Guest Author - Julia Reed Zaic
Last week I reviewed the Sofitel NYC Hotel on West 44th street, accommodations which I highly recommend for your next business trip to New York. Conveniently located across the street at 120 West 44th, is a terrific little bistro that opens to the street (in nice weather) with all the atmosphere that can possibly fit into an establishment. Upon entering Saju, you will be transported to the South of France with the smells, flavors and ambiance.
Start your evening with colleagues at the bar for a drink with Sara, the bar manager, who will make the best of recommendations for cocktails and appetizers. Of course, instead or peanuts or pretzels, you will find a Provencal approach to bar fare: Hard boiled eggs with a salt shaker, and marinated olives for snacking. Enjoy while listening to Sara’s stories of those who discover the eggs are free, and then proceed to eat them all. Once you have corralled your colleagues, and they haven't filled themselves with hard boiled eggs, head to the quaint dining room.
The cuisine is French Provencal and the atmosphere is casual and relaxed, perfect for winding down in a cozy and elegant atmosphere. The wine list is extensive, with summery dry rosés, wintery ports for after dinner, and everything in between. But of course, there is the menu.
To start, there is a wonderful pistou soup. Pistou is the Provencal version of pesto, but with garlic and basil. Starters for the table that spark discussion are the escargot in pastry, the endives Roquefort, and the selection of cheeses and the charcuterie plate that includes sausage, prosciutto, country pate, breseola, and duck rillette.
If you enjoy Provencal cuisine, the main courses (and even salads, i.e. a la canard) will warm your heart. The Salmon Provencal, the rack of lamb, the lemon marinated chicken, and the mussels. All seasoned and cooked as if from a kitchen in France…and to be enjoyed the same way. Even for the less adventurous eaters, there are options for steaks, and a bistro burger. There is also a pre-theatre prix fixe menu before you head to a show.
If a breakfast meeting is in order, Saju is also open early with lovely Provencal egg dishes and brioche French toast (what else?). Leave your diet on the airplane that brought you here. The breakfast menu is a bit too tempting for those trying to watch their waistlines, but there are lighter options of fruit, cereal and yogurt, for those of you with an iron will. Plus, French portions tend to be smaller and more perfect for meals.
I only like to pass on restaurant advice for business travelers if I truly feel there is consistency with the experiences I’ve had, the restaurant is a good place for discussions and meetings over dinner with co-workers, and if the food is notably good. I visited Saju three times before writing this piece because I felt that my first experience might have been too good to be true. It wasn’t. In fact, each experience was consistently better than the last. For those who choose to stay in the bar area for dinner, it is lovely in the warmer months as you can sit with the windows open to the street.
Please visit Saju the next time you find yourself in New York and looking for a terrific place for breakfast or dinner.