I have an incurable addiction to rooftops.
But taking a step back, I have come to discover that I have a passion for flying. And my incessant travel should not equate this to my penchant for planes (although a pilot ambition is not too unnerving), but rather for wings.
For I don’t seek to be Maleficent, nor my favorite gracious owls, but rather simply wish the ability to look at the world from rooftops. For every city that I’ve visited, from Chicago to Delhi, San Francisco to Dubai, and Milan to Paris, I have always craved seeking out the perfect rooftop. Combine that with legendary culinary history, and you have the recipe to woo me. New York is obviously no exception, despite its overrated riff raff of hoity twenty-somethings that exude an air of indifference as they saunter along the edges of nightly perches, eying both fire and candy from behind sunglasses of the moonlight, while inhaling the topography of an architecturally gifted city.
Perched above the bustle of Columbus circle and on the corner of horse manure stenched Central Park lies the Mandarin Oriental, overlooking an envious, circular spot that is as hypnotic as it is ethereal. On the 35th floor sits Asiate, plaqued in gold, lest you forget where you are, with a gleaming glass tiled room, ornate Medusa glass chandeliers designed by Tony Chic, possibly rivaling the Philippe Starks of LA’s famed SLS and Katsuyas. The glittering branch from the ceiling almost represented soaking up Central Park views without its plethora of runners, tourists, odors and nature. A balance of art and nature, preserved in frozen format.
Chef Angie Berry’s take on infusing Asian spice into contemporary American foods summarized the simplicity of the menu, rather juxtaposed with the sheen of the place. An extremely knowledged and hospitable staff guided you through walls of dustless wines and glittery floors as I watched the sun setting in the city, with an elevation that thankfully lacked odors and drama. For this is where it gets fun, to simply gape at as you splurge, feeling the twinkling lights turn on from beneath your Louboutins.
With a fetish for all things pomegranate, it’s no surprise that I literally jumped in my throne-like seat when the amuse course arrived: pomegranate arils with sherry cherry jelly. Cloyingly sweet and deliciously red to gape at, the tangy pomegranate had found a perfect bed in the boozy jelly, making my palette ready for the rest. Not before kicking off with a signature fig infused cocktail, with a crispy tartness coming from the freshness of the berries.
The corn broth soup was a rather dismal follow up. Popping with floral colors and crusted with a spice blend before pouring the soup over it, it seemed to lack seasoning. Or perhaps this was my sherry laced tongue talking.
The buckwheat soba noodles however left off at the expectations where the pomegranates had left off. Visually, the lavender florets on a rust brown bed of textured noodles reminded me of a wall from my childhood that I had once hoped to climb. And so I had 35 floors later. Interlaced with the year’s trending vegetable, the cauliflower, the finer tastes came from the hearty coking in brown butter and the strong notes of chipped garlic leaves and sage.
Ironically for most and mainstay for myself, the next sequence was followed by not one, not two, but three desserts, much to the displeasure of my wine drinking iPhone addicted company. For you see, yours truly is a dessert addict; an addiction sans borders. This was a true testament to Executive Pastry Chef Paul Nolan’s work, and promised to be as artful on plate as the ambiance of this glassy Alice in Wonderland was.
The evening started with the lightest of them all: a kaffir lime torte topped with an alien looking meringue that immediately wanted me to frown like Wall-E. In a mermaid lagoon like way, I noticed that there were scented coconut tapioca spheres saying a peekaboo hello from beneath this dome. The lime and coconut combination was a winner, amplified in both taste and temperature with a fresh lychee sorbet., adding to my fondness of flavorful frozen treats. Akin to an orchestra in my mouth, the balance of tangy notes with earthy melodies and sweet beats was divine. Possibly the only thing I lacked was a very prominent crunch component. However, as this was not my only dessert, I visually ironed out the minor wrinkles.
Continuing the lemon theme, integrating it with my chocolate devotion, I next devoured a chocolate mousse cake with solid chocolate layers, lemon ice cream, powerful sake foam and cheddar cheese dust. Elevated in its cheese and chocolate expectations, I found the cheddar to be too mild to overpower the dark chocolate nuttiness, but fell in love with the punch of the sake, even in foam format!
And last to arrive was my favorite: a deconstructed combination of chocolate, coffee and nuts. Chocolate cremeux, with whiskey ice cream, a coffee brittle, whiskey caramel and candied chestnuts. Having expressed my love for chestnuts before, particularly due to their velvety texture, the candied renditions were other-worldly, especially when drowning in strong flavors of whiskey.
And thus, the meal in a visibly shiny and gleaming ambiance ended, with service so hospitable I felt the need to brush off the pixie dust… with hopes for it to not land on the pristine mirror floors.
Waltzing beneath the unswaying glass branches of this Central Park perch, I emerged with a re-energized love for dessert, and an unending obsession with rooftop views.
For you don’t need the wings,
To feel like a bird.
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