, lavender elixir, lemon and Champagne), Thyme Will Tell (bourbon, thyme, Vermont maple syrup and lemon), Angel’s Sip (rye, sweet vermouth, and a 10-­‐year aged balsamic vinegar).

The Interior Design offers a Sleek interior with ivory tile floors, shimmering blue recessed lighting and mirrored accents throughout give the space a modern edge while the main dining room takes cues from the classic steakhouse with dark wood floors, wainscoting and a roaring marble fireplace, which is a signature décor feature in all Benjamin Steakhouse Group venues. The chic interior was designed in conjunction with Greg Centeno, CEO of New World Planning and Design, Inc.


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Having conquered the classic American steakhouse with Benjamin Steakhouse on East 41st Street and a second location in White Plains, NY, the Benjamin Steakhouse Group (BSG), owned by Benjamin Prelvukaj and Ben Sinanaj, has moved beyond beef with the opening of The Sea Fire Grill ). At the kitchen’s helm is newly appointed chef Ted Pryor formerly of Opia Restaurant, Les Halles and Orsay. The Sea Fire Grill offers an approachable, contemporary American seafood menu that takes clean, straightforward presentation cues from the group’s steakhouse background offering guests an elegant, classic dining experience. Having opened for dinner during the holiday season, the restaurant is now open for lunch service Monday – Friday and is launching a special “Oyster Happy Hour” Monday – Friday, 4 – 7pm where fresh oysters are $1.50 a piece and wines by the glass, draft beer, and select cocktails are half priced.

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When entering The Sea Fire Grill (SFG), diners are greeted by a sleek bar area with recessed lighting and ivory colored tile floors. Mirrored features begin and continue from the bar through the lounge area complete with dark hardwood high-­‐top tables that are accented by a shimmering blue wall. A  sweeping cream-­‐colored banquette lines the wall of the first dining room and windows above give a glimpse into the courtyard of the Buchanan building with which SFG shares its residence. Moving into the main dining room, diners will find dark wood floors, elegant chandeliers and flowing sheer curtains that dress the windows. At the far end of the room, a roaring marble fireplace, a signature décor feature in all BSG venues, is surrounded by floor to ceiling customized dark wood wine racks. The chic interior was designed in conjunction with Greg Centeno, CEO of New World Planning and Design, Inc. The back room is our favorite  . . .  really comfortable and elegant.

Upon being seated guests are greeted with Sea Fire Grill’s signature dish for the table, Whitefish Spread served with toasted rosemary focaccia and seeded flatbreads. Anyone weary of whitefish will surely sing a different tune after tasting this salty, creamy, flavorful spread – the perfect way to whet your appetite while perusing the menu.

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Those wanting to start with the raw bar will find favorites such as East & West Coast Oysters ($MP) (perfect with the excellent  cocktails and wines) and Colossal Shrimp Cocktail ($4.75/pc). To get a little taste of it all order the Seafood Sampler ($32 as pictured above), which has all the favorites – fresh clams, shrimp, oysters, and ½ lobster. Appetizers include a creamy Lobster Bisque ($15) with a generous helping of both claw and tail meat that surprise the palate in almost every bite; Pan Roasted Scallops ($20) accompanied by a celery root puree and luscious caviar beurre blanc; and always a classic, Jumbo Lump Crab Cakes ($20) are the same as at sister restaurant Benjamin Steakhouse – fried and crispy on the outside with melt in your mouth crab meat on the inside with red pepper coulis for a kick. But leave room. Entrees thrill..

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The Remarkable Lobster (Above); Luscious Crab (Below)

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Seafood lovers will marvel in the fish and shellfish entrées: Yellowfin Tuna ($40) has a flavorful crust of fennel, coriander and cumin, is served over bok choy and finished with an umami rich sauce of sesame and soy; and Whole Maine Lobsters ($26/lb) are broiled or steamed or stuffed with succulent crabmeat for $31 lb. While fresh, seasonal seafood is certainly the focal point at Sea Fire Grill, the owners have also borrowed their expertise of steaks and their signature dry-­‐ aging process perfected at Benjamin Steakhouse for meat hungry diners as evidenced by Sea Fire Grill’s Surf & Turf ($MP), a must have for aficionados seeking the best of both worlds indulging in tender bone-­‐in filet mignon and one-­‐and-­‐a-­‐half pounds of buttery steamed lobster.

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Pair these main dishes (among many others) with any side offering such as velvety Whipped Yukon Gold Potatoes ($9), Brussels Sprouts with Smoked Bacon ($9), or decadent Lobster Mac & Cheese ($15).

Guests looking for a quick bite or a drink at the bar can order from the expansive bar menu with favorites such as a buttery, succulent Lobster Sliders ($25), light and crispy Calamari ($14), and very tasty Long Island Littleneck Clams ($2/pc).

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The Distinguished Salmon Burger

Monday through Friday, guests are encouraged to get out of work early to take advantage of Sea Fire Grill’s Oyster Happy Hour where fresh oysters are $1.50 a piece and wines by the glass, draft beer, and select cocktails are half priced. Specialty cocktails were developed to appeal to both men and women. The Fleur Garnis combines gin, lavender elixir, lemon and Champagne for a bubbly, light drink to complement several seafood dishes, while the Thyme Will Tell, made with bourbon, thyme, Vermont maple syrup and lemon is a perfect pairing for heartier meat dishes.

The menu also boasts an impressive listing of classic cocktails like the Sazerac, Sidecar and Old Fashioned. The wine list at SFG has been carefully curated by outstanding Beverage Director/Sommelier and Manager: Jason Ferris who is known for shaping the wine programs of restaurants nationwide, including SD26 and Gilt here in NYC and at Philadelphia’s Striped Bass where his work was recognized by Food & Wine Magazine as one of “2005’s Top Ten New Wine Lists.” Ferris’ keen palate also recently made him a “Top Taster” winner in a blind tasting at this year’s New York City Wine & Food Festival.

Delicious desserts, as well as expert service conclude an exhilarating experience. and The Sea Fire Grill boasts not one but two private dining rooms, one located at the immediate entrance that includes a lavish wine closet and can accommodate 18 people, and one in the basement, only accessible via the kitchen, which can hold 30 and will offer exclusive chef tasting menus.


Our duel tasting dinner started with the DAILY SELECTION OF EAST AND WEST COAST OYSTERS. They were fresh as the sea and served with PINK PEPPERCORN MIGNONETTE / COCKTAIL SAUCE. Next, we paired traditional STEAK TARTAR with  TOAST POINTS against a creative YELLOWFIN TUNA TARTAR “NIÇOISE” with BLACK OLIVE / FRISEE / and TOMATO JAM. Both were lovely and refreshing. A PAN ROASTED SCALLOPS dish set on CELERY ROOT  with a  CAVIAR BURRE BLANC followed, while my partner enjoyed huge MADAGASCAR GARLIC PRAWNS with TOASTED GARLIC  and  LEMON. A CHILLED LOBSTER SALAD with AVOCADO / GREENS and a zesty SHALLOT VINAIGRETTE and a magnificent HALIBUT ON A BED OF ASPARAGUS that was pure and perfect, as were the accompanying sides of LOBSTER MAC & CHEESE and CREAMED SPINACH.

Jason Ferris selected a sequence of fresh, delightful and affordable wines from the excellent list to accompany dinner. The Vouvray provided an amazing value, offering good fruit, acid and balance with a gentle fade-out finish.  The big surprise was a Barboursville, Reserve, Monticello, Virginia  2010 VIOGNIER. If it’s still available, go for it. Desserts are elegant and delicious. Don’t miss the terrific desserts: CRÈME BRULEE and the KEY LIME TART are a welcome relief from standard seafood finales.

One of Manhattan’s top seafood restaurants, The Sea Fire Grill is not to be missed and rates A+ on The Walman Report.

Copyright 2013 By Punchin International. All Rights Reserved.

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Vasari Montepulciano d’Abruzzo from Fratelli Barba

Vasari Montepulciano D'Abruzzo label hi res

I confess. I am normally not a fan of Montepulciano. Not that I haven’t sampled delightful exceptions, but I usually prefer more acid, depth and individuality.  The Vasari Montepulciano d’Abruzzo 2010, from Barba changed my mind-set. A bit of spice, good acid, a true feel for the terroir and the taste of Italy, all for a mere SRP of $10 per bottle (well worth $20). Food friendly and perfect with pasta and robust Italian cuisine. I loved this one.

 

Copyright 2013 By Punchin International. All Rights Reserved.

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BENARES TRIBECA PROVES HOW UNIQUE INDIAN CUISINE CAN BE

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The Attractive Dining Room: (Photos Credit ACMB Photography)

Benares Tribeca is located at 45 Murray Street, 212-766-4900, and is open for lunch Mon-Sun from 11:30am-3:00pm. Lunch specials are a steal ($10.95-16.95), with a choice of three courses in vegetarian, non-vegetarian, seafood or tandoori, all served with Banarsi dal, steamed rice, naan or paratha and dessert. Dinner is served daily from 5pm-10:30pm.

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The world of Indian cuisine is vast and diverse. Every 100 miles in India the food changes, from the Eastern areas influenced by China to the abundance of chilies for cooling purposes in the South.  But in the world of Indian cuisine in Manhattan, the leaders in the field clearly stand out:  Restaurateur Inder Singh, a former partner in Devi and Baluchi’s, who also has a family legacy in the business (Poonam, Minar, Aangan), has recently joined forces with acclaimed Executive Chef Peter Beck, celebrated for his creative cuisine at Tamarind and Chola.  Together, they have established Benares, a celebration of the foods they cherish, featuring specialties from all 28 states of India, dishes not found in any other restaurant in New York.

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The menu is a medley of regional dishes with an emphasis on the restaurant’s namesake city of Benares, which is known for vegetarian dishes. Benares (also known as Varanasi), a city in the north of India, is a spiritual place that has historically been home to thousands of religious temples, that is culturally linked to the Ganges River.

The first outpost of Benares, recently opened in midtown, has been so successful that the team has brought the concept to Tribeca, in tribute to their neighborhood clientele, focusing even more on healthful options, with an even stronger emphasis on vegetarian and seafood entrees, prepared with a minimum of butter and fat, and a maximum of spice and flavor.  The tandoori oven is also used to great effect, to create flavorful preparations, while keeping the food light and healthy. Tandoori dishes are also, atypically, served with grilled vegetables at the Tribeca location.

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The clean, spare interior in the open Tribeca space, captures immediately the upscale experience one can expect, with deep mustard and dark brown banquets and earth-toned panels punctuated by red saris, representative of the region.  The theme of the Ganges River flows throughout the space. For example, a mobile dividing panel contains a window in the shape of the Ganges, with embedded rose petals floating in the glass. The bar is highlighted by paintings of India from the Victoria and Albert Museum, photographed and reprinted on aluminum.

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You are greeted at the elegantly modern Benares, not with the ubiquitous flat papadum wafer, but instead with a bamboo-paper boat of colorful pink and yellow flower-shaped crunchy crackers called Phoolwadi, making it clear that this is a different experience. The snacks are served with traditional condiments for dipping including tamarind and cilantro, as well as an orange-spiced liquid invention of Chef Beck (delicious). Typically served only in private homes, these special little snacks are perfect with the house cocktails, including the signature Varanasi, composed of tequila, roasted pineapples, house-infused orange liqueur and chili-laced grenadine.

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The extensive appetizer list is a great introduction to the diversity of spices, flavors, sauces and textures found at Benares. Kashmiri Tikki, bright beet red and roasted turnip patties seasoned with fennel, ginger, garlic and cumin and garnished with crispy lotus and mint relish, is representative of the vegetarian cuisine of the city of Benares.  But you don’t have to be a vegetarian to be thrilled by the flavors of Beck’s other interpretations of Bombay street food:  Extra spicy sprouted beans with chili, coconut, and spiced crisps, called Kolhapuri Missal, are extra-popular with spice addicts, but are served with a cooling herbal yogurt lassi.  Aloo Papri Chaat may seem familiar, but these wheat crisps, topped with yogurt, chickpeas and potatoes with a sprinkling of jewel-like pomegranate seeds, have flavors that pop and textures that surprise: Not to be missed!

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Beck also has a special way with lamb as is evident in Makkai ka Soweta, an addictive combination of tender yogurt and turmeric marinated lamb shoulder mixed with roasted corn served with Malaysian Paratha (layered pancake like bread).  Seafood lovers can also find a preview here with the outstanding Konkani Shrimp in spicy palate pleasing tomato sauce flavored with cumin, cinnamon and black pepper with a steamed rice cake or Tawa Scallops, tender pan-seared scallops on a tomatillo, green chili and ginger sauce topped with mango-tomato relish, a fresh chutney-meets-salsa with terrific kick.

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One of the most enlightening entrees is Beguni Maach, meltingly tender braised marinated sea bass with ginger, garlic, jalapenos and sun-dried tomatoes served over garam masala baked eggplant, a vegetable accompaniment worthy of being an entrée all on its own.  Other entrees will also surprise:  Murgh Seyal is a moist grilled chicken breast, subtly spiced, and served over spinach and broccoli rabe.  Barrah Masaledar is tender grilled baby lamb chops, wonderfully sauced with a spicy, tangy tomato garam masala, and can be paired with Saffron Rice or Rosemary Naan. It is the best version of the ubiquitous lamb chops in any Manhattan Indian restaurant. For a real treat check out the amazing goat: tender and succulent, it is delicious with raita and warm bread or flavored rice..

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Vegetarian dishes include Banarsi Dal, a very special blend of three lentils (symbolizing the holy rivers that join together at the Ganges in the city of Benares), pigeon peas, black and yellow lentils are prepared tableside in a dramatic fiery presentation, mixed with fresh onion, ginger, tomatoes and ghee.  There’s also a not to be missed entrée of baby eggplants simmered in coconut, peanut, curry leaves, served with stuffed peppers called Baingan Mirch ka Salan.

Desserts include the traditional milk-based sweets such as Gulab Jamun, condensed milk roundels in sugar syrup, and Rasmalai, sweet cottage cheese dumplings, as well as Kheer Anarkali, pomegranate-saffron flavored rice pudding, thick, creamy and delicious. For something out-of-the-ordinary, go for the warm chocolate soufflé with soft ice cream.

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The well-edited global wine list was specially selected to pair with Indian spices and flavors.  Most of the wines are available by the glass or by the bottle.  The light sweetness of the Washington State Chateau St. Michelle Riesling offsets the spiciness of the food, and the fruitiness of the Handcraft California pinot noir is a good match for lamb and chicken dishes.  There’s also a choice of 11 beers including Kingfisher and Taj Mahal.

Service, under the direction of a seasoned pro, restaurant manager Ranbir Bhatia, is helpful and professional and Benares TriBrCa is a must on any subcontinent foodie’s radar and some of the most interesting Indian food in Manhattan.

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Copyright 2013 By Punchin International. All Rights Reserved.

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