You really get to know a city by tasting Local Food.
New York- restaurants change by the minute in the Big Apple; luckily my 212 friends are unabashed foodies thus my visits result in nightly expeditions to the latest hottest Dining Temples. One of my long time colleagues and her daughter belong to this ‘Food Tribe’ and they, knowing my lack of geographic prowess, often attempt to meet me at the hottest restaurant near my hotel and they always make sure I am in a taxi back to whatever hotel I might be in that particular night…I had heard of Flora Bar and they agreed, hot and they hadn’t visited yet…
So I asked my friend, David Tanis if he knew the owners- why yes, would you like a reservation? Please! As I made my way toward the Met Breuer where Flora Bar is located, Jen called me and said the Maître D wants to know HOW you know David Tanis? Really, they made quite a fuss when she checked in under his name. I arrived and said, you may not believe this, but I am David Tanis – instant third degree – How do YOU know David Tanis?? You may sit at any table, what suits you best? Again, who knew David Tanis was King of New York, I do now.
Famous chefs all communicate in a secret society.
Flora Bar in the Met Breuer. Knowing that Ignacio Mattos was a Chez Panisse alum and had cooked with the famed Francis Mallmann in Argentina, is all I needed to know. Yum, as usual when we are presented with small plates, we over order, where is the Chef tonight to guide us? Five guests, 15 plates? Each sharable bite is presented as a circle or a perfect square. Executive chef Jake Nemmers dazzles and delights. A simple circle of lobster crudo with chopped shiso arrives with a dab of flavored mayonnaise. The scrumptious tuna tartare was topped with toasted flax seeds and crunchy fried shallots, what one would think of as an odd combination hits the mark perfectly. We loved the thin slices of steak lathered in dribbles of Béarnaise. Blue shrimp were equally as heavenly in a spicy cocktail sauce. The menu is similar to a tapas bar, small bites meant to be shared.
The museum space is as dramatic as the dining. Downstairs from the Met Breuer, floor to ceiling windows look out at the patio.Wait staff are attired in blue jackets that I have now seen worn by some of my hip designer friends. To me, they looked like blue mechanics jackets, but I am not overly hip.
History – Restaurateur Thomas Carter and chef Ignacio Mattos, the partners behind Estela and Café Altro Paradiso, opened Flora Bar and Flora Coffee at The Met Breuer in Fall 2016. Flora Bar takes inspiration from lively, approachable restaurants in New York and Europe and is open beyond museum hours. The menu emphasizes seafood and vegetables and strives to be tasty and playful. You can stop in for a full dinner, a small bite or a drink at the long bar—anything you want, really.
Carter, Mattos, and their Matter House team aim to create an atmosphere of accessibility and fun similar to what they’ve cultivated downtown. The partnership with the museum came about from The Met’s desire to bring the Estela team’s light and ethereal tone—and perhaps foremost its sensitivity to the setting and location of a space—to the iconic Breuer building.
Co-Owner and Director of Beverage and Service
Before Estela and Café Altro, Thomas was beverage director at the award-wining Blue Hill at Stone Barns for six years. He has also worked in wine service for Alain Ducasse at the Essex House, and as a cook at New York restaurants including Le Bernardin, Mercer Kitchen and Union Pacific. He holds degrees from Columbia College Chicago and the Culinary Institute of America. Thomas found Ig through a truffle guy.
Co-Owner and Chef
Ignacio was born in Uruguay and learned to cook in the kitchens of grilling master Francis Mallman and Slow Food legend Alice Waters. At Estela, he has earned acclaim for bold, Mediterranean-inspired cooking. With Altro, Ignacio returns to Italian cuisine, which was his focus for several years as the chef of Il Buco. Ignacio was nominated for a James Beard Best Chef: New York award in 2014. In that same year, Bon Appétit declared that “you’ll see and taste his influence on American cooking for years to come.”
Highly Recommend- do go with a Foodie Tribe, so you can taste everything on the menu!