I got off the Amtrak Acela Express from Boston at 11am and checked into the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Columbus Circle and was so delighted to find that I had been upgraded to a Premiere Central Park View Room on the 46th Floor.
Look at this amazing view of a snow covered Central Park and the New York City skyline from my room:
What I am most impressed by is the fact that the hotel remembered from our phone booking that I celebrated a birthday this month and this is the first chance I have had to get away and mark the occasion. I opened the door to my room to find this decadent mini birthday cake:
But the cake would have to wait until after my lunch at The Mark Restaurant by Jean Georges. The restaurant is housed within the Mark Hotel on 77th and Madison, and the hotel has come a long way since Johnny Depp and Kate Moss trashed their room there back in 1994. The hotel has undergone a complete overhaul and was redesigned using a funky and artsy decor by french designer Jacques Grange. Look at the amazing black and white marble floor lobby and the round ball wall art with mirrors:
At the helm of the restaurant is world-renown chef Jean Georges Vongerichten, who must have a fair amount of frequent flyer miles, as he rotates around his 27 other restaurants all over the globe. Once you pass by the cow-print chairs in the hotel bar, the entryway to the restaurant is flanked by an impressive wine cellar and gives way to a sizable bar with very comfortable high-backed bar stools and a cozy dining room:
(Second photo © The Mark Hotel)
The lunch menu features a raw bar, soups and salads, sandwiches, a few pastas, pizza, and burgers as well as some entrees, such as salmon and veal milanese. A good friend of mine suggested I try the Croque M, which normally means Croque Monsieur, but as this one had a poached egg on top, I think it actually qualifies as a Croque Madame. I can literally feel my arteries hardening as I write this, but the Croque M consisted of two slices of soft bread with ham and cheese inside, grilled hot and covered with a cheese/bechamel sauce and a poached egg on top with some mesclun greens on the side. It was truly delicious and washed down with a Pilsner Urquell.
After lunch I popped around the corner on Madison Avenue to the authentic Italian coffee bar and restaurant Sant Ambroeus (see my previous blog entry on this place) and bought some delicious butter cookies filled with apricot jam:
In order to feel less guilty about today's caloric intake, I strolled down the runway that is Madison Avenue. My favorite "fashion" siting of the day was an older gentleman in a knee-length leopard print coat and cognac colored mink scally cap, amazing! I am also a huge fan of the windows at Bergdorf Goodman and loved their salute to next week's Chinese New Year: