Gastronomie 491, the new food market and restaurant on Columbus between 83rd and 84th, opened today at 7 a.m. after offering some journalists, bloggers and friends a sneak preview last night. I got a chance to check it out and can’t pretend to be fully objective: they fed me well and handed out $10 gift cards at the end of the night. I can attest that the food is very good, and the space is attractive. But this place’s success will depend on whether it has the right mix of food indulgences at the right price to become a go-to destination for locals.
We wrote about the store a few days ago, and you can learn the basics in that article. It’s a half-market, half-restaurant with a cozy seating area in the back and a food counter and open kitchen toward the front. Sprinkled throughout the store are produce, local dairy products, specialty beers, fancy cheeses and charcuterie, as well as little bags of pretty candies and pastas that you tend to find in high-end food stores. Owner Nicole Ahronee (pictured at left) told us she knew the Upper West Side needed a store like this when she walked 20 blocks one day and couldn’t find anywhere to buy dried fruit. “I just wanted a nice bag of apricots!” she said incredulously.
One very nice touch: in front of the open kitchen is a bar area with six stools where you can eat and chat with the chefs. Another nice touch: single-serve mac-and-cheese dishes made with Tallegio, Bechamel sauce, Grana Padano, and challah bread. Check out some photos from the preview below (the take-out mac-and cheese is the last photo), and pdf’s of the menus:
All photos by Avi.