New Years has come and gone and now we are entering the first lap of 2016. This month we spend the first Sunday watching the Super Bowl and the next Sunday avoiding restaurants on Valentine’s Day. Hold on tight to your napkins this year, because I suspect it will be a wild ride of amazing new restaurants, new events, new travel destinations (Nashville!) and new members creating some exciting fond memories for us all.

Before we possibly build that February snowman (if we ever get snow this year) we still have some events left in January to discuss. Thus Sunday, January 17th we head to a new restaurant for the group, owned by award winning chef, Melissa Muller Daka, who has cooked in the James Beard House, EOLO! PLEASE NOTE: If you RSVP’ed for this in December, please RSVP again. The following week we head to CHEZ JOSPEHINE’S, a beautifully elegant French restaurant that feels like entering a 1920’s Parisian speakeasy, with velvet walls, candelabras, chandeliers and a lively piano player. Seating is limited. Finally, on Saturday, January 30th we head back to one of our all-time favorite 4-course meals at CELLINI’s, in Midtown. We have been dining at this family owned restaurant for years and they always welcome The Single Gourmet as if we are part of their family.

Our February starts off on Saturday the 6th at the NYC WINTER WINE FESTIVAL. This is our 3rd round with NYC Wine events as our other 2 events (“Brooklyn Crush” and “North Fork Crush”) have sold out and have been extremely fun and successful. If you love trying new wines, tasting lots of food and listening to good jazz while meeting new people, then this event is for you! The following week we have one of our most well-attended events every year- Chinese New Year’s. This is the year of the Monkey, and we find no better place to dine than where we celebrated last year, PEKING DUCK HOUSE. They have completely gut-renovated their restaurant, and we expect a large group again joining us for another Chinese feast with, of course, Peking Duck! Valentines weekend we piggy back on a dating seminar given by HE DATES SHE DATES founder Melanie Rubin. This takes place at DOCKS and includes their unlimited mimosa and bloody Mary brunch. This event is for a younger group, but we are using it to promote TSG to a younger demographic. The following week on Thursday, February 18th, we head to a long standing establishment on the Upper East Side, NINO’S. Nino has been serving homemade Italian for over 35 years. A live piano and singer will be there playing fun tunes as we dine. The following weekend we head back to one of my favorite dinners of 2014, ALTA. Their 25 Zagat rated menu will leave us wondering just exactly what were those incredible and interesting combinations of tapas that we just ate. We will have a large multi-course tasting menu just like last time, so there will be plenty to eat. Our last dinner of the month, on Sunday, February 28th, is at MAISON HUGO, another fine recommendation from one of our amazing members who had suggested quite a few of our new restaurants in the past. Owned by a husband and wife team, Maison Hugo is a new French restaurant taking the spot of the former Circus on East 61st. They offer us a traditional French menu in a fine-dining atmosphere with on point service. Getting a weekend reservation is near impossible here but they are able to accommodate us on the 28th!

The following January events are still available for Single Gourmet Members and their guests:
1. Eolo- Seasonal Sicilian Kitchen- 190 7th Avenue (@21st Street), Sunday, January 17th,
5:00 optional drinks, 6:00 dinner, 3- course, glass of wine, tax /tip $77
2. Chez Josephine’s- 414 West 42nd St (Btw 9th and 10th Ave) Sunday, Jan 24th,
5:30 optional drinks, 6:15pm dinner, 3- course, glass of wine, coffee, tax and tip $78
3. Cellini- 65 East 54th (Madison and Park), Saturday, January 30th, 6:45pm optional drinks, 7:45pm Dinner, 4-course dinner, glass of wine, coffee, tax & tip- $75

The following February events are available for Single Gourmet Members and their guests:

NYC Winter Wine Festival- PlayStation Theater
1515 Broadway at W. 44th St at 3pm
Saturday, February 6th
3pm-6pm Session
Meet me at 2:45pm at Junior’s Cheesecake
45th between Broadway and 8th)
Live Jazz Music featuring Alex Bugnon
RSVP Early- Space Limited/ no refunds
$77 250 wines, souvenir glass, hors d’oeuvres

From the same group that brought us the North Fork Wine Crush and the Brooklyn Wine Crush Events, New York Wine Events is transforming Times Square’s PlayStation Theater into an indoor vineyard. Attendees will taste world class wine, delicious hors d’oeuvres and artisanal treats. Participating wine distributors source their selections from the world’s finest grape growing regions in France, Italy, Spain, South Africa, California, New Zealand, Australia, Chile, Argentina, Portugal, Japan, Austria and Germany. Join us along with 500 other wine aficionados as we celebrate a winter Saturday by tasting lots of wine and lots of food. We are excited to have award winning jazz pianist Alex Bugnon performing at this year’s NYC Winter Wine Festival! Alex’s first album, Love Season, catapulted the virtual unknown to prominence and set him on his musical course. The album rocketed to number 2 on the R&B charts and was nominated for best jazz album at the Soul Train Awards. When Alex released his second album, Head Over Heels, it became a chart topper cementing his position as a radio and fan favorite on the R&B and smooth jazz circuit, earning him Black Radio Exclusive’s Best New Artist Award. The event will feature over 250 wines, and plenty of food. We will meet 15 minutes earlier at Junior’s Cheesecake around the corner at 45th off Broadway /8th.

Peking Duck House- Chinese New Year!!!
236 East 53rd St (2nd /3rd)
Thursday, February 11th
6:00pm optional drinks, 6:30 dinner
$71 Chinese banquet, tea/soda, t&t, NO WINE

Peking Duck House has completely renovated since the last time we Peking ducked! This year we celebrate day 4 of the week-long Chinese New Year Festival. Our family style meal will be sure to fill you up and leave you hungry in an hour (a little Chinese-food humor ). Our meal includes: barbecued beef, fried pork dumplings, spring roll, Peking duck, prawns w. chili Peking style, ma-la chicken, sliced beef w. orange flavor, sesame scallops, crispy string beans, yang chow fried rice, ice cream and fruits.

Occupying the 9th position on the Chinese Zodiac, the monkey possesses such character traits as curiosity, mischievousness, and cleverness. Forever playful, monkeys are the masters of practical jokes. Even though their intentions are always good, this desire to be pranksters has a tendency to create ill will and hurt feelings. Although they are inherently intellectual and creative, monkeys at times have trouble exhibiting these qualities. When that happens, they appear to others to be confused. But nothing could be further from the truth as monkeys thrive on being challenged. monkeys prefer urban life to rural, and their favorite pastime is people-watching.

Singles Seminar at Dock’s for Brunch
Saturday, February 13th
633 3rd Avenue @ 40th Street
“Smart Successful Singles, 30’s and 40’s”
10-00- 1:00- Singles Seminar (coffee and muffins)
1:00-3:00- Docks Brunch
$79-Includes seminar & brunch entrée, juice, mimosa’s, Bloody Mary’s, coffee, tax & tip at brunch only.

Though this age range may be slightly lower than our demographic, we are forming a relationship with dating experts and Certified Dating Coaches, Melanie Rubin and Polina Solda for future events. Melanie reached out to me to plan the brunch aspect of the event for her seminar so I thought I would put it out to those in the group who might be interested. Valentine’s Day can be a drag for singles and as we know, the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results, so this year, do something different. Accelerate your ability to connect with the man or woman of your dreams and create lasting love. At this seminar you’ll: Connect with the people you want to get to know during this workshop with confidence and ease. Learn how to become crystal clear about what you’re looking for in a date or mate. Discover where and how to meet the right people to date. Have an easy way to let someone at this event know you’d like to see them again without the risk of rejection and of course have a great brunch at Dock’s with unlimited mimosa’s and bloody mary’s.

1354 1st Avenue (Between 72nd and 73rd)
Thursday, February 18th
5:45 optional drinks, 6:45 dinner
Live piano music and singing at 8pm
$76 3- course, glass wine, coffee, tax /tip

For over thirty-five years, Nino Selimaj has cultivated a talent like no other. With a humble beginning and a hard work ethic, he has been able to do what few other restaurateurs have done, to warm his way into the hearts of New Yorkers while establishing a family of restaurants with an incredible dedication to service and a great love for food. Over the years Nino has culled a large, loyal following with his magnetic personality. His upscale restaurants feature extravagant dishes, fresh seafood, homemade pastas, table side cooking and live music. Past guests have included: Hilary Duff, Carol Burnett, Tony Bennett, Clint Eastwood, Angela Lansbury, Regis Philbin, Chelsea Clinton, and members of “The Sopranos”-James Gandolfini, Tony Sirico, Vince Pastore and Dominic Chianese. Nino Selimaj is also beloved by the media. His name and his restaurants often appear in the gossip columns. In addition, Selimaj regularly appears on TV preparing some of his favorite recipes. Nino considers his restaurants an extension of his home and all his patrons are treated like the most royal of guests. He is very excited to welcome our group for the first time to his establishment.

Alta- 25 Rated Zagat
64 West 10th Street (5th and 6th Ave, closer to 6th)
Sunday, February 21st
5:30 pm optional drinks 6:15 Dinner
$72-Muli-course shared tapas, gl of wine, tax & tip

A Zagat 25 rating, 5 years in a row, they say, “Alta is an inventive array of delectable Mediterranean small plates that are full of ’big flavors’. Alta stays on its game serving ‘premier tapas’ that get a ‘fine-dining’ upgrade. Alta is where unbelievable Mediterranean flavors translate into tremendous fun.” You’ll feel like you are in the middle of la hacienda with the rustic floors, fireplace and delicious small plates. NY Times food critic says, “Alta is just about the smartest small-plate restaurant I have seen in New York: the elements of food, wine and ambience all come together. The chef, Harrison Mosher…. created a menu…using flavors and ingredients from around the Mediterranean, and this he has done cleverly. Each meal at Alta was a natural, unforced pleasure.” New York Magazine says, “Chef Harrison Mosher’s elegant, offbeat presentations come off more haute tasting menu than run-of-the-mill Madrid.” Michelin Guide says “Alta’s kitchen turns out a parade of tastes.” Alta is hidden 2 steps down in a brownstone on West 10th between buildings 60 West 10th and 66 West 10th.

Maison Hugo
132 East 61st Street (Park and Lexington)
Sunday, February 28th
5:45pm optional drinks, 6:45pm Dinner
$86- 3-course dinner, gl wine, coffee, tax & tip

Maison Hugo opened in September 2015 and has already been highly recommended by a few of our Upper Ease Side members. Maison Hugo is a modern French brasserie located in a beautiful townhouse where Chef Florian V. Hugo (Brasserie, Cognac, Cognac East- and a direct descendant of Victor Hugo) and his wife Michelle have created a neighborhood gem that provides an elegant and welcoming place. Maison Hugo is a visual distillation of a modern brasserie and family dining room. The Provence-born chef Hugo who has trained in the kitchens of Paul Bocuse and his mentor Alain Ducasse, has created a restaurant that exudes the warmth and familiarity of a traditional French brasserie with its red banquettes and brass railings while the natural wood furnishings signal a more modern and elegant feel. This upscale restaurant has Chef Hugo in the back cooking and his wife up front greeting us.