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Archive for October 30, 2012

RESTAURANT: Empire Room At The Empire State Building

It could be a 1930s movie set. Photo courtesy Empire Room | NYC.


Soaring more than a quarter of a mile above the heart of Manhattan, the Empire State Building is an Art Deco masterpiece and perhaps the world’s most famous office building.

On May 1, 1931, President Herbert Hoover pressed a button in Washington, D.C., which turned on the Empire State Building’s lights and officially opened the now-iconic building.

Observatories on the 86th and 102nd floors offer unmatched views of New York City to some four million visitors each year. On a clear day, they can see to New Jersey, Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania.

But what about lunch, before or after the observation decks? The Empire State Building is surrounded by fast food outlets and Irish bars—not exactly the type of ambiance one craves after the high of spectacular views.


Thank goodness for the Empire Room. On the ground floor of the West 33rd Street side of the building, the space, which opened two years ago designed as a 1930s-era swanky cocktail lounge, is now serving lunch.

The menu comprises classic American luncheon favorites: popular sandwiches, flat breads and panini; salads; and a chicken breast with sautéed mushrooms, Swiss cheese, bacon and honey Dijon. For a bargain $3.00, you can add a glass of wine or a beer; or a more pricey but delicious house-designed cocktail.

We lunched there recently and wanted to try everything on the menu. We ended up with an excellent starter (chili, a special house recipe with flavors deepened by 100% cacao chocolate and a pinch of cinnamon), the chopped salad main course (top-quality feta cheese, garbanzo beans, roasted peppers, tomato, onion and grilled shrimp) and a delightful miniature cheesecake.

The highest compliment we can pay is that we would gladly have returned to eat the same meal for dinner. At our earliest opportunity, we’ll be back for more.


The 3,500 square feet of brushed stainless steel, curved marble bar, tufted banquettes, glass-topped tables and Art Deco chandeliers looks like a movie set. It accommodates up to 150 guests and is often rented for private parties.


  • The official address of the Empire Room 350 Fifth Avenue, which is between 33rd and 34th Streets. If you enter through the main entrance, you’ll have to perambulate through the Art Deco lobby.
  • If you’re coming from downtown, you can save a bit of walking by turning left on Fifth Avenue and 33rd Street (or a right from Sixth Avenue) and walking down the block to the entrance of the restaurant.

    A popular cocktail lounge, the Empire Room now serves lunch. Photo courtesy Empire Room.

  • The hours are 11 a.m. to 3 a.m. Walk-ins are welcome, but for a reservation call 212.643.5400.
    For more information about the Empire Room, visit


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    PRODUCT: Wall Herb Garden

    Would you like a kitchen herb garden, but lack the necessary windowsill space?

    Pick up a Living Wall planter from It’s available in seven colors.

    All it needs is a wall space that’s 13 inches x 18 inches.

    Fresh basil, dill, parsley and other favorites will soon be yours for the snipping!


    Plant herbs on your wall. Photo courtesy Wooly Pocket.



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    TIP OF THE DAY: Pumpkin Spice Latte & Latte Art

    Make a pumpkin spice latte at home. Photo
    courtesy Krups.


    Want to develop latte art skills? All you need is a steady hand, some perfectly foamed milk, and of course, practice!

    For Halloween and the Thanksgiving season, try this Pumpkin Spice Latte recipe, courtesy of Krups.

    Here’s the simple recipe; the technique for making latte art is below.



  • 2 fluid ounces espresso coffee
  • 2 tablespoons pumpkin flavored syrup (see our
    recipe for pumpkin simple syrup)
  • 1/2 cup milk, steamed
  • 1/8 cup frothed milk
  • 1 pinch pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 pinch of cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla powder
  • Preparation

    1. In a coffee mug, combine espresso coffee with flavored syrup.

    2. Pour in steamed milk and frothed milk and sprinkle with pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon and vanilla powder.



    Now it’s time to try your hand at latte art. You’ll need a steaming pitcher—the kind that comes with espresso/cappuccino machines—or a milk frother shown in the photo, from Krups, which creates smooth, velvety milk foam at the touch of a button.

    Step 1: Pour enough cold milk for one cup into the steaming pitcher. Steam milk with the wand deep in the pitcher, then directing the milk in a counterclockwise fashion until the liquid heats to 150°F. Or, simply push the button on a milk frother.

    Step 2: Allow the milk to sit while you add one or two shots of freshly brewed espresso to a coffee mug. Use a conventional mug with curved sides; the art doesn’t work well with squares and other shapes.

    Step 3: Swirl the milk vigorously. If you see any bubbles, tap the pitcher on the counter several times and go back to swirling the milk for 20 to 30 seconds.

    Step 4: Slowly start pouring the milk into the espresso, first in a circular pattern around the edge of the cup. Slowly move toward the center as the foam rises.


    A milk frother makes perfect steamed milk in seconds. Photo courtesy Krups.

    To create a leaf pattern: When your cup reaches half full, the foam will start to rise. Move the pitcher backwards as you pour, while moving the mug from side to side. The motion of your hand creates a leaf pattern in the top of your latte. When you reach the end of the cup, pour a small stream of milk right through the middle of the leaf pattern. Beware of using a large amount of milk; it will scatter the design.
    To create a heart pattern: Shake your hand as you would in making leaf. However, instead of moving backwards, keep your hand in the same general area, focusing on making a ringed circle.


    Here’s a video demonstration of how it’s done.

    Find more of our favorite coffee recipes and pounds of coffee information in our Gourmet Coffee Section.


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