A revolving menu Mouth-watering destinations beckon vacationers who have no intention of leaving their taste buds at home

New York: East side, west side, all around the town, the Big Apple's offers food for any taste and budget.

November 23, 1997|By Lou Chapman | Lou Chapman,FORT WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM

Of all of the views in New York City, the best one is often from whatever restaurant, greengrocer or food vendor a visitor happens to be enjoying at the moment.

From Harlem to Chinatown and everywhere in between, a passion for food can be a visitor's best guide. Manhattan is nothing if not a place to let the taste buds do the walking and lead the traveler on a tour of gastronomical, visual and cultural delight.

Harlem

"Can you raise your hands in praise? Can you raise your hands? I know you can because I've seen you lifting that fried chicken to your mouth."

The voice thundered from deep out of the soul of jazz vocalist and evangelist Ann Sinclair, standing big up on the stage of the renowned Cotton Club, on an otherwise quiet Sunday afternoon along West 125th Street in Harlem.

Accompanied by the masterful Cotton Club Gospel Ensemble and the four-member Spirit of Love Singers, Sinclair ran through more than an hour of gospel and inspirational music that had a roomful of visitors from as far away as France and as close to home as Queens rocking in their seats and raising their hands.

And, oh yes, that fried chicken. In the neighborhood that is home to the Apollo Theater and the Abyssinian Baptist Church, where former U.S. Rep. Adam Clayton Powell Jr. once preached, there are platters of fried chicken amid an all-you-can-eat buffet featuring some of the best down-home cookin' to be found anywhere.

One Sunday lineup featured nine main courses, including a mountain of crisp, moist fried chicken, juicy meatloaf and scrambled eggs. Eleven side dishes were laid out, from collard greens to candied yams to grits.

The Cotton Club has two brunch seatings and one dinner seating for its gospel show and buffet every Saturday and Sunday, at $25 per person. Groups of 50 to 100 pay $22 each, and parties of 100 or more pay $20 each.

Upper East Side

Below 96th Street and between Central Park and the East River, on what originally was lush farmland, sit $10 million apartments that overlook the 840-acre splendor of the park and the sweep and swagger of Fifth Avenue.

* At Patrick Murphy's Market, on Madison Avenue between 92nd and 93rd streets, a small bagel with lox and cream cheese, with a diet soft drink, costs about $3.50. But Patrick Murphy also offers the sort of display of fresh watercress, bulk raspberries and other fruits and herbs that simply isn't found in most markets at all.

* The William Poll Delicatessen, at 1051 Lexington Ave., carries specialty jellies, hard-to-find canned produce, dips and truffles, in addition to a 25-year-old sherry wine vinegar, a wonderfully aged Gouda cheese, and the shop's famous salmon, sliced paper thin.

* The narrow and noisy Skyline, a diner on Lexington at 75th Street, offers tuna salad or tuna in the can, a salami omelet at $4 with the bagel extra, a feta cheese hamburger with a pickle and coleslaw on the side for $4.95, and everything from blintzes to crab cakes, from Western omelets to pot roast.

* Sarabeth's Kitchen, on the same elegant block of Madison Avenue as the quaint Patrick Murphy's, is quiet and warm, homey and almost folksy. Proprietor Sarabeth Levine also operates a cafe on Amsterdam between 81st and 82nd streets.

Her specialties are fresh pastries and other baked goods, even at lunch time. Pumpkin waffles with sour cream are served all day. There are eggs with sour cream and scallions, served with seven-grain toast for $7.50, and a $12 country salad composed of red pears, spiced walnuts, apples, corn kernels, delicate frisee and goat cheese.

* At the Sign of the Dove, an airy, rustic and intimate French Provincial restaurant, 1110 Third Ave. at 65th Street, an appetizer might be a three-mushroom strudel in sage juice and goat cheese, or sweetbreads with red peppers, carrots and watercress.

Entrees include red snapper baked in garlic crumbs, served with cranberry beans, alongside prosciutto and greens in mustard sauce. Equally aromatic and enticing was the broiled rabbit with roasted peppers, pearl onions and mushrooms.

Desserts, too, reflected the cosmopolitan air of the best of the Upper East Side: warm banana and white chocolate phyllo with passion-fruit sauce and banana cashew ice cream, and TC mascarpone with Gaiteau/toffee crunch served with mocha-java ice cream.

The meal for two came to $167.55: two dinners from the prix-fixe menu at $55, including appetizers, entree and side dish; $9 for one dessert and $10 for the other; $25 for a wonderful bottle of Duboeuf St. Vrain; and coffee and espresso.

* Ah, the gracious Upper East Side, where even at Mezzaluna, a pizzeria and Italian seafood restaurant on Third Avenue between 74th and 75th, dinner is posh and romantic. You can order calamari with tomatoes, peppers, artichoke, avocado and frisee, or a pizza dressed with pine nuts, pesto, tomatoes and Parmesan cheese.

Upper West Side

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