The Portrait Bar, Tigre, Prairie Whale, Brooklyn 2BRs, Berkshires bounty, MORE
BARS • First Round
All the pretty faces
It was 5p on opening night at The Portrait Bar — down a narrow hallway behind the check-in desk at the Fifth Avenue Hotel — and the minor traffic jam at the host stand brought to mind how hard a table this jewel-box of a cocktail lounge would be in very short order. (Indeed, as of this writing, the next available reservation is Sunday at 1030p.)
On this Wednesday evening, though, there was room for us at a two-top across from the fireplace on the edge of the room. In time, a Torino (Campari, Cardamaro, Antica Torino, Saba, fig leaf soda) and a Oaxaca (Oaxacan gin, Empirical Ayuuk, Contratto Aperitif, lime sherbet, hibiscus, chocolate) arrived from veteran bar man Darryl Chan’s travel journal of a cocktail menu. Both were quite lovely.
The room is the thing here. Decorated to within an inch of its life — velvety couches, rich wooden bookshelves, a mirrored ceiling, art everywhere (including portraits to spare) — it’s at once intimidating and welcoming. Come winter, it will be tempting to settle in, warmed by the fireplace, watching the beautiful cocktail set come and go. But on this visit, it was time for dinner, down another of this hospitable hotel’s hallways. –Josh Albertson
CULTURE & LEISURE • Friday Routine
Better to live one year as a tiger, than a hundred as a sheep
It’s Friday afternoon, how are you rolling into the weekend?
The day begins with playing our soundtrack from Tigre, our new bar on the Lower East Side that opened this week, at the gym for a long session. A power breakfast follows, with copious amounts of espresso. Then team meetings, followed by a frozen dry gin martini at 6pm, and some quality time working the floor at Tigre to say hello to friends new and old. Friday dinner is Thai delivery from Tong.
Where are you dining this weekend?
I’m excited to finally try Foul Witch, followed by Sailor in Fort Greene.
How about a little leisure or culture?
This time of year, I try to spend a couple weekends a month with family or friends at my farmhouse in the Catskills. Here I cook over the open fire, read, explore the ever-evolving nature that surrounds me. This is my sanctuary, where I decompress and reset my mind.
Any weekend getaways?
I spend a lot of time traveling for inspiration, the constant exposure to new places, new architecture, culture, and flavors always feeds my creativity. From Venice, to the Cyclades of Greece, to the Cotswolds in the English countryside. Locally, I just spent a lovely weekend at INNESS in Accord, NY.
What was your last great vacation?
A flight from NYC to London allowed for a couple days of shopping, dining, and museums before taking off to Mykonos for some beach club fun at Scorpios and Principote, followed by a short ferry to Naxos, my new favorite Greek island. It’s the bread basket of the Cyclades, some of the best cheese, forged greens, and potatoes I’ve ever had. Naxos has mountains, where I escape for lunch to the ancient village of Apeiranthos, a town built of marble from the Cretans in the 9th century CE.
REAL ESTATE • Brooklyn Report
The Brooklyn luxury real estate market continues to climb the price ladder. After 14 straight quarters of median sales price growth in the segment (defined as the top 10% of sales), it now takes a $2.3M sale to hit the threshold, per the Q3 Elliman Report. That’s up 4.1% year-over-year and 26% from pre-pandemic levels.
What’s inflating up-market prices? Tight inventory, a persistent problem in real estate markets across the country right now. Only 203 Brooklyn listings were online during the period, down 8.1% annually and 35.8% from the pandemic highs.
Today, three newly listed two-bedrooms just over the threshold to add to the mix:
NYC REAL ESTATE LINKS: Real estate antitrust lawsuits come for NYC brokerages • New York’s trophy apartments are gathering dust • New renderings revealed for THE 74 on Upper East Side • Massive luxury developments Society Brooklyn and Sackett Place top out along Gowanus Canal • Espying the amenities at Olympia Dumbo.
GETAWAYS • The Berkshires
The whale wins
One of the joys of getaway dining is the return visit to a favorite restaurant after months (or years) away. That foreign-familiar blend evokes feelings on a different register than returns to a local favorite. In the Berkshires, Prairie Whale hits that spot for me.
Opened in 2012 by Mark Firth, restaurateur Andrew Tarlow’s original partner in Williamsburg’s Diner and Marlow & Sons, the restaurant occupies an old Greek Revival house on Main Street in Great Barrington, the region’s best food town. The vibe captures what a tavern in the town might have felt like a couple hundred years ago: handmade furniture, a wood stove, mismatched Americana on the beadboard walls.
What brought us back last weekend was our memory of all this. Just after the 5p open, our three-generation gang settled into the big table in the back of the main dining room.
The menu changes regularly, befitting a true farm-to-table outfit (Firth and his wife/partner, Bettina, own a farm nearby), but stalwarts include brick chicken and tagliatelle. Both dishes held up beautifully: the chicken pair with delightfully chunky roasted potatoes and chimichurri, and the fresh pasta — served on this night with pulled pork — so good our table ate two servings’ worth.
The bar was already shoulder-to-shoulder by the time we departed, the familiar building buzz of an enduring favorite. I’m not sure when, but we’ll be back. –Lockhart Steele
→ Prairie Whale (Great Barrington, MA) • 178 Main St. • No reservations, except for parties of 6.
GETAWAYS • The Nines
Berkshires weekend, eating well
Prairie Whale (Great Barrington), Brooklyn to farm to table
Rubiners Cheesemongers (Great Barrington, above), grilled cheeses at the cafe in back
MoonCloud (Great Barrington), for cocktails and boards
Guido’s Fresh Marketplace (Great Barrington, Pittsfield), an institution, recently upgraded
Berkshire Mountain Bakery (Housatonic, Pittsfield), very serious bread
The Lost Lamb (Stockbridge), pastries and pantry finds
High Lawn Farm (Lee), cheeses and holiday ice cream flavors
Frankie’s (Lenox), updated Italian-American restaurant
Cello (Lenox), reinvented pre-Tanglewood in former Nudel space
GETAWAYS LINKS: Sharp drop in airfares sees lowest prices since pandemic • WSJ’s best and worst airports of 2023 • The best ski resorts for every skier • What’s new and notable in Birmingham, AL • Inside the new 1Hotel at Hanalei Bay on Kauai.
CULTURE & LEISURE • Sat @ 8p
LCD Soundsystem, Brooklyn Steel (Williamsburg), Sat @ 8p, GA, $198 per
Paavo Järvi Conducts Britten and Prokofiev, Wu Tsai Theater (Lincoln Center), Sat @ 8p, orchestra, $255 per
Dave Matthews Band, Madison Square Garden (Midtown South), Sat @ 8p, section 107, $375 per
CULTURE LINKS: A Chelsea gallery’s secret beekeeping operation • The Met gives its European galleries a fresh look • The most influential people in the art world today • Max Beckmann at Neue Galerie — an unflinching virtuoso of pain.
LOST & FOUND • Behind the Paywall