Lunch at the Mandarin Oriental on Columbus Circle is the perfect place to celebrate someone or something special.
The setting is nothing short of spectacular with panoramic views of Columbus Circle, Central Park and Central Park South. From this perch on the 35th floor, the yellow taxis speeding around the Circle below almost look like toy miniatures. The scene is just as magical after dark.
Asiate is the contemporary American restaurant in New York City’s Mandarin Oriental Hotel. With an impressive glass wine wall with more than 1500 bottles, the spacious, light-filled room has clean modern lines. The tasteful décor is black and white with accents of fuchsia that match the vase of orchids on each table. A metallic tree-branch sculpture hangs from the high ceiling. Most tables are so widely spaced, some with banquettes and others with booths, that it’s easy to forget that anyone else is in the room.
The menu of Executive Chef Christian Pratsch, who was classically trained in Europe, reflects the finest seasonal ingredients with whimsical Asian accents, each dish artfully plated. The service is professional and attentive but not hovering, and perfectly paced. When our waiter heard we wanted to share our two entrees, he brought out two extra dishes and moved the entrees to the center of the table placing serving spoons on each. When we asked for a check after the leisurely lunch, it was already prepared and ready to hand to us.
We started our celebratory lunch off with two glasses of Prosecco from Bocelli Family Wines. Yes, a product of the family of Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli who have long been vintners. (I had met Andrea’s brother, Alberto, at a concert many years ago and couldn’t resist trying one of these products.) It was dry but so smooth and palatable that I’ll be searching for it in my local liquor store.
Next came a melt-in-your-mouth tuna sashimi amuse bouche in the playful form of a small geometric cube with mustard on top.
The lunch menu offered a la carte appetizers and entrees as well as a two-course (appetizer and entrée) fixed-price lunch for $34 per person.
Each of the tasty fish dishes we ordered was prepared to perfection. The salmon was tender with a subtle crispy glaze; the cod was pearly, flaky, tender and beautifully seared.
After the entrées, our waiter brought a small but decadent complimentary plate of delicious pastries and chocolates to our table.
When you add $11 coffees, $18 cocktails, taxes and a tip, the cost of lunch (either fixed-price or a la carte) was a splurge even by New York City standards. But it’s hard to complain when service, setting and food come together with such flawless precision.
IF YOU GO
80 Columbus Circle, New York City
- Reservations can be made on OpenTable.com/
- To reach Asiate, take an express elevator to the 35th (Lobby) floor of the Mandarin Oriental Hotel.
- Arrive at noon when the dining room opens to increase your odds of getting a lunch table with a window view.