There was only one restaurant Ben wanted to tick off during our New York trip: Dante. It had been recommended over and over by everyone, so we made plans to head there for lunch after a hotel chance and little trip to Grand Central Station.
We had been invited to New York by LiveNation, who also very kindly had invited us to see legendary band – The Eagles playing at Madison Square Gardens. They had booked us into the Kimpton Eventi for a few nights, so we would be near the stadium. So we packed up our bags, said goodbye to The Hendricks Hotel and headed on to our next adventure.
The Kimpton Eventi has fabulous communal areas. A beautiful all-day dining restaurant off a main seating atrium/reception. At the back, another restaurant surrounds a bar and a raised area with a fireplace at one end. The perfect place to huddle up with a coffee in the colder months.
The rooms are a little less decadent and perhaps a little tired. But are a great size with a big bathroom and great view. There were dressing gowns and slippers in the room along with bathroom amenities. But no tea or coffee making facilities and we did have a bit of a problem with our TV changing its own channels. The bed was comfortable during our stay however and it was nice to have a little more space than our previous room.
We borrowed a few umbrellas from reception and left into a particularly grey New York day towards Grand Central.
Walking through those iconic arches, all I had going through my head was the Gossip Girl theme tune. The image of Serena Van Der Woodsen standing at the top of the stairs was forefront of my mind as we made our way to one of the imposing stone staircases. An American flag fluttered over the main entrance and drew our eyes up to the stunning turquoise ceiling littered with stars. The military presence was hard to ignore in the station, but the patriotism was undeniable. Unsurprisingly, one end of the station is taken up by an Apple store. While tunnels and walkways feed off from the main room to different platforms and trains.
Ready for food, we decided to walk the hour to Dante in Greenwich Village. Not the best idea we’ve ever had in the pouring rain. But at least Dante had a warm welcome waiting for us. Dante recently achieved the status of World’s Best Bar. A pretty epic accolade considering the totally unpretentious, friendly atmosphere that greets you. Dante opened in 1915 to a mainly Italian neighbourhood. It enjoyed a number of years as the place everyone would get together to chat over an espresso. In 1971 it was taken over by Mario Flotta Sr and continued to be a favourite for locals. But also gathered momentum as a celebrity hangout.
The Flotta family continued to run Dante until 2015, when Australian couple Linden Pride and Nathalie Hudson took over. It was during this time that the couple navigated the tricky juxtaposition of keeping Caffé Dante a local favourite, but also turning transforming it into the world renowned space that it is today. The couples dedication to Dante is undeniable. They were there sorting tables, doing stock check and running staff meetings while we dined. In fact, they’ve done so well, that they’re due to open a second Dante in the West Village shortly. Not wishing to attempt to replicate the same Italian success, instead they’ve opted for a more Spanish influence. Swapping their famous Negronis for Martinis.
During lunch there is a set menu of three courses for just $25. We started with a cocktail each. Negroni for Ben and a seasonal Bellini (Pumpkin) for me. The Bellini was unusual, but delicious, and we sipped our cocktails overlooking the street outside, tucking into our starters.
Making a habit of always ordering something different, Ben had one salad appetizer and I had the other. Baby gem, avocado, pink grapefruit, radish and Italian dressing for him.
Citrus and bitter lead with olives and fennel for me. So fresh and delicious.
For main, we both went for pasta dishes. Pappardelle all’ragu, braised wild boar, pork and reggiano for Ben.
Fazzoletti with pesto genovese, stracciatella and pangrattato for me.
Having finished our first cocktails, it was time for a second. Ben stuck to the Negronis, making it his mission to try each of the different versions, while I ordered a Rose Petal Martini containing Hendrick’s, Rayka, Martini Ambrato, Lychee, Peychaud’s and Rosewater. An absolutely delicious cocktail that perfectly complimented the (possibly the best I’ve ever had) tiramisu.
Ben had the Buttermilk Panna Cotta with spiced quince and pistachios.
Throughout our meal, we chatted away to other diners and met some unbelievably interesting people. When we’d finished eating, we swivelled our chairs around to face the bar and tried a few more of the cocktails the menu had to offer.
The evening became a bit of a blur as it got dark outside and the cocktails continued to flow. Such a treat to experience such a fabulous place, with amazing staff, fantastic food (down to Executive Chef Rachael Polhill) and an amazing ambiance.
It’s not hard to see why it was voted World’s Best Bar 2019!