New York City holds countless merits, and its diverse offerings are never showcased more than during the holidays. The slew of parades provide inexhaustible eye candy. There are champagne diets abounding in preparation for company holiday parties. There are frenzied shoppers scouring the city for this year’s gift du jour. If you ask me, this season’s brisk weather is an apt excuse to get inside next to a fireplace with family. Fortunately, The House, a restored 1854 carriage house turned restaurant, is the perfect place for like-minded homebodies searching for the perfect spot for a quiet meal during these cold months ahead.
Tucked just north of the bustling Union Square, the soft twinkling lights that peep from the The House’s carriage house windows bring diners in off the cold streets of Gramercy Park and into the inviting three story home lit by low candles. The restaurant has received an abundance of accolades for its elegant architecture, with portholes and skylights lighting the attic space, and large arched multi-paned windows in the wine bar below.
The wine list at The House is a comprehensive tour of the best vineyards of Europe, with a few choice South African and South American selections for good measure. We were charmed by a mature and intense red French, the La Croix, from Villié-Morgon. If you are looking for something stronger, sample one of their delicious house-made cocktails, like their well loved Blood Orange Martini, or the Ginger Blossom, a harmony of gin and ginger liqueur with a hint of lemon juice.
We began our meal with the Pulpo a la Plancha. The seared Spanish octopus came out as huge tender tentacles resting in a sea of crunchy peppers and olives, emboldened by a light citrus vinaigrette. They don’t skimp on the extras at The House, with plenty of ripe cherry tomatoes and hearts of palm to balance the thick octopus sections.
With a careful selection of seasonally inspired and wine-friendly entrees, you can expect the best meats and ingredients from their dynamic menu. We settled first on the boneless short ribs, a winter addition to the list, which arrived steaming and tender with a robust red wine sauce and fell perfectly onto my fork.
The diver scallops were outstanding. Perfectly seared and augmented by a seasonally inspired pumpkin puree, they were partnered with a delectable hazelnut sherry glaze. The balanced sweet notes of the scallop and pumpkin sang in the hearty hazelnut flavor and left us scraping the plate clean.
Since you are home already, you have every reason to indulge. The House offers a series of house-made desserts that kept us lingering in the restaurant, dreading our departure into the frosty evening. The sundae was our favorite, with hints of vanilla bean that marry well with a homemade chocolate cookie crumble. Their dessert menu also features a wonderful selection of ports and sherries. We had the Madeira, which was mellowed and dark – a perfect complement to the fireplace behind us. So for those of you thinking, “what could be better than a holiday evening spent at home?” – I suggest you consider a night spent at The House.