[First guest post by M, my husband]
I have a theory on why people travel miles to seek the dining experience and I think it has very much to do with our five senses.
(Taste) Perhaps your friends raved about how wonderfully tickled their taste buds were and you want to be entertained by that unrivalled gourmet experience.
(Sight) Or perhaps, you were drawn to the grandeur and beauty of the restaurant.
(Hearing) Very possibly, some company told their mascot, which looks suspiciously like a marshmallow man, to feed you information on what’s good and what’s not, and you believed him.
(Smell) Sometimes, clever proprietors prey on the fat wallets of us poor starving tourists, and lure us in with the smell of heaven, often to hand us the taste of hell.
(Touch, or in this case, feel) Or maybe, you can’t quite fathom it, but you feel that there’s something magical about a certain restaurant, then you fall in love, like how I did with my wife.
I often like to be guided by the fifth sense, and this was how we ended up having the most memorable time at The Oak Room, which holds a very special place in my heart. It was first introduced to me by Mr Al Pacino in Scent of a Woman. There was something magnetic about the scene at The Oak Room, I don’t know why. Little did I know that I would be off to New York City with my lovely wife for Christmas, more than ten years after watching the movie. The Oak Room was naturally on my wishlist, and my wife didn’t know it.
It was a painfully cold night in NYC on Christmas Eve. We found ourselves, accidentally or not, walking into The Plaza to dodge the freezing temperatures and we had aperitifs at The Oak Room Bar. I took a peek into the dining room, thought about Al Pacino and I knew that I just had to ask.
‘Will you have dinner with me at The Oak Room?’
My wife said yes, much like how she eagerly agreed to marry me when I got down on one knee.
We took a gamble, braced ourselves and asked if there might be the slightest chance of squeezing us into a table for two for dinner on one of our nights in NYC. Of course there wasn’t.
BUT, there was a table available for two for brunch on Sunday, our last day in NYC. And the rest was history. I’ll leave the details, as with the rest of my life, to my missus.
[Here’s the missus talking]
I felt like I was transported to another place in time when we dined in The Oak Room. Stately, grand, old-fashioned in a good way, The Oak Room was one of a kind. We have never dined in a setting like this, and the impeccable service certainly made us feel like we were royalty, only in denim. This meant one thing; I had no regrets saying yes to M (to having dinner at The Oak Room, and to his proposal, of course).
Sunday Brunch at The Oak Room is quite the experience. We were served whatever we wanted in any quantity we desired, right off the mobile tableside appetiser selection reminiscent of a dim-sum trolley, only better. Of course we tried to go for everything on the tableside selection. But we had to be wise and strategise brunch well, because great things laid ahead of us.
I went for the lobster roll slider, asparagus and white bean salad, smoked salmon with caviar, crème fraîche and pappadam, grains of paradise crusted beef carpaccio, hamachi mini fish tacos with avocado and masago caviar, and cured ham served with caramelised fig. The mini fish tacos and slider were my favourites.
Then we had complete and unlimited access to The Raw Bar, lobsters, oysters, prawns, shellfish, you name it, we had it. Everything was incredibly fresh, the accompaniments such as the basil green goddess dressing were so refreshing and complimented the seafood so well that it was hard to stop.
But we had to, because Sunday brunch came with a main course each. My love for eggs and everything decadent meant that I could only go for lobster eggs benedict served with lobster hollandaise and chorizo sausage. It was absolutely amazing; the creamiest, cheesiest, gooey-est eggs I could have, served with generous chunks of fresh, succulent lobster juxtaposed with the smokey flavours of chorizo, what’s not to love?
M went for a lobster cobb salad, in an attempt to have something lighter after all the rich food we had in NYC, but it came with such generous helpings of lobster pieces, that M quite happily allowed his efforts to be thwarted.
I couldn’t finish the eggs benedict, and neither could M polish off the salad. We were bursting at our seams after multiple visits to The Raw Bar before we could even tuck into our main courses, but no matter how full I get (not sure about M), I would always have room for desserts, as with most ladies. How could I not, when the dessert table was stacked full of pretty tarts and cookies and cakes, waiting to be devoured by yours truly?
The unidentifiable desserts were rather huge letdowns, but oh the chocolate chip cookies and the chocolate tarts, that you have to try. I had three of the tarts, and two of those cookies, while M witnessed (in horror, possibly) my ever-expanding appetite (and waistline). The cookies tasted of home-baked goodness, the chips were goo when I bit into them. And I usually don’t fancy tarts at all, even chocolate ones, but this went down too well. The chocolate centre was smooth, creamy and chock full of nutty flavours without any sort of grittiness. They epitomised simplicity at its best, and I miss them so very much.
We forked out US$65 each for our experience, a pricey brunch no doubt, but like I said, we paid for the experience. And it helps that the food was good (and mostly unlimited except the main course). The most important thing was M loved it. Ever since we bought our tickets to NYC, he was talking about the The Plaza and The Oak Room incessantly, and even made me watch Scent of a Woman when it was on TV. He was clearly drawn to this place, I don’t know why and neither does he. The way his face lit up when we were told Sunday brunch was available, and the way he looked up all around him in awe and admiration as we took our seats in The Oak Room…I knew it was the perfect way to end our holiday in New York City.
M has resolved to bring us back to The Plaza. And I can’t wait.
Check out my food and travel stories in New York City.
Also check out my other food adventures.
The Oak Room is located at:
The Plaza, 10 Central Park South, New York NY 10019