On June 29th we were honored to be seated at the grand table in The Rotunda at the iconic The Pierre, A Taj Hotel New York to celebrate the relaunch of their Chef’s Social Club Series.
Many of us native New Yorkers, are aware of The Pierre‘s existence, and it’s standard of excellence, or at the very least have strolled passed it and wondered what it looked like inside. For those who are not familiar, The Pierre is a luxury hotel located at intersection of 61st Street and Fifth Ave, facing Central Park with an extremely rich history. Founded by Charles Pierre and designed by Schultze & Weaver, the hotel opened in 1930. Since then, The Rotunda has been the reference for cultural shifts in entertaining. The Great Depression brought Art Deco design, World War II called for patriotic touches, and the arrival of The Beatles in the 60’s to the U.S. spelled the end of the Big Band era. With each change, The Pierre shifted to accommodate the tastes of New York City’s society.
During 2005, the hotel was acquired by Taj Hotels Resorts and Palaces, and they set forth renovations and expansions to The Pierre’s dining spaces, and once again opened up the iconic Rotunda as a culinary space, offering indulgent dishes alongside the re‐imagination of the space by architect Daniel Romualdez. Daniel’s interpretation of The Rotunda left intact the whimsical murals painted by American artist Edward Melcarth in 1967.
The artwork is a tongue & cheek social commentary, which caused waves in New York high society when it was first unveiled. It provided Mr. Romualdez a rich color palette with which to introduce the new furniture and décor. He called for the installation of a dramatic lighting system, setting the tone for the intimate and lively gatherings below. The relaunch of The Rotunda closely follows the opening of adjacent Perrine, the newly designed restaurant serving simple, seasonal French‐American fare, and the launch of Perrine’s outdoor seating on 61st Street which brought The Pierre’s culinary and design evolution full circle.
Today, with the heighten presence of social media, comes a need for beautiful, photo‐ready spaces serving likewise cuisine, which the Chef’s Social Club Series delivers. As with every great dinner party, we mingled as we got to know one another. Over Macallan Whiskey cocktails and delicious passed canapés, we took in the breathtaking Rotunda, before sitting down to enjoy our five-course intimate dinner, featuring different marks and expressions of The Macallan Whiskey.
Our menu was created by Executive Chef Ashfer Biju who has been passionate of cooking since his early childhood in India. He has traveled the world cooking along side the very best in the culinary world and has currently been with the The Pierre, for over four years. Chef Ashfer brings a worldly vision inspired by his love for French cooking, and regional ingredients to the culinary program at The Pierre.
His extensive research of The Pierre’s culinary history, was evident in his refreshing balance of innovative creations and classics representative of beloved dishes from The Pierre’s vintage menus. Alongside with the aid of Macallan Whiskey’s expert brand ambassador Jordan Zimmerman, his sous chefs, and management team at The Pierre, the relaunch of the Social Club was a success in my eyes; and it was Instagram worthy, of course!
The courses were visually stunning and delicious. Chef Ashfer used nothing but the freshest, quality ingredients, which were obvious with each bite. Prior to each course Chef Ashfer and Macallan’s brand ambassador Jordan Zimmerman introduced the dishes, it’s sourcing, and flavor profile/notes of rare whiskey being paired, making this a very special dinner party. It was an educational event as well as a foodie’s paradise, and a whiskey lover’s dream.
The first course served was Hudson Valley Foie Gras Terrine, paired with 18 Year Old Macallan. It was rich, creamy in texture, paired well with the sweetness of the jams, and balanced the hints of jasmine and peat in the whiskey, leaving a lingering orange zest finish. The second course was a seared Long Island Fluke, paired with Macallan Rare Cask. The fluke was seared well while still moist and tender. It was very flavorful with it’s warm hint of star anise, which highlighted the sherry cask’s flavors in rare whiskey. For this course I preferred have my whiskey after the meal, as to not take away from the delicateness of the fish. Following, was the palate cleanse of elder flower and buttermilk sherbet which was phenomenal, I would of never paired the two yet the match was heavenly; the buttermilk was subtle but gave the sherbet an extra silky mouthfeel, and was served in a gorgeous crystal glass!
The Main Course was a grilled to perfection New Jersey Lamb Chop, paired with a 25 Year Old Macallan. This superstar dish was a personal favorite. The lamb was cooked perfectly to medium rare, well seasoned, and served over creamy polenta, in it’s natural au jus. I had to contain myself from picking up the bone with my hands in order to get all the meat off the bone, because it was simply that delectable. It was paired nicely with the intense flavors and robust aromas of the Macallan 25. It also contained hints of peach and wood spice, which worked well with the lamb. Dessert was the perfect happy ending, a Single Malt Bundt Cake paired with the Macallan Reflexion. It was lightly soaked, with a prominent malt flavor and paired fantastically with the gelato and the very exciting whiskey, which most of us at the table had never tried.
Chef’s Social Club was a fantastic New York City experience. I was literally dining in a gorgeous setting straight out of a fairytale. It was full of culture, elegance, and the perfect way to enjoy an evening of meeting new and interesting people, as well as trying a modern twist on classic dishes. Many more of these monthly gatherings are set to follow, with the next one being in August. Although events like this may not be an every day soiree, the restaurant itself and it’s outside dining at the Rośe Terrace does offer dining and brunch on par with other fine restaurants in the city. Next time you plan on going to the Meatpacking District (yet again) for a great meal, why not try The Pierre, on the Upper East Side, or even grab a cocktail at the Hotel’s Art Deco bar, Two E Bar/Lounge for a change of scenery.