Saturday, September 5, 2009

Wine and Chocolate on 31st Street




I said, "I'm off at 7:30 tonight. Can we hang out somewhere where we can drink a glass of wine?"

Matt said, "Okay."

Now the question become where to go. Since I don't want to go to the same old standard and typical places, I had to come up with something new.

I did a little research. "Wine Bar NYC" was the keyword search in Google. You gotta love Google. Wonder how we ever lived without it? I do sometimes.

Many things came up of course so I had to narrow it down. I chose six options and printed out a one-sheet so that Matt and Josette would have something to read about them when we met after work.

The decision made, we chose to make two stops this evening. The first is a place I've been too before, but I've been dying to return again since the moment we left. It's called The Raines Law Room. I'm not going to tell you about it because there was a "Closed for Labor Day Weekend" sign posted when we arrived. I will be taking them back so you won't have to wait too long for those escapades.

We headed to our second choice of the evening: Ayza Wine and Chocolate Bar. (www.ayzanyc.com) Located in what citysearch calls Midtown South, Ayza is on 31st Street between 5th and 6th. I can honestly say I have never been on 31st Street in that part of the City before.

The mood was set as soon as we approached. Ayza is described as Mediterranean and French cuisine and the decor reflected it. Huge red outdoor umbrellas covered tables while large potted palms marked the boundary. The inside was fitted with tall wooden chairs and tables and raised banquettes upholstered in red. The lighting was dim and the music alternated standards and french. I couldn't wait for a glass of Pinot Noir to enjoy while soaking up the atmosphere.

I know that the name of the restaurant includes the words wine and chocolate, and what better reason to be on 31st Street, but what they also have is cheese. Fantastic cheeses. We ordered a Shropshire Blue, Morbier Yellow, Aged Parmigiano Reggiano, French Brie, and Herb Goat Cheese. I think it's exciting to try new cheeses. I don't always like them, but I give them a try because you never know when you're going to find something you love. For me, I enjoyed all five of the cheeses. Served with warm bread, sliced strawberries, dates, and capers, every combination was a burst of flavor in my mouth.

The dinner portion was fine, but I'm going to move on to the best part. Inching out a first place finish over the cheese was the chocolate to take the gold.

I enjoyed a handmade gourmet chocolate called Piano. Piano is milk chocolate filled with soft butterscotch caramel. Salivate over that a minute. It was so smooth and so delicious that I wish I could have had five more. It was in the shape of a grand piano and that is a grand symbol of the decadence that is Piano.

I know there are hidden treasures like Ayza down every side street in NYC. I can't wait to discover more of them. Matt and Josette each enjoyed this new find and I was proud to be the one to introduce us to it. This one deserves a return trip. Maybe just for wine, cheese, and chocolate next time. I'm an adult, I can skip dinner!