The Leopard at des Artistes

Another great spot we got to visit during the Restaurant Week Summer 2016 was The Leopard at des Artistes. We went for a weekend Brunch. It is located nearby Lincoln Center, nice quiet area. It had scaffolding right on that building, so we could not fully appreciate the beautiful architecture design on the building.

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However, we got to have the complete appreciation of the beauty in the inside. As soon as I walked in, I was amazed by the beautiful, huge mural at the far end of the wall. The table setting and other interior design were kept simple, as to not fight against the artworks on the walls. They had fresh cut flowers on the table, which I always like, and couple of Leopard decorations.

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So, where does the “Artistes” part comes in, other than these mural paintings?  Well, it sits inside the Hotel Des Artistes, which was designed and built as an artist’s apartment building in 1917. Famous residents include Isadora Duncan, Noel Coward, NYC Mayor John V. Lindsay, Alexander Woollcott, and Norman Rockwell. So, even thought the name indicates “hotel,” it really is a residential apartment.

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Let’s go back to the master artworks. The landmarked mural series were painted by Howard Chandler Christy in the 1920s  into 30s, while he had his studio at the Hotel des Artistes. The murals are called “Fantasy Scenes with Naked Beauties.” There are nine oil-on-canvas murals throughout the restaurant, each really breathtaking and impressive. Howard Chandler Christy was an American illustrator and painter of celebrity portraits, and was one of America’s most distinguished illustrators.

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The Café des Artistes was originally designed to provide meals for the tenants in the building. It must have been such an amazing way of lives for those artists back in the days… Being able to create art in their beautiful studio, then dine at this gorgeous space while mingling with other talented artists alike. Those were the good old days. This restaurant offers the Southern Italian menu, from the regions of Campania, Basilicata, Calabria, Apulia, Sardinia, and Sicily.

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At the back of the dining area on the higher level was a beautiful bar. Again, with very simple design, very elegant and has that very relaxing, classy atmosphere.

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After taking in all the beauty in its glory, we decided what to order from the special Restaurant Week menu ($29). My hubby started off with a Latte ($5.50), and they brought it with complementary bread. The latte was not a part of the Restaurant week offer. It looked more like cappuccino, but it was still good cup of coffee. The bread was nice Italian bread, and also came with tasty bread sticks.

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For Appetizer, we ordered Regional Soup of the Day and Baccalá “mantecato.”  The Region of this particuar weekend was Campania. The Campania Soup was Italian egg drop soup called Stracciatella, with chicken stock, egg, Parmesan, and spinach. I’ve never had such soup before, it was really interesting. It is a bit similar to the Chinese egg drop soup, but the flavor is very different. The eggs were very fluffy, the spinach provided additional flavor, and the chicken stock was tasty also. The Baccalá was whipped codfish with zucchini scapece and crostino. This reminded of codfish dishes I had in Portugal, and was quite delicious. The codfish was flavorful, just the right amount of saltiness, and the cold zucchini acted as a refreshing pallet cleanser. It was a great start to our Brunch!

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For the main, we ordered “Uova all’Amatriciana” and Scramble eggs with Italian sweet sausage. “Uova all’Amatriciana” came in a small iron cast skillet,  two poached eggs with pancetta and onions in a fresh tomato sauce. The eggs were supposedly “gently poached” but one of them didn’t quite make it. It was completely fried, and the other one was also more cooked than poached, to the point they were not runny. I assume it spent a bit too long in the oven, I preferred them to be a bit runny… Still, it was very tasty. Great tomato flavor, with good amount of tomato chunks in it. Nice, comforting dish on a relaxing weekend morning. The scramble eggs came with home fries, which were delicious! The eggs were fluffy and the sausage were juicy, and had great flavor altogether.

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For dessert, we ordered “Pastiera” and Granita of Neapolitan Coffee. I also ordered Cappuccino ($5.50) with my dessert. The Cappuccino looked just like the Latte my hubby ordered… Again, it was a nice cup of coffee. The “Pastiera” was a traditional Campania pie with ricotta, wheat, candied fruit, scented with orange flower. To be honest, it didn’t look like much, but you know what they say, “never judge a book by its cover.” This was a really delicious piece of pie! It was sweet, dense but yet airy and light, very flavorful.

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Granita of Neapolitan coffee with whipped cream was a thing of beauty. It had lots of whipped cream, and of course we love whipped cream… Underneath was this delightful coffee granita, floating on top of a bed of frozen yet creamy vanilla. It was really nice, the sweetness of the vanilla and whipped cream was well balanced with the bitterness of the coffee granita, rather refreshing dessert.

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They also have a gorgeous bathroom, tucked away on the back of the bar. It has quite an impressive entry way, and rather roomy overall. They also had towel that were in between paper and cloth, with their restaurant logo. Fancy.

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Another interesting thing I found was that there was this small cubby hole directly in front of the toilet, with couple of books in it. I guess if you are going to be there for a while, or if you just need a little reading time in the bathroom, they have some books ready for you! They had several books places around the restaurant, including the bar and bathroom. One in particular caught my eye, titled “Cinderella is a Man.” I totally need to find this book and read it later!

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We had a very relaxing, pleasant Brunch here. The waiter was very nice and polite. He was always within reach, without hovering over us. We got there when opened (we prefer to go during off-peak time to get good service, which most of the time works like magic), so it was quiet and tranquil. The service was great and we enjoyed our food. This will be a great place to bring our parents for a nice, relaxing weekend brunch!

The Leopard at des Artistes – 1 W 67th St, New York, NY 10023

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