Aquavit's Marcus Jernmark's Favorite Eats Around Central Park South
When Marcus Jernmark was looking for an apartment, he knew he wanted a place that was more mellow than the frenetic pace of restaurant life (he's the executive chef at Aquavit). He found a home on Central Park South, where he says there are more Michelin-starred establishments than inexpensive neighborhood restaurants near him. The upside? There are many "solid" choices nearby. Here are his favorite restaurants.
Fine dining: For me, Per Se offers one of the best fine-dining experiences in the city. The views over Central Park set the tone for the elegant evening ahead. I've been there a few times. They kind of capture the spectrum of what a fantastic evening should have. It's some of the best food you can have, they offer lots of quality service, but it's not in your face. The room is very luxurious and special, especially the way it's situated over the park. For a fine dining experience, Per Se masters it.
Burger: My favorite would be the Frenchie burger at Bar Boulud. It's a delicious, hearty burger, featuring black angus beef, pork belly confit and red wine-braised short rib. It's topped with what I believe is the ideal melting cheese: raclette.
Coffee: In the mornings, I walk to the restaurant from my apartment and stop for a latte, and sometimes a cinnamon bun, at Fika on 58th. In Sweden we have a ritual of sorts called fika—often taken in the afternoon, it's a coffee break with a sweet or savory snack to get out of the office. However, my fika is in the morning to energize for the long day ahead.
Bakery: Bouchon Bakery for classic French pastries. Pain au chocolat is one of my favorite pastries and the Bouchon one has a perfectly flakey, buttery dough with just the right amount of decadent chocolate inside.
Date spot: Michelin-starred Seäsonal is a great local date spot. The restaurant serves really great food with a wonderful wine list to match in a very comfortable environment. It's quiet and the neighborhood. They cook fine dining comfort food. It's a small little place that I don't want to see overlooked.
Take-out: Viv for Thai. I've been ordering my way through the menu, and everything has been very good. A great take-out restaurant, you should always know where it's located. I think for me, working in the restaurant business, we don't do take-out because our food doesn't travel well. But I think take out Thai food can travel. I don't want to throw it under the bus, but when you order pad Thai or something like that, it's just as good when it arrives as when you eat at the restaurant.
Late night: I got home one day recently and realized Jean-Georges was open until 11 p.m. I threw on a tie and went over there. To me this is very New York that you can be eating at a three-star Michelin restaurant late into the night. We had his egg with the caviar and cream at first. We had a hamachi that was great. We had a salmon with some sort of yuzu vinaigrette and a trout roe. Two places I go after service are Blue Ribbon Sushi and Sake Bar Hagi. Both have great lively atmospheres with kitchens that are open well into the morning hours.
Italian: When I am craving really great pasta, I head to the bar of Marea. Last time I was there, I didn't have pasta. I think had burrata and lobster.They always have seats in the bar available. The traffic is lively, too, so it's not always quiet.