As a newbie to the BBB scene, I was so excited to begin my journey into the wonderful world of New York City dining at THE PLAZA HOTEL! Charlotte and I started our evening enduring the treachery of trying to find a cab on a rainy, cold winter’s night in the Big Apple. Just as we were about to give up, Charlotte eyed a shiny, yellow beacon coming down a side street and it was OURS! Success! We buzzed up 5th Avenue to our awaited feast.
The first sight that welcomed us upon entering the spectacular Plaza Hotel was the gorgeously decorated tree in the lobby. What a wonderful start to the evening! Of course we had to take a snap or two, and then we made our way down the escalators to the Todd English Food Hall. The Todd English is tucked downstairs cozily in the corner. The title “Food Hall” is quite deceiving…..this is no mall food court! We’re talking the Plaza Hotel here! The décor is simple, yet hip with counters surrounding the various food hall stations lined with modern stools. A very clean look.
We were greeted by our server, Jessica, who would be guiding us on our culinary adventure. She assured us we would not be disappointed and she was right! Charlotte and I started our decadent feast lightly with Sashimi from the Sushi Bar, accompanied by a glass of Veuve Clicquot Brut, because…..champagne! The Yellowtail, Salmon and Big Eye Tuna were all so very fresh with a beautiful presentation. I almost didn’t want to disturb such a gorgeous piece of art.
Next, we made our way through the Fire Grilled Octopus, Peking Duck Buns (recommended by Jessica), and Chicken and Ginger Dumplings. The octopus was gloriously presented in rustic fashion, bathed in a succulent broth with excellent Spanish flavors. The salty chorizo complimented the sweet octopus and the dish had a magnificent wintery feel. Charlotte graciously let me have the last bite. This was my favorite dish of the night!
The duck buns were surprisingly not a hit for either Charlotte or me. Charlotte found a piece of grizzle in hers and we both felt that there was too much bun and not enough meat. Neither of us happens to be bun fans as it goes, so if you are a bun person, it might be worth a try. Jessica gave us a look of shock when we told her we weren’t impressed. The masses can’t be all wrong! Finally, appetizers were rounded out by the dumplings which were tender, juicy and just delicious! The lemongrass pesto along with the ginger created an exciting and crisp zing that really entertained our taste buds.
Now, it was dinner time! Charlotte chose the NY Strip Steak Frites and I opted for the Cucumber Crusted Sea Bass. We also ordered the Risotto Tater Tots, as recommended by Jessica as a crowd favorite, and the Grilled Asparagus. The sea bass arrived with beautiful presentation accompanied by a vegetable Israeli couscous. I chose to pair my dish with a glass of Ferrari-Carano Sauvignon Blanc as the classic, light flavor would complement the fish very well. The fish was slightly overcooked, which was a little disappointing, but the Israeli couscous was to die for!
I have to admit that I had a little food envy with Charlotte’s Steak Frites. It came with a chimichurri and a horseradish crème fraiche. You can also opt to add a Portobello demi glas or caramelized gorgonzola. Unlike my fish, Charlotte’s steak actually arrived undercooked (she ordered it med rare and it was much closer to rare). Well, the chef must have known what was what, because it turns out that Charlotte was very pleased! The chimichurri sauce was quite unique, red in color, prepared with paprika and not as oily as a traditional chimichurri sauce. The deliciously classic chimichurri flavor with an added smokiness. It was delightful with the steak and both that and the crème fraiche were excellent for dipping the crispy and light frites. Charlotte accompanied her steak with a glass of Faust Cabernet Sauvignon, the bold flavor complimenting the steak perfectly.
As for the sides, as you might expect, it’s pretty tough to mess up grilled asparagus. The risotto tots, though…..not so much. Poor Jessica was 0-2 on recommendations. When we saw they were made with fontina, we expected cheesy goodness as we bit into the crispy little nuggets. Instead, they were rather dry and underwhelming. But we were told they’re a crowd pleaser, so hey, maybe a second opinion is in order.
So at this point, we are stuffed to the gills, but I saw my three favorite words on any menu, “artisanal cheese board,” and insisted we dive in. Wasn’t hard to twist Charlotte’s arm! The cheese board varies, and this evening it featured a Morbier semi-soft cow’s milk, an aged Gouda and a Humbold Fog goat cheese. Yum, yum and yum! The board, with olive tapenade, crostini, Marcona almonds and grapes, along with the Modus Red Blend straight out of Tuscany were the perfect cap to the night.
We were ready to waddle our way back out into the elements just after 10pm. And you’ll have to be too if you’d like to give the Todd English a whirl! Something to keep in mind when planning your visit….it closes pretty early, so plan accordingly. But do plan to experience this wonderful gem seated in the basement of the plaza. It’s perfect for a girlfriends (or bros) catch up or a quick bite before heading out on the town in NYC.
Todd English Food Hall
The Plaza Hotel
768 5th Avenue
New York, NY 10019