Monday, July 17, 2006

Cité : New York’s Best Deal?

This Is A Deal You Simply Won’t Believe…

New Yorkers love deals.

It’s true. Sure, they won’t overpay for a cup of coffee downstairs in the deli, but they will ride the subway into the next borough to save $1.00 on a chicken taco. You gotta love that. Moxie.

I too love to seek dining deals… and every once in a while, I hit the jackpot. Earlier this year I discovered a deal that I thought was too good to be true… and over the weekend I visited again to reaffirm my initial belief. This you won’t believe.

I was wrong. It’s true. It’s really true.

New York City’s best dining value lies on 51st between 6th and 7th at the restaurant “Cité”.

Now you can find Prix Fixe dinners all over town, and then some. They are all just about the same, give or take a terrine of foie gras, or a roasted beet salad. But name me one restaurant that includes your wine. Uh, all you can drink.

Let me repeat that. All you can drink.

Welcome to the wine dinner at Cité.

This gem of an offer used to be an “after 8pm bonus” the restaurant used to lure late diners, and get the word out about the joint. But after tremendous success and rampant word-of-mouth advertising, Cité has made this a nightly affair…. anytime you wish…. all summer long.

What makes this such a great deal is that you don’t order off of a “wine dinner” menu…. you order from the real thing… the same menu everyone is gazing at. You get to choose and appetizer, and entrée and a dessert.

At my table Saturday evening (reserve early and plan to stay late) one diner started with Pan Fried Crab Cakes… followed by Seared Tuna… and wrapped it up with Red Velvet Cake. Another guest started with Grilled Calamari, followed by a dry-aged Ribeye… and a Truffle Brownie Sundae.

Me?..... Homemade Potato Gnocchi in a citrus cream, the petite Ribeye Frités… and the Rice Pudding Crème Brulée. Uh, the petite Ribeye is 14 ounces… plenty of food for even a big appetite.

Of course, the menu also includes rack of lamb, beef short ribs, a Neiman Ranch pork chop, wild salmon, several choice pastas and fresh fish and scallop options. Worry not, you’re going to find something that strikes a chord.

But enough about the food. Let’s talk about the wine.

You get at minimum 4 wines during the evening. The night always starts with a very nice bottle (or bottles) of champagne.. and we enjoyed the Mumm Cordon Rouge Brut NV. The bubbly is usually followed by a nice white (with your appetizer). Our white was a nice pinot grigio, the Sartori Pinot Grigio 2004…and was light and delicious. This was followed by 2 reds… first, a vintage (Nickel & Nickel Rock Cairn 2000) that was complex and well structured. But before getting through half of this glass, the champion of the evening… a huge, brassy red (Chateauneuf du Pape Vieux Lazaret 2003) hit the table and quickly stole the show. This was not a cheap wine, and before we knew it, we had polished of a few bottles.

The beauty of the wine dinner, is that you can have as much of or as little of each wine offered. If you want champagne all evening, you get champagne all evening. If you want to speed up to the reds, no problem. And again, these are bottomless glasses. You simply drink all you can handle.

You would think that this deal would include sub-par wines… but on both of my visits, I found the wines to be excellent… along the lines of a bottle I would purchase for a special dinner in my own home, or to present as a thoughtful gift. They were well-balanced and well-selected. There is thought here, and it shows through the nightly selections as well as the well crafted menu.

The price? Hold on to your hat. $69.00 a person.

Yes, $69.00.

So, let’s do some math. Crab Cakes… $14.00…. Filet Minon… $41.00…. Crème Brulée… $9.00….. add tax, blah, blah, blah,…. I get $75 bucks. This means…. you make a reservation at Cité….you order a great dinner…. and drink all the wine you can, for free. Free.

Cité is not Balthazar, nor Cirque. But it is a charming, fun and substantial experience, with the best wine deal in town. Make a reservation, and bring friends. And cab fare… it’s going to be a long night.


120 W 51st St, New York 10020
Btwn 6th & 7th Ave

AmEx, MC, Visa, Disc, DC, JCB


Weekdays: 12pm-3pm
Daily: 5pm-11:30pm
Cite Grill Lunch
Daily: 11:30am-5pm
Cite Grill Dinner
Mon-Sat: 5pm-11:30pm