Sunday, November 29, 2009

The Four Seasons Restaurant - New York City

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The Four Seasons is one of the most fascinating, elegant and spectacular restaurants in the world.  Its sumptuous decor, its breathtaking innovations, its remarkable originality have all combined to make it an institution, a unique restaurant where the clientele includes heads of state, celebrities in all of the arts, men and women of achievement, and where the food is admired by gourmets, critics and fellow restaurateurs all over the world. Behind that institution lies a philosophy of food--a concept of freshness, of originality of simplicity and seasonal variation.

It began as a dream in several minds, including the architect Phillip Johnson, the owners of the Seagram Building where it resides, and Joe Baum, the pivotal personality of an organization called Restaurant Associates.  The dream, in short, was of a restaurant of peerless magnificence for New Yorkers, a restaurant whose food was splendid and whose very ambiance mirrored the seasons of the year.

Whether one dines or lunches in the Bar Room, where simple broiled food takes a seat of honor, or in the Pool Room where the menu is much more involved and its presentation much more spectacular, there is the comfort of knowing that the food being served has been prepared with great relish and eaten with true appreciation by a large discerning clientele,  including me!

The Bar Room

The first time I dined at the Four Seasons was in the early 60's while at boarding school.  An old uncle invited my parents and me during Spring break and we ate in the Pool Room.  All I can remember was the beauty of the decor.  You have to remember that when it first opened, the Four Seasons was not only innovative but also revolutionary.  It was Spring and darn it if they didn't have dogwoods or cherry blossoms in bloom all over the room! 

Throughout the years I dined or lunched several times, mainly in the Pool Room, and visited the bar on numerous occasions to meet colleagues and friends.  I was lucky my office at the time was only a couple of blocks away.  It is a lunch with my Mother, however, that is the most memorable of all the occasions I visited the restaurant.  We were cutting through 53rd Street after a doctors appointment, and we were hungry and tired.   When I saw where we were, I steered her right through the door and up the stairs without giving her a chance to say no.  It was pretty late in the lunch service, just a few tables of stragglers remained in the Bar Room and Pool Room, but we were taken to a table and served as if we were the queens of New York.  That is class. No rush, no sly glances, absolutely perfect crab cakes, Bloody Marys, espresso and petit fours.  We left around 4 p.m.sleepy and happy, each with a box of petit fours, a gift from the Four Seasons.  Since that day,  every time we eat crab cakes, we look at each other and smile...good, but not as good as The Four Seasons!

The Pool Room in Spring

The Pool Room in Summer

The Bar

There is much to tell about the Four Seasons, too many stories, too many fabulous dishes that I can't possibly cover in one post; but I wanted to give you some background behind the recipe that is coming up next, Chicken and Shrimp Curry, created by Chef Seppi Renggli, the restaurant's first chef.

To read more about The Four Seasons, I have included  a wonderful article in New York Magazine's November 1986 issue, pg. 42. 

When the Four Seasons first opened in 1959, it was top of the line, the first of the new breed of restaurants to succeed the legendary Pavillon.  Today, it is one of many fine restaurants in the city, where the food is not necessarily the best, but where you will find a glimpse of everything that makes a legendary restaurant great... and if you peek into the Grill Room, you will see many of the people whose minds, power and drive run some of this country's greatest enterprises.


  1. I cannot wait to try this recipe! My taste buds are clamoring as I read this. Shopping list will be in hand when I go to the store. Your instructions are so easy to understand (even for a sometimes cook like me!). Your descriptions are fun--especially enjoyed your comments abut taking the photos vs. tasting the dish! Thank you for including what promises to be a wonderful curry dish. Laura (Snowy's mom)

  2. What a wonderful, lovely story about your Mother... very nice!


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