As I write the newsletter for May every year, I always feel it is time to pay respects to Art Fischer who technically founded our group exactly 35 years ago. For those not aware, Art brought the name of the business and the rights to use the name from a woman in Canada. Being the astute businessman that he was, he knew NYC needed a business just like this, and The Single Gourmet in America was born. Since then we have had a dinner event somewhere in the world, ever week for 35 years, and of course have travelled to just about every corner of the earth.
The May trip to Portland and Seattle is coming together nicely with us dining at top restaurants in these two cities and enjoying some great tours as well. The dates are May 24 – 31st therefore we will not be doing any dinner events in NYC during this time period.
The next event in April for our group is Saturday, April 22nd at top rated Italian, DEGRAZIA. This is a beautiful, hidden restaurant under the streets of NYC, known and populated mostly by neighborhood foodies and businessmen for lunch. Degrazia is a gorgeous ‘old-school’ restaurant with always incredible food. The following week join us Tuesday, April 25th, at HIGHLINE BALLROOM for the PRESERVATION HALL JAZZ BAND. The iconic legendary band has played worldwide and will be in NYC in April. Finally, on Sunday, April 30th, we head to a new restaurant for our group and for NYC, GRAMERCY FARMER AND THE FISH. The restaurant is owned by the farmers and fishermen delivering our food daily! As soon as I entered the space, I knew it was perfect for the group. Modern and simple in setting; yet, delicious and creative in food.
May starts off on Wednesday, May 3rd when we head to a new French restaurant for our group, JUBILEE. For over 23 years, Jubilee had been serving up phenomenal French fare to Sutton place residents. We had previously scheduled this dinner but had to reschedule to this new date. The following Sunday, May, 7th , we revisit an all-time favorite of everyone’s PATSY’S . We will dine where Sinatra dined, and enjoy some of the best red sauce Italian in the country. This is our favorite Neapolitan ristorante in NYC and a handful of our members asked when we were returning. The following weekend, Saturday May 13th we we visit another Italian gem, DA NOI, Zagat rated 25. Da Noi is giving us a 4-course Italian meal from a large list of their delicious specialties including a multi tasting/combination of pasta, a combination dessert plate as well as choices of veal, chicken and fish. The space is gorgeous, the food phenomenal and their location in midtown, makes them a TRIPLE-CROWN winner. On May 17th join us as we celebrate our 35th year with us at SHUN LEE WEST. Clearly the top of the top and though you may be hungry an hour later (that joke gets old!), at least that hour after dinner you will savor what you just ate
The following April events are still available for Single Gourmet Members and their guests:
DeGrazia- 231 East 50th Street, between 2nd/3rd, Saturday, April 22nd, 7:15pm optional drinks, 8pm dinner $81 3-course Dinner, gl of wine, tax/tip
Preservation Hall Band @ Highline Ballroom– 431 West 16th (9th/10th next to Western Beef). Tuesday, April 25th Meet at HBR 7:30pm, 8pm SHOWTIME, $72 Show, 1 Entrée, coffee/soda, tax & tip Gramercy Farmer and The Fish 245 Park Avenue South, between 19th / 20th, Sunday, April 30th, 5:30 pm optional drinks, 6:30 pm dinner, $82 3-course dinner, glass of wine, coffee, tax / tip.
The following May events are still available for Single Gourmet Members and their guests:
948 First Avenue (52nd and 53rd)
Wednesday, May 3rd
5:30pm optional drinks, 6:15 dinner
$73 3- course French, gl wine, coffee, tax & tip
Zagat says; a “clientele of a certain age touts this longtime Sutton Place–area bistro as a haven of relaxed sophistication that’s like a quick trip to Paris; it’s not noisy and the seafood-oriented French fare is tasty.” I dined here a few times in the past and each course is artistically displayed and a delicious delight. Michelin Guide states, “settled into sleek Sutton Place, Jubilee is New York City’s very own version of Cheers. Affluent families are in full force here, while friends gather on weeknights to mingle over wine and fine French-Belgian cuisine. The European-inflected nautical décor screams quaint coastal elegance with perpetually packed tables and a bar where everybody knows your name.” New York Magazine states, “Hidden in a townhouse off of First Avenue, this unassuming French bistro has held steady since 1994 as one of the few decent restaurants among Sutton Place’s bland mix of anonymous pubs and sushi joints. The place is always packed, and….the décor mimics the French countryside with homey furniture.” Four stars on YELP. Soup of the Day, Baby Arugula Salad with Blue Cheese, Green Apples and Walnuts, Homemade Truffle Chicken Liver Pate, the entrees of moules frites, roasted breast of chicken with garlic mashed potatoes, grilled Atlantic salmon, steak frites and shallot sauce or pasta primavera finished with warm apple tart with vanilla ice cream or profiteroles with hot chocolate sauce and toasted almonds.
236 W 56th St (B’way and 8th ave)
Sunday, May 7th
5:00 pm optional drinks, 6:45 pm dinner
$79 4-Course Italian meal, gl wine, tax & tip
Back by popular demand and many requests! Our founder Art Fischer had been bringing the group here since 1982. Clearly one of the best and well known red sauce ‘joint’s in history. We will reminisce about Sinatra and his crew while dining on the tastiest pasta dishes around and savior their desserts. As they like to say “There are restaurants you go to, and restaurants you go back to.” We certainly make that statement true.
Da Noi Ristorante
214 East 49th Street (between 2nd/3rd)
Saturday, May 13th
7pm optional drinks, 7:45pm dinner
$79 4-course, glass wine, coffee, tax & tip
Zagat rated 4.2 for “Old-world red-sauce cooking like nonna’s draws fans to these congenial Italians where generous portions turn somewhat pricey tabs into money well spent; the crowd’s right out of a scene from The Godfather.” A fine-dining, family owned restaurant (40+ years in the business), with 5-star service, and exceptional food makes this a “can’t miss” dinner. A wildly successful hit in their first 3 locations in the Italian sections of Staten Island and NJ, and voted in Zagats top of the “Best of Staten Island” list, Da Noi opened up in Midtown to top rated reviews all across every review site. They soon became a hit amongst the suit and tie midtown crowd. Family owned and run like the good-ole Italian restaurants of the past, “Da Noi” means “from/of us” in Italian, putting the family mark on all their recipes. Our traditional Italian 4-course meal includes salad, a tasting of multiple pastas and desserts and a selection of entrees (veal, fish, chicken), coffee, glass of wine.
Shun Lee West – 35 th Anniversary
43West 65th Street (CPW and Columbus)
Wednesday, May 17th
6:00pm optional drinks, 6:45pm dinner
$72 Anniversary feast, tea (no wine), tax & tip
35 years ago, the first ever dinner for TSG was held here and Michael Tong has continued to deliver for us. The NY Times did a half page story on us and the rest is history. Our menu is the best of the best with multiple choices such as soft shell crab, chicken soong, boiled wontons, Beijing duck and much more. Zagat 22 as an “exemplar of upscale dining, fancy Chinese food dispatched by a top team in an exotic, space…there’s a reason why it’s been a neighborhood cornerstone since the ’80s and there is a reason why we visit here every May!!!
1068 2nd Avenue (56th and 57th)
Saturday, May 21st
6:15 pm optional drinks; 7:15pm Dinner
$77 3-course French, gl of wine, coffee, tax / tip
Named after the most famous and hip slang nickname for Paris, which originally came from the Panama hats worn by French men back in the early 20th century, Paname is the brainchild of French Chef/Baker Bernard Ros formerly of Le Deauville and Meli Melo and with over 45 years’ of experience as a NYC chef, Chef Ros knows his way around a kitchen. Having first started in his parent’s restaurant in Paris, Chef Ros has spent his entire life dedicated to French food. Paname is a classic, neighborhood style French bistro and has received 4 stars on yelp and 4.5 stars on Tripadvisor. The décor of Paname is French simplicity and the atmosphere is warm and inviting. The mayor of Paris once dined here and said it is like dining at a corner restaurant of Paris. Chef/Owner Ros personally shops for every menu ingredient daily and is the pastry chef for the restaurant. Our menu includes: escargots de bourgogne, crabcakes, caesar salad maison, organic chicken breast with compote d’aubergines, pine nuts and thyme, beef bourguignon, sauteed codfish à la nicoise with tomato fondant, sauteed shrimp vadouvan and selection of dessert.
Preservation Hall Band @ Highline Ballroom
431 West 16th (9th/10th next to Western Beef)
Tuesday, April 25th
Meet at HBR 7:30pm, 8pm SHOWTIME
$72 Show, 1 Entrée, coffee/soda, tax & tip.
The Preservation Hall Jazz Band derives its name from Preservation Hall a music venue located in the New Orleans’ French Quarter. The band has traveled worldwide spreading their mission to bring the world the art form of New Orleans Jazz. Whether performing at Carnegie Hall or Lincoln Center, for British Royalty, the King of Thailand or for The Single Gourmet, this bands’ music embodies a joyful, timeless spirit. Under the auspices of current director, Ben Jaffe, the son of the founders of Preservation Hall Jazz Band, the band continues touring the world. Many of the band’s members performed with the pioneers who invented jazz. These founding artists and dozens of others passed on the lessons of their music to a younger generation who now follow in their footsteps like the current lineup. If you love Jazz music and New Orleans, this is the band to hear. Ticket, entrée,
To reserve at any or all the events please go to our website or call us at (646-825-0268), email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or mail checks to: The Single Gourmet, c/o Aaron Lefkowitz, 69 west 9th Street Apt #6A, New York, NY 10011.
May 24th to May 31st
($4350, 7 nights, airfare, tours, taxes, 4-star hotel and included meals)
(Deduct $450 if flying on own and $450 pp if sharing a room)
We will be visiting Portland and Seattle May 24-31st with 4 nights and 3 full days in Portland and 3 nights and 3 days in Seattle. The trip includes 2 meals a day except on day of arrival and day of departure.
Airfare is not booked yet and we could fly from any 1 of the 3 NYC airports including Newark. The hotel in Portland is still be negotiated but I am holding a 4 star downtown hotel at the moment. In Seattle, we are staying in the centrally located, beautiful 4-star boutique Kimpton Hotel Vintage Seattle. This hotel was voted, “The Best Hotel in Washington 2017” by Travel + Leisure, “The Best City Hotels in the Continental US, 2016” Travel + Leisure, “Best Hotels in Washington” by U.S. World & News, Conde Nast Travel in 2015 listed it in their “Readers Choice Top 20 Hotels.” The hotel is a AAA Four Diamond Award Winner for the last 2 years. There is also a daily hosted wine hour!
Portland has always been known as a quirky, fun, foodie and music town with a somewhat “Austin” feel to it. In fact, Portland has the same motto as Austin- “Keep Portland Weird.” With its vibrant Downtown and eclectic neighborhoods, Portland promises an abundance of activities for almost any traveler. Foodies flock to the artisanal eateries, shoppers find plenty of design-savvy boutiques stocked with everything from designer goodies to outdoor apparel and nature lovers appreciate the wide ranging outdoor environment.
Portland, also known as The City of Roses or Stumptown, is Oregon’s most populous city, and the third largest city in the Pacific Northwest. Whether in the Cultural District Downtown or a transfigured warehouse in the trendy Pearl District, it is easy to see why Lonely Planet in 2017 named Portland the 10th best city to travel to IN THE WORLD. Portland is known for its large number of microbreweries, enthusiasm for coffee and as one of the most interesting cities in the nation. The New York Times named Portland, “The West Coast Capital of Urban Cool.” Travel + Leisure deemed Portland’s Waterfront Loop one of America’s Coolest Riverwalks in the World.” Food & Wine put Portland on the “U.S. and Canada’s Best Places to Eat” list.
Some top things on our Portland itinerary we are working on visiting: Portland’s International “Rose Test Garden” which is the oldest, continuously operated public rose garden in the Unites States with over 10,000 roses; Downtown Portland farmers market- considered one of the world’s finest Farmers Markets; Portland’s Saturday Market-the nation’s largest open-air arts and crafts market; Portland’s Japanese Garden- proclaimed as one of the most authentic Japanese gardens outside of Japan, with five separate gardens and an authentic Japanese Tea House; Powell’s City of Books- the largest independent bookstore on the planet; the Lan Su Chinese Garden- an authentically built Ming Dynasty style garden with bridges, pavilions and an idyllic lake; Portlandia- America’s second largest copper hammered statue (second to the Statue of Liberty); and finally Portland is currently experiencing a food cart revolution as U.S. News & World Report voted Portland’s street food scene and sidewalk chefs #1 in their Top 10 List of World’s Best Street Food.
Restaurants are the last thing I work on when planning trips, but rest assured they will be the top restaurants in both Portland and Seattle. Besides top restaurants, I am planning activities such as food tours, walking tours, bus tours, waterfall tours, winery tours, boat/ferry tours and sites to see, do and visit. As usual, I will keep you busy during the days and fill you up with great food along the way! I will give you free time in the 2 cities to explore on your own and we will be staying in centrally located, 4-star accommodations.
Note: Itinerary and timeline subject to changes as it is not complete. We first take a bus tour through the various parts of the city from downtown Portland to the Pearl District to Nob Hill, and several neighborhoods. Visit all the must-see attractions including the sites of Pioneer Square and learn about the great diversity found in Portland’s downtown area, the historical importance it has played in the state’s history and the fast-growing culture that exists in the City of Portland. We will learn about many prominent and notable citizens of Oregon. Experience sights of Portland famous Food Carts. Next, we visit the Pittock Mansion, a meticulously preserved architectural landmark that symbolizes Portland’s transformation from a small lumber town into a bustling city. We then head over to the International Rose Gardens inside the lush and beautiful Washington Park, featuring some of the most amazing cascade mountain views around. Our last stop is the Lan Su Chinese Garden one of Portland’s greatest treasures and most interesting sites to see while visiting Portland. A result of a collaboration between the cities of Portland and Suzhou, the sister city in China’s Jiangsu province that’s famous for its beautiful Ming Dynasty gardens, Lan Su was built by Chinese artisans from Suzhou and is the most authentic Chinese garden outside of China.
May in Oregon is wine month and the week leading into Memorial Day is a big celebration in wine country! We will be here during one of the region’s longest-running events where more than 150 wineries and tasting rooms will host special events, capping off the state-wide celebration of Oregon Wine Month. Taste new wines from your favorite labels, sample from the barrel with winemakers, or savor specialty food pairings and live music. This week is a chance to visit some of the region’s smallest producers that are rarely open to the public. Therefore, we will head out of town a wine and waterfall tour, exploring the amazing wineries found in this part of the country during this time of celebration. We start the morning in Oregon’s largest state park, Silver Falls. Breathe in the piney scent of an evergreen tree, pick salmonberries, and get gently misted by one of the Park’s glistening falls. We spend the afternoon tasting fine wines in the intimate settings of three boutique wineries as we take in the rolling hillsides and serene vineyards of the Willamette Valley.
To spice up history tours and to create many more stops, I like to sometimes add a food history tour into my trips when possible. This walking tour of downtown Portland begins and ends with us stopping at some of the most popular restaurants and famous food trucks in the neighborhood showing us the wide range of Portland’s culinary scene, from upscale eateries to casual classics to sweet shops. In between stops, we pass by local attractions and hear about the area’s history, how the Pearl District evolved from a warehouse quarter to one of the city’s trendiest neighborhoods to how Portland got its name. Total walking distance on this tour is 1.2 miles over 3 hours on flat terrain.
Memorial Weekend launches The Portland Rose Festival. Since 1907 Portland has been celebrating this festival with live music, fireworks and of course Roses. We will have an optional Friday night to watch the fireworks and concert.
I am happy to announce that we are currently booked at ANDINA the #1 restaurant on TripAdvisor of 3446 restaurants, in Portland. This restaurant is #2 on Zagat Best Restaurant in Portland list with a 4.7 rating for food. Zagat says, “This lively Pearl District standby remains a favorite, offering a big selection of impeccable, exotic Peruvian dishes including small plates like ceviche to die for and amazing tapas with a knowledgeable staff to help navigate it all; regular live music make for a space that’s always hopping, yet even those who find it a bit spendy insist it’s totally worth it.” The website “USA today 10best.com” says, “One restaurant that appears on everybody’s best-of Portland list is Andina. Andina has taken traditional South American cuisine to the level of fine art. Located in the heart of Portland’s Pearl District, the neighborhood is comprised of boutique shops, art galleries and old industrial building converted into high-end lofts. Andina has a formal dining room and a more casual bar featuring live, Latin-influenced music every night of the week.” Zagat goes onto say, “Though Andina is one of the most expensive restaurants in Portland, most diners agree that the food and attentive service is well worth the cost.” Andina is also listed in the essential 38 Portland restaurants. Zagat also lists Andina in Portland’s “Best Restaurant Décor,” list.
We are also currently booked at- HIGGINS RESTURANT- A James Beard Award Winner for Best Chef in Northwest, Chef Greg Higgins has traveled worldwide to share his passion for northwest regional cooking. His recipes and writing have been published in numerous periodicals & books as well as his many television appearances. Chef Higgins brings Farm to Table dining to life. Listed in Portland’s Eater- “Best Restaurants to Eat 2017”, Listed in Zagat, “Best Restaurants in Downtown Portland,” Zagat says, “ This “farm-to-table downtown landmark exudes a professional air from its high-quality menu of sustainably sourced Pacific NW cuisine to the knowledgeable staffers; though it can be pricey, patrons feel it’s worth it for the pride in preparation and care for the ingredients.” And TripAdvisor ranks Higgins # 8 of 3446. Oregon Live lists it in their list of best restaurants in 2016 and they say, “One of the Pacific Northwest’s most influential restaurants, Higgins is the eponymous home of chef Greg Higgins, who left a celebrated stint at The Heathman 20 years ago, moved just up the hill, and along the way helped push Portland’s farm-to-table movement into the 21st century.” Higggins is listed #7 on 38 Portlands Essential Restaurants, “One of Portland’s pioneering chefs, Greg Higgins was cultivating relationships between local chefs and farmers long before winning the James Beard Best Chef Northwest award. But today, Higgins is one of downtown’s best spots and the service is as close to fine dining as it gets in laid-back Portland. For a more relaxed but still old-school vibe”.
Other restaurants to be booked shortly.
Seattle is the USA 4th fastest growing city, Washington State’s largest city and home to a large tech industry, with Microsoft and Amazon headquartered in its metropolitan area. The futuristic Space Needle, a 1962 World’s Fair legacy, is its most iconic landmark. Seattle is a world-class city with many wonderful attractions. The Seattle Center, location of the 1962 World’s Fair, has become a premier destination for arts, entertainment and leisure activities. The 74-acre campus is home to The Experience Music Project, The Chihuly Garden and Glass Museum, and the Space Needle. Downtown Seattle hosts the Seattle Art Museum, the Seattle Symphony, and Pike Place Market. Historic Pioneer Square is the destination for the Seattle Underground Tour, and is adjacent to Century Link Stadium and Safeco Field. Surrounded by mountains and water, filled with lakes and parks, Seattle’s romantic soul is evident from the moment you step foot in the city. Beyond romance, the variety of sights and activities, restaurants and nightspots, shopping venues and attractions are enough of a draw. You can spend your days wandering the streets of Capitol Hill or Pioneer Square, browsing at the original Nordstrom or through the artisan stalls at Pike Place Market, sipping lattes and espressos at any one of the thousands or so coffee carts in the city, while taking in the music scene by night. After all, the city that spawned Nordstrom, grunge music, Microsoft and Starbucks has to have something special going for it!
Travel + Leisure Magazine recently ranked Seattle as being among the “Top Best Cities for Foodies.” Seattle’s epic climb to national food fame has been broadcast globally with being the host city for Top Chef Season 10, featured on The Layover with Anthony Bourdain, and Bizarre Foods With Andrew Zimmern. With Seattle’s unique geographical surroundings of pristine cold waters and hot desert-like climate, it makes for ideal conditions for fresh seafood, incredible wine grapes, and bountiful fresh produce.
As we always try to do with TSG trips, when we visit a city is we will have a bus tour of Seattle with an overview of its unique neighborhoods. We will visit Downtown Seattle and the Seattle waterfront and see sites such as Pioneer Square, Chinatown, the International District, the Seattle Center, Pike Place Market, Olympic & Cascade mountain views, Historic Pioneer Square, the Waterfall Garden Park, Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park, Lake Washington, the I-90 Floating Bridge, Mercer Island, Puget Sound and much more!
We have a guided food tour with tastings of the world-famous Pike Place Market and we explore the back alleys, narrow corridors, and tiny storefronts in search of the best eats of the market. We will meet the Market’s lively characters and hear their memorable stories, see fish fly, cheese being made, and the “original” Starbucks store. By the end, you will know the best places to eat at Pike Place Market!
I have hired Savor Seattle for a few of our food tours. Savor Seattle Food Tours is the #1 food tour in America on TripAdvisor and Yelp! Having been featured in national and international publications and news outlets, including bon appétit, the Travel Channel, and USA Today. They run the the #1 tour in Seattle (out of 143) which is a lively progressive four-course meal exploring four of Seattle’s top chefs’ restaurants, including several James Beard Award honorees. Each location corresponds to a course – two appetizers, a main, and a dessert. These four chefs haPlve come together to create delicious and unique dishes just for us. The menu for this tour is seafood-centric and each course includes a wine or cocktail pairing. In addition to savoring delectable dishes and drinks, we will also learn about Seattle’s rich food history and the local ingredients and expert preparations in each chef’s innovative dish. We will also learn about each chef’s background, as well as their influences on Seattle’s dynamic restaurant culture, and get a sneak peek inside what it takes to operate these high-stakes kitchens and secrets to success! Our tour is led by the foodiest of all of food tour guides having extensive cooking experience and intimately familiar with the latest happenings in the Seattle food scene. Join us for a fun and delicious evening and learn how Seattle has become one of the country’s top dining destinations.
Destinations on the #1 tour in Seattle the Dinner Soiree include-Loulay Restaurant & Bar- Named for Seattle Celebrity Chef Thierry Rautureau’s hometown of Saint Hilaire de Loulay in France, Loulay Kitchen & Bar marries the French influence of his upbringing with modern twist and sensibility to provide an accessible dining experience for everyone. Winner of Seattle Met’s 2014 Restaurant of the Year; Sansei Seafood Restaurant & Sushi Bar, D.K. Kodama – Named one of “America’s Best Sushi Bars” by Bon Appétit , Blueacre Seafood- Chef Kevin Davis – James Beard Semi-Finalist Zagat- 4.5, they say, “Kevin Davis has done it again with this Downtown surf ‘n’ turf spot, putting out delectable fare and expect a sleek, expansive space, professional service and bills that many find a little pricey, but worth it for the quality” TanakaSan- Iron Chef Tom Douglas’s Asian-American hot spot for dessert. These stops are subject to change but are the current tour stops as of writing this.
Our 3 hour gourmet lunch tour has sit down stops at ORFEO Restaurant for Slow-roasted wild boar with grilled polenta & Rosé pairing, Serious Pie- Roasted mushroom truffle cheese pizza & margherita pizza, Cutters Crabhouse- Crab-stuffed prawn & Sauvignon Blanc pairing, Chan Spicy Korean pork slider, braised short rib, & rice beer pairing, La Buona Tavola Truffle Cafe- Truffle oil and salt, balsamic vinegar & gourmet treats, Steelhead Diner -Razor clam chowder with truffle oil & Viognier pairing, Von’s Gusto bistro- Wild salmon sour dough pasta & sparkling wine pairing, Fran’s Chocolates- President Obama and First Lady’s favorite chocolates. These stops are subject to change but are the current tour stops as of writing this.
Please note: Dinner is not including May 24th our arrival day and I am planning on Amtrak to take us from Portland to Seattle that arrives in Seattle at noon on Sunday May 28th.