If you regularly find yourself at Sotheby’s, why not stop by the new Sant Ambroeus? There’s nothing like going shopping after knocking back a dry Martini in this quintessential Italian environment.
The Art of Dining Well
For almost 40 years, Sant Ambroeus has been at the top of the list of New York’s most beloved restaurants, bringing a uniquely refined Milanese cuisine to America. This year, the restaurant group has taken another step forward, opening the Sant Ambroeus Coffee Bar beneath Sotheby’s to commemorate the 275th anniversary of the Big Apple’s oldest auction house. Sotheby’s has been responsible for bringing together art collectors since 1744. Since then, the operation has become a global entity with branches in Hong Kong, France, India and auctions held in more than 10 countries.
Upon entering this modern locale located on the ground floor of the York Avenue building, it’s almost impossible to know whether one has stepped into a café, a classic Italian restaurant, or an art gallery. That is precisely the intention of Sant Ambroeus Coffee: to plunge the customer into a multicultural space with first-class cuisine.
Renowned for its restaurants that blend art and design, the Sant Ambroeus group knows how to elevate the concept of the bar/restaurant. Created by New York designer Robert McKinley, the decor harkens back to 1950s Milanese cafes, with their mahogany columns and gilded accents. On the marble floor, subtle shades of pink and brown bring a geometric design to life, echoing the creations of Italian architect Gio Ponti. In a way both natural and understated, the atmosphere connects the culinary arts with those of design, generating a harmonious relationship between these eclectic artistic expressions. In terms of coffee, the place offers espresso with high-grade coffee beans that represent the best of Italian traditions and flavors.
Beyond coffee, Sant Ambroeus’s menu has been carefully crafted such that the dishes are reminiscent of the real Italy. Known as Piatti Sfiziosi, the restaurant’s menu features highlights such as Bistecca di Cavolfiore (Cauliflower Steak) and smoked trout. For a quick lunch, bet on the panini stuffed with veal and arugula, along with homemade bread that they call “Focaccine,” a tasty reinterpretation of focaccia.
The desserts, which have just the right touch of sweetness, are a mainstay on the menu. In addition to stuffed croissants and cornettis, there’s the exclusive Sant Ambroeus chocolate mousse and the gianduia cake made with hazelnut crackers and cream, mousse, and milk chocolate frosting. After lunch, it is worth exploring the exhibits that Sotheby’s has to offer. Who knows? Perhaps you’ll leave with a classic modernist painting. Periodically, Sotheby’s exhibits impressionist and modern art paintings depicting the lives of peasants, sailors, and street artists. There are works dating from 1894. Another exemplary exhibit is Marina Picasso’s collections of ceramic paintings, which can be purchased on-site or through the website.
Photos: Courtesy Sant Ambroeus