It is finally July, the time of year when the days are longer and the sun seams to always shine. This month we enjoy fireworks, outdoor barbeques, trips to the beach, boat rides, drinks on rooftops, walking-tours and for those more adventurous, gardening, hiking and camping. The only concern this month are the AC bills and where will we be dining next with The Single Gourmet! Before we discuss our July schedule, let’s remind each other what is coming up still for June.
Coming up this week, Friday, June 17th we dine inside the Metlife Building at NAPLES 45. The Patina Restaurant Group delivers time and time again at all their restaurants and our Italian meal will be no exception! The following Sunday is a Father’s Day brunch at The Highline Ballroom. This is the 3rd month in a row we have come here for brunch because each time the show is just THAT amazing!!! Join us for a 5-person Bossa Nova Brazilian inspired band featuring classics from Jobim in their tribute aptly named, “The Girl From Impanema.” We end our month on Sunday, June 26th at what used to be Fiorini’s, one of the top Italian restaurants Art went to for many years, now replaced with another neighborhood gem, AMATA CUCINA. This is a gorgeous Italian restaurant in midtown east. This restaurant was highly recommended to us by multiple members and the Chef, Enzo Di Rende, spent many years in Little Italy on Arthur Avenue as the owner of Enzo’s of Arthur Avenue, where I recently ate.
Our July begins literally with fireworks. Join us at DOCKS SEAFOOD GRILL, on Monday, July 4th, as we celebrate Independence day. Last year 44 dined with us and after dinner many from our group walked the few blocks to enjoy the fireworks. The following weekend, Saturday, July 9th, join us at STATE GRILL which is considered one of the best restaurants of The Patina Group. Its 25 rating on Zagat shows why the place is always packed. This will be a delicious meal right in the heart of midtown Manhattan. If celebrating our Independence day this month is not enough, just a short 10 days later we get to celebrate another (by way of food). Join us for ‘French National Day’ or as we know it, ‘Bastille Day’, on Thursday, July 14th at SAJU BISTRO. This was Art’s favorite French restaurant in the theater district and the relationship with us helped in our securing a spot for this special French Independence Day. The following weekend, Sunday, July 17th, we dine at a new restaurant for the group, and a new restaurant for the Upper West Side, PRETTO CAFFE AND CUCINA. Opened in May of 2016, right in the heart of the UWS, Pretto Caffe and Cucina has incredible Italian food in a casual, yet very inviting, atmosphere. We dined here as friends and guests of the owner of Al Dente, whom after 20 years decided to rebrand. We loved her other restaurant so much, we almost did a dinner there, but she asked us to wait until she opened up Pretto. The last weekend of July we have 2 special events. The first is a boat ride aboard a 1920’s style boat. This is an architecture tour on water! Join us on Saturday, July 23rd for a boat ride around the entire island of Manhattan on the Official NYC Architecture Tour and Yacht Cruise. This almost 3-hour cruise passes under all 18 bridges of Manhattan and is directed by professional AIA tour guides. RSVP early for this event as I suspect it will sell out. Finally, Sunday, July 24th we are excited to dine at VICTOR’S CAFÉ. This is the top of the top in Cuban food in the entire city, and possibly the Northern half of the USA. They offered us a menu with some of their specialty dishes as well as their famous Mojito. This is our first time dining here and if you ever thought of going to Cuba, you can save $1000’s of dollars this weekend by joining us right here in midtown. However, I suspect after joining us, you will love it so much, you might want to book a flight right to Havana.

The following June events are still available for Single Gourmet Members and their guests:
1. Naples 45- 200 Park Ave (@45th Inside MetLife Building), Friday, June 17th, 5:45 pm optional drinks, 6:30 pm dinner. Italian meal, glass wine, coffee, tax & tip $74
2. The Girl From Ipanema- The Highline Ballroom- 431 West 16th (9th and 10th Avenue) Sunday, June 19th Fathers Day- 11:45 Brunch- 12:30pm show – Show, Entrée, Coffee/Soda,Tax/Tip $65
3. Amata- 209 East 56th (Between 2nd and 3rd), Sunday, June 26th 5:45 pm optional drinks, 6:45 pm dinner. Italian meal, glass wine, tax & tip. $82

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

Docks Seafood Grill
633 3rd Avenue (@40th street corner)
Monday, July 4th
5:45 pm optional drinks, 6:45 pm dinner
(Fireworks 3 Avenues away starting at 9:20)
$69- 3-couse meal, glass wine, coffee, tax & tip

We dined here last 4th of July and 44 members came and celebrated. Just 3 avenues from the waterfront fireworks show, we are close enough to walk, but far enough from the mayhem and crowds. Macy’s will have barges located between 23rd and 37th and those who want to walk over and investigate the bright skyline can all do so together. Zagat rated for “reliable fish and bivalves galore with professional servers and a high-octane social scene.” Our menu on July 4th might not be hotdogs and burgers, but it will consist of Prince Edwards Island mussels, New England clam chowder, field greens, Amish farm chicken, rainbow trout paillard, 1855 black angus steak (the finest black angus steak) plus dessert, coffee and a glass of wine.

State Grill – Inside Empire State Building
Enter on the north side of 33rd Street between 5th/Broadway
Saturday, July 9th
6:00 Optional drinks; 7:00 Dinner
$85- 3-course meal, gl wine, soda/coffee/tea tax/tip

We dined here when it was brand new and loved it! Now the public has discovered this gem too and gave it a whopping 25 Zagat rating. Owned by The Patina Restaurant Group and with executive chef Priscilla Yeh at the helm, it is no wonder this is a top NYC restaurant. Chef Yeh graduated top of her class at the French Culinary Institute and went on to work at Bar Boulud, Dressler, and DuMont. At State Grill, dishes are all locally sourced and guests can watch their food being prepared in the open kitchen. Our 3-course meal includes entrees such as braised boneless short ribs, Skuna Bay salmon and chicken milanese.

Saju Bistro- Bastille Day
120 West 44th (btw 6th/7th)
Thursday, July 14th
5:30pm Optional Drinks, 6:15m Dinner
$79 Includes 3-course meal, gl wine, coffee, tax and tip

Every time a member had asked for a Theater District dinner recommendation in the past, this was the ONLY restaurant Art Fischer recommended. Zagat says, “A slice of ‘Paree’ in Time Square, this very French bistro is spot on for traditional Provincial dishes.” We have been dining here for years, and this is one of those places that we welcome with arms wide open. Everything on our menu will make you cheer for France on their Independence day. Our appetizers are: pistou soup, pate de campagne, jardinette salad and mussels. Our entrees choices are mussels marinières with frites, hanger steak and frites, chicken verdonnaise and salmon provençal. Our dessert choices include ice cream or sorbet, creme caramel or tart tatin.

Pretto Caffe & Cucina
417 Amsterdam Ave @80th Street
Sunday, July 17th
5:45 pm optional drinks, 6:30 pm dinner
$74- 3-course, gl wine OR coffee, tax / tip

It is not every day we dine at a close personal friends’ restaurant, but tonight we do. The recently opened Pretto Cucina will surely wow your taste buds. We have dined at owner Mona’s other restaurant multiple times where my wife, who has known Mona for 7 years, learned how to make her first cappuccino as the hostess. Pretto is Mona’s new creation, taking over from Al Dente that was her baby for 20 years. Pretto is an all-day modern Italian cafe and aperitif bar located in the heart of the Upper West Side of NYC. They pride themselves on the quality of their authentic Italian cuisine. Pretto, which means “pure” in Italian, carefully crafts all dishes with an emphasis on using only the freshest local market ingredients to ensure a wholesome & traditional Italian experience. The restaurant is newly renovated in a simple and classic way and has offered us a great Italian menu.

Boat Ride Around Manhattan Official NYC Architecture Tour and Yacht Cruise
Pier 62- Chelsea @ West 22nd and Hudson River
Saturday, July 23rd
1:30 at the pier (launch @ 1:45pm)
$73- tour, 1 gl wine/beer/champagne, snacks
RSVP Early and Non-refundable

This boat ride is amazing!!! Relax aboard the swanky 1920s-style yacht Manhattan as we cruise the Hudson, East and Harlem Rivers. Our guides are members of the American Institute of Architects (AIA), who designed this tour to spotlight some of Manhattan’s most noted structures and exterior styles. Expert narration covering architecture and engineering landmarks from all eras as well as current urban planning and environmental issues impacting urban waterfronts. During the 2 hour and 45-minute cruise you will explore recent and innovative skyscrapers, residential “Starchitecture,” enduring Art Deco and Beaux Arts icons as well as waterfront parks and infrastructure. The newest features of the evolving Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens & Bronx waterfronts are seen in comfort and style, from the climate-controlled, enclosed back-deck observatory or from the open bow; for some fresh air and sunlight. You’ll get the design lowdown on iconic buildings like the Trinity Church, the Woolworth Building, Gracie Mansion and many others, along with historical, social, engineering and environmental info and more. This tour passes under all 18 bridges and is so informative that continuing education credits are given to architects, engineers & landscape architects.

Victor’s Café- Evolution of Cuban Cuisine
236 West 52nd Street (7th and 8th)
Sunday, July 24th
5:45 pm optional drinks, 6:45 pm dinner
$82 3-course, Gl of wine/ mojito, coffee, t/tip

A Manhattan Landmark for over 53 years, Victor’s Café has been at the forefront of Cuban Cuisine in America. Victor’s philosophy has always been one of maintaining the authenticity of Cuban cuisine while evolving with the times. Everyone from Barbara Walters, Liza Minelli to Don King and Tom Cruise have dined here. Victor’s was even featured in the movie “Cocktail.” Zagat rated 23, they say Victors Cafe “doesn’t rest on its laurels, supplying solid food and fantastic mojitos in energetic environs exuding classic Havana style – ceiling fans and all; old-world service and live music enhance this welcome respite.” The ‘critic top pick’ from NY Magazine who states “the food is top-notch and the sophisticated atmosphere sets Victor’s apart.” Our tradition Cuban menu includes: croquetas- smoked ham croquettes, Victor’s tomato-cachucha pepper sauce; ensalada palmito- organic field greens, hearts of palm, apples, marcona almonds with Manchego cheese; ceviche de camerones- shrimp, citrus marinade, red onion, mango with avocado. Our entrees consist of: salmon carnival- Atlantic salmon, charred pineapple salsa with Cuban polenta; arroz con pollo- braised all natural air chilled chicken and rice casserole with sofrito and beer; ropa vieja – slow braised and pulled prime black angus steak in garlic, tomato, onion, pepper sauce- their house specialty. We end with Cuban desserts and coffee.

August 25-30th (Not Labor Day)
$TBD but $2950 OR LESS
-$300 flying without the group
-$250 sharing a room
Montréal is the most eclectic city in Canada and the world’s largest francophone city outside of Paris! The island hosts international events, delights culinary crowds with innovative French-Canadian cuisine, and struts a Euro-heritage along its newly revitalized historic streets. Bilingual in English and French, Montréal’s global population is diverse and eclectic, wrapped up in a vibrant arts and culture scene energized by an exuberant university community. If you have been here before, a lot has changed! Montreal has more restaurants per capita than NYC and it has become a foodie paradise as many Montrealers are true gourmets, or at least enthusiastic food-lovers. Indeed, the city has thousands of restaurants, markets, and food boutiques catering to just about every conceivable taste.
We will spend 5 nights in Montreal and see lots of sites and tours, eat lots of amazing food at top restaurants and stay in high end accommodations. Currently we are in talks with The Westin so we will most likely be in this hotel or one of similar quality, centrally located either in Old Montreal or downtown Montreal. PLEASE NOTE A VALID PASSPORT IS NEEDED TO ENTER CANADA. If you do not have this, start to work on getting it. This trip will be limited!
Most items below will be on our itinerary but are subject to change. We are working on time-frames and availability to schedule these tours. A more accurate RSVP and headcount is needed to reserve so please RSVP ASAP for the trip. Restaurants are the LAST thing I book. However, I am in discussions with a few Michelin Rated Restaurants and a handful of Montreal’s top 10 restaurants.
A more detailed itinerary will follow:
•Montreal City by Bus/ Guided Sight-Seeing Tour- Experience an overview of Montreal on this guided, 3.5-hour sightseeing tour of the city. Visit over 200 points of interest and many of Montreal’s top attractions and historical sites: Notre-Dame Basilica, Chinatown, Mount Royal Park, Olympic Stadium, Saint Joseph’s Oratory, Old Port and Old Montreal, to name just a few. Hop aboard a comfortable bus/van and get to know the largest city in Quebec, with live commentary from an English speaking professional tour conductor. This will give us an overview of all of Montreal.

•Day trip to Quebec City. Get to know Québec City and its top attractions on our guided tour, 2.5 hours from Montreal. Founded in 1608, Quebec City is one of the oldest cities in North America. The ramparts surrounding Old Quebec are the only fortified city walls remaining in the Americas north of Mexico, and Quebec City was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1985. Explore Old Québec, the historic heart of French Canada and the capital of the province of Québec. Its narrow streets, stone buildings and cobbled streets make you feel like you are in Europe. We will learn history and see: The Citadelle of Québec, Notre-Dame-des-Victoires Church, Place Royale and Old Port, the beautiful Plains of Abraham, the Place d’Armes and the Fairmont Le Château Frontenac to cite a few, then follow Avenue Royale through the traditional villages and farms of the Beaupre Coast 15 minutes north of Québec City to visit Montmorency Falls (30 meters higher than Niagara Falls). There will be ample time to walk/explore Old Quebec and take a 1.5-hour scenic cruise on the St Lawrence River. This is an all day, 12-hour trip and will be optional for those who do not want to take the full day to travel here. Deduct $125 if opting out
•Day Trip to Ottawa- Experience the history and grandeur of the capital of Canada. We will see: Parliament Hill, The Peace Tower, The Centennial Flame, The Canadian Museum of History, Rideau Hall- the home to the Governor General of Canada, The Royal Canadian Mint and then take a 75-minute Ottawa river boat cruise and sail down the beautiful Ottawa River, the border between Quebec and Ontario. This tour is optional and deduct $75 if not joining us.
•A private walking tour of Old Montreal- #2 things to do on TripAdvisor-. We explore a mix of cobbled streets, cozy restaurants and boutiques that make Old Montreal a walkers’ paradise. Soak in the rich history, culture and heritage of Montreal as we visit famous sites such as Place d’Armes, Place Jacques-Cartier and City Hall. Learn about the city’s amazing art and spectacular architecture while enjoying the quaint French charm. Stroll down St Paul Street and explore Champ de Mars, a public park that was once the site of Montreal’s city walls and Bonsecours Market, which has served as Montreal’s main public market for more than 100 years! This tour will also include a visit inside Notre Dame Basilica- #1 thing to do on TripAdvisor- Built in 1656, this is Montreal’s oldest church and a key Old Montreal landmark. Inside, the blaze of carvings, sculptures and stained glass is certainly impressive and unmissable. Everything about Montréal’s magnificent Roman Catholic basilica is grand, from the 228-foot twin steeples to the 7,000-pipe organ in the loft. This is widely recognized as one of the most phenomenal landmarks in the world!!
•Local Food Tour- Montreal Mile End Food Tour- This 3-hour food tasting tour is given by Quebec’s number 1 food tour company as we see Montreal’s most culturally diverse neighborhood. We visit passionate food vendors, taste amazing food, and discover parts of the city that reveal its history, quirks, and culture. This is an off-the-beaten-path experience of the city, bringing lesser known gems of the city as well as cultural hot spots to our attention. As we stroll the eclectic streets of the Mile End we will get the chance to experience life as a native Montrealer. The tour presents how the Mile-End came to have the most artists per capita in all of North America. We also learn the historical and cultural significance of many landmarks found in the bustling sector. The Mile-End has become the epitome of Montreal’s multicultural standard and our tour discusses the deep history of immigration and settlement embedded in these streets. This is the fastest growing district in Montreal. The Mile End sector is a thriving community of musicians, artists and young entrepreneurs. We walk a flat 1.4 miles over 3 hours.
•Montreal Museum of Fine Arts- # 6 things to do on TripAdvisor- Founded in 1860 as the Art Association of Montreal, the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (MMFA) was one of the first museums in North America. It now numbers over 41,000 works from Antiquity to today, comprising of paintings, sculptures, graphic arts, photographs and decorative art objects displayed in four pavilions. It has an exceptional collection of Canadian art, from portrayals of pioneer life by Paul Kane to dazzling abstractions by Paul-Émile Borduas, all housed in a former church. The permanent collection features artwork by such world masters as Rembrandt, Renoir, and Picasso.
•Jean-Talon Market- #10 things to do- In the heart of Little Italy this market opened in May of 1933 and was named “Marché du Nord” before becoming the Jean-Talon Market, in honor of the first Intendant of New France. Known for its numerous local fruit and vegetable vendors as well as the cultural diversity of its shopkeepers, it is the largest open-air market in North America. It’s a little village where families have gathered and generations have grown. Here you will find a wide selection of regional products from all over Québec at this truly one-of-a-kind world famous market.
Private Cooking Class- One of the top cooking classes and things to do in Montreal- cook a full 6 course meal (3 courses x 2 ) during a 3 hour ‘iron chef’ cooking class where our group works with 2 incredible chefs. We are divided in half and each half with their own chef, has a cook-off. After the cooking a 3-course meal, we spend an hour or so eating our creation, drinking wine and crowning a winner. This is dependent on group size and availability.
Other ideas most likely on the agenda:
Half day wine tour with meal- Get a taste for Quebec’s surging wine industry during this half day wine tasting trip from Montreal. Get the red carpet treatment from local vineyard owners as you enjoy insider tours and tastings at multiple wineries. Take a workshop to learn tasting techniques to identify various wine flavor notes, testing your skill with a blind taste test, and enjoy a sampling of local cheeses and a meal.
Other optional ideas are the botanical garden, exploring the old port, china town, little Italy and a Jewish neighborhood private tour.
We are limiting the size of this trip due to some tours only allowing a maximum group size. If you are interested in this trip please let me know before we sell out of it. I already have deposits from multiple people before this newsletter was even written.