CLEMENT, the restaurant with themed rooms and an American menu at The Peninsula New York, is not without its quota of drama. During dinner, the sole gentleman in the group proceeds to be adventurous with a Green Dragon, featuring Baijiu, the Chinese spirit distilled from sorghum. Declared to be unmixable in cocktails, it is smelly, pungent and aggressive. But our Baijiu chatter is quickly diverted by the antics of the maitre d’ and his waiters—furtively peeping into one of the rooms, gesturing to the rest of the team, trading whispers. We join in, and find a young swain following the main course with a proposal to his beloved. That all eyes are on him (friends of the couple wait in anticipation behind doors) doesn’t dampen his enthusiasm one bit. Fortunately for him, after the inevitable gasp of surprise, the girl says ‘yes’. Later, the wait staff agree that the stylish restaurant and bar that overlooks Fifth Avenue is often witness to such happy proceedings. There was quite a buzz during the recent New York Fashion Week, when afternoon tea was served with sweet delights fashioned like bags, shoes and tubes of lipstick, together with a glass of Louis Roederer Brut ’72. They made for great posts after all. But serious food critics are also coming back for chef Remi’s experiments featuring seasonal produce. Fall dinners, for instance, are already being anticipated for his ingenious Big Apple brunch on weekends and Remi, ever modest, says everything is special. “I love to use local goat cheese, fresh burrata, heirloom cherry tomato and radish, but my gem is the soft shell crab that is seasonal and local,” he says.
While Clement lets you connect with real American cuisine, the rooftop bar, Salon de Ning, offers a fun and easy vibe to match the Manhattan skyline. The Peninsula is full of little surprises. A quick chat with the concierge proves that they are ready to meet most demands, be it for tickets to this year’s big musical, Hamilton ($900 per seat, we’re told) to procuring a Louis Vuitton collar for a very lucky Yorkshire terrier. As for the award-winning spa, with treatments like Sleep Ceremony (great for insomniacs) and Vedic aromatherapy, it’s no wonder the place isn’t restricted to only tourists. For unusual experiences, there is a tea ceremony with an expert, Kathy Chan, where you learn, among other things, how to tackle a scone politely! It’s quite popular with the millennials, they tell us.
Originally from Paris, chef Remi van Peteghem’s stints at l’Arpege and the Michelin-starred Le Sensing have no doubt contributed to his passion for seasonal produce. His monthly series, Chef’s Table, at the fashionable Clement, sees food connoisseurs at a communal table sampling everything from exotic poultry (Coop du Jour) to a wild mushroom dessert. More from him:
How long did you take to conceptualise and facilitate your recent hit, Coop du Jour?
It was very easy to design this eight-course meal once our supplier gave me an idea about the poultry available (roasted filet of squab, anyone?). It is why I love my job: in five minutes you draft a menu and it becomes real.
What is most unexpected about your upcoming wild mushroom kitchen table?
We are featuring eight different varieties from upstate farms: Portobello, Chanterelle, Blue Oyster, Pioppino, Crimini, Golden Oyster, Matsutake and Candy cap. Whole roasted, as raw slices, even dessert (Candy cap bread pudding, for one), they are unusual.
The barre counter
The Peninsula’s stylish midtown gym comes with an eye-popping view, a perfect setting for yogini Allyson Gracie’s Fluid Barre class. When I meet her she is well into a session with a group of older ladies, each of them enjoying the ballet routine with a steady stream of humour. The Barre workout has been trending in NYC since around 2011, and Gracie is a poster girl for it with her sculpted arms and regal posture. The glutes are the main target, she chuckles. “Barre and Barre Fusion (fusion includes Pilates or cardio or both), Spin/Cycling, and Yoga continue as the top fitness trends in NYC this season,” she reveals. Mix and match is hot right now, too, with offerings like PIYO (yoga-based matwork with a cardio aspect). “Professionals are picking up the cross-bred Monthly NYC Class Pass, so they can take their favourite classes at various boutique fitness studios around the city daily,” explains Gracie.
Rooms from Rs 46,581 onwards (approximately). Details: peninsula.com