bars
The Garden Restaurant and Wine Bar
57 East 57th Street
Four Season Hotel
212 350 6658

Quite undiscovered, and very romantic, is the East terrace of the Four Seasons hotel which has been turned into a wine bar complete with real Acacia trees. Overlooking the I.M. Pei-designed lobby, over 200 wines by the glass and a variety of champagnes and sparkling wines can be ordered with charcuterie, cheeses and small plates such as blistered shishito peppers (each one a surprise, some not at all spicy, some roaring hot!) done with aged goat gouda; shrimp Romesco done with piquillo pepper and toasted almonds; and a can't miss country terrine of Berkshire pork and chicken liver with green peppercorns (it's a whole slice so plan to share). Though the menu is heavy on accompaniments, there's always at least three major dishes, such as a fabulous steak frites (a New York strip naturally and hand-cut fries) with Béarnaise sauce, or on the night we were there, a special of moules with drink- it- up fennel sauce. This is the very epitomy of high end dining but with all the atmosphere of casual eats, especially for those looking for something centrally located and not outrageously priced. Best of all, your date will think you discovered it all on your own. Clever you.

$$$

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