Dinner and a show. Dinner and a show.
But where to go?
For eons it seemed there were no real dining options pre theater.
There was Restaurant Row with its limited dining seats and menu options.
The culinary protocol, such as it was, consisted of prix fixe and a “get’em in and out” fare and service.
There was no focus on the dining or the taste.
It was pretty much all about the mad dash for the check prior to slipping in the seat and just making the curtain time.
The only other option was one could dine at a gourmet restaurant – in outlying or nearby neighborhoods and hope to get car service or a taxi to get to theater by the curtain call.
So much stress. Not such good food.
Now, the Paramount Bar & Grill at the Paramount Hotel offers the best of all worlds: close-to-the-theater dining, good cuisine and unfailingly polite service.
The Paramount hotel attracts local Gothamites and tourists, alike. Go for the proximity to all things Times Square entertainment and become a food fan at the same time.
Executive chef Jason Kallert, who, astonishingly also claims to be the pastry chef, comes from a diverse background in the culinary constellation that suits the scaled audience, having worked for the, ahem, challenging Maccioni family at Le Cirque – and not once at the storied restaurant but twice. He’s also served a spectrum of dining audiences at the Friar’s Club, Tavern on the Green, and Union Pacific.
It takes some serious culinary muscle to manage the Paramount Bar & Grill Restaurant – it serves gourmet and gourmet comfort food pretty much all the time: breakfast from 7am to 11:30: ideal for a business meeting. No loud acoustics or clanging dishes nor on-top-of-your-neighbor seating to distract from the conversation.
Stop by for after-work drinks and a sampling of apps or tastings from the raw bar before racing to the train or bus if commuting. The Paramount’s lobby is all glam.
Event planners would be wise to check out the Paramount for meetings, dining, and any sized celebrations. Like a chameleon, the rooms can accommodate a spectrum of guests and occasions in the 2,500 square foot restaurant that encompasses an 86-seat dining room and a 20-seat full-service bar and lounge.
Lunch is noon till 5pm; pre-theater seatings are 5:30 and 6:30pm; and then dinner till 11:00 pm and then, phew – bar snacks till 1:00 am.
PLUS there is room service!
In an era when many if not most hotels have cut out this venerable custom, it’s hats in the air to the Paramount for single-handedly preserving this treasured hotel amenity.
“We want our customers to appreciate food as a destination,” said Chef Kallert.
According the Kallert, the food philosophy they purse at the Bar & Grill is to provide American comfort food with an updated, gourmet twist, using seasonal ingredients that are as fresh as possible – sourced locally from 20-30 nearby farms and the Greenmarkets. Their meat is a special blend of good cuts of meat that they (and Minetta Tavern) offer somewhat exclusively. Curiously, the herbs are flown in from Israel from where he says they secure approximately 80% of their herbs and spices.
The menu changes seasonally, and about every two months, with many classic items and customer favorites such as the meatballs, pot roast and short ribs, getting just a tweak.
To insure the customers get the full local, fresh-menu narrative, Kallert and his team meet with the staff prior to the shift change to talk about the menu, taste and train for that day’s meal.
When asked what his favorite menu item is, chef Kallert demurred, saying, “I love all of it.” Spoken like a true culinary godfather.
The portions are all very big. Any tourist expecting some New York exotic teeny work of art on the plate will be disappointed. Catering to Midwestern and suburban family appetites, diners will be overjoyed and satisfied at the serious eating sized plates.
A sampling of must-try menu items:
Tuna tartare on toast points. A bright burst of clean tuna with radish, celery and saffron! Fantastic tastes and texture.
House-made mustard vinaigrette dressing on the chopped salad with red and white onions and a smoky cumin flavor gives a “plain” salad a nice zing.
Meatballs, a classic recipe and a customer favorite at the restaurant were good. Moist, a little boring, but then a traditional meatball doesn’t need much window dressing. Kallert’s meatballs feature beef, pork and veal and are served with a somewhat spicy tomato sauce and aged white cheddar.
The short rib pot roast is a rich and tasty stew of onions and chewy mushrooms. Very rich, too.
The chicken pot pie comes to the table still steaming. Made fresh every day with Bell & Evans chicken, leeks and mushrooms, all nestled in a flaky, warm pastry crust. True comfort food.
The Fontina Grill is a sure-bet vegetarian menu item of choice. Basil puree, roasted tomatoes, Fontina cheese combine for a grilled cheese sandwich fried up on sourdough bread with home made, artisanal potato chips. It’s a gooey, creamy and delicious – all light and good.
Made fresh daily is the chicken salad with herb mayo, garnished with Boston lettuce on multi-grain bread.
The Atlantic salmon is accompanied by slow-roasted tomatoes and eggplant (a tad limp) and dressed with roasted tomato sauce and basil oil. This is a robust flavor combination.
The fresh made bread and old-fashioned Parker House rolls are from Pain d’Avignon.
The dessert star by far was the Ice Box Cake! It was such a dazzling treat, this Examiner made an ice box cake for her mother’s birthday the following week.
This is an American classic treat that is not to be missed at the Paramount.
Simple and light and elegant.
Here it is made with a chocolate wafer cookie layered with whipped Chantilly cream laced with vanilla bean and topped with caramel and crushed, crunchy peanut treats – the kind on ice cream sundaes.
The Tropical Fruit Salad is a delightful, refreshing mix of mango, kiwi, pineapple, and papaya. And it comes to the table in a cutie, modern mason type jar with flip lid.
Any meal finished with the fabulous, locally roasted artisanal American drip Corso Coffee and the wood-roasted Aneri Tricaffe espresso Italian coffee served at the Paramount is a contented, lingering, great finish.
Mad Men and Cocktails
The décor is inviting and tasteful. Think more sleek Eames mid century Mad Men sophistication than Broadway rococo, the furniture and lighting beckons diners to act like a grown up and spend some time indulging in food and drink.
It’s all been renovated recently with a $40 million makeover by RFR, in partnership with LDV Hospitality. It shows.
A complaint the restaurant echoed is that it does not have a street entrance. Fair enough. But think below deck yacht. Even the chair and couch backs are driftwood looking wood.
Further, so many restaurants and cocktail destinations in New York City play up their mysterious Prohibition-era secret entrances that, given the provenance of the Paramount and its eateries as speakeasies in the era of Billy Rose, the Bar & Grill could be a shhhhh sweet secret that food and drink lovers “discover.”
Originally slated for an October debut, the Diamond Horseshoe club, located in the hotel’s basement, is now on track for an end of year debut. Stay tuned.
The Paramount Bar & Grill offers tasty and fun cocktails to experience. No one really makes these fancy concoctions at home – it’s why you go to a bar, after all.
Here, there are a few “signature” cocktails to refresh and excite, including the smoky Billy Rose, the refreshing Moscow Mule and Summer in Stockholm.
A picky point: because the cocktails are a modification on the classics, it would be beneficial to the spirit of cocktail culture and to the customers to note the Bar & Grill is interpreting or is inspired by the classic cocktails as opposed to confusing the imbiber with ingredients that are creatively skewed.
According to Bryan Wooley, Director of Food and Beverage, Paramount, that is a point well taken.
At the Bar & Grill for example, the Moscow Mule is made with Absolut Citron, Ruby Port and fresh lime and ginger vs. the classic recipe created to sell more vodka back in 1941 with three simple ingredients: vodka, lime, and ginger beer. All good but the straight away reference to the classics can be confusing or misleading. And make cocktail scholars crazy!
But the attention to ingredients and the alchemy of taste are to be respected and enjoyed at the Bar & Grill no matter the moniker.
On a related note, Wooley explained the “signature” cocktails are modified according to the season. The bar puts a different spin on the drinks depending on the time of the year. So come and sip the Winter Billy Rose and compare to its more refreshing summer twin. Nice.
It’s so intriguing to listen to the cocktail histories as one sips the cocktail concoctions. Did you know the Delano Fuzz was named for president Franklin Delano Roosevelt because his favorite drink was the mint julep?
(Perhaps it was all that time rehabilitating at the Greenbrier?!)
Here, the mixologist adds peach to Chivas 12 for a Paramount version, served with mint and lemon on crushed ice. It’s oh-so-refreshing.
Or the Kentucky Flip – the bar’s version of a bourbon Derby – a flip of wordplay and ingredients. Nothing aggressive-tasting here, the drink is not cloying but rather a good balance between the tart and sweet, made with Old Forrester, Tawny Port, soda and no real eggs used but “bar eggs” make it rich and frothy. It’s boozy and good.
(A Flip for those who don’t drink this class of drink is a spirit, egg, sugar and spice – with cream optional.)
The Bar & Grill’s wine list is varied and extensive and also offers a nice selection of local, New York wines. The wine list too, changes seasonally.
Go now for three different delicious, summer roses: Bonny Doon – the best, Red Car and Sonoma Coast.
The Bar & Grill also offers local craft beer, including Captain Lawrence from Elmsford, NY, Kelso Pilsner, Brooklyn Lager, Red Wagon IPA Fire Island, and Southampton Imperial PORTER.
The Paramount Bar & Grill
235 West 46th St, NYC 10036