“Everything in moderation, including moderation.” That quip of Oscar Wilde’s always springs to mind when I am in New York, perhaps the most immoderate city on the planet, as you might expect from a place with 27,000 restaurants.
One of them – and a perfect spot for gourmandising – is chef/restaurateur Marc Forgione’s American Cut, where nothing says excess like a 40oz tomahawk chop. I was at the plushly upholstered, sexily lit, deco-ish TriBeCa branch (there is another in Midtown), where hordes of carousing carnivores devour huge hunks of porterhouse (pictured), NY bone-in strip, hanger and filet mignon.
And that tomahawk: it was a Black Angus ribeye, from Creekstone Farms in Arkansas, dry-aged for 30 days and so vast that it dwarfed the trolley on which it was expertly flambéed. Its flesh was beautifully marbled, blushing rosily as my knife slid through it, and the flavour was sublime.
Actually, you could feast quite happily at American Cut on appetisers and side orders alone: bone marrow, sliced lengthways and served with croquettes made from slow-cooked short rib; mac ’n’ cheese, made with cheddar, fontina and Parmesan; baby carrots with mint chimichurri; and Robuchon pomme purée, named after the French chef famous for his immoderacy with butter. American Cut is an infectiously joyous place, and the food is terrific.
A mile up Hudson Street, more meat awaits, this time roast Peking duck. Decoy, a small but perfectly formed bar and dining room beneath dim-sum joint RedFarm (they also have an outpost in Covent Garden), serves the most gloriously lacquered, crisp-skinned, flavoursome duck in town. I managed to bag the window table at the front: I recommend you do the same.
I limbered up for the duck with a few sweet little Kumamoto oysters with yuzu ice and tobiko; crisped seabass skin “chips” with salsa; and superb dumplings, some filled with oxtail, deep-fried like wontons and sauced with black garlic aïoli, others with crisp, juicy prawns and mangetouts. The duck arrived with three sauces (soy/sesame, cranberry and hoisin), a stack of pancakes, shredded cucumber and spring onion, and a sweet, pleasingly fatty shot of hot chicken broth, presumably to prepare the palate for poultry. I have feasted on many Peking ducks, but none was better than the magnificent specimen at Decoy.
Walking back to my hotel, in a futile attempt to defray a few calories, I stumbled across Oscar Wilde: not the man himself, obviously, but a Victoriana-bedecked bar and restaurant in NoMad. Exactly a century ago, the building served as New York’s Prohibition Enforcement Headquarters; these days, it has the longest bar in the city (36m), made of Carrara marble and home to a fine selection of whiskies. Now that’s what I call progress. A bottle of Glenfarclas winked at me from a shelf, and I stayed for a nightcap. I can resist anything but temptation.